Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Am I (Too) Old (for This)?

A couple of things have happened lately that have given me pause.  Someone I know well, and who knows horses well, commented that my horses - all three of them - were "dangerous".  I sort of went "huh??"  She explained that what she meant wasn't that they were mean or harmful, just that they might be dangerous to me - Pie because he's young and green and has a big spin when he spooks, Drifter because he's smart and spoiled and therefore sometimes resistant, and Dawn because . . . well, just because she's Dawn . . . because I'm, as she put it, getting older - "you're almost 60" - and probably not in good enough physical shape due to age and inadequate conditioning.  After I got over being offended, I understood that she was just worried about me - she said she wasn't questioning my competence, just my age and physical ability, including strength, balance and agility.  Well, that certainly was a slap upside the head, so to speak.

And then the last time I was working with Drifter, he was pulling some big stunts on the lunge line until we got things sorted out, and several boarders were watching from outside the arena.  Later, someone who overheard them talking told me they said I was crazy to be working with a horse like him and that I was at risk of getting hurt.  Well, how about those potatoes . . .  I don't know if they thought I was incompetent or just an old lady who couldn't cut it anymore. Now some of his antics were pretty dramatic, but I'd put his rope halter on for extra control and we worked things through - strained my shoulders pretty good, though.  When I heard about what they'd been saying, my feelings were a mixture of annoyance and wounded pride and a tinge of shame - I care way too much what other people think and felt they were judging my abilities as lacking.  While I was working with Drifter, it took a lot of physical effort and concentration to deal with his shennigans, but I had a clear plan and was working through it with him until we got to where we needed to be, but to an observer - they were all a good bit younger than me - it might have looked like a old woman cluelessly lungeing an out-of-control horse.

Am I too old to be doing what I'm doing and riding and working with the horses I have? I certainly don't have any problem being the age I am now - I don't wear makeup, will never have plastic surgery or other "enhancements", have plenty of sun damage to my skin and lots of wrinkles, and getting and staying in shape are a lot more effort than they used to be.  I don't have any problem getting old . . . it's just that I've never felt like it was happening to me (denial or reality, who knows?) - I've never felt old, or even middle-aged, in my own head.  I'm in better shape physically than I've been in a while (although I could be in a lot better shape).  And, before my fall off Pie, I would have said I was a competent rider and able to work with horses like Dawn, Pie and Drifter. In fact I took pride in my abilities - it was part of my self-image - whether that pride was justified or not is hard to say (and I always think pride is a pretty questionable feeling, but there it is), and I always have a need to prove my competence, and even if truth be told, show off a little.  These are not traits I like in myself, but there they are. So, I think that's why the bystanders' comments really hurt - instead of thinking I was doing a good job handling Drifter's difficulties, they just thought I was an idiot, whether rightly (because I am one) or wrongly (because they didn't understand what I was doing) or somewhere in-between (I don't think I'm an idiot but I could have done a better job).

And I don't think my fall off Pie showed my incompetence - anyone, no matter how good a rider, could have fallen off during a spook/spin like that.  The severity of the concussion and the broken bones could be due to my age, I guess - the body isn't as resilient as we get older - but I was angry/upset/embarrassed that my previous lifetime record of no hospitalizations or broken bones due to horse-related incidents had been destroyed - for goodness sake, I hadn't fallen off but 3 times previously as an adult and none of those were serious.  Nothing like a bad fall to throw a spanner into the works of one's self-image and confidence.  I'm clearly getting older - just looking in the mirror tells me that - and certain things, like the heavy labor involved in caring myself for the horses at our self-care barn, are difficult and increasingly annoying. But it had never occurred to me that anyone would think I was over the hill . . .

But then I don't want to be the old lady whose family has to take away the car keys (so to speak) to keep her from injuring herself or others, because she's too proud or lacking in self-awareness to realize that she's not capable of doing what she wants to do and has always done for her whole life.  I don't think I'm there yet, but only time will tell, I guess . . .


  1. Where you might not be what you once were, physically, you have far more experience, skill and knowledge than many of the people who are younger than you. That compensates for your age.

    Yes, you may hurt more when you fall, but I bet you fall less than the youngsters. You have the brains to keep yourself out of trouble.

    I know of lots of people riding into their 60s and 70s, and I never thought they were too old to be doing what they do. I bet you would be bored with a dead broke horse, anyway...

  2. A bad fall is a bad fall, regardless of age. I had one this summer, and it's incredibly difficult to rebuild my own confidence after that. I'm 23, so that part definitely isn't age related--we both have to work at gaining confidence.

    If you feel that the words of your friends are reflecting your own feelings about the issue, then by all means, pay attention. If you're happy where you're at and not in any imminent danger, carry on. There are certainly worse things you could be doing.

    Besides... who wants to hang out with senior women with no strong interests? All they talk about is kids and healthcare, and THAT is boring. Might as well go out with a bang if that's your other option.

  3. I can sympathize with you about the age thing. I turned 60 in the summer but like you I've never felt old or even middle aged. Could I be more physically fit, sure who couldn't. That said there's no reason you shouldn't continue with your horses. From what I've seen I don't think they're dangerous at all. Dawn may be a handful and Drifter too at times but as long as you can still handle them competently, so what if you're older. Sometimes we have to take a step back and not do as much as we used to in a day. That's okay too, whatever needs doing will get done even if we slow down a little. As for your fall, everybody has them. I recently fell off after being 'clean' so to speak for 11 years. It does shake your confidence a little but that can be worked through with time.

    With age comes wisdom and experience, something that's not learned but earned. I think I would have been slightly put out after that conversation too. As for the crowd at the fence, maybe they never had to deal with a horse with Drift's personality. I have and it's daunting but when you finally get where you want to be it's rewarding.

    My answer to everyone would be something like, "I may be older but after all these years it's my life and I'll pay my money and take my chances that it will all work out." After all what would you do if you didn't have your horses, sit and watch soap operas all day?

  4. Definitely Not! As cliche as it sounds, your are only as old as you feel. Don't let other people's inaccurate opinions bother you, Kate! I feel as though you have many years with horses left:)

  5. Kate- I admire what you are doing. That said, I have made the opposite choice. I've spent many, many years training young horses and I won't do it any more. Quite simply because it isn't worth it to me to get hurt--and I don't want to work that hard. I want to relax and enjoy my ride. And I enjoy the heck out of my "dead broke" trail horses. They don't bore me in the slightest. I have fun and I'm never scared.

    This may not be your path--you alone know what's right for you and your horses. But if you want to contemplate your choices, I would try to get my head away from what others say/think (which can be so hurtful), and focus on what feels right to you. You can give yourself permission to think about lots of options. I totally agree that anyone can fall off a sweet young horse who makes a sudden spook/spin like Pie did. Good riders in their twenties hit the ground all the time under similar circumstances. The question is does one want to take that chance? I know I don't. But maybe you are OK with it.

    I don't think you are over the hill. I don't think I'm "over the hill". I think its great we are both still having fun with horses. But neither do I fault myself for being too much of a chicken to ride young horses any more.

  6. Do what makes you happy. You are totally able to make your own decisions, especially when they relate to your personal life. Spending time with horses will always carry an element of risk no matter what age you are, and with the benefit of your experience you are much better placed to manage that risk than someone younger and less experienced. Enjoy your horses!

  7. I think Grey Horse Matters nailed it in her comment. You are competent, you know what you are doing, even if the younger know-it-alls can't comprehend your training methods, and really their opinion is just that- their opinion. They can fall off and get hurt just as easily as you or I; none of your horses are renegades or dangerous; they do require skill to handle- and you have those skills. So don't let a little negativity spoil your time with your horses. After all, with your consistent training, all 3 of your horses have improved wonderfully, and as you age, they are aging too. And we all know things improve with age!

  8. Laura - I don't fault your choices at all - they make sense to me. I seem to want something different, at least for now - maybe because I overestimate my skills and still have something to prove (not necessarily the best of motives), but we'll see how I feel when the horses come back into work in the spring.

