When is it too late to start horseback riding?

If you have a sudden fancy to become a horseback rider at an older age, you are in luck because it’s never too late to learn to ride a horse! When you turn 50 years old, 60 years old, 70 years old (or older), the chances are that you probably have good mental stability, self control, self-management and ability to listen attentively to your instructor.  All this can help you to start as equestrian much easier than for some younger folks.

Learning to horseback ride at 50 (and even 60!) is definitely possible.

So when is it too late to start horseback riding? The short answer is never! Starting horse riding at 50 or 60 is possible.

As an older rider, you should build up confidence! Age has no meaning to a horse. Like any domesticated animal its main goals are eating and sleeping. Learning to ride depends only on your motivation and confidence.  So horse won’t judge you by your age.

The biggest challenges at your age will be flexibility issues, fear of falling and breaking the bones, and sometimes financial issues. But the good things outweigh the danger. Be aware that you’re probably going to fall off sooner or later. But you shouldn’t let it consume you if that’s something you are concerned about. Invest in an air jacket to soften your fall. If you do let fear consume you than you’re not going to enjoy it and you’re wasting money on something that you’re stressing about.  

I recommend consulting your physician about possible bone-thinning issues. Take a fingerprint on your bone density if you are over the age of 50. If you have such issues you need to benchmark for yourself where you are. And wear as many braces as you need to help your body out.

Most people over the age of 50 will feel some muscle strain when they first start riding. And it’s completely normal. Your upper leg muscles, and probably back muscles (such as Latissimus dorsi) will feel sore after your first lessons because they aren’t used in the same way for other activities.

That being said some older riders take painkillers drugs (like Advil or Motrin) before or after riding lessons, but I personally wouldn’t do it.

So if you want to start horseback riding at 50 or even at much older age, first thing you need to do is to experience it before you make any long-term investments.  For example you can go on the trail ride, although on this type of ride horses just follow other horses and you don’t really get a feel how to actually control your horse.

So I would recommend a private lesson first because having a one-on-one thing with an instructor is the best way for you to understand that you do actually want to learn riding yourself despite your older age and feel like there’s a necessary effort in you needed to start learning. Or you can read book for beginners, I usually recommend ‘Horseback riding for dummies‘.

The first thing to do is to experience it,  and once you like it, consider possible age related health issues, and then start thinking about serious horseback riding commitments. Are you having at least a little balance, general muscle strength, emotional and mental health? If yes, then you are ready to start learning horseback riding right away. If not, don’t worry, you still can do it, just take it easy, step by step. In another words you should be at least reasonably fit because horseback riding is a sport after all. Remember, that the more fit you are, the easier it will be.

After a couple of private lessons you can invest in good safety helmet, required gear (hard-soled shoes with a heel), and such. Always double check condition of your horse, tack, stables, etc. Find a trainer who will start you on a lunge line.

Also consider costs. Be prepared that it’s going to be a long term investment, not just a horse riding itself even if you don’t own a horse (some people lease a horse). It’s the attire, the driving to the horseback riding school, equestrian insurance, and whole bunch of expensive things. So weight up the costs if you’re going to fund your horse riding lessons yourself. At the beginning don’t invest heaps of money into really expensive gear when you first decide to start taking some horseback riding lessons. Remember that some people think you are very rich if you own a horse, truth is you will be poor if you own a horse. But it is so worth it!

The next thing for an older rider to consider is attitude. When you do horseback riding there is a lot of work involved. For example, you will be building your own muscles (even at the age of 50 or 60!), your mental status, confidence and so on.

 Do you have the right attitude? Are you open minded person? Are you ready to step outside your comfort zone? Almost every single horse riding lesson older riders over their 50s or 60s pushing themselves a little bit of their comfort zone. Horses in a way looking for you to be the leader and if they don’t want to go outside their comfort zone you have to be there to persuade them to do so despite your age. As I said earlier, rider’s age has no meaning to a horse. But with that being said you should be able to push the boundaries of your comfort zone and be a leader of your horseback ride. For example if you ask a horse to do something you continue to ask until you get your results. Be clear, direct and don’t give up! But at the same sense listen to what your instructor says and don’t do anything dangerous.

If you want to be successful in horseback riding at an older age (be it at 50 or 60) you need to be in an environment where people  are going to support you in your endeavors despite your age and are going to carefully push you to your boundaries to learn horse riding at 50 and beyond. Tell your friends and family about your horseback riding hobby, find a group of people that you ride with at the stables and make sure they are supportive. Surround yourself with a group of people of your age who support you. Remember if you’re not doing it for yourself it’s not going to last in the long run. So make sure you have the right motivation and doing it for the right reasons and you’re not doing it because it’s a trend or because everyone over age of 50 doing it.

Remember that you will be working with another teammate despite him being an animal and not able to speak you’ll pick up its body language and you’ll pick up communication skills with your horse. So be ready to communicate with another living being!

If you decide to learn horse riding at 50 (or 60) you will definitely have a passion that will keep you very active and you will enjoy it! You will never lack for something to do. So just do it!

Want to learn more abour horseback riding basics? I found the most helpful book ever to read about horse back riding basics – Horseback Riding For Dummies by Audrey Pavia. It’s very funny and educational at the same time.