Friday, November 6, 2009

Does Horseback Riding Have an Age Limit?

Working in the software industry, code releases are what drive my schedule. Every time that my company has a code release for a product, I have to put in 10 to 15-hour workdays, which doesn't leave me much time to take care of my family's needs, take care of myself, or do the activities that I enjoy. Lately, my company has been having major code releases every one to two weeks, and I am exhausted.

I had a talk with my husband about what it is like to feel owned by your employer. There's a fine line between being employed and being a slave. I really, really, really would like to spend more time with my horses. If I could cut back to part-time hours and trust my employer to not force me to work any longer than my agreed upon schedule allows, I'd do it in a heartbeat. The problem is that I used to work part-time for my company, and ended up being forced to work 40 hours while I was only getting paid for 20. I said, "If you are going to make me work 40 hours a week, you may as well pay me for full-time work and give me the benefits that go along with it."

Now I am stuck working 60 hours a week and getting paid for a salaried 40 hours. Anyway, my husband made the comment that he doesn't feel pressure to hurry up and do the things he loves anymore, because he has realized that when he retires, he will have plenty of time to do what he pleases. He says he's just content to do his job. That's good to hear, because for many years he was not content, and he spent a bit of time hopping from job to job. It's nice to have the security of being married to a man who is happy with his job.

However, I pointed out that by the time I am able to retire, around the age of 65, I will probably be too old, too fragile, and in too much pain to be able to do what I love, which is to ride horses. Not to mention that my horses will probably be too old to have me riding them, assuming they are still alive. My husband agreed. It's better that I get a chance to ride now while I have the strength.

If my favorite pastime were reading books or knitting, I wouldn't be worried. I know there are plenty of people well into their 70's who still ride horses, but I believe most of those people are ranchers who rode every day of their lives anyway. The riding is what kept them in shape. I have to look at my own genes, and the closest thing to me is my mother. There's no way she can safely ride a horse at her age. Her bones are the consistency of dust. She has to be careful where she places her foot each time she takes a step, because she once took a wrong step and the top of her tibia crumbled. She now walks thanks to the bone of an organ donor.

Do you see yourself riding horses in retirement? Do you know people who do ride later in life?


fernvalley01 said...

I belonged to a trail riding association for several years , a lady named Coral Clark was treasurrer , and an active trqail rider , until 80!!

sue said...

I absolutely plan to be riding and driving with my horses... which is why I am planning on keeping the horses I have (verses buying and selling often like some of my other horse friends do).. I figure by the time I am "at" that "age".. my horses will be too... we might as well grow old together!!! by then I should know them well and they me... and if I am older and slower, they will be too.. course, not so sure that harness will ever weigh any less :-)

Katharine Swan said...

NM, it's true that activity levels keep you in better shape as you age. In fact, being more active actually increases bone density, regardless of age. So if you can find time to keep riding now, chances are you will be able to keep riding when you are 65!

Kate said...

There is one lady at our barn who is in her 70s and still works with or rides her horse (a 20 year old Morgan who's plenty forward and feisty) almost every day, regardless of weather.

I'm intending to ride as long as I can - perhaps my whole life - and if there ever comes a time when I can't due to injury or age, I plan to continue to spend time with horses doing other things, even if it's only grooming or hanging out.

Sydney said...

The lady that leases my pony used to also lease my friends horse. Shes 70-god knows how many years old and has had two hip replacements. She has a special mounting block and requires a really quiet horse but it does not stop her from doing something she loves. Most people in our driving club are over 60 by the way and I would say about 75% of those over 60 ride still.

manker said...

i know plenty of endurance riders in their seventies... they put me to shame :) But as a runner now rider.. G-d willing .. i definitely plan to continue on ... and on..


Andrea said...

It's funny that you post this, just the other night my father in law, 54 and his wife 56, saddled up their horses and went out for a ride together. My FIL asked me, "Aren't you going to ride too?" I was lunging my second horse for the night. I answered him, "Nope, I've got three kids playing in a mud puddle and I need to get to them."

