If you have it, it is for life
“ If you have it, it is for life. It is a disease for which there is no cure. You will go on riding even after they have to haul you onto a comfortable wise old cob, with feet like inverted buckets and back like a fireside chair,”
Monica Dickens author, great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens and horsewoman.
That’s one of my favorite horse quotes, among others from Monica Dickens. I’m sorry to say I didn’t really care for her great grandfather’s work, but I have always enjoyed hers. She is often still quoted by her fellow horse enthusiasts today, nearly 20 years after her death. I honestly think I like that quote more now than I did when I was younger and read it for the first time, for obvious reasons.
Every time I read that quote it makes me think about a number of years ago when my sister was in her mid 30’s and was speaking with someone about the fact that she owned and rode horses. The woman commented to my sister “Oh, well you’ll give that up when you’re forty.” When my sister asked her “Why is that?” she replied “You’ll be too old to ride at forty”. My sister, being a horsewoman, quickly informed she didn’t see that happening. On my sister’s 40th birthday she mounted her 5 year old year Arabian mare for the first time, so she celebrated turning 40 by being the first person to get on the mare and taking the maiden ride. My sister is now past 50 (not saying that’s old) and still riding and isn’t planning to hang up her riding boots any time soon. What is it about non-horse people that they think there is age cut off for riding? Okay, jockies retire from racing, but the sport of horse racing is different. With age comes wisdom which makes us wiser and better riders than when we were younger. I know that today I’m far more knowedgeable than I was at 18 and, in some respects, a better rider as well. I think at a certain age we begin to seek out more knowledge and want to improve our riding skills and be better horse owners in general. I believe that experience makes a better rider. A friend, and fellow horsewoman, once said to me “ age is just a number I don’t think about it,” she was 72 years old at the time. Today, at the age of 75, she is still riding and competing with her beloved mare. She also told me she thought the horses kept her and her husband young. I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.
Over 50% of horse owners today are past 45 years of age and we are still going strong. We compete and ride in Endurance Rides, Reining, Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, Drill Teams, Combined Driving, 3-Day Eventing, Ranch Horse Competition and, of course, Trail Riding. We aren’t planning to retire or give up our horses - which are our passion in life. So when someone says to you will give up horseback riding when you’re past 40 or, worse yet, that you should give it because you are too old read Monica Dickens quote to them - then gallop off on your horse.