Are my shorts on upside down? Ten years ago, this same pair was tight in the legs and big in the waist. Midlife can be so cruel.

Midlife News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses
by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) Order it now at www.horseandriderbooks.com!

What’s up with this change in my body structure that, number one, confirms I have entered that “certain age” and, number two, means twiggy legs and flappy triceps can’t be too far behind? Is this cruel reshaping really necessary? Unavoidable?

“NO!” Say the experts I consulted to build Chapter Four of my new book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. This chapter , entitled “Leg Up!” deals with the specific conditioning required to be effective with a horse — and, incidentally, could quite easily put us int he best shape of our lives.

The nice thing about this “exercise program” is that our horse chores are such necessary tasks we often don’t realize what a workout we’re getting. With a little awareness and a tiny bit of tweaking of our “horsekeeping” routines, we can be on the road to rock-star fitness without even realizing it. (This reminds me of a stretch of time when I was desensitizing Trace to the saddle by throwing it on him 100 times a day. If he hadn’t gotten bored with it and given up his goofiness, I could have had an upper body like Wonder Woman!)

And beyond the obvious fitness benefits that ride the coattails of barn chores like tossing bales, toting water buckets and mucking stalls, guess what else is packed quietly into this sneaky midlife fitness regimen?

Check out these Chapter Four factoids:

An hour of trotting burns 400-600 calories (in your body, not the horse’s!)

Mounting a horse uses every single muscle in your hips and legs

Just sitting on a horse simulates an extended squat, constantly working quads, hamstrings, abductors and aductors — simultaneously!

(I didn’t see any stats on how many calories sitting on a bucking horse burns— not to mention yanking him in circles until we’re both a bit dizzy— but I know it has given me jaw muscles like a pit bull. Probably not a good thing.)

So with all this fitness in mind, I’m off to the barn to ramp up my routine (in what they’re calling the second hottest Texas summer on record. I try not to pay attention to the counters, but I think I heard this is the 16th straight day of 100+ degree heat.) Maybe copious sweating will help right these upside-down shorts.

So . . .Fitness after 50?  Just another gift we receive at the hooves of our midlife horses! I’ve included in the book a number of ideas for making the most of this built-in (if a little unwitting) fitness program, from specific exercises I discovered to interesting ways of combating this disturbing “flab phenomenon.” I’ve  shared what I found to get motivated enough to reap yet another surprising benefit of the midlife horse experience. Now it’s your turn.

I know I didn’t even scratch the surface of good ideas in this area. What’s your horse fitness strategy? If you have any good fitness amping tips, suggestions or strategies, please share them with the growing Smart Womans Guide to Midlife Horses Community! Just post a comment in reply  either here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter or LinkedIn. And, if  you have a photo or video of some good horse-related fitness routines or strategies, send them to me and I’ll post them on Flickr or our You Tube channel! Camera phones welcome! It’s all about helping each other keep it right side up!

Thanks, Dallas Morning News, for a fun interview and shoot! Look for the story in Our Town July 25!

Book info News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

It’s a darned good thing I didn’t know that was a Pulitzer winning photographer taking my picture this morning to go with Kathleen Green’s upcoming Dallas Morning News Article featuring The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. THAT would have made me nervous. But quite to the contrary, our early morning photo shoot with crackerjack photographer Robert Hart was nothing but fun!

The horses behaved admirably, the blistering Texas heat had yet to fully wake up for another 100+ degree day day, and I’m not sure, but I think Robert got some photos he liked. (He said that when a photographer makes the “ooh oooh oooh” monkey noise, it’s a good thing. Did I mention he won a Pulitzer? Although I’m fairly camera shy and highly self-critical, I’m guardedly optimistic about this one.)

As one not accustomed to being on this side of the interview or camera, I’ll have to say it was a little weird at first. But, just like the Horse Radio Network “Horses in the Morning” radio interview last week, once I get started talking about The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, all weirdness faded into my genuine enthusiasm for sharing this book.

You know the best thing about writing this book? Because it came from my own personal midlife horse quest — and because I built it to be a resource guide for readers to use as a springboard for finding their own answers, the ideas, connections, and useful information just keeps flowing my way!

That’s why I’m so glad we’re building this comunity — a gathering place where we can all pool our ideas, stories and experiences — and just generally bask in the fun and camaraderie the  whole Midlife Horse experience can bring! (I’m looking into adding a virtual margarita machine . . .)

