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Can we have a thread for those who have returned to riding after a long time out of the saddle?

(140 Posts)
Peanutbutterandnutellanutter Tue 16-Sep-14 14:19:34

I used to ride as a teenager (only lessons) didn't ride for years and recently got back in the saddle in my 30s.

I have been riding a friend's old cob who has been great to get me back in the saddle, she's an angel to handle and is a total superstar out hacking, but is soooo lazy in the school so I have decided to get some lessons at a riding school in addition to riding the sweet but lazy cob.

Amazingly I think I might have actually found a decent riding school! I've been to a lot of schools I didn't like for various reasons (different instructor every week, instructor young and struggled to relate to 30-something returning to riding, booked private lesson but had to share school with 5 other horses, horses that won't trot/canter without being whipped, lessons that start late and finish early......)

Anyway I had my first lesson at the new place this week, the instructor actually talked to me about my ability and picked a suitable horse to match (ie sensible but willing) the lesson was great and it felt soooo good to ride a forward going well-schooled horse for the first time in years!

Please come and tell me about your experiences returning to riding.

JulyKit Tue 16-Sep-14 18:18:36

Perfect displacement activity here - I should be working blush
... I really welcome this thread, though!

A couple of years ago I started riding again after a looong break (20+ years). During time out from riding I'd hacked a bit here and there and then done some beginners polo, which made me realise I had to do something to be back around horses generally! I missed everything - including bringing in on winter nights, stuffing haynets, the lot.

I started off with weekly lessons: good instructor, nice horses to ride. The worst bit was how horribly out of condition I was physically: I couldn't get my body to do really basic schooling stuff, worst of all was how weak I was around my core - and that was after having done quite a bit of pilates over the past few years and finding it not too difficult!

I looked around for shares, and found a couple (more of that later), went as far as contacting yards to ask if they wanted an extra pair of hands at weekends (like a teenager, I know, I know... also found out how I was no longer up to mucking out 2 stables without feeling as if I would collapse blush ... And I say this as someone who exercised regularly and thought of herself as quite fit).

Early sharing experiences weren't great. There seem to be a lot of owners out there who want someone to ride horses that they've given up on after having let the horse get away with anything - said horses often very unfit, curious behavioural issues, possibly through health problems, possibly lack of proper schooling and decent management. But they won't tell you that that's why they won't get on their own horses. All quite odd if you're feeling your way back into the horse world and riding.

Eventually loaned a horse for a few months. I don't still have her, but found out quite a bit about my local riding world, met some fab people, possibly starting another share soon - through a friend rather than web searching. Really excited about that.

It's taken quite a while to find riding friends whose horse management I'm really comfortable with, but I've got there! smile

I've found that a lot has changed - not all of it for the better. Horse owning seems to be a lot more 'consumerish' - with lots of owners forking out for tons of fancy stuff: multi-coloured rugs, magical massage numnahs, fancy feed supplements... for horses that do little more than potter around the block now and again... those sorts of things. At the same time, owners and riders who really know their stuff (even real basics of safe handling), get on with basic essentials (keeping tack really clean, schooling regularly and properly, keeping horses consistently working fit) seem rarer than they did in the past. Which is odd. As have been brushes with Parelli fanatics and that kind of new fangled flummery. But I'm getting there and really enjoying it. And I do need to ride a few times a week so as not to feel like an uncoordinated sack of potatoes.

HSMMaCM Tue 16-Sep-14 18:25:12

My unsuspecting DH booked me one private lesson as a birthday present some years back. I felt at home straight away and he had accidentally picked a fabulous stables, with a great teacher and a class for adults learning and returning to riding. Ride for years until dd came along and I really miss it.

cocoa2014 Thu 18-Sep-14 22:16:06

I got back into riding a year ago, after about 25 years out of the saddle! I used to ride as a pony mad teenager, but somehow drifted away from it for years with work, life, and being pregnant with my two little girls keeping me busy. My youngest is now 2, and I suddenly felt that I wanted to do something just for me, as a little treat, as I am sure you will all relate to, so started lessons at a local riding school.

