loading
loading

On the Kindness of Horse-Loving Strangers

“My tiny personal goal and excitement was embraced by these lovely women. They got it. They got me. Out there in cyberland, to a person, these horsewomen were rooting for me.”

Patient schooling horse “Amber” getting prepped for competition. (Just kidding, really.) Photo by Candace Wade

Most of the horse people I know are longtime-high-level-competitive-horse-owning types. The others throw their leg over a saddle when the moon is blue. So… I don’t share my late-in-life-lesson-rider efforts and milestones with anyone expect my companions at the barn, the silent readers at Horse Nation… and my husband, who is good for a quick three minute recap.

I’m okay alone. However, my revelations preparing for my first dressage competition (Oh, You Mean WARM UP) left me with the urge to share my daily excitement and anxiety with someone besides my patient schooling horse. I reached out to one of what seems to be a plethora of older-women-rider Facebook sites. The flood of support amazed me.

I really am good alone. My barn-time is for me to immerse in grooming my schooling horse, giving her little massages, methodical tacking (much like an aviation check list so I don’t crash and burn or miss a vital little buckle) and concentrating on my lesson. Then there is the wind in the trees, the swooping blue birds, the smell of hay and peppermint treats and pride in how far I’ve come from zero when I started riding in middle-age. There it is, the imp that leaps around in my head and heart for days – pride of accomplishment. The only way I’ve found to quiet the fluttery, little noodge is to share what I feel.

Hags With Nags, WARHorses – Women of Age Riding Horses, Riding for WomenWomen on the Edge Trail Riders, Old Cowgirls Never Die We Just Keep Riding, and on – all targeted horsewomen sites. I’m not much of a Facebooker, but racing towards my very first dressage competition, I reached out to Ageless in the Saddle for Women 40+. All I posted was a one-line “yikes” about my maiden voyage into a competition. Reply posts flooded in. They shared personal experiences, tips, encouragement and how someone’s 80+ year old mom took up jumping. My tiny personal goal and excitement was embraced by these lovely women. They got it. They got me. Out there in cyberland, to a person, these horsewomen were rooting for me.

I have my proper amateur competition costume (including new black gloves and torture chamber tall boots). I’ve run through the pattern and know in which corner I have to goose my girl so she doesn’t lag. I know where to come off “K” to make my diagonal to “M.” I’ve practiced how to add a pinch of energy so we don’t fall asleep in the free-walk. Ta da! I can move my crop to gather my reins in my left hand for a crisp salute.

With all in dressage that is so foreign to me, I have proof that a blossom of women my age, all over the country, are rooting for me. They are smiling and believe in my adventure. I’m really good alone, but when I finish my salute, these ladies will want to know how I felt about crossing my milestone. Maybe I’ll just think about them.

Leave a Comment

comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *