As an over 50’s rider I have been given lots of advice over the years. Some nuggets I have unfortunately forgotten and will no doubt remember at some point! Others have been thought about and binned, and the final group are those pieces of advice that have stuck with me and really resonated.
There is not one single piece of advice that I could say is simply the best so here are a few that I still think about.
Life is not a dress rehearsal
My grandma’s favourite expression and one that I always have in the back of my mind especially as I am older and time seems to disappear at a rapid rate! 😂
This is it folks, our one chance to make an impact, to enjoy our family, horses and our life. Whatever makes you happy and resonates with you should be top of your agenda.
Little things matter
This is more related to the horses. Little things ‘do’ matter with horses, the slight warmth in one foot, a bit of a rub from a saddle pad and a drop of condition could all be a problem. It takes experience both with your own particular horse and with horses in general to know when a change could be something brewing or nothing to worry about.
Don’t forget yourself either. Little niggles with your body could cause tightness when you are riding resulting in a longer term problem. So don’t ignore your issues.
Schoolmaster or good young horse?
What will help you progress in your riding journey? One senior rider and trainer said to me about 20 years ago that riding quality young horses would develop my riding and feel. Yet another said that a schoolmaster is worth their weight in gold and could help my confidence and proficiency in the movements.
I think both are right. At a certain point on my journey I needed a schoolmaster, a horse that could help me back into the arena at advanced level. The horse that entered my life was Highlight an amazing horse who helped me get confident at PSG and Inter 1 and had a great passage. He also competed at Junior FEI level with my two daughters and competed internationally with my mum doing Paras. He helped us all, he had his quirks, but my confidence and belief in myself grew so much.
So on to the case for quality young horses – undoubtedly my riding took another leap once I sat on a big moving elastic young horse. Yes, it was a bit nerve wracking at the start and I felt like I was learning sitting trot all over again!!! In some ways talented horses can make everything feel easy, far too easy and transferring back to a less elastic horse can feel like a big let down.
Both experiences bring their own benefits and have helped me to be a better rider.
The last piece of advice I would give is “You do you, I will do me”. I’m on my journey and you are doing yours and we will have different goals, experiences and timelines. Don’t get distracted by what other people are posting on social media.
And most of all enjoy yourself 😍