Maybe by the time I am 54 I will be able to go out to the barn and saddle my horse and just go for a ride, but right now, I can't.

I do see myself riding when I am older. Just look at all those 80 year olds that still ride. I know of a 72 year old man that still rides. You just have to do it! Don't get down, you will have the time, and just think how wonderful and broke your horses will be by then!! Hahahaha!!!

Maery Rose said...

I just met a 72 year old woman trail riding. She didn't seem to have any problems. But it does drive me crazy that I haven't been able to do the activities I should have been doing in my younger years because I'm always working.

Breathe said...

I tend to think the big question is do you put off living until you're in your 60s or 70s.

The answer: No.

That said I think we have to find ways to reshape our lives when they become out of whack. All kinds of random thins can bring life to an early end. How many people do we hear of passing on when they hit their 40s and 50s.

I don't know if I will ride when I'm 80, I don't know if I'll be here.

Best to ride today.

Vaquerogirl said...

Hunny- I feel old somedays- I worked and still work- my body hard. I hurt all the time but I keep getting up and working so I can ride. I can never retire as long as I have horses- so I have to carve time out for me to ride. You can do it too, but it does take a lot of intestinal fortitude- your family won't understand and may try to guilt you into not riding. But don't let that stop you!
And I know a PASSEL of women over the age of 65 that ride! They ride in TEVIS, they ride in World Shows, they Ride for FUN and for PROFIT. They RIDE!
The oldest woman I new was named Dorothy. She was 85 when I met her and was the QUEEN of the NOTRA Rodeo. She died when she fell off her horse- but that was how she would have wanted to go- and she was 90 something when that happened!
Don't ever stop riding or working with horses. If the young ones are too much for you as you get older, get older horses- or smaller ones ( that is my plan!) I'd drive 'em before I'd give them up!

Cheryl Ann said...

My ranch owner is in her 60's, rides, and still trains her horses! She is in GREAT physical shape! She used to be a stuntwoman in her "younger" days! She mucks corrals, exercises horses, and rides in the Rose Parade! My cousin is 57 and rides her horses every day out on the trails. I need to GET GOING and get back on a horse, probably Quad, at this point!!! Good post.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

My grandfather rode until he was 91, he only quit to make my grandmother happy.
I am 51 and ride every chance I get. As long as I can mount up I plan on riding.
The was a lady at the Buck Brannaman clinic I was at who was in her 70's. She was one of three people, besides Buck, who rode in both the morning and afternoon sessions. She was a pistol.
I don't think it is age that determines how long one rides, it is your desire to still be in the saddle.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I have a tendency to think like Breathe...Who knows how long we are here for? As selfish as it seems sometimes, I'm going to do the things I want to now. In another decade or two or three, I may not be here or...I may want to do other things.

I know that I have already gotten to spend my entire life with and riding horses, so I may have a bit different perspective than someone who gets into it later in life.

Oh yea, June Holeman competed at the NFR a couple of years ago and she was in her 60's. She is still competing in the local rodeo circuits and she has palsy. Bless her heart, I met her a couple of years ago and she was shaking so badly just sitting there that it was hard to register that this was a woman who had just come off of the PRO circuit and was going to compete in just a couple of hours.

Molly said...

Wait! I only have 4 more years to ride? Uh oh.

gtyyup said...

My gosh I hope so! We bought our self contained horse trailer to have it paid off by the time we retire...we intend to load up a couple of horses and visit and ride all the areas we've read about. This has been our retirement investment.

We have friends that are 65+ that ride horses and pack mules into the wilderness for a week at a time...we hope to be as active as they are.

But, we ride all we can now never know what life's gonna dish out to ya~~

Shirley said...

One cannot count the number of their days. My sister died at 16, my brother at 51. Don't put off something you really want to do "until you have time" because time is the one thing we can never own. I know of plenty of people who waited until they retired to do the things they always dreamed of only to find their health gone, and their dreams turned to dust.