  9. When I read some of your posts about Drifter or Dawn and their shinanigans, I sometimes think to myself "better her than me" but I have NEVER thought that you are too old or not competent. You are very aware of safety and boundaries. You work smart with your horses. If you feel it is too much, then maybe it is. If you don't feel that way, it probably isn't. ...and Pie dangerous? Give me a break.

  10. I do not think you are to old. in fact when I am your age I hope to be doing the same thing you are. You have more knowledge then most of those riders put together. So Don't let there comments upset you. Keep doing what you're doing if it makes you happy.

  11. I have three years on you and I'm still climbing in to the saddle--a little less this winter with my knee replacements.

    My Tucker is a problem boy, so I don't take any extra chances with him. I ride and work him to my ability, not to some elevated expectation anymore. (Probably won't compete either.)

    Chance has the potential to be a super safe, nice reliable ride but as you may recall, I did something stupid and went off him recently. He is a good solid horse and still I fell off. Things just happen and we either live our lives wound up in bubble wrap, afraid to live and enjoy ourselves, or we go out and "do."

    That's one of the reasons I loved my orthopedic surgeon so much. After my fall, I went in to have my knee replacement checked to make sure I hadn't damaged it in the fall and, after he looked at the x-rays, he said, "Go home and ride!!" I wasn't quite ready at that point as my knee was still too sore and stiff, but it was clear he didn't want me sitting around staying safe and sound when I could be out riding and...living!!

  12. What an honest post. Well done. I'm 66 heading toward 67 at a rapid pace. I watched Chris Cox's show on RFD-TV and he had an 87 year old trainer on the show and he's still training - but he's training people, not horses. He still rides, but he admits his balance and strength aren't the same as when he was younger.

    No advice from me. I want to ride as long as I can, but I'm aware as I get older the enjoyment of just riding a horse is the main thing for me.


  13. Do not ever let anyone make you doubt yourself because of age there is way too much "age-ism" out there. Here are two British examples of older horsewomen (and they are a great deal older than you):
    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
    Molly Sivewright.
    I sincerely hope that you'll still be riding when you're their age and it'd be nice to think that you might be riding an aged Pie.
    I like this quote too, and like to think that it might be a bit inspirational to some:

    "After 1918 Warrior became the family hunter in the land of his birth the Isle of Wight. From time to time his owner gave news of his welfare to the readers of The Times. In his last letter on the subject, dated May 31st, 1938, Lord Mottistone announced that that morning they had cantered together over Mottistone Downs, "greatly rejoicing, our united ages being exactly 100 years." "

  14. Kate...Everyone has an opinion, but you know yourself and your horses better than anyone. I can't think of too many people who have put more effort into educating themselves while being totally sensitive to every aspect of owning and riding horses. I am 68 with a bum knee, and have had horses for 32 years. 30 of those, took care of 6-8 horses while teaching full time(for 19 of them). They are a very big part of my life and tho I am down to 3 (2 of my own)there is no way I would give them up. I consider them to be family and never feel guilty about how much work they are getting. Fortunately the horse I ride the most (26) is great if I'm on her once a week or once every 3 months. Personally, I don't much care what anyone thinks about my choices. Our horses have had the good life with respectful treatment and they respect me back...ok they are spoiled...and I like it that way.

    Your knowledge and experience goes a very long way. Please don't be hurt by some of the comments that have been made.

  15. Kate--Just "talking" about it is probably helping you sort out what you want--don't you think? And always remember--its so easy for folks to criticize what someone (of any age) is doing with a horse. It doesn't mean much, usually.

  16. Kate, I too, have recently passed that "60" milestone, and also am still riding relatively green horses (one of which dumped ME last summer, if you remember). I think it's about respecting one's physical limitations, responding to one's psychological hesitations, and finding the horse(s) that challenge you in a way you want to be challenged.

    Kate and Maddie are so different in nature that I enjoy riding them both, but for slightly different reasons. Although I haven't pulled Maddie's for sale ads, I'm not actively marketing her right now, until I work through some of my confidence issues from last year--or decide that we aren't meant to be together (though I really don't fault her for my fall, much as with you and Pie).

