Haven't been on forum for a while but what a gem of a thread this one is! Thank you, Country Woman, for the great idea!
I am 56 and got into riding with my daughter about 4 years ago. Took lessons with her. She started lessons at age 13 and didn't want to be in classes with little kids so we did lessons together with an instructor. I have always been into outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking, and athletic since high school, so riding appealed to me on several levels. I had seen people camping and trail riding in the wilderness and thought that it would be great to share the outdoors with a horse.
Anyway... daughter lost interest and I kept up with lessons, but once a week wasn't enough horse for me. Began doing trail rides on rented horses but that was expensive. Leased a horse, then found my mare Nessie in the same herd. I had been watching her for a while, and remembered the first day I ever laid eyes on her. I was in awe of her. Leased her for several months then bought her. She was a cutting horse, then brood mare. Her last baby is being trained at my barn now for cutting.
Leasing was great, I could ride everyday. Was fairly expensive so prepared me for cost of ownership. Funny, I remember back then while leasing my mare, asking a woman who boarded at the barn (who has now become one of my horsey friends) "Just what exactly is this "horse" thing??? I can't get enough of it!" She laughed and said, "Well, it is an expensive hobby". Another man I met while riding back in the leasing days told me that one day I would find a horse that I would love stronger than I have ever loved anyone or anything. And he was an old crusty guy, too. I think that for me it is the working relationship with the animal that is that "love" bond. I have gotten my mare back into shape, and want to always have something new to do together. I am looking into lessons again now, to perfect some skills such as rollbacks and starting off with a trot/lope, and then want to do team penning and sorting just for fun. There is an arena just about a mile away that is a major headquarters for penning and sorting, but finding the buddies to practice with is of course always the challenge. We no longer have cows at my boarding barn, either.
When I pay off the bills, hopefully by end of summer, for my daughter's care [don't ask :( ] I will then buy a used truck and small trailer to haul to trails. Now my riding friends and I share trucks & trailers!
So many of your stories on this thread brought tears to my eyes, with accounts of hardships, moves, losses. For whoever it was that began the "You know you are maturing when... " list (forgive me, don't remember!) I just want to add: You know you are maturing when you don't take anything for granted, and are grateful for the simple, beautiful moments in everyday life. I have had my share of heartaches, and lately with above-mentioned daughter, but spend every evening watching the sun set over an old barn in a pasture that has been home to my mare for over 10 years, as my 11 month-old colt munches on his grain and my mare, tied close by, watches me in anticipation of another evening of riding together. I've got mud on my boots, my hands are dirty, am usually alone, but I have never been happier!
Will try to find pic to post when I get home.