What is that “Certain Age”?

Recently I read this in Horse Sport magazine.

How old is a woman of ‘a certain age’?

According to a 1995 column in the New York Times, “only a Nosy Parker would try and find out.” A joke, of course, but one from a (hopefully) bygone era when women felt pressured to be coy about their age. One thing is for certain — older women have considerable presence in the horse world today.

According to Fran Severn, author of the recently published Riders of a Certain Age: Your Go-To Guide for Loving Horses Mid-life and Beyond, riders over 40 are the fastest growing segment of the equestrian world, with those 65-plus seeing the biggest jump. 

I can remember being 40.Now at 73 it is a receding memory however. But I can identify with the 65 plus group. What is my riding history? I started to ride at age 9 and rode until I was 19. Then university, life and lack of funds meant I stopped riding. I did not ride again for 30 years . I started back when my daughter started riding . I was 49. I have not stopped since apart from an involuntary stop at the moment due to having worn out my 20 year old replaced hip and new parts are required to be surgically put in.

Apparently fear is an issue for most older riders. I can honestly say I do not feel I have any major fears.. When I bought Biasini I was told he had a spook. I ascertained what kind of spook it was and felt that it was not a problem. In my time back riding I have had a fall off one horse(Not Biasini). Despite having had hip replacement surgery and my surgeon having told me it was “forbidden to fall off.” the fall did not result in any real damage to my at the time 60+ body.

I have had one of my coaches tell me that he felt that my experience as an eventer when I was a teenager and the “wild” riding I did then gave me a good seat for sticking on a horse. I think he may be right. I do know it helps me to not be fearful.

I have seen a number of women who have had very successful careers come to riding and not succeed as well as they felt they should. This may be not doing as well in competition as they had hoped or just not being able to advance up levels as fast as they want to . Many of the over 65 group of women ride in the discipline of dressage and there are those very clear and obvious “levels” from training right up to the FEI levels of Prix St. George, Intermediare and on to Grand Prix. Not every one aims to get to the Grand Prix. Realistically that is a very lofty goal. Some women suffer from frustration when then find out how much time and work and effort have to go into moving up the levels. Others take on the challenge in stride and move on with enjoyment.

It is my belief that the most important thing is to have a good coach and that coach must be well qualified and understand that they are teaching and training an older rider. I have been lucky enough to have a coach that does not mollycoddle me as an old woman but does push me to work hard and to give it the best go I can.

I have had people, who are not riders, ask why I am still taking lessons. “Don’t you already know how to ride?” they ask. I will explain to them that continuing to learn and to get help with my horse is of paramount importance.

Getting help from a good qualified coach is the answer to fear. They will teach you how to ride well and stay on your horse and they will help you to understand what your horse is doing and why they react to certain things the way they do.

Last of all it is important to get the right horse. This may not be the 17hh flashy fancy “dream” horse that will leave everyone gobsmacked. For those of us amatuer riders over 65 the flashy fancy horse may have too much energy and that impressive trot may not be comfortable. A horse that you can ride with confidence is what matters most. Again this is where a good coach who knows you as a rider can help you select the right horse.

For me riding is therapy and pure joy. I think that most of the over 65 riders would probably agree. I hope so. I have not read Fran Severn’s book and if I do I will be sure to post a review.

Riders of a Certain Age: Your Go-To Guide for Loving Horses Mid-life and Beyond, by Fran Severn

The featured photo, taken by Queca Franco, for this post is of me competing at White Fences in 2020 just before the Pandemic shut down all shows. I believe we were doing a pirouette in the Intermediare 1 Freestyle.


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25 responses to “What is that “Certain Age”?”

  1. Deborah Avatar
    Deborah

    You’re only old as you feel. When it come to riding, it is managing your expectations regardless of age. A lot of riders, regardless of discipline, dream of riding at the elite level of sport. I admit my sisters and I had those dreams when we were very young. But, we invested the time and work to reach our level. We have a good coach in Trish who doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She is constantly pushing us to ride better, to execute better. We still have much to learn.

    We also temper our expectations. Talent only carries a rider so far. If you don’t have the intangibles and the work ethic, you are not going to advance to the next level. In riding, like life, the learning is an always ongoing process.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I agree. Certainly it is about focus hard work and a diligent approach. Talent isn’t the answer. It’s a nice idea but not the whole thing.

      Like

    2. anne leueen Avatar

      On thinking about “you’re only as old as you feel.” I have to say that as a young person that is true. But as you get older you will find that your body occasionally reminds you that you are advancing in years. I had a friend I rode with as a kid and a teenager who died last week. She was the same age as me and it was such a shock for me . I resolved to live every day and make the most of it.

      Like

  2. Tanooki Avatar

    Oh wow, you have quite a long history riding horse!👀💕 So when you stopped riding them and again got opportunity to ride them, did you feel riding horse is a natural thing to you or did you have to adjust some way?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I think it is similar to riding a bicycle. Once you know how to do it , even years later, you can just get on and pedal away.I got on a horse having not ridden for 30 years and I could just ride like it had been no time at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Michele Lee Avatar

    An inspiring and interesting article, Anne. Many life lessons beyond riding. 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Amy Avatar

    Your successful careers come to riding is amazing!
    Congratulations, Anne!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Tina Schell Avatar

    You know what they say Anne – old is 10 years older than you are!! I so agree with your perspective and love that you continue to push through anything the gets in your way. Hope you’re back on Biasini very soon!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I won’t be able to ride until April when we get back from Florida and I get the worn out hip parts replaced. But it’s ok.

      Like

  6. rkrontheroad Avatar

    I just finished reading Horse by Geraldine Brooks, about Lexington and horse racing, and race, in Civil War times. You would enjoy if you haven’t already read it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I have read it and loved it. It made me realize I now nothing about Black history in the US. So now I’m reading The 1619 Project. Not an easy read but very informative.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lesley Avatar
    Lesley

    I’m proud of you, Anne, for continuing to do what you love best and always finding solutions to any obstacle that may occur. I love to read about what you and Biasini are doing and I’ve said it before – you are a great role model for us older ladies, and inspiring to younger ones too.

    Actually, I’m proud of women in general in the world of sport just now. We’re getting involved in all kinds of sports and showing just how good women can be. 😀 I never thought I’d see the day when my old dad would watch a women’s football match and admit that they played better than men!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Thank you Lesley for this very supportive comment. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pepper Avatar

    Definitely agree with Susie You are amazing and an inspiration. 😊👏🏽

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Thank you Pepper I appreciate your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Laura Avatar

    I remember hearing “a woman of a certain age” years ago, I didn’t really give it much thought but as time has passed. I kind of laugh now because so many aging women are amazing successes in a variety of fields. It is my belief that our age has little to do with our choices, it isn’t the first thing on my mind when planning anything. Congratulations on following your inspiration and letting nothing stop you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Thank you for this comment Laura. I think we cannot get knotted up by our age and you are right in how you are thinking about it and planning your life.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. cagedunn Avatar

    To keep learning and to have fun! I still go to some pony clubs to help new riders or green horses, even though I don’t ride anymore. There are many ways to love horses and riding.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Yes there are many ways to be involved with horses. It looks like you have found a way to be wiht horses without riding them. Bravo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. cagedunn Avatar

        Can’t live without our wonderful companions, in any way we can.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. susiesopinions Avatar

    You are amazing, and love you represent us older ladies ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      You are too kind Susie. I have you in my mind as one of my active older women who does not let age define her at all!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. susiesopinions Avatar

        Very much appreciated ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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