At the age of 47, I made the decision to reignite my passion for equestrian sports. After a hiatus of over three decades from the Hunter/Jumper horse show arena, I quickly realized just how much this traditional sport had evolved. Additionally, I couldn’t ignore the changes in my own body, as age had made it stiffer and less flexible than before.
Recognizing my eagerness for a transformation, I decided to join a CrossFit gym. Over the course of six months, I’ve been amazed by the positive changes I’ve witnessed in both my physical endurance and overall body strength. Being part of a responsible CrossFit “box” with knowledgeable trainers who prioritize correct form and mobility has been invaluable. Perhaps I’m going through a mid-life crisis, or maybe I’m simply seizing the opportunity to fully enjoy life while I still can.
Motivated by my desire to get back in the saddle, I reached out to a recommended hunter/jumper trainer in our area for a lesson. Despite carrying some extra pounds, I felt stronger than I had in years, and my excitement to immerse myself in this equestrian discipline was palpable.
My journey back into the equestrian world commenced with an email inquiry to the trainer:
I’m interested in your lesson program, but I don’t currently own a horse. Do you provide lesson horses? Are there any available slots?
Thank you for your time.”
The trainer promptly responded:
Yes, we offer lesson horses, and we have various time slots available. Please let me know your riding experience level and the days that work best for you. Please note that we are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Thank you for expressing interest.”
Excited to begin, I replied:
“I have some past riding experience, but it feels like starting from scratch. In short, I would feel comfortable with walk, trot, canter. I hope this helps as a starting point.”
The trainer’s reply came swiftly:
Could you please share your phone number? I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”
Arriving for my lesson, I watched as the trainer/owner led a horse from the turnout. Seizing the moment, I asked if she wanted me to bring my old saddle up to the barn. She glanced and responded, “You certainly can if you like, but we have saddles that might provide much greater comfort during your rides.” She then mentioned how people nowadays buy those old Hermes Steinkraus saddles for home decor. It made me realize how things had changed. Collecting my thoughts, I replied, “Comfort sounds good.” I grabbed my trusty old chaps and followed her up to the barn.
The trainer selected a wonderful horse named Radish and secured him in the cross ties. After a quick grooming and tacking up, I proceeded to put on my chaps. The friendly owner of the horse glanced at my chaps and remarked, “Oh wow, I had a pair of those back in the day.” In that moment, I couldn’t help but feel my age, coupled with a tinge of nervousness about getting back in the saddle.
With a mix of excitement and apprehension, I swung a leg over Radish and felt an immediate sense of familiarity. Despite being out of riding shape and feeling slightly winded, I managed to navigate the lesson without any major mishaps. To my delight, the trainer even allowed me to jump a few small fences, reigniting my passion for the thrill of clearing obstacles. I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the remarkable warmblood horse that carried me with such grace and confidence, making me feel like a superstar.
As I eagerly anticipate my next ride, I also find myself curious about the latest trends in the Hunter/Jumper industry. While I have an enduring love for the timeless aesthetics of traditional riding, I acknowledge that technology has brought advancements in rider comfort and safety. Just as the world of equine hoof care, in which I’ve been involved for over two decades, has seen the emergence of new materials and products that enhance the performance and comfort of horses and farriers, I’m open to embracing the positive changes in the equestrian realm.
In my own work, I take pride in being part of the hoof care industry, constantly striving to develop innovative products that enhance the performance of both the horse and the farrier. Two decades ago, farriers could hardly fathom using anything other than traditional steel horseshoes, viewing composite plastic horseshoes as unconventional. However, today, they carry alternative shoes like our HOOF-it Natural Flex Horseshoe alongside the traditional steel keg horseshoes. I find immense satisfaction in being at the forefront of the hoof care industry, introducing high-tech materials that improve the well-being of both the horse and the farrier.
In my quest to rediscover the joy of equestrian sports, I’ve embarked on an exciting journey as an amateur rider. The decision to return to the saddle after years away has brought about positive changes in my life. By combining my newfound dedication to fitness through CrossFit and my love for the hunter/jumper discipline, I’m experiencing a resurgence of passion and fulfillment.
As I embrace the changes in the equestrian world, I also hold dear the timeless traditions and aesthetics that make horse riding so special. It’s a delicate balance of honoring the past while embracing the advancements that enhance our experiences as riders. With each ride, I eagerly anticipate the chance to learn, grow, and discover the evolving trends that shape the equestrian community.
Join me on this journey of rediscovery, where I navigate the complexities of returning to equestrian sports as an amateur rider. Together, let’s explore the harmonious blend of tradition and innovation that makes the equestrian world so captivating.
Short on reading time? Try listening instead!