The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses
by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)
“MELINDA FOLSE speaks to those women whose hearts yearn for reconnection at a time when life seems to have run its own course and childhood dreams of playing with horses are only a vague memory. She not only helps you rekindle the possiblity of bringing a little equine energy into yourlife, she also takes you on a gentle journey of small steps to help your childhood passion become a reality.”
—KOELLE SIMPSON, Life Coach, “Horse Whisperer,”
Co-Teacher with Martha Beck
“How to Make Things Happen” Equine-Assisted Learning Retreat
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Are You on the Verge of Midlife Horses ?
Why Millions of Midlife Women Are Getting (Back) in the Saddle…and How You Can, Too!
Just as the stereotypical icon of male midlife crisis is often a shiny new sports car, many females in midlife are now claiming a shiny new “mustang” of their own.
In fact, The American Horse Council Foundation estimates there are 9.2 million horses in the United States, 75 percent of which are owned by women over the age of forty. These are the women who grew up before Title IX, before young girls had real venues for exploring and expressing their strength, independence, and mastery. These were the girls who once chose Breyers over Barbies, preferring to play with plastic horses instead of plastic dolls.
Then they grew up.
Their dreams of horses, and all horses once represented, were shelved along with those now-collectible Breyers. Today, after two, three, or four decades taking care of others, with the kids out of the house (and sometimes the husband, too), today’s forty- and fifty-something woman suddenly finds herself with the time, money, and health to be all she used to hope to be. Exhilarated by this new freedom to focus on her own priorities, she decides to get back in the saddle—or perhaps to finally get in it for the first time. She Googles “horses for sale” online, signs up for lessons, goes for a trail ride, or takes a friend up on a longstanding offer to “Come ride with me sometime.”
Then reality rears its wrinkled head.
By midlife, her center of balance may have shifted a bit, her muscle tone may have faded, and the well-honed apprehension, courtesy of years of “Be careful, now!” mothering may have replaced her youthful sense of invincibility. She also may have discovered a few new insecurities midlife horsemanship can create—physical, emotional, and financial quandaries she never before considered. This uncertainty may be compounded by the well-intentioned comments of friends and family members—“What if you get hurt?” and “You know, old bones take longer to heal,” and “Are you sure you can afford all this?”
If, however, she somehow manages to turn these doubts into determination—and climbs into the saddle to discover the spell only close communion with a horse can cast—she’ll be the first to tell you there’s nothing else in the world like it. And she’ll do whatever it takes to make it work, because for the first time in a long time, her soul feels whole.
The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses is the book women have been searching for, but haven’t yet found. Offering horses as both metaphor and solution to the natural malaise that often arises within us just about the time we blow out that “midlife” birthday candle, this is the book that will help midlife women ask (and answer), “What about my dreams?” and “Is it my turn yet?” and “If not now, when?” and best of all, “If now, how?”
As co-author of the bestseller, Lessons Well Learned with Clinton Anderson (Trafalgar Square Books, 2009), and following the book’s release, as senior writer on Clinton’s Downunder Horsemanship creative team, I came face to face with countless women just like me who once dreamed of horses and are now recapturing that dream. After watching their struggles (and joining in with a few of my own), listening to their stories and witnessing firsthand what having horses at this time of life can mean, I created the book I wish I had been able to find when I made the bold decision to get back in the saddle at the age of 45.
With as much humor (mostly at my own expense) as I could muster (you might as well laugh, right?), I let my own struggles do the talking in this tongue-in-cheek account that its publisher calls “a little bit memoir, a little more self-help, a whole lot practical guidebook, and all heart.”
My own midlife horse tale?
It all began with the purchase of Trace, a handsome bay gelding that was a pure dream-come true. Until, that is, he decided to become, in the tradition of oysters-and-pearls, the agitating impetus for this book.
To solve some problems while creating still others, I then added Rio, a little sorrel who seems to think he’s a dog. He sometimes (usually when I’m least expecting it) licks me affectionately and makes donkey faces when I scratch his itchy spot. He would also follow me into the house if I’d let him. (And one of these days, I might.)
And the rest, as you will see, is history that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
I didn’t do this book alone. It represents the massive combination of the time, energy, encouragement, insights and wisdom so generously shared with me by countless contributors (some without even knowing it!) that helped me take this “midlife horse guidebook” from a wishful “what-if” concept to reality. As this book makes its way into the world, I gratefully celebrate and acknowledge everyone who shared their experiences and thoughts about horses, horsemanship, and what this whole midlife horses experience is all about. And, for the millions of women (and experts) I didn’t get to talk to personally (and I realize I only touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg!), I’m excited to say we’ve created a “venue to continue,” as it were.
Beyond being “just a book” (and its soon-forthcoming e-book version), I’ve also created an online hub of information and sharing that includes my blog, a dedicated Facebook community, a YouTube channel to play host to our moments of triumph, flashes of insight, and maybe a little bit of just plain silliness, and even a spot on Flickr to go and view photos of the folks whose stories appear in the book — and other photos I shot during the book’s creation. (I’ll be loading content onto all these links over the next few weeks, getting ready for the book’s release, so keep checking!) Please post your comments!
Moving forward from here, and as this thing begins to build, I invite anyone who would like to share her midlife horse story to send me her contact information, photos with her horse(s), cool videos of your horsey experiences (and whose phone doesn’t shoot photos/video nowadays?) and whatever reflections she would like to share with others about her midlife horse journey to amuse, inform, entertain and/or inspire our midlife sisters!
So here it is. Your official invitation to come and be part of the Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses online community, with all the discussions, debates, friendship, laughter, and camaraderie only midlife horses can inspire. We’re all in this together, friends, and while this is a journey of each individual soul, it provides sustenance and encouragement to know there’s good company on this trail — and for what it’s worth, I’m here to help you connect with each other!