    I probably won't start any more from scratch, even if I do decide to breed one of the girls at some future date--certainly not anyone else's young horse. It's about choosing my battles, and keeping the fun in my horse life. And minimizing risk as much as possible (helmet--check, riding buddy--check, dependable mount--we're working on it).

    That said, at 60 I am actually one of the "youngsters" in my trail riding club, and look forward to aging gracefully with Kate (and hopefully Maddie). After all, when I reach 70, they'll both be seasoned campaigners at 17!

  17. Well, the others have said it well. I would also add that, from what you've said, it could be that the boarders comments weren't necessarily negative towards you in terms of your ability or Drifter's unruliness. Is it possible they just meant he was a handful and could hurt someone? In the sense that all horses can be dangerous, feisty ones more so? Perhaps they themselves wouldn't feel comfortable working a horse through those dramatic moments and therefore commented "she's crazy to work with him."

    Just speculating...but I thought it was worth pointing out there is another possible interpretation of the comments. As to your friend, it sounds like she was just trying to be a friend.

  18. Kate- You are the most honest horse blogger I know. And you are intelligent - you question and ruminate looking for the right answers.

    I agree with everyone that said that your experience and horse sense is a far greater asset than a youthful body and little horse knowledge. But, I also see Laura's side of the coin. As I age, I want to ride. I want to ride anything - pony, mule, plug, or gorgeous TB - whatever I feel safe on and what allows me to enjoy the ride. The only way I know to enjoy a ride, now or in the future, is to ride a horse that is enjoying the ride as much as I am. There are no guarantees, even with a dead calm horse, but if my horse is enjoying what I am doing with it, then I believe that the incidents are few. That has been my experience thus far.

    As far as pride/ego, again, I admire your honesty. Your experiences with horses and embarrassment sometimes remind me of my mom - even though you aren't old enough to be my mom!!! I just think that it is valuable to know that there must have been something going on when you and my mom were learning to ride and showing that involved more rider ego. She has a tendency to want to show off a little too and you both have so much knowledge and ability that there is a lot to show.

    When I learned to ride in the late 70's but especially now in certain circles (my recent Florida experience) there is so much lack of experience, so much ignorant goofiness that no one would even get or understand your ability or my mom's. It would be completely lost on them which is what happened when those people commented about you and is refreshing in a certain way, I think. It is only about you and your time with the horse. I have to let go of my ego when I get around a horse or else I will get hurt.

    As far as barn chores and aging - I SO get that!!! I am 44 - going to be 45 on Thursday and I am a fairly fit runner. That said, I am often so tired from the barn chores that I think my riding suffers.

    So much more to say...may check back in later.

  19. RuckusButt - I doubt they meant to be mean - they were probably just worried about me - I was just found the implications were disturbing . . .

  20. I cant really shed light on it I guess since Im only 21...so I havent had to think about my physical cabalities with horses. But I know that you are extremely competent, and its easier to just say "let it roll off your shoulder" but I know its hard to actually do. I hope you dont let this eat at you too bad though.

  21. I will be 69 in a few months. SIXTY NINE!!!!!!! Can't believe it when I say it, DON'T believe it when I look in the mirror. Yeah, I've got gray hairs--but not many; yeah, I've got wrinkles--but not many more than the gray hairs; and yeah, when I get up I sound like Rice Crispies, and there are other times I sound like my coffee pot when it percolates.

    But I am active, happy, trying to stay fit and trim--AND, I want to ride my horse.

    People who question those of us "who have reached that interesting age" about our continuing to ride don't understand that it's the riding and the challenge of working with our horses that helps keep us young (at heart ;o) We wear our helmets, we work around horses using common sense because we've learned how important that is. No one can guarantee that we won't ever get stepped on or that we won't fall off--but we do the horse thing using common sense. If we stop doing stuff we enjoy, well, that takes all the joy out of life. What's the point?

    To me your friend's well-meaning question is sort of like a non-horse person asking why we're still taking lessons years after we got the horses. "Don't you know how to ride yet?" Same thing.

