YYou can keep riding long into your golden years, whether you’re just now realizing your childhood dream of getting into the saddle or have ridden your whole life and now have more time to participate in the sport you love. In my clinics and at horse expos, I find that most of the riders are well over 40 years old — and many are over 60. I often hear, “I just started riding last year, and I just turned 60. Do you think I’m too old?” I laugh, as I just turned 57 — and I’m usually one of the younger ones at my clinics!
Riding is truly a lifetime sport, and it takes a lifetime to master. While you can ride throughout your life, you’re often busy and consumed with family time in your 20s and 30s. When you enter your 40s, you begin to have time for yourself again and can do the things you’ve put on the back burner. That’s when many people start riding again, and that’s why the baby boomer generation is fueling the horse industry today.
Riding is great exercise, but it’s also a great chance to bond with an animal, enjoy the outdoors, and commune with nature. That’s a big draw to riding, and it’s what makes riding such a dynamic sport.
I’ve always loved horses. I first turned “pro” (took money for training a horse) when I was just 14 and have been a professional rider ever since.
I’ve felt my body and my mental state change over the years. I know that I must keep myself in shape (both physically and mentally) so that I can continue to engage in the sport I love.
Riding can be a highly aerobic activity when riding at high speeds, so I want to Julie Goodnight make sure that I’m in shape, have good balance, and keep up my strength.
Here, I’ll share with you my five-step program to ride confidently today and stay in the saddle for years to come. I’ll first tell you what to look for in an age-compatible horse. Then I’ll give you ways to continually work on the balance, fitness, posture and confidence necessary for older riders to ride well.
With all the pieces in place, riding and working with horses can keep you feeling young, in shape, and mobile.
Step 1. Find the Right Horse
Riding can be a dangerous sport. It’s physical, and you’re bound to get some bumps and bruises along the way, even when things go well. At any age, but especially as you get older, choose a horse that’s well-trained, has a good temperament, and is deemed safe for your riding level.
Don’t get in over your head; make sure the horse you ride is suitable to your ability, and that you’ll be safe and have fun from the start.
If you need to buy a new horse, keep in mind that the purchase price is the least expensive part of a horse ownership. Don’t go cheap on the initial price. It’s much easier to pay for good training than to add training later. And if you’re dealing with a horse that poses a constant battle, he’ll chip away at your confidence.
Also, don’t get caught up in “dream” characteristics. Putting aesthetic traits at the top of your shopping list will narrow your choices and may mean that you put those traits above such ultra-important qualities as training and temperament that will help you feel confident.
Choose a horse that’s well-trained and well-behaved, and that’s experienced and ready for anything you want to do. Find a seasoned horse that’s been exposed to
Baby boomers: Keep riding long into your golden years, and enhance your safety in the saddle, with this fivestep program from top trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight.
Having the right horse will enhance your riding enjoyment and boost your confidence. Choose a well-trained horse that’s done it all and been everywhere. This is your time to enjoy the ride, not to spend time learning to train away problem behaviors.