We Ride Sport and Trail Magazine July 2016 - Page 33

Why are you hesitant to jump up there and tear off at a gallop into the sunset?

Well, physically, you're not a kid any more! You're probably not in shape, riding muscles weak from lack of use. Your balance will not be as it was, either. Your mind may remember what to do, but muscles forget!

Also, mentally and emotionally, even though your mind is thinking like a 15 year old about riding, the truth causes self doubt. You think about what might go wrong and it makes you anxious. You might even find yourself making excuses not to ride! Nature has a built in caution to keep us safe as we age. 'Be careful!’, we told our kids a hundred times. We were kids once... but now is different.

Preparation: Take care of your unsteadiness by starting a diet and exercise program to strengthen your core and increase balance. Horseback riding is a sport! Be sure to stretch those leg muscles to increase range of motion and avoid painful cramps! This will give you the ability to follow your horse's movements with confidence.

that will fill in for you, not challenge you evoking fear and chaos! When looking for a new horse, be picky. Your gettingbackinthesaddle horse should be a nice quiet, older horse. And one that has no scars on the bridge of his nose! (A red flag meaning he has little or no stop). Avoid buying solely for Pretty. If you find a healthy, good tempered, well trained horse that's also pretty, you're lucky!

If you already own a horse that has been on extended vacation, he might be acting like an oversized couch potato! He's become a pasture ornament and now prefers to keep it that way! (If you can only catch him at feeding time, this might be an indicator!)

In either case, new horse or old friend, it's best to get in your horse's mind and get control of his emotions before you swing a leg over. Test his reliability to take care of you when you get back in the saddle.