    With us horse types, it's in our DNA. Simple as that.

  22. Oh Kate! Don't worry too much about what they say. For one thing, they could make the same argument about ANY horse -- and just like any horse, being smart around them will keep you out of (most of) harm's way.

    But for two, people love to be nosy and have opinions about stuff like this. I think it just makes people feel good and involved and powerful to be overly concerned about someone, even to the point of being judgmental. Don't take it too seriously. I think you are probably more capable of managing horses like Dawn and Drifter (and Pie, though I think he sounds easier than the other two) than most of the younger horse people I know -- you understand horses better than most people, I would venture to say, and I think that makes all the difference.

  23. Kate, the good horsepeople that I know always worry too much--in part because the really good folks know they are ALWAYS still learning. You don't get to some mystical pinnacle and then that's all she wrote...though I think we all WISH it was that way.

    I know it's not pleasant to have these doubts, but the very fact you're having them is proof that you have a good head (and heart). Try to remind yourself of that when this starts to weigh you down.

    I would ignore what the folks leaning on the fence say and listen to my loved ones--your husband and daughter know a lot about your abilities with horses, and they also happen to know a lot about the horses you're riding.

    You are in better shape than many riders much younger than you are, and few people have the kind of experience you've had with horses. Even fewer spend the amount of time you spend focusing and concentrating on improving the way you do.

    Have you thought about giving riding lessons? You'd be an excellent teacher, and it would be really cool if you could share all the expertise you've collected through the years.

  24. Through reading your blog I feel you are very competent. I feel you need to do what is right for you and your horses. Though I will also say, having read your blog for a while, that when you looked for a new horse you wanted something with a bit less "baggage" so-to-speak than Dawn. Every time I read about Drifter and Pie's moments, while you handle them VERY well, it does not seem to match up with what I thought you had wanted. BUT...that is ONLY from me reading your blog, so to be taken with a large grain of salt, because what do I know!! :-) Best of luck and I know you will do what is right for you.

  25. Kate;

    You are as old as you feel and think you are, and that is something that only YOU are in charge of.

    My grandfather started his last business when he was 81 years old. Until he was in his late 80's he beat me to the barn every morning and put in a full day's hard, physical work. He accomplished more every day when in his 80's than most men half his age could do.

    When his friends and later his kids started making suggestions that he slow down he'd look at them like they were crazy and keep on going.

    Don't second guess yourself and do whatever it is that you feel like doing, other people (except maybe your family) be damned.

  26. The gal who owns the ranch where I board my 5 horses (I'll be 60 in Feruary) is 65 and she goes out and lunges hers all the time. She also still rides and was in the Rose Parade (the southern California Peruvian Paso Association)...she's pretty fit and trim and was, at one time, the stunt double for a famous actress! I'm nearly 60 myself and I have 5 green horses. I'm currently taking horsemanship lessons and I've never been hurt with my own horses, but fell off a friend's horse nearly 3 years ago and now I have permanent nerve damage to my legs...so what? So what if I never ride them? At least they are safe from slaughter.

  27. I guess for me the question is how do you feel? Drifter is a challenging horse yes, but not "dirty" as far as I can tell, Pie , has been good, and even the best of riders , can and do take a fall. If you feel comfortable working with them and the worst you get is sore muscles ...
    The other question I would ask I guess is , are they improving in their skills, behavior and abilities under your care and handling ?
    If the answer is not yes, then maybe you are over matched , but from reading your posts , I would say the answer is in fact yes. and the "onlookers" might be wiser to look at their own situation. Your friend expressing concern is not a bad thing, it never is if it brings us to self awareness and reflection. But the one thing I have noted after reading your blog for all this time , it you are a bright and insightful woman and not really prone to conceit so . Again How do you feel?

  28. Glad to hear you don't think the comments were purposely negative, that makes a difference. I do get how the they would give you pause, especially considering your introspective nature. It's always hard/strange/challenging to have a mirror held to ourselves, no matter our age.

    You are smart and clearly work smart with horses. If you are comfortable than I'd say you are as safe as anyone could be working with horses, probably more so. There is inherent risk, we all know that.

