Why I ride

Buy­ing a young horse at the age of 66 may not sound like a good idea. But it has turned out to be one of the best de­ci­sions I’ve ever made.

EQUUS - - Eq True Tale - By Su­san Sell­ers

When my 26-yearold geld­ing, Zeke, died 15 years ago, I be­lieved my on-again, off-again equestrian life was over. But as it turned out, I just couldn’t stay away from horses. And so I bought Ria, a young Thor­ough­bred-Percheron cross.

It wasn’t a de­ci­sion I made lightly. At 66, I was way past the ex­piry date for se­ri­ous rid­ing. My fi­nances were limited. My barn and fence needed re­pairs. And all my former horsey bud­dies had either stopped rid­ing or dis­ap­peared from my life. It was nei­ther log­i­cal nor prac­ti­cal for me to get in­volved with horses again, let alone own one.

I bought Ria any­way, well aware of the phys­i­cal risks, fi­nan­cial drain and the emo­tional roller coaster that rid­ing has al­ways meant for me. She was sound, with good feet, a shiny black coat and a quiet eye. I boarded her at a nearby sta­ble that of­fered me the se­cu­rity of an in­door arena.

Ev­ery­thing scared me in those first months. For starters, catch­ing and bring­ing Ria in from the pad­dock was an or­deal. She didn’t like to leave the herd. Once in her stall, she would not stand still for groom­ing. I fum­bled with cold, arthritic fin­gers try­ing to tack her up. I rode with a death grip and Ria spooked at ev­ery ex­cuse, stiff with anx­i­ety. I sim­ply did not have the con­fi­dence I once had or skills to show up ev­ery day as her leader, her “safe place.”

The se­vere win­ter weather didn’t help, nor did the can­vas cov­er­ing the arena, which snapped and groaned in the wind. In snow or rain, frozen bits slid off its sides, and even the most sea­soned horses spooked. Ria was dis­tressed ev­ery time we en­tered, and her fear trans­ferred to me, which I, in turn, fed back to her.

So why, I asked my­self, was I do­ing this? But then I’d think, this is my last chance. I can do this.

I had al­ways loved horses, but some­how, my equestrian as­pi­ra­tions had never quite gelled. Like many girls, I wanted more than any­thing to ride, but buy­ing a horse was out of the ques­tion for my par­ents. When I was 14, I man­aged to pay for lessons with money saved from babysit­ting. Much to my cha­grin, I was al­lowed off the longe line only a few times in my three months of weekly

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