What’s so great about being older & still riding? Well, certainly one obvious thing is that I look around & see women my age that are plagued with aches, health problems & sadly unfit. A true benefit of riding is the amount of physical activity having a horse entails. There’s nothing like hauling 50# feed sacks into the barn, mucking stalls daily & spending a lot of time outdoors with your horse. The health benefits of involvement in a true world-class sport makes my doctor amazed that I’m hardly ever sick.
When I ride, I certainly do not take the risks I used to. I don’t HAVE to jump that big log, nor do I HAVE to kick my horse into a dead run just for the thrill of it. Not that I needed to do any of this in my youth, but at the present age I KNOW that it’s better to be safe & continue to ride my horse vs. do something stupid and not be able to ride at all.
Because I also intentionally have older horses, and would like to think I’m their best last home. Their well-being is always a priority. Older horses can have many care taking quirks, but success boils down to some basics. You can never take their health status for granted, must always be watchful for changes and no challenging them outside their physical limits. To ride a wonderful animal that trusts you as much as you trust them is something very special. The benefit for them? My older horses have been kept going, within their limitations, for a very long time because their age is never taken for granted. The benefit for me? I’m still riding.
Diet & exercise are terribly important for both older horses & older riders. A healthy balanced diet, catered to actual needs, is what I find works best for me & my horse. An overweight horse is susceptible to way too many health problems, as with overweight riders. It’s expected that we should formulate a great combination of regular feed & supplements for our animals. Because we’re the providers, we strictly adhere to a program that works and only change things when there’s a need to do so. Yet when it comes to taking care of ourselves & our nutritional needs, humans tend to binge & go to the excess zone at the drop of a hat. I found that when I too stuck to a healthy diet & kept it simple, I dropped a lot of pounds & it made me feel better too.
Each of my old timers has taught me so much. And much applies to myself as well. My horses have always loved apples, carrots & watermelon and yes, they get treats all the time. But do I give them several whole watermelons, a bushel of apples or a gross of carrots each day? Of course not! They get one or two treats & that’s it. One day I woke up & saw the wisdom of that and applied it to myself. Do I love chocolate? You bet! Do I enjoy chocolate regularly? Yes, but only one piece every couple of times a week. That’s it. No excess eating either on a daily basis either. One thing I’ve learned is that if something is a good idea for my horse, then it’s usually a good idea for me too. Every time I think of my horse, it makes it easy to stick to the program & respect the fence that keeps me on this side of the healthy pasture.