    Ooh, I agree with fetlock that it seems like you would be a great instructor.

  29. Kate, your knowledge and work ethic are unparalleled--young or old. You have a lot on your plate with three horses who all need work. Most people concentrate on one at a time and take lessons while they're doing it. I'm younger than you and I know that the young horses I have now will be the last I train. It takes so much--and there's so much more risk--I'm just not that willing to go there anymore. I like other people's suggestions for you to teach, and I'm thinking in the future, that's what I'll do to get that need met in me, as well, or at least volunteer to help others get their mustangs gentled, young ones trained on the ground. In the end, only you know what's right for you, but it sounds like you're do some pretty honest soul-searching right now.

  30. Now listen here Kate! Pay attention to me!

    I am 60 in two years time, and I feel like crap some mornings, mainly due to old injuries. I dont keep as fit as I once did, and just the thought of getting fit drives me to drink!
    But here is the deal, you have something others do not. Drive. Thats it, drive, your posts indicate a really good mind, a good nature, and a kindness seldom found in the world today. I ride for the enjoyment, and we all know the risks, but what the hell! You literally only live once! I had doubts during 2001, I was all for giving up and selling the horses. But, something happened to me, it was a small visit to the doctor. I have had really high blood pressure for some time, without knowing it. Its now under control. He advised, that I take it easy for a while?

    I`m back in action, I feel better than I have for months, and I have a two year old filly to begin Starting! never say die! I know people say things to us "oldies" about "ooh, do you think you should be doing that at your age?"
    Ignore them, take a step back, think logically, what would you do if you gave up horses? I know what would happen to me! I would be finished!
    Dont go down the road of" maybe I`m getting too old!" of course we are getting older, but we have more experience, more time to think, more time to enjoy, and Kate, people who say that we should be not doing things, are usually impressed that we still can, and they wouldnt! God bless!

  31. I sm sorry that their misplaced concern started you down this path. You know what you are doing, you lunged that horse and although he may have seemed out of control he wasn't. Please consider the fact that horse people LOVE to give unsolicited advice. I have been told that starting to ride at 41, and wanting to jump, may be a bad idea. But I am following the example of my grandfather who decided to strap on slalom skis at 65.
    Having fun? Keep going. Able to do it? Keep going.

  32. I wasn't going to comment as I really don't know you and your situation other than from your blog. But changed my mind.

    I don't think your age, gender, or skills is the issue here. What I've noticed several times during your postings is that you are feeling fear/anxiety when having to deal with your horses. Perhaps not when you're working with them, but certainly prior to. Dealing with these feelings must take the fun out of working with your horses, and, as you say, all of your fellas are challenges one way or another. If I were in your shoes I'd be looking for a way to enjoy riding my horses again. Some how you need a confidence boost and there are a lot of folk online here who are routing for you - me included.

  33. STB Eventer - yes, you're right about what I was looking for in a horse - at least with Pie - and in fact I got it, although he was only 4 when I got him and turned 5 last spring. My fall really threw a spanner in the works - he's young enough to really need confident leadership, which I stopped being able to consistently provide. Drifter was a project from the beginning, but I felt there was a really a good horse in there and I could find and develop it (there's that pride thing again).

    So, am I just suffering the setback that comes from a bad wreck, or am I in over my head? Time will tell, but I'm inclined to think the former . . .

  34. Laura, Annette, fernvalley and Barb - you're right, the issue isn't really my competence, the real issue is my anxiety over working with the horses, and the anxiety over that . . . But I'm a worrier by temperament (it may be part of the reason Dawn and I get on so well - she's the same way) and most of the anxiety is pre-work, and this sort of thing happens in other aspects of my life too where my competence/abilities may be in question. But I keep on taking on challenges nonetheless - I'm always having to prove something (to myself as much as to others). Sometimes this puts me into situations that are at the limits of my mental and emotional abilities, and sometimes I don't enjoy every aspect of what I'm doing, but there's something in it that I need - I guess it's the accomplishment. Things were going along pretty well with Pie and Drifter until my accident. I think we'll get back to where we need to be and that anxiety/dread thing will recede - it did after Dawn kicked me in the face but it took time. I know I'm competent - it's just that I need to feel competent as well, as having people think I should hang it up and get out my granny walker irks me since it could further undercut my self-confidence if I let it. I know they may just be trying to be nice/helpful/caring, but the effect is that I feel judged - whether I should feel that way or not isn't the point, I guess. Long reply . . . Will the joy/pleasure of horses come back? Yes, in time, I believe it will and if that means grinding away at it until then, then that's what I'll be doing.

