Tuesday, May 17, 2011

After Twenty Years--Just Like Riding a Bike

I love the story of how my cousin Kim decided that she needed to start riding again. Three days a week, her daily drive took her past a stable where she could see some horses and riders in a large jump ring or in the next field practicing cross-country. One day, it suddenly occurred to her that as an adult, she could decide for herself that she wanted to ride—gone were the days when she had to beg her parents to arrange for lessons.

And, Kim was a lucky kid—lots of summer camps with riding and an uncle who owned a couple of Arabians close to a network of trails. But the financial demands of graduate school and getting started in career and motherhood made her hang up her helmet for a while.

At a family get-together, Kim asked me about places to ride in the area. I had forgotten that Kim used to ride herself. I offered to show her around the two barns where I spend my time and after a few weeks, she was enrolled in weekly lessons. “I was intimidated to start riding after twenty years,” says Kim. I was there for Kim’s debut back in the saddle. She was nervous that she would forget to tighten the girth or something, but it all came back to her quickly, like riding a bike.

“The best part of riding is getting away from everything for a little while. As a part-time working mother of two young kids, this is the only activity that I do that is only for me and no one else. Everything else in my life is to take care of someone else,” says Kim.
When I was getting ready to start my blog and asked Kim how she felt about riding again. I think many readers can relate:
“I am a very different rider than I was 20 years ago. I am a lot more tentative. I mostly ride one horse named Truce. She is exactly what I enjoy most about riding. From what I have been told, she used to be a dressage horse, so she is responsive to my cues. I enjoy learning about her and seeing how we can improve our communication with each other. She is very stable and I trust her quite a bit. I really dislike riding horses that scare me or if I feel like I can't trust them. That to me, at this point in my life, is not enjoyable. I understand riding different horses can improve your riding skills. It's just at my age of 43, I don't care about improving my skills as much. For me it is all about the enjoyment versus the challenge. I ride because I enjoy it, and when I ride Truce it relaxes me and gets my mind off everything else going on in my life.”

Kim and Truce, majestic thoroughbred and former dressage horse, now serving as Chief Confidence Builder for returning riders
I asked Kim about how other's react to her riding again. She told me, "that has been the most surprising thing. Most people look at me like I am out of my mind. I feel like they don't get why a grown woman would like to still be riding. I am usually the only adult woman in a class of girls. My peers are the mothers who are sitting on the bench watching their daughters. At the same time, I have been taken off guard by the (admittedly much smaller) number of women who light up when I tell them about my riding. These women share that they too used to ride and that they have thought about starting to ride again. My husband tries to be supportive. I just think sometimes he doesn't understand what riding means to me since he is not a rider himself. I think that is why I like spending time at the barn--you just know that everyone there 'gets it' and understands the passion for horses and riding."

Hmmm, sounds familiar!

Editor’s Note: Truce is a very special mare. At 17 hands, she is a stately thoroughbred and one of queens of the barn. She is a delight to ride and one of my favorites, too.


  1. It's so empowering to get back in the saddle again. Six years ago, I finally got a horse after a very long break to marry and have children. It's contagious, though. Now my friends are taking the leap as well!

  2. Thanks for your blog! I am finally getting serious about learning to play polo at the age of 55!

  3. Thanks for the comments! I appreciate it! Great blog, Susan, looking forward to reading more about polo.