With the competition season underway, most middle-aged riders will occasionally find themselves in a reflective mood, usually vacillating between ‘hell, yeah!’ And ‘what the HELL am I doing?’ Here are 10 things competitive riders over 40 might be mulling over, says Jane Laidlaw

1. Am I in the correct discipline? Should I still be jumping? Maybe I should just stick to dressage? Or maybe I should be going up a level while I still can?

2. This might have to be my last season on a thoroughbred/warmblood/ex-racer. Next year I’ll get a nice cob or a Highland pony. Or the year after…

3. Thank goodness I bought dignified breeches before they only came with sticky diamante studs. And I am not tempted by one of those plastic riding hats, a skull cap with a velvet cover is just fine, thanks.

4. I am going to get fitter and I am DEFINITELY going to do Pilates three times a week. *Creak*

5. I must be prepared for the rollercoaster of conflicted emotions I will feel when I see people my age who have given up riding. As my horse cat-leaps a 60cm upright and I’m left hanging around his neck, I will wonder whether I am an irresponsible eejit.

6. But at the Thursday night jumping, victorious after a stunning second in the 65cm (five in the class…) I will look at the no-longer-riders and think, what a shame they are too scared to ride any more. It’s such fun!

7. When I am talking to my fellow younger competitors in the collecting ring I must remember to refer to my instructor as my coach.

8. I must remember that once in the showjumping ring, I will feel sick and wonder why on earth I am doing this, until the bell goes and I am over the first jump and then I will get into the zone and forget everything. That might include the course…

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9. Am I good enough for my horse? Should he be with a younger, fitter, braver rider? No, he’s very lucky to have a lovely life with someone as indulgent and experienced as me.

10. John Whitaker and Mark Todd are WAY older than me. I have years left…

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