The global population of people aged over 60 will total two billion by 2050, according to estimates from The World Health Organization.
With more people spending longer in retirement, an increasing number consider learning new skills and taking up hobbies that promote good health as they get older.
One sport that’s often overlooked in later life is horse riding.
But with the health benefits it offers, there’s no reason someone entering retirement shouldn’t consider it as a new skill they can learn.
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Set Yourself Up For The Challenge
Horse riding can help you keep on top of your health and fitness as you age, but it will be easier to learn – and stick with – if you are at a moderate fitness level to begin with.
You will need balance, strength and sufficient all-round stamina to feel confident on horseback, as well as have the improved energy regular exercise can provide.
If your life up until retirement has been sedentary, it’s advisable to ease yourself into moderate exercise before you think about getting in the saddle.
Improving your fitness can be rewarding and wallet-friendly, and you’ll soon be ready to think about preparing yourself for horse riding, without needing to spend any of your retirement fund on gym memberships.
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To begin horse riding, you’ll need comfortable riding clothes, sturdy boots, and a riding helmet (although many riding schools provide helmets for beginners).
Your boots should be sturdy enough to protect you in the event that a horse steps on your foot, but should also have smooth soles and small heels for adequate stirrup grip.
You’ll be most comfortable in strong, stretchy riding pants that allow flexibility and protection.
Research reputable riding schools in your community, and choose somewhere you think you’ll comfortable learning. Take the time to visit different schools until you find the one that’s the right fit for you.
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The Advantages Of Learning In Retirement
Learning to ride later in life can be intimidating to some people, but it’s important not to compare yourself to others who may have started younger.
It’s never too late to learn, and there are some distinct advantages being older can offer. As we age, we tend to gain more patience and perseverance, both of which are valuable skills when learning to ride.
With experience of learning from others and the understanding that observation is a strong tool for learning, you’ll be well positioned to learn quickly.
Although many people learn to ride as children, older adults have the advantage of more mature critical thinking skills, which helps when mastering any new talent.
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Safety In The Saddle
Anyone with moderate fitness and a desire to ride can become an equestrian, no matter what their age.
However, there are certain things you’ll need to bear in mind as an older person in order to stay safe in the saddle.
Most beginning riders, no matter how old they are, will experience some muscle strain at first, and they may also feel stiffness in their knees. Be sure to stretch well to soothe these areas, and take into account any existing aches and pains you might have.
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If you have arthritis, back complaints or other medical concerns, it’s wise to seek medical advice before you begin riding. These conditions, however, are unlikely to prevent you from riding, as long as you are aware of any safety precautions you need to take.
Learning with a professional horse riding coach will teach you the skills you need for staying safe in the saddle, so falling off need not be a worry, providing you have your riding helmet.
It’s never too late to learn to ride, and the health benefits it can bring you are valuable assets to take forward into later life.
Start slowly, research a trusted riding school, and get yourself kitted out: you’re ready to get in the saddle, and the horse doesn’t care how old you are!
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