9 things that anyone who learnt to ride in adulthood will know

  • It's never too late to start riding – but beginning as an adult rather than as a child does give you a different perspective on the whole malarkey. Do any of these sound familiar...?

    1. Cantering for the first time is better than getting a promotion at work (and just as daunting). The thrill of whizzing about on a horse is pretty much the same whether you’re a child or an adult, it’s just that adults are a bit more bothered about falling off.

    2. Horsey shopping is a dangerous pastime when you’ve got a grown-up credit card with a grown-up credit limit. Did those Ariat Bromonts just fall into my online shopping basket — how did that happen? And now I’ve paid for them. Oops!

    3. You feel like a teenager all over again. Being shouted at by riding instructors, coveting your first pony, checking with your newsagents every other day whether the latest Horse & Hound has arrived yet, like you used to do with Jackie — you’re 40 going on 15.

    4. Parenthood doesn’t prepare you for your first horse. Sure, you know how to put a nappy on a wriggly baby, but how on earth do you use one to poultice a horse’s foot? Your baby just wails when he’s tired and fed-up – why can’t your horse do that, instead of bucking you off into a ditch? To be fair, though, you do end up cleaning up roughly the same amount of poo. Top tip – you definitely don’t need to burp your horse after he’s eaten.

    5. It’s pretty humiliating being beaten in a walk/trot dressage test by an 11-year old on a Shetland. She did ride better than you, though, so fair play to her.

    6. Falling off is scary. It happens to the best of riders, but while those people who’ve been riding for yonks take it in their stride, it can be, well, terrifying when it happens to you for the first time. B-b-but you could break something! And then who’d do the school run every morning? Take a deep breath, calm down – and get back on. You’ll be fine.

    7. However high-powered and efficient you are at work counts for nothing when you’re trying to master leg-yield in trot. For heaven’s sake, you’ve got an MA, PhD and once persuaded your line manager to organise a work jolly to Eurodisney – why on earth can’t you convince your horse go sideways?

    8. It can be demoralising when everyone’s a better rider than you. There’s no substitute for saddle time – and some of these people have had about 30 years more of it than you.

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    9. But there’s no better buzz than hacking out on a beautiful day, or successfully jumping a clear round at your local show – or hugging your horse at the end of it. You are officially a horse person now – welcome to our world.

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