We’ve all been there, careers, children, saving to buy a house. Life catches up with us and our childhood riding dreams are temporarily put on hold, while we learn to adult.
We are still obsessed with horses, I know my neck cranes as we drive past someone riding, or I’ll stay up to goodness knows when to watch the eventing on the other side of the world. Our passion never leaves us, and eventually, we are in the position to get back into riding.
And here are a few tips that might help you get back on the horse…
1. Find a good riding school. After a few years out of the saddle, and a few bad habits long forgotten, it is a great idea to find a local riding school with lovely quiet horses and accredited instructors. Our bodies change as we get older (we certainly don’t bounce like we did as kids) and it provides us a chance to get our riding fitness back without being overly committed to looking after a horse full time.
As adults, we’ve usually moved away from our home towns. I’m 800km from mine and attending a riding school helps us to make new horsey friends, get recommendations for local farriers, vets etc as well as find out when suitable horses come up on the market...which brings me to point two.
2. Don’t rush finding your unicorn! When you are ready to make the commitment to buy your first horse as an adult rider, don’t rush it! Unfortunately, the horse world hasn’t changed that much, and there will be plenty of unsuitable mounts out there being advertised as something amazing. It took me almost 12 months to find my dork, and I’m so glad for every horse I called up about and didn’t see, or every horse I went to see and didn’t ride as it made it so much more special when I found him.
Also, remember, you can ride. I can’t stress enough that with littlies around, you need a safe horse, but ensure you buy something that is going to challenge you a bit. There are plenty of safe, challenging horses out there, and it helps to feel like your achieving something in your riding. My boy and I both suffer from nerves, so every ride for me is a challenge, but every good ride is amazing. Over our two years together, our bond is so strong, and I can’t imagine life without him!
3. Be kind on yourself. You might be a career woman, you might be a wife, you might be a mother, the breadwinner, or a combination or all of the above. Some weeks you might barely get to see your horse, except as a silhouette in an otherwise dark feed run, or you may only ride a few times during winter; you have kids sports on the weekend, you have to work late, feed the kids etc, and this is completely OK! Don’t feel guilty because your horse is sitting in the paddock while you are living life, or feel pressured because others are able to ride every night. Their commitments are different to yours. Your horse is an opportunity to escape the day to day, and even a simple brush on the weekends will go a long way to keeping you and your horse happy. It’s about you and getting some ‘you’ time, or as my instructor says, ‘you do you’.
4. Embrace your new community. You are now a member of the returning to ride as adult’s club. That brings a lot of joy and with it, amazing new friends. I have found a lot of horsey friends online, in various social media groups, based around dressage and increasing rider confidence, as well as at local riding clubs, events and even work!
I have also spent a lot of time researching products. The joy of returning to ride as an adult, you generally have a healthier budget to spend on flash horse things and, in some ways, equestrian products have moved on quite a bit. There is a lot more products out there for plus sized riders, such as myself, higher quality saddles and bridles, rugs, horse care products…the list goes on, and it can be a little daunting. This where you can ask for advice from your new community!
I was never a huge competitor, didn’t attend pony club much, but for me, horses just complete my soul. There is something special about that horse you bond with and I try and remember that when I’m scratching my gorgeous dorks head through the fence as I rush to feed him in high heels and a skirt, on the way home from work before I have to take the kids to sport. Just enjoy the privilege of having such a special soul in your life.
What tips do you have for an adult returning to riding? Or perhaps stories you would like to share about your journey. Share them with us