I genuinely don't know how I stopped riding for so many years, as I absolutely love it! I had forgotten how absorbing and rewarding it is, and how much I had missed it, mucky jodphurs and horsey smell and all. I also realised how unfit I was, so actually started running for the first time since school, and discovered that I really like that too, so double bonus! I have weekly lessons and have recently been doing cross country for the first time ever, which is great fun. My only issue is that I find it utterly addictive and wish I could do more, or have a part share, but unfortunately there just aren't enough hours in the day for me at the min.

Just thought I would share as lovely hearing your similar stories.

OscarWinningActress Thu 18-Sep-14 23:23:29

I just started riding again this summer (age 37) after a twenty year break smile. I had a horse as a teenager but stopped riding when I went off to Uni. Then I started working, met DH and got married, had babies...you know how it goes!

Anyway, my first few lessons at 'Massive Yard X' were not great...I was treated like an absolute beginner and put on dear old plods that didn't want to do anything (and I'm not a thrill seeker!). I found a new (small, private, training and sales) barn that let me do some lessons and practice rides on their retired show horses and I realized what I had been missing. I was able to try out a young thoroughbred that had been raised and backed on site and fell in love and now he belongs to me! He's only four and still green but he's calm, sweet and eager to please. I have lots of time during the day for schooling so we've been working on polishing up his basics and working out kinks (CORNERS!) It's hard work but beyond rewarding when you realize that something has 'clicked'. I put off returning to riding for a long time...there was always something (work, babies, vacations, potential overseas move) in the way but I just decided to do it before I lost my nerve and I'm so, SO glad I did.

Medjuel Fri 19-Sep-14 12:44:40

I had my own horse until 4 years ago (was with me for 23 years) and still miss him dreadfully. its not just the riding, its the whole being around horses, fresh air, countryside, the horsey community, I miss it all. I am too heavy for any local riding schools which is a bit embarrassing, but I want to have some lessons before inflicting myself on next horse, soI am trying to lose weight and save money and get back into it.

I helped a friend with her horse for about 6 months end last yr/beginning of this year, a sweet little arab, sadly too small for me to ride, but its still not the same as having my own, although I will always have a soft spot for him.

Congratulations to all of you who are getting back into it, you are giving me hope that it will happen for me too, I had horses for 26 years so its was a shock to suddenly be without one, and no matter how many clinics/demos/helping friends/shows/magazines you attend/buy/do, its still not the same when you don't have your own horse sad

Anyway, looking forward to reading more stories of people getting back into it, its nice to see positive stuff.

MehsMum Fri 19-Sep-14 12:58:09

I got back into a few years ago.I rode regularly until I was 16, and then spent more than 30 years having the odd hack or trek. Finally the DDs were moved up into a group at the stables where I felt I wouldn't die of boredom, so I ride with them now.

I haven't got the time for my own horse... just haven't. I did ride someone else's a few times but he proved to be an awkward customer (the horse, that is, not the owner, and not just with me), so it was back to the stables, where as well as riding with the DDs I have a semi-private lesson every few weeks. I love it: it's so nice to go for a lesson with a head full of worries and just spend an hour focusing on changing rein really well, getting into a canter exactly at F, being aware that the horse you're on falls in on the right rein and not letting her do that...

Riding regularly has meant I was able to go on a really taxing whole-day ride while on holiday this summer. It was so exhilarating, even if I did almost fall off.

And like a pp, riding made me realise that I wasn't as fit as I might be and so I took up running.

WeAreGroot Fri 19-Sep-14 13:17:17

I've not been out of the saddle that long, only a few years, but I've not ridden regularly for any decent length of time for maybe six years or so.

I've just started doing WW with a view to potentially starting up riding again (I blame the WEG TV coverage......) when I'm at a weight I'm happy with subjecting horses to blush

I'm not totally decided yet though as there's a real dearth of good riding schools around where I live, or at least good ones for an adult who has done a lot of riding and wants to progress a bit further than the basics. There are a lot of 'kick & pull' type schools with your average ploddy RS cobs. There's one place which is supposedly very good but I rode there for a while and I really didn't like it, think being told to get the horses in an outline by sawing on their mouths sad

There used to be a fabulous place run by a student of Phillipe Karl where I had some superb lessons but the RS part closed down and she now only teaches on a simulator or does lessons for people with their own horses.

