Teach your horse to ground tie – a VERY good idea!

Teach your horse to ground tie – a VERY good idea!

Lately I have realized that I’ve been posting my progress (or lack thereof) to my social media and neglecting to put it here, on my blog! DOH!

So anyway, I have got to the point where my arthritis is bad enough to make it very difficult to get on to Chips. Once I’m on, I’m OK, but it’s that first step that’s a doozy!

I am lucky enough to be boarding at a therapeutic facility (more on this soon) where they have several types of assistance for mounting.

I regularly mount from both sides, and I’d been using the regular mounting block, but my knees were really starting to bother me. So I started to look at the wheelchair ramp as an alternative since it’s quite a bit higher.

The drawback was figuring out how to get up onto the ramp without having someone hold Chips for me while I did so. He’s great at standing still while doing ground work, and also with a rider up, but he had some trouble understanding that he had to stand still while wearing his “working clothes” and riderless. 

It took a few weeks, but finally, he got it – I could see his “AHA!” moment – and now he’s the poster boy for being ground tied! Check him out!

About older riders

About older riders

 I prefer to be called a “vintage” rider but the fact remains, I am probably the oldest person riding at the barn where I keep my horse.

Huh. I almost wrote “who still rides” but I just don’t like the implication that it’s some kind of amazing accomplishment to “still” be riding at my age.

I’m a member of a Facebook Group for women who ride. We have members from all over the world – Canada, the US, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, France – you get the picture.  And as a rule, it is a wonderfully positive and supportive group.

But just yesterday there was a post from a woman who said she started riding later in life, and was enjoying it immensely – until she found out that some of the other riders at the barn were talking about her behind her back, making comments about her age, her weight, her riding ability, and in one case even wondering why she was even bothering.

Now, first of all, I’d like to know who told her about this – if they thought they were doing her a favour they most definitely were not. But I digress. What I really want to talk about were the responses she got in the thread.

As I read response after response telling her to ignore them, that they were assholes, that every barn had some like that, that it shouldn’t bother her, and even to change barns, I started to notice that these responses were coming from women an average 20+ years younger than she is  ( judging by their profile pictures). Well, easy for them to say. They don’t know the experiences she has had in her life.

She is at a stage where in many areas of life there is discrimination on the basis of age or weight. It can be subtle, but it is there. And as we grow older there is less to do at home as our children leave, our social circle can get smaller, and we can start to feel isolated. For me, the barn is a big part of my social life – a place where I have real friends (that’s another post), where I know I am welcomed for me, not for what I look like or how old I am.

And while it may be easy to say “ignore them”, that is not always possible – I know that I have days when my confidence is so low that I don’t ride at all, even in the supportive environment at my barn. Denigrating and negative words can make a person question themselves and take the joy out of an activity that was previously fun.

Words can cause deep feelings, they can hurt but they can also help. I finally saw a couple of posts from riders of a similar age to the woman who originally posted. None told her to “get over it” or “ignore them”. These women were telling her about their own experiences – not telling her how to feel or what to do, but instead sharing with her and letting her know that she is not alone. Some mentioned coping techniques that they had found helpful to overcome the feelings and lack of confidence. Some just offered support and a willing ear.

I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that riders, indeed everyone, should be accepted for who they are, and leave outward appearances out of it. If they are a nasty person, of course steer clear. But if you can see a way to make an encouraging remark to a rider of any age, do it! It costs you nothing and can mean so much.

How do you feel about the culture at your barn? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

About older riders

“They can tell you’re afraid”

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tells me flat out that they know horses can sense fear in humans and take advantage of it to behave badly.

Usually it’s someone who says with a certain amount of pride ” I rode a horse once – but never again!”.

Usually it’s because the horse they were on bolted, or refused to go forward, or shied, or exhibited any of a number of flight behaviours associated with the horse being afraid, not the rider.

Let me be very clear:

Horses DO NOT maliciously take advantage of a rider who is afraid of them.

Horses DO tune into the fact that the rider is afraid – and they then become afraid as well.

They expect the rider to be aware of the environment. They assume that because the rider is afraid, there surely must be something to be afraid of, even though they can’t necessarily see it. So they get nervous, unfocused, stop listening to the rider and start to behave according to their instincts. And their instincts tell them to flee, with or without the permission – or indeed the company – of the rider.

 

 

About older riders

Winter Vacation Viewpoints

First of all, you have to know that I hate winter.

Not a normal, “Jeez, it’s cold and I don’t really want to go out” kind of hate, but a deep down, dismal, depressing, demoralizing, dark and doleful, all-consuming hatred that leads me every year to wish I had married that nice young man from Kentucky instead. (Sorry, Steve.)

Knowing this and given the winter we’ve been having (February being the coldest month we’ve experienced in 115 years, according to the weather gurus), I decided to take a break. I asked a lovely young lady at the barn to groom Chips three days a week for me while I was gone, and I left.

I have done this before, while boarding at other barns, and had noticed a fundamental difference in the responses to my re-appearance, compared to the return of someone who had actually gone South. The vacationers were unfailingly met with delight and happy queries; “You look great, all tanned!” “Where did you go?” “How hot was it?” I, on the other hand, who had stayed in this frozen hell we call a Canadian winter, was met with reproach; “Why did you stay away so long?” and “Your poor horse missed you!” I went to the barn again for the first time yesterday, expecting the same kind of censure,  and was amazed and delighted by the response I got. “Good to see you!” “Hi! We missed you!” “Glad you’re back!” I’ve said it many times, but sometimes it bears repeating – I love this place! (especially in warmer weather!)