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9 things you experience when you take up dressage in your 60s (or 70s or 80s…)

Have you taken up dressage in your 60s? Or even older?

From arthritic fingers to carrying heavy saddles and trying to mount from the ground, these will probably be familiar experiences…

1. Plaiting must always be done the day before the competition, even if you don’t have a terribly early time — fingers are too arthritic to plait in the cold of the morning.

2. Vari-focal contact lenses are a must — they allow you to see close-up for plaiting and test learning, as well as far away for driving and picking up the markers round the arena.

3. Your daughter (or son) probably has to go to work — the fact they’ve left home (and retirement) is why you finally have time to have a horse of your own and go to clinics and competitions — so you have to go on your own. But they expect a full report afterwards, with video, by WhatsApp.

4. Your friends all think you are a little mad still to be riding, let alone entering competitions.

5. Carrying a heavy dressage saddle, manhandling it over the back seat of the car or into the lorry and lifting it onto an inconvenient saddle rack at home is much more physically challenging than riding the horse.

6. Getting on from the ground is not an option. A small step or grooming kit you can stand on is an essential piece of kit.

7. Ideally it’s best to buy a small horse. See point six above, plus smaller rugs are lighter and easier to put on, plus there’s less far to fall (not that falling off is recommended at all — so buy a sensible horse as well as a small one).

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8. Much of the kit you had for competing as a teenager still fits. But fashions have changed — your boots look oddly short. Ah well, Christmas is coming…

9. There’s a tremendous sense of achievement in getting out there and proving you can do it and improve — why not go for it while you still can?

What are our experiences of competing as an older rider? Let us know on hhletters@ti-media.com for a chance to see your letter in Horse & Hound magazine. Please include your full name, nearest town and county. 

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