I Started Riding Horses In My Fifties

I was 50 when I began riding but that’s okay. My horse was in his 60’s.

My first lesson with Merlin
I wish I could say I was in better shape when I began riding Merlin.  But I would be lying.  This is a picture of me during my second lesson.  This wonderful horse let me on his back and never protested my weight or lack of skill.

I have since made it up to Merlin.  I bought him and he now has an easier life filled with playtime, love, carrots, companionship — and because I love Merlin, I lost weight.  When he retires it will be to green pastures where I will visit him and talk long walks with him everyday. He has given me his best and he will always have mine.

The First Time I Met Merlin

At age 50 I began riding horses. Well, a horse, anyhow and our first meeting was rather unceremonious. I arrived at the barn and was directed to the tack area. There, a groom looked at a list and told me I was riding Merlin.

“That grey one,” he said, pointing to a small gelding with his head hanging very low to the ground.  He looked half-asleep.

“You mean the white horse?” I asked.

“He’s a gray,” my 11-year-old explained slowly to me as if I was stupid. “He was probably darker when he was young.  He is lighter now because he is older but his skin is black, so he is a gray.”

“Black is gray, but looks white?” I asked, stupidly.

“There are no such thing as white horses.” she replied to me, the stupid mom.

(I would later Google “white horses” and discover she was half-right.  Merlin was a gray, despite his white appearance, but there was too such a thing as white horses who really were white — Merlin was just not one of them.)

Old Friends

I was 50, with a birthday just around the corner the day I took my first riding lesson.

I would later learn my horse, Merlin, was also a senior.  He was 20, which is about 60 in human years.  But I would also learn from him age has nothing to do limitations.  Limitations come from your own self-doubt.

Perfect For Me

Merlin seemed perfect for me. Not too big, half asleep, his lower lip hanging loosely — he must be old, like me, I thought. Surely I would not get bucked off today.  Clearly this was a sweet (tired, or at least disinterested) horse that would not stomp, bite, kick, or buck me off.  (As luck would have it, only 3 out of 4 were true — he later bit me on the ass and laughed.)

I was handed the reigns and nervously walked with my new friend to the ring, talking in a reassuring voice that we would have a great time today.

I was reassuring myself, not the horse.

I asked Merlin to please do not bite me or buck me off.  I explained gingerly, he was sort of my first, if you do not count kitchen chairs, and well, please, be gentle with me.

Merlin just kept walking — he knew the way and the routine. He was probably thinking, “Another crappy beginning rider.”

He was right.

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The Story Continues