  35. I also do not feel old or middle-aged when it comes to my horses and listen to my self more than other folks. From the sounds of it you are overcoming fall that you had. Anyone can have a fall even off an extremely calm horses. Trust your instincts and you will know when to make changes in your riding partners.

  36. It's funny, when I started showing horses as a kid, I couldn't wait to graduate into the adult (18+) classes because the youth classes were jam packed and the competition was nuts, but the adult classes always had just a few riders and looked far more relaxing. Now that I'm looking the 40 and over division in the face, I'm seeing that these days it's the adult classes that have all the riders. One of the biggest booms has been in the 55+ divisions, including events like reining! So I would have to conclude that a lot of people would disagree with your acquaintance.

  37. I was blessed to be able to trail ride with my dad until he was 85. He could ride better than he could walk! My sister won the 'oldest female rider' on the July 4J Trail Ride in Missouri the past 2 years. I ride with an 'old ladies' drill team, most who are in their 60's and 70's.
    After years of trying, I have had to give up riding my Doc, who did the spins like you're describing. I can't sell him, so just do groundwork with him. I finally bought a sensible Tennessee Walker who 'spooks in place' and keeps me safe on the trails.
    Blessings to you and thanks so much for your blog.

  38. Kate - as you know, I started riding 3 years ago. I am 55 years old, round, and am still unsure if I actually have any muscles in my body. You are an inspiration. You are enjoying your passion and I think that's wonderful. Don't let the joy-suckers get in your head.

  39. Kate, you darn well better not be too old. I'm 60, and I have no intention of slowing down for another 20 years or so!

  40. I have only recently subscribed to your blog so I'll have to go back and read about what happened. (I will) That said, I can relate to some degree. I'm 55 and when I was disabled since '97 (not horse related) I was told I should not ride anymore. I promptly ignored my medical team's advice and spent the next 8 years riding my very predictable Arab mare. When she died a year ago I said I was done with the horse thing. I'd been in it 45 years and I'd had enough. Well that lasted all of a month. I bought another young, green Arab mare. I spent a month riding her under the watchful eye of her trainer. She was well started and willing to please. I brought her home at the end of the month and my first here she promptly tossed me on my butt.

    This was the first time I'd come off a horse in over 20 years. You better believe I immediately starting asking myself "what was I thinking?" Do I think I have the experience to get through the green years with this horse? Sure. But the question is, do I really WANT to? I ride (trail) predominantly alone, which means I don't have the luxury of having a babysitter horse along for every ride. I know all the risks and every time I ride I take all the precautions I can, but that still doesn't mean I'm going to be safe.

    I know I'm screwed if I don't wake up on a nice day and get that giddy, "it's gonna be a great day to ride" feeling in my stomach. If I'm dragging my heels and thinking about all the other stuff I should be doing first, that's a real sign I'm not 100% on board with this horse project. I'm very aware of the fact that it would take a lot less at this stage of my life to have a "career ending" accident and since I hope to keep riding well into my 70's, the question comes down to: am I choosing to ride the horse that best suits me now and supports the long-term goal of riding for two more decades? Because I know how it feels to be told I couldn't ride anymore (at age 40) and I suspect it wouldn't feel any better to get injured and have that choice taken away from me at age 55 or 60.

    I do NOT want my freedom to ride cut short because I took on more than I could chew. So I ask myself that every time I get the jitters and worry about my safety. And if I spend two hours on my horse feeling a bit tense and wondering if this is going to be the ride that "ends it" for me, then am I really having fun? Does the satisfaction of having finished this young horse and the risks incurred outweigh the pleasure of just getting out and enjoying a nice day with my horse?

