Ag­ing Grace­fully

Trail Rider - - RIDE RIGHT WITH JULIE GOODNIGHT - BY JULIE GOOD­NIGHT WITH HEIDI MELOCCO ~ PHO­TOS BY HEIDI MELOCCO

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.

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