Most of the people who know how long I have been involved with horses are often surprised that I am a real beginner when it comes to riding and driving. I got involved with breeding Canadian horses over 10 years ago originally to help save the breed but quite quickly because I loved the breed for its own merits. I was fascinated with bloodlines and breeding for conformation, temperament and movement but with up to 17 horses and a full time job, I had no time to do anything but care for the animals and show in conformation classes.
Recently we dispersed most of our herd and saved 4 for ourselves and....finally have started riding lessons and riding our horses.
When you are an adolescent and teen, you are immortal. A fall is no big deal and fear is not in your language. As you move into your 20's and 30's responsibilities of careers, families and life in general start to build up. Horses often take a back seat to those responsibilities. By your 40's many people are relying on you. You are mid career and not quite an empty nester. I am in my mid 50s and have switched my career to full time farming. I have no children, the mortgage is paid and finally I have a bit of time. I also have lots of apprehension.
While you may still have some of your little girl dreams of black stallions and riding bareback across the plains, the realities of life are staring you in the face. The challenge is to stare them down and work towards your dream anyways. It is not a failure to be afraid, how you handle that fear is another matter. I have a few suggestions from my experiences to date and I am just at the beginning.
Your first challenge is to find the right instructor. I have taken lessons from those who teach by yelling, humiliation etc. Those methods don't work at this age (and personally I don't think they work period). I found a quiet stable with an instructor who is nearing retirement age herself. She is sensitive to an older riding and all our fears, aches and pains. The approach is low key, quiet and relaxed. I am more relaxed leaving than arriving which is what makes me keep coming back.
Second, do not put yourself on a schedule. It is nice to have a goal but not deadlines. My goal is to ride safely and have fun. I have no illusions of competing. I have no deadline for getting there. It takes a lot of pressure off. If the lesson is inconvenient, the weather is crumby or my head isn't in the right place, I reschedule. This is supposed to be fun not another pressure.
Third, recognize that all your previous injuries will come back to haunt you. Over the years, I have had several accidents, riding, farm related etc that have created all sorts of imbalances in my body. I can strongly recommend massage therapy, physiotherapy and exercise. You need to try to bring your body back into balance for your sake and that of your horse.
Forth, get the right horse. Get yourself a well schooled, mature quiet horse... and probably a whole
lot smaller horse than you think you should have. My horses are 14.3,
solid boned and plenty big enough. It is not as far up and more importantly it is not as far down. While our horses are quiet and sensible, they probably don't have the mileage that a beginner's horse should have but they have known me for 10 years and I am confident around them. I guess this is one suggestion where people should probably do as I say and not as I do.
Fifth, get the right equipment. This right now is a fantasy hunt for the perfect saddle for both me and my horse. Stay tuned.
Sixth, get help where you need it especially with dealing with the psychological challenges you have. Fear is normal; these are big animals and riding can be dangerous. I follow Jane Savoie's Facebook page and can really recommend her videos, advice and definitely her motivation. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Solve-Horseback-Riding-Fe...
And finally, have fun. I know I am.
Hawk Hill Farmwww.hawkhillfarm.ca