I'm not really at a stage where I'd want to share, loan or buy so it may well be that the WW is all going to be for nothing.

Peanutbutterandnutellanutter Sat 20-Sep-14 12:31:53

WeAreGroot I can totally relate to this:

I'm not totally decided yet though as there's a real dearth of good riding schools around where I live, or at least good ones for an adult who has done a lot of riding and wants to progress a bit further than the basics. There are a lot of 'kick & pull' type schools with your average ploddy RS cobs

A lot of riding schools I have tried seem to be ok for children or beginners but if you are someone who has previously ridden quality well-schooled horses it's hard to find a decent riding school.

I learnt to ride at a place that was basically a livery yard that did lessons so 90% of the horses were on working livery which meant there were some really good quality horses. Even the two steady cobs that beginners rode would do nice walk to canter transitions, leg yield, shoulder in, work in an outline etc.

After learning to ride (properly) at this yard I went to another yard where I couldn't get the pony into canter in my assessment lesson so the instructor said I would have to join the beginners class rather than the intermediate class as she said I clearly couldn't canter blush I think the issue was that I have been taught to canter by sitting trot, inside leg on the girth and outside leg squeezing behind the girth whereas at this yard the canter aid was kick, kick, KICK and the horses complexly ignored my aids!

EnlightenedOwl Sat 20-Sep-14 15:28:37

Ah your experience sounds like mine. I returned to riding after 20 year break back in July. Went to riding school and was given a pony to ride which to be honest was the slowest thing I'd ever ridden. This apparently was the fastest it went. Well I tried to get it to canter - no chance. I felt so disillusioned
went to another school total difference. Most of the horses are working liveries and so not your standard RS horse. No problems with getting canter there!
Now starting to enjoy my lessons and the key definitely is find the right riding school

Peanutbutterandnutellanutter Sat 20-Sep-14 19:56:39

Had my second lesson at the new yard today, another good lesson. Rode the same horse which was nice as I could pick up from where I left off at the end of last lesson.

Just need to concentrate on not learning forward into canter transitions! What did you all find difficult on your return to riding?

Peanutbutterandnutellanutter Sat 20-Sep-14 19:57:59

Leaning not learning

EnlightenedOwl Sat 20-Sep-14 20:17:43

We did riding two point the other week - I struggled with that.
Downward transition canter/trot for some reason.

MehsMum Sun 21-Sep-14 17:06:12

What did you all find difficult on your return to riding?
Being stiff the next day (over that now).
And getting some horses into canter (still have that sometimes, esp with ex carriage horses, who are in other respects lovely to ride).

dogfish22 Mon 22-Sep-14 13:24:23

I started again early last year after a 16 year absence. I used to be very good at dressage, but of course stopping for any amount of time will ruin such skills quite quickly. I stopped riding when I moved out of my parents house for uni, and afterwards wandered around doing not-enough-for-horses-paid jobs, and then moved from my home country (Germany) to the UK for more not-enough-for-horses-paid jobs. 3 years ago I moved in with my now husband, and there happened to be a stable 5 minutes walk away.
I had a couple of lessons, and despite the long break I wasn't doing too bad, though unfortunately inconsistent (my core has gotten a little weak and my hips aren't what they used to be - I'm still trying to solve the hip problem sad). So brought on the yoga. I took up a share in that very stable, but the horse always had back problems and eventually became unsound because of athritis in his hocks, so I gave up the share, and found myself another stable. So at the moment I'm just taking lessons on their lovely school masters and mistresses, and we're getting somewhere. In fact I'm being taught how to ride a proper Piaffe at the moment on a lovely older school mistress who has a bit of fire under her bum grin.
I told The Husband that there will be dogfishHorse within the next two years.... He's not very happy but he doesn't get a vote. grin

Zazzles007 Mon 22-Sep-14 23:41:57

I'm going to return to horse riding for the third time. I rode as a child for 10yrs, doing pony club, eventing, showjumping. Even had a go at polocrosse but couldn't reach the ball from a 15.3hh horse blush. Mainly want to get back to eventing and dressage.

