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glitterbutton 07-10-2011 03:00 AM

Back in the saddle
Hello! I am new to the forum and I realize there are already posts about riding later in life, but I decided to start my own :)
I started riding english at 12 (started in dressage then ended up in hunter/jumper) and rode for about 5 years with an instructor. College happened and then the real world of being a young adult, so I ended up not riding for about 6 years and am just getting back into taking lessons. Based on reading other posts, I am happy to know that I am not the only one who lost their confidence! I feel so frustrated that those years of knowledge and ability seem so far gone.
I feel like a newbie, but less resilient because I am over 10 years older than when I started. I can vividly remember lessons I've had in the past and the things I learned over the years but I still feel so unsure of myself...and actually confused about some things that I haven't been before.
I am hoping that with each lesson, my confidence will continue to build and build but right now I feel like there is SO much to relearn and it is overwhelming.
I'm super excited that riding is a part of my life again, but I am finding it very daunting. My goal is to get back to, or further than I was at 18 and ultimately get my own horse but I sometimes get the feeling that it might be unrealistic.
I would greatly appreciate any words of encouragement, advice and just hear some of your experiences.

Lobelia Overhill 07-10-2011 05:58 AM

Hi, I first started riding when I was 12 or 13, I got my own pony when I was 18, but had to sell her a couple of years later. I gave up riding for a while, then started again, then I had a [non horse related] accident where I damaged my back and pelvis so I had to stop riding, and didn't start again until I was in my late 20s...

Things had changed a lot in the meantime, you sit differently, and you use your legs differently, and falling off hurts a lot more than it used to!

I got back into things again, and a couple of years ago I bought myself a new horse. I have lapses of confidence all the time and try to remember back to a time when I wasn't so scared and see if I can't re-capture that mind-set.

I think it just takes time!

serafina 07-10-2011 05:52 PM

I learned on my cousin's backyard pony how to stay on a bucking horse, bareback, at age 9. Don't even ask about helmets...

I'm from Texas, originally, and it seems like everyone in the rural areas has horses hanging around, and so I went on loads of trail rides, and hired horses for trail riding whenever I could - for decades.

Now I'm 43 and I'm finally learning to ride properly (no, people, that is not a slur on trail riding, because good trail riders can keep their horses from eating grass and stuff, and I couldn't). I'm learning hunt seat, and by golly, one of these days I'm going to try jumping. Not any time real soon - ground poles are where I'm at - but I will do it.

AND I'm going to get my own horse...just as soon as I figure out whether I want to do jumping or dressage.

You can do it! You will get so much more out of your lessons than you did as a teenager. Your brain is more mature now than it used to be, and your focus is probably a lot better, and you're better able to translate directions and commentary into useful skill development. These are the HUGE benefits that come with learning stuff as an adult versus as a kid. You'll see - this will be even more fun than it was the first time!

serafina 07-10-2011 05:57 PM

Also, as far as being daunting - holy cow, I know what you mean. I get this lesson horse who is some kind of Super Genius at assessing his rider's skill level, and tailoring the tricks he throws out to that - usually at one level above rider's current skill. This makes him a great teacher, for a certain kind of student.

Last week he paid me the compliment of bringing out his most evil trick to date, one that required me to post, do a leg yield, and kick him all at the same time - while keeping my hands quiet. Turns out I can do two of those at once, but not all three - as a result we were either constantly winding up at a full stop in the requested position, or going forward at the requested speed but scraping the rail. I've got a jolly great bruise on my knee from a collision with a post. ARGH!!!

I just have to remind myself, once in a while, that if I wanted something to ride that was totally predictable and 100% subject to my personal whims and preferences...I'd have bought a motorcycle or a bike. :D

You will get the muscle memory back, and you will not have to keep thinking about every little thing you are doing. It will happen. Probably sooner rather than later since you already had some of this. Just have patience with yourself & the horse & the process...

tinyliny 07-10-2011 06:52 PM

Yes, there are lots of threads about riders coming back or into horses later in life. Mind you, your idea of later in life and mine are real different.
I got a lot more in my brain going for me, and a lot less in the bod. (less muscle and balance). But it means that I enjoy the thinking part of riding a lot more, and it is definitely a thinking sport. I bet your horse will like the way your ride as an adult better than the hell bent for leather thoughtless kid you may have been at times.

Opus 07-11-2011 05:30 PM

Congrats! Yes, there's many of us getting back into the swing of things. I learned WTC and did small jumps 12 years ago. And now, after 8 months of lessons, I'm finally getting back to where I was when I stopped riding.

Things *do* feel a lot different now. It's like you know what to do, but your body doesn't want to cooperate at first. And sometimes when you hesitate on a particular exercise, you feel silly because you know you can do it and have done it. Hell, even just getting onto a horse again was kind of an OMG rush.

It'll just take some time to get everything working together again. :)

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