Middle Age Horsing Around

snowbound

This picture features a white woman in a pink sweatshirt that says, A ride a day keeps the therapist away. She is holding onto the bridle of a large white horse with a pink and grey nose. is name is Snowbound. He is not the horse that she is referring to in the rest of this piece. He is a bit of a Jerk.

I ride horses once a week for the sheer pleasure of it. It is a lesson but that’s because it is the easiest way to get on a horse and I might as well learn something while I am doing it. What is odd about my lessons and my horsing as compared to most of the other people I encounter at the barn (the tween and teen crowd) is I don’t take these lessons for any purpose. I don’t show and I’m not in any hurry to do that. I am utterly not feeling competitive about this sport. I love the animal and the activity.

However, it’s still a lesson and my new-this-year coach is excellent. She occasionally switches me to a horse that is more “challenging”. In the last few months, I’ve asked her to stop doing that. There is a horse I ride who I am really in tune with. She goes well for me and I can get her to behave in ways most other riders can’t. She doesn’t jump high because of her construction. But she likes to have fun and she is game for any number of skills improving exercises in the lesson. The more interesting the lesson is, the better she goes. It’s really great.

The shift that happened for me was my acceptance that I don’t need to “progress” for progression sake. I don’t need to jump higher. I don’t need a more forward (fast) horse. I don’t even need to learn to do flying lead changes (a hop and a skip in the middle of a canter/lope) if it’s going to freak her out. We just need to have fun and stay moving.

I’m a pretty confident rider with a solid skill set at this level. I am game for occasionally schooling (teaching) a horse to pay attention to a rider and stop shenanigans so that younger riders can benefit from that. But I have no desire any more to be the rider that conquers the wild horse or risks all sorts of injury while riding an animal that is too much for me.

I’m so chill with my new-ish settled attitude and honestly, it just makes riding more fun.

Go go ahead, do the fun thing and don’t worry about improving. It’s okay!

About Susan Tarshis

I am a full time Psychotherapist practicing in Milton, Ontario. From time to time, I post thoughts about my practice and the human condition to my own blog but mostly, I'm a regular contributor to my friends' blog (Fit is a Feminist Issue). . .because that's more fun.

9 thoughts on “Middle Age Horsing Around

  1. This is exactly the stage I’m at with salsa dancing. I’m at the point where I can dance comfortably with pretty much anyone, and that’s as far as I want to go.
    There are styling classes and other types of dance that can be incorporated into salsa, but I’m just not interested in them. I can go out and have an excellent dance, and that’s exactly good enough for me.

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  2. Sam B says:

    Love this. It’s exactly that attitude that I’m trying to cultivate about Aikido. I’m still learning stuff, yes, still having lots of fun. Telling myself I can be a happy green belt forever. I’m training to keep up my green belt skills and enjoy myself, enjoy the art, enjoy the company. Mostly I’m good at keeping this attitude. You look very smiley and happy!

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  3. catherine w says:

    I so get this– thanks for articulating this thought! By the way, I get it with respect to horses, too. I grew up riding, and after I had acquired some skills, I was given more challenging (read assholish, if a horse can be said to be so) horses. One of them tried to bite me sometimes, another would try to run away with me to the barn at the end of a ride (she was hungry and done with me). Yet another would, on trail rides, try to lurch into a gallop on any rise or hill, and I had all I could do to keep him in check. These horses were exhausting!

    Enjoy your nice happy horse rapport, and I envy you your weekly lessons!

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  4. siglindesarts says:

    I bought my own horse a couple of years ago and am really enjoying riding the same horse all the time. She is middle aged and will never get much better, so all the pressure to keep improving is off. Instead, we focus on flexibility and strength in the hopes that I’ll still be able to ride her 10 or more years from now. Working with a coach who understands teaching adults is a great part of that. She likes being able to explain things in ways that are more appropriate for adults, and I love getting biomechanics feedback at a level of detail that would drive the little kids nuts. I would love to know about your experiences as an adult student.

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    • Oh yes exactly!! I love all the technical details and asking the questions I didn’t know to ask when I was a kid. I like to push to really understand “when you say, hold her up on the turn, what, exactly to you mean?”, or “make a wall with your outside rein” or “get her back on her hind end”. I’ve been listening to these things in various ways for years but as an adult, I get to figure out what what means for my body as well as the horse. It’s really cool.

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  5. Sara (@sajego) says:

    This makes me think of trying to teach my last partner to ski. He got good enough to be comfortable and pretty fast on the intermediate terrain but I always wished he’d ski with me on the expert stuff so I could be more challenged. But he just wanted to enjoy himself at his level. I was frustrated by that and in the end I’ve found other people to ski with.

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    • I ski like your partner lol. I remember one time skiing with my brother, who rather likes a challenge and that phrase, “C’mon Sue, it doesn’t look too bad. You can probably do it” will never be listened to by me or my sister-in-law EVER again!

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