by Laura Daley
Senior riders often question the logic of continuing a love affair with horses. Senior riders make excellent, devoted horse people. After all, if they have not lost the love of horses by the time they reach their golden years, it is safe to say they will never lose it!
If you are a senior rider and worry that you are too old to be horsing around, consider these famous horse people: Queen Elizabeth, who has been riding since she was three years old, is still riding at the age of 89. Her head groom, Terry Pendry, often accompanies her. At age seventy-two, Potato Richards won the Tevis Cup riding his 14-year-old Arabian mare SMR Filouette. Potato has won the Tevis three times.
While you should not feel it necessary to give up your passion for horses, there are things to take into account as a senior rider. First, you need to make sure you are able to move with your horse. That means maintaining your core strength. If this becomes difficult, it doesn’t mean you must stop riding. Instead, consider training your horse to accommodate you. If you can no longer hold the horse’s hoof for long periods of time, teach it to hold its hoof tipped up against the ground for you. Or, teach the horse to come next to a mounting block so that it is easier for you to mount.
Like all riders, senior equestrians need to take care to select the right horse as their partner. Consider the age of the horse and their athletic ability. What are your horse’s needs versus your riding ability? Age, training and handling all come into play when considering a good mount. If you choose a young, energetic horse, you must have both the knowledge and physical ability to keep up with them. Be sure you can keep your horse exercised, or provide plenty of turn out on the days you cannot work them. If you cannot ride regularly, consider leasing your horse, or paying someone to groom and exercise him for you.
Senior riders don’t have to give up a passion for horses based just on age. Instead, use your wisdom and experience to choose the right equine partner to carry you into the golden age of riding.