I'm new here and just began taking beginner horseback riding lessons in February. I'm older (59) and I'm wondering if it's normal to find horseback riding physically challenging in the beginning. After I've had a lesson working on posting, and not posting the entire lesson but working on that skill, I can be beet red and really tired. I don't have the leg strength to push up and down in a post very long and get worn out fast.
I've actually been wondering if I should talk to my cardiologist about it. As far as I know, I don't have any health problems that would be an issue. I have no idea how it feels to others when they are just getting started. Of course, the NC heat doesn't help either.
I've also wondered if I would find Western more relaxed than English? I have the opportunity to do both where I'm riding.
It takes time to build up to being able to post for long periods of time, and even longer until you don't get sore from it. Even now if I spend more than a couple hours riding english instead of western I get crampy and sore. I find english in general to be more harsh on the joints, which is probably why I have my daily tylenol regiment. When I got serious in the horse world, my trainer had me jogging for cardio every other day, had me doing leg lifts, squats, lunges, etc. To have my legs super fit no matter how long I had to be in the saddle. Its strenuous, but as long as you keep at it, and build up slowly, your body can adapt and it can go back to being just fun :) Posted via Mobile Device
I started at 50. Riding uses muscles I hadn't used in jogging and other sports.
I think riding western IS easier on the body than riding with a forward seat. I can't speak to riding English in a dressage seat, since I haven't tried that.
I found riding in a "chair seat" easier on my legs than trying to put my heels under my hip, although the books all said I NEEDED to get my heel under my hip. Unhappily, many western riding instructors have followed the 'heels under hip' stuff, which isn't required for good western riding.
One of the problems with starting when older is that many riding instructors don't know what it is like to start with an older body. Many learned when young and flexible, and they don't understand the trade-offs that need to be made when you aren't a teen.
You also don't need to post with western riding. You can if you wish, but it is entirely OK to just sit in the saddle during a trot, and bounce a bit until your subconscious mind learns how to minimize the bounce.
If the western horse knows how to neck rein, you can ride him one handed. I find it much harder to be tense when I'm riding with one hand resting on my thigh.
As you do more riding, gaining both skill & flexibility, you can THEN adjust your style of riding - if you wish. A lot depends on your goals.
If you want to jump or perform in dressage, you would need to change your style. If you wish to ride trails, then you can ride western with long legs, a chair seat & one-handed as long as you wish. The cowboys around 1900 did...
I started lessons English riding at 41. Even then, I remember it being super exhausting. I didn't think I could do an hour. Now, at 54, I can post on and on and on. YOu get used to it, and the better you become at it, the less energy you use. You should choose the style of riding that yo most want to do.
However, it wouldn't hurt to have a dr.'s exam before you start this.
I ride western and I even post although I have finally gotten the sitting trot down.
My first trailride was wonderful I was on a high that I thought I would never come off of, that is until I got home. I spent most of the day praying for sleep because my muscles were twitching while laying down. The next day the real soreness set in, I must have taken 3 hot soaks, covered myself from head to toe in icy hot, that sensation only last a few minutes and was hardly worth accidently rubbing my eyes and getting it in them.
I rode quite a bit my first summer and I know my husband was sick of "when is my body going to get used to this" I thought the hardest part of arranging a ride was getting everyone together, not it's making sure that I was off work the day after the ride lol
I'm 46 and this is my 3rd summer riding, it does get better I go on 3hour trailrides now and while I feel tired after its a good tired, my mind is clear I feel so alive and the next day isn't too bad either.
You will get there, it does take time but it will happen
Riding is a serious workout! I totally understand where you're coming from. Even when I have a lesson (and I've been riding for a long time), I'll often have jell-o legs at the end and be sore/tired for a long time after. I also get red when I ride. Unfortunate side effect of being a redhead.
It does get easier. I'm assuming you're riding English right now. If you want, why don't you give western a try for one lesson and see what you think? It's a different style and will take some getting used to, but you may find you prefer it. Or you may find you prefer English. Nothing wrong with either! But just think about all those muscles you're building! And building more muscle = burning more calories at rest. And that's awesome. :)