It’s 2019 and we’re all a year older. Whatever your age, the good news is you can still keep logging pleasurable miles in the saddle--if you go about it with a little thoughtfulness and common sense.
Here are some tips to keep you riding at any age.
• Be real. Just as you wouldn’t let a 5-year-old go on a death-defying trail ride, so should you avoid over-facing yourself with an unrealistically difficult challenge. By all means, push yourself and explore new territory. But at an age where injuries take longer to heal and can result in long-term disabilities, place extra emphasis on common-sense safety measures.
• Stay strong. Our muscles can wither and weaken with age unless we take active measures to prevent that from happening. Riding alone won’t do the trick, but a modest strength-training routine will.
Here’s one great program for maintaining core strength plus flexibility, good posture, and balance.
(And, should you ever find yourself graced with bionic body parts, here are tips for riding after joint replacement.)
• Be comfy. Take advantage of all comfort gear and equipment, including: extra-cushioning saddle pads and tush cushions, both of which reduce jarring to your lower back; cushioned stirrups, which ease ankle and knee joints; mounting blocks, which spare your horse’s back while easing your swing into the saddle; and a safety helmet--which can be a life-or-death "comfort item" in the event of a fall.
• Ride Mr. Right. Seniorhood is no time to be starting colts. For safety and satisfaction, stick to Steady Eddies with good temperaments and plenty of seasoning miles. A good match between you and your horse is important at any age, but especially now. So if the horse you have is intimidating or hard to control, seek professional training or consider replacing him.
• Buddy up. If you aren’t already doing so, get involved with like-minded friends. Good riding buddies become your support system, challenging and inspiring you.
Join a local riding club or start one of your own. With 23 chapters across North America, the all-disciplines Old Peoples Riding Club might be a fun place to start.
Or check with your breed or sport organization.