I started at 50. 56 now. Bought a horse and started - which is NOT a good idea. Still have her 6+ years later. Some thoughts from an older person's perspective:
1 - The ground IS getting harder. I rode a few times when I was in my early 20, visiting ranches and the like, and I thought nothing about falls. The one fall I've had at 50+ was when my horse exploded during a dismount. The injury to my lower back forced me to stop jogging for 5 years - from Jan 2009 until last summer.
Don't be afraid to be afraid, or to "cheat". I found an Australian saddle a life-saver compared to an English saddle while trying to learn riding on a spooky horse in the desert. It saved my butt many times:
I've only NEEDED a bucking strap once...but it was on our unflappable, steady-Eddie gelding. It saved my butt that day. I still have one on my western saddle. Haven't touched it...but I like having it.
Wear a helmet. They aren't that bad. But do not assume falls are a part of learning. One or two might be, but they mostly are a sign of trying to do more than you are capable of handling.
2 - Lots of riding instructors want to force your leg and hips to do things THEY could do when THEY learned to ride at 6. Don't believe them. A relaxed
leg is better than some ideal position. If that means your toes are out some - so what? VS Littauer recommended a 30 deg toe out angle, and the US Cavalry taught up to 45 deg out.
With time and many rides, my toes don't go out as far as they used to, and my heels are closer to my hip than they used to be. But I jogged for 40 years straight before riding, and my hips and legs were tight in a way that protected them while jogging
. They needed to loosen up, but a 50 year old body will not loosen up the way an 8 year old body will. Don't force it.
3 - Read. In particular, I recommend:
- VS Littauer Riding and Schooling Horses
- Gen Chamberlin
Both approach things from the English perspective, but they are fine books. The Complete Guide to Western Horsemanship
- JP Forget How Your Horse Wants You to Ride
4 - Have fun!