If you haven’t done it already, please visit (and “Like”!) our Facebook page and join the conversations growing there! Id love to hear from you any time something on this blog strikes a familiar chord — and, if you have pictures of you and your horse, advice to share, funny video, or favorite quotes, if you send ’em, I’ll post ’em! We’ve built  an exciting social media hub that includes this blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Flickr.

Tell your friends! Come back often! Happy trails!

 

 

The magic of this midlife horse thing? On a good day, it feels like the look on a baby’s face when he tastes chocolate for the very first time.

News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

Meet Teresa, (pictured here with her midlife horse, Lladro). It was on a quiet morning ride, when Trace and  I were the only other ones at the club,  that we began to mimic, in follow-the-leader  fashion (at a respectful distance on the far end of the arena, of course), Teresa and her beautiful and majestic Fresian through their daily dressage maneuvers.

Here's Teresa and Lladro enjoying one of those "first chocolate" midlife horse moments . . .

We botched them all, of course, as neither of us knew what the hell we were even trying to do, but in the process (and in Teresa’s charitable kindness) a friendship was formed over our midlife horses.

As we rode along afterwards together (with Lladro casting a disdainful but tolerant eye toward Trace) it was our discussion of what our midlife horses mean to us that actually sparked the exploration that, three years later, became my soon to be released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning , Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life.

. . . and here, modeling the kind of “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” relationship we all hope for with our midlife horse!

Teresa was giving me the 411 about the Fort Worth Horseshoe Club where I had just moved Trace. “We have the cleaners — they come out every day and clean their stalls their buckets their feed bins. Their stalls are cleaner than my house. We have the groomers, they come out and shampoo, brush, apply hoof dressings and keep their horse looking like a million bucks. We have some that stay pretty much on the ground, others who take a lot of lessons, some ride just for fun and others are very serious competitors — or used to be. There really is something in this experience for everyone!”

“What do you think it is about horses that attract women at this time of life?” I asked in what would become the genesis of this book .

“You know the look a baby gets on his face the first time he tastes chocolate? That’s what a good horse day feels like — and that’s what keeps us coming back for more!”

 

and then, living her midlife horse dream to its fullest expression, Teresa gives us all a vision that is nothing short of magical!

 

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) - Order yours today at www.horseandriderbooks.com!
Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

 

 

Some people wouldn’t spend as much on a saddle as on a new living room sofa. But as far as I know, an ill-fitting sofa never caused anyone to land in the middle of the living room floor.

Book info News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses
by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) Order it now at www.horseandriderbooks.com!

In Chapter 9 of my new book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Find Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life, I make an unapologetic confession. I own three saddles. And while I love each and every one of them for very different reasons, none of them fit my horse.

As it turns out, there’s a whole lot to this saddle fitting thing — whether you ride English or Western, and I found a few experts to help me understand this complex issue — and I barely scratched the surface! As you follow my well-worn train of saddle frustration, you might as well learn from my mistakes, get ideas of where you might find the experts you need, and have a decent idea of what questions to ask and what kinds of things to look out for.

There's a lot to consider when choosing a saddle, and it's important to look at it from the horse's point of view first! (From Chapter 9, "Let's Get Tacky," The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses)

 

The bottom line? While it’s hard (and usually impossible!) to get horse experts to agree on anything, I did find a general consensus on this topic.  When you’re trying to fit this “moving target,” there are three things to look for:

1. Your horse has to be comfortable and able to move freely without pain.

2. You need to be comfortable and well balanced in the saddle.

3. The saddle must be designed and suited to the purpose you intend to use it for.

When you’re saddle shopping, it’s easy to find a saddle that meets any one of these criteria, sometimes two. But girlfriends, take it from me and keep on shopping until you find one that meets all three. You may have to spend some money (and once you find the one you want, you might be able to find it used at any one of a bazillion online or in person resale sources.), but believe me, it will be worth it.

And, it may not be as cozy to watch TV in the evenings sitting on a saddle instead of that Pottery Barn sofa you’ve had your eye on, but at least you’ll have a secure seat when it really counts!

 

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) - Order yours today at www.horseandriderbooks.com!

Come! Join the community that’s building around this book.  Stop by as often as you can to join the fun, laughter, camaraderie and joy only midlife horses can bring. Find us here, on Facebook,TwitterYouTube (please send your videos–even camera phone!– and I’ll post them!) and Flickr (send photos of you with your horse!). This is our free Midlife Horses support community — a place for us all to share what we’ve learned, commiserate, celebrate and, to the greatest extent possible, laugh our butts off in the pure joy only midlife horses can bring. I’ve built it — now, y’all come!