    I think deep down in your gut you know the answer. I think I do too, I've just never been the kind of person to back away from what feels like a challenge. Being disabled has taught me there's no shame in saying enough's enough, but you need to get to that place where you can walk away peacefully, not kicking and screaming.

    Whatever your choice, make sure you surround yourself with intelligent, objective people who will support your decisions either way!

  41. Kate-
    I don't have any words of wisdom to offer, but what a heart felt post. I often wonder as I'm muddling through with my little green horse, if I'm just not honoring where I'm *really* at. But only I know the answer to that in my heart, as only you know if your horses are the right ones for you at this time. Thank you for the posting this and, as always, adding such depth to my pony thoughts.

  42. Kate,
    You know I'm a huge fan, and have learned so much from you.

    So in that spirit I'm going to push back a bit.

    When, in your first posts about finding a horse, before Drifter and Pie, you described what you were looking for it could be summed up with the words "no drama".

    These aren't no drama horses. They have the potential to be, but it will take some time.

    I have the same journey with Smokey. I really do want no drama. We are close to that point, and I too have a plan to get there, but I have Lily, my no drama (but still with her moments like any horse) ride.

    Frankly I want you to have a no drama horse and one you have to whip into shape to keep you engaged mentally. but that's what I want, long for, when I have read your blog over the last six months.

    I am glad you'll be riding some steady eddies as you come back to work. And working with a trainer will probably get Pie through this rough patch.

    But I do wish you a quiet, steady horse in your remuda.

  43. Yep, I fess up. I thought what I saw on that day was crazy....for me, from my perspective. Then again, what do I know? You like a challenge. I just saw a horse with a lot of pent up energy, physical and emotional. I wouldn't want to deal with it, but I'm not you and he's not my horse. You have to do what you feel is right for you.

    Just please don't get yourself hurt. I don't want to find you on the ground again because of a horse. That was scary to ME!
    My reaction about seeing you and Drifter that day is clouded by my own experiences with you and him.
    I can't change that.
    I am relieved that you plan on getting some support in working with him. I honestly wish you the best with it.
    More importantly,to me, is hopefully you will get back out out on the trail eventually and be able to enjoy that sweet young horse of yours like when you first bought him! :-)

  44. Kate, Just wanted to say that I admire you for being so open on your blog about these issues and what your thoughts are while you do all your soul searching.
    I went through many similar thoughts and feelings, too. Heck, I still spend time thinking about them even now.
    But I do love riding horses still and can't imagine not having horses in my life or being able to ride out on the trails.
    Only you know what your comfort level is and your skills are.
    I think you are being wise in finally seeking professional help for your and your horses. And I think you are doing an intelligent thing by being so open about everything, and spending so much time dissecting your feelings and thoughts.

    Best wishes,

  45. ... this is a great introspective post and I think it all comes down to being honest with yourself. A few questions you need to answer honestly to yourself are
    1) are you EVER afraid when you are on their backs?
    2) are you having FUN.
    3) Can lessons with a trainer help.
    4) Is it worth the money and time?

    I didn't read all the comments and after reading the posts above, it is clear you are taking "action". I am 46 and feel "old" at times getting back into horses. But thank goodness I have a wonderful trainer at the barn I board at and I have started out with a well trained 14.2 QH... he is a confident, strong willed guy, not a push over, but a great way to start back for me.

    I will look forward to your posts.

  46. Kate - I'm so sorry that you are wrestling with this dilemma. I know the felling of hearing people say things about you, even if well intentioned. It happened to me with Silk years ago, and I refused to listen or change what I was doing because I knew what was best for my horse. I never regret my decision. You know your horses, and you are careful. You also have a resource available to you that most of us don't. Why don't you talk to Mark Rashid about what's been happening and see what he advises? It's totally understandable that you are feeling the way you do, and you're such a good person, a good rider and a good horse owner, so it's important to resolve these issues for yourself and move forward in a way that feels comfortable to you.


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