Horseback riding is not an inexpensive hobby. A mid-priced horse can cost $5,000, and monthly upkeep at a stable is about $600. But there are many rewards to this hobby that make it all worthwhile.
1. Riding can be great exercise for older women. Many of the women I coach started riding to get fitter. Many also have medical problems of some kind. Some are overweight, some have arthritis, others lack strength in their hips and legs. Riding helps all of these conditions. Recently, I had two different clients lose 25 pounds each — just from riding for three months. Some people think of riding as a passive activity (you just sit on a horse) but that’s absolutely not true. You’re always moving, using your hands and arms, and of course your legs, to stay balanced and control your horse. Anyone who has ridden will tell you how tired your body feels afterwards — it’s a real workout. For arthritis sufferers, it helps to be constantly using your hands in that sponging movement that riders do. For building leg strength, there’s nothing better than having to use your legs for hours at a time to move a huge horse around.
2. Riding helps you relax. It’s impossible to feel stressed after such great exercise! Riding helps you sleep better, too.
3. Riding boosts self-confidence. Women who learn how to ride experience a big boost in their self-esteem. It does amazing things to your self-confidence when you realize you can control such a large, willful animal. This increase in self-assurance is palpable — you can see it in the changed posture of the women as they ride. They smile more and have more fun. And this renewed self-confidence spills into other aspects of their life, as well.
4. For many women, learning to ride fulfills a lifelong dream. Many of the women riders I coach always wanted to ride horses but never had the opportunity when they were younger. Maybe they lived in a city, or maybe they didn’t have the financial resources to indulge in such an expensive hobby. At age 50, things are different. Maybe their kids are grown and out of the house. Now they have the time and money to pursue something they always wanted to do. They can spend two hours a day every day riding horses if they want.
5. The costs of riding and owning a horse are high but not insurmountable. I have worked part-time jobs to defray the costs of owning a horse. Other women riders I know have part-time jobs as medical researchers, nurses, vet assistants, college math professors — you name it. Some hobbies are so rewarding that they’re worth a little extra effort and work!
6. Riding is a great social activity. There’s a big social element to riding, especially now that more women over 50 have begun to take it up as a hobby. In the past 11 years, I’ve seen the riding demographic shift from kids to older women. Even at the stables that see many children, you have more mothers starting to ride as well. For women, riding and caring for your horse at the stable are social activities. We’re always interacting, sharing, connecting with one another. It’s like a bridge club or a knitting club — but outdoors and more physically active!
7. Riding is something you do just for you. Every woman needs to get away from the house now and then. Women over 50 certainly deserve to have time every day that is just about them. When you’re riding, it’s just you and your horse. It’s a break from the rest of your life where you may feel pulled in a hundred different directions.
8. Riding helps you reconnect with nature. Women over 50, especially if they have been mostly in the home for decades raising a family, really benefit from riding. Not only is it great exercise, but it gets them outdoors regularly, where they can reconnect with nature again, often for the first time in years. There’s something very relaxing and centering about being outside. You enjoy the pretty views but you’re also interacting with your horse, and animals are part of nature. There’s something very relaxing and centering about that.