 

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

Today I put my husband’s shirt on my horse.

Book info News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

No, I’m not kidding. Following both Clinton Anderson’s advice to “get creative with your desensitizing tools”  and the old cowboy trick of tying stuff on your saddle to “get the buck out,” I decided to see if I could help my jumpy, side-sensitive horse, Trace, work through his over-reactiveness to things touching his sides.

Now, here’s the kicker, if you’ll pardon the expression. Because Trace is so jumpy I’ve already done a tremendous amount of desensitizing with him from the ground. In fact, he expects nothing less from me. Using Clinton’s “Approach and Retreat” technique, I’ve jabbed, flapped, poked, slapped, rattled, and waved enough to make myself a laughing stock of my entire barn. And for the most part, it’s been worth it. However, when the strings hanging from the back of my favorite two saddles touch his sides, he STILL goes off like a rodeo bronc.

So this was my newest idea. Taking my cue from Clinton Anderson’s advice to “get creative with your desensitizing tools,” I chose my husbands long sleeved shirt to help desensitize my jumpy horse to things (like saddle strings) that tickle his sides and make him buck.

Trainer Denise Barrows was game to help me with this experiment, and as soon as I manage to get it posted,  you can see how it “unfolded” on YouTube. You’ll see me working with him at first, then trainer Denise Barrows takes over to apply a little more experienced pressure. Notice how she increases pressure by pushing him, then releases the pressure by letting him take a rest, then starts again. Developing this kind of “feel” of when to increase and when to release pressure with horses is an art form, I’ve decided. (And I do think it also applies to teenagers.)

Seeing the shirt collar standing up against the back of the cantle, Denise remarked that it looked like the headless horseman was sliding down off Trace’s butt. (Clinton always says that the more you try to scare your horse, the calmer he will get . . . what could be scarier than this?)

The idea was to start small, with the shirt tightly rolled, doing basic groundwork and moving slowly into lunging, walk, trot and canter. We thought that as he became OK with it, we’d let more and more of the shirt hang out of the roll until the whole shirt was draped over his back end.

You know what they say about best laid plans. Trace had other ideas about how this exercise should “unfold,” and after two or three good kick-ups on the lunge line, the shirt somehow came unrolled on its own.  I’m still not sure whose column gets the win for this one  . . . watch the video and cast your vote! What was your most creative desensitizing tool?

Send me your “creative desensitizing” videos (camera phones welcome!) My favorite wins a free Saddle Up Your Midlife Horses! T-shirt!

 

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

To create your own trail map to find the resources you need, solid horsekeeping advice from the experts I found on my own journey, stories of all kinds of women and their horses finding what they need on the midlife trail, and plenty of ridiculous anecdotes just like this one from me, order your copy of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses today!

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

And once you read the book, be sure to check back here often. I’m in the process of creating a community just for those of us finding our midlife thrill on the back (or by the side) of a horse. Come! Join the fun, laughter, camaraderie and joy only midlife horses can bring. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (please send your videos–even camera phone!– and I’ll post them!) and Flickr (send photos of you with your horse!). I’ve built this community for us all to share, commiserate, celebrate and, to the greatest extent possible, laugh our butts off in the pure joy only midlife horses can bring. Y’all come!

Hooked on Reality TV? Midlife Horses are the ultimate “reality channel.”

News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

 

Hooked on Reality TV? Midlife Horses are the ultimate “reality channel.”

Looking for motivation? Check. Sense of accomplishment? Check. Fitness? Check. Need to clear your mind and learn to “stay in the moment.” Yep, because if you don’t, you’re gonna be eating dirt. Horses don’t suffer cell phones. (Ask me how I know this.)

Got fear? They’ll find it. Got sadness?  They’ll soothe it. Doubts, anxieties, insecurities? One by one they’ll shine the light of awareness on them and stand with you as these and other personal midlife bugaboos dissipate  like smoke from a worn-out campfire. Need a good laugh? Oh, yeah. A good cry? Plenty of that, too.

These are just a few among the many programs you’ll discover when you tune in to the reality of midlife horses. In my soon-to-be released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life (Trafalgar Square Books, 2011),  we explore the cultural phenomenon of the nearly seven million American women now turning to horses to soothe and rejuvenate their midlife souls as they chart a new course into a future of their own choosing.

As the book, which its publisher classifies as a “tongue-in-cheek account that is a little bit memoir, a little more self-help, a whole lot practical guidebook, and all heart,” The Smart Women’s Guide to Midlife Horses examines: the whole midlife cornucopia of self