The first time I went back to horses was about 15 years after uni. I rode with a riding school, who fortunately had some horses that could do shoulder in, leg yield etc, so that was my first introduction to lateral work. I stopped after a while, as the school decided to 'change directions' and cater only to beginner and intermediate school aged children.

The second time I returned to horse riding, I took on a 19 yr old, retired 1* horse and brought him back into work. He was hard work, especially in the first year, and I almost sent him back in the first 3 months. I am glad we were able to work through it though, with lots of lessons from an instructor and consistent riding and handling, he turned out to be the best horsie experience of my life. He taught me so much about riding and owning horses and I credit him with making me the rider I am now. He was the horsie love of my life.

The next time I go back, I am probably going to take on a young ex-racer to bring on. I'd like to work up the levels of dressage and eventing, but there are so many factors to consider. I will be happy just to own a horse again, and to restart my journey in the horsie partnership.

OscarWinningActress Wed 24-Sep-14 18:18:27

Ooh, Zazzles, this morning I went hacking with two ladies that have young ex-racers. The horses are both lovely, healthy well-adjusted hunters now and have adjusted beautifully to their new careers smile.

yongnian Wed 24-Sep-14 18:30:15

I had a loong break then got back into it 4 or 5 years ago. Now I have two lovely sec d's and a sec a (dd's). Have backed my youngster D and am planning to put the sec a to a trap at some point. Have had another enforced break lately though with my lovely 7 mth old baby girl. So doing little more than looking after them with her in tow and taking older dd and sec a out hacking. Desperately want to get back on my youngster - agonising!

Zazzles007 Wed 24-Sep-14 21:11:16

Aww, that sounds lovely Oscar. Its good to hear of ex-racers getting rehomed and reeducated for another horsie career smile.

pardonmytits Wed 01-Oct-14 14:35:39

I've just booked an introductory lesson at one of my local riding schools smile Haven't ridden regularly for years and am so looking forward to it. Although I well remember how physically tough I found it the last time I went. Am hoping to find my horsey feet again and ride regularly, eventually maybe having a horse of my own one day... (one can dream!)...

WaitWhatOh Mon 13-Oct-14 13:33:43

oh me! I had a good 15 plus years break from horses and got back into it a year a go. Just gone from full loan to owning our own and LOVE IT. can't remember why on earth I ever stayed away soo long.

Well, aside from the bitchiness now and then t the livery yard LOL I remember that well enough!!

ememem84 Tue 14-Oct-14 07:40:14

Have just gotten back into riding after almost a 15 year break and am loving it.

Went out for a hack at the weekend and was allowed off the lead rein for te first time!

Question for you all - waterproofs. What do you wear. Is there anything you'd recommend? I got absolutely soakebat the weekend...

Zazzles007 Tue 14-Oct-14 10:03:09

ememem84 have a look at your saddlery sales or the UK websites for cheaper gear (others may be able to recommend something). I have a couple of waterproof jackets, Musto and Ariat, which do me for wet weather. As long it is not a prolonged downpour, these jackets suffice.

EnlightenedOwl Sat 25-Oct-14 18:43:14

Wow brilliant lesson! The pony was very strong and forward going and we had a super canter around the arena albeit with a couple of braking issues!. So so pleased when at the end of the lesson instructor said I was riding well, with good co-ordination and she would not hesitate to put me on any pony in the riding school. Feel so chuffed - I only got back to riding in August!!

OscarWinningActress Sat 25-Oct-14 21:59:30

Way to go, Enlightened. That sounds fab! Let us know about the different horses you get to try smile.

I'm over the moon at the moment. I love, love, LOVE my barn. The people are wonderful and everyone has been really friendly and welcoming. My coach is fantastic and has really helped me get off to a good start with OscarWinningHorse. It's hard work and I come home dirty and sweaty and sometimes bruised after a ride but I LOVE very second. I wish I'd come back to it sooner too. For anyone that might be reading this that is on the fence about starting back to riding...DO IT! AS DD would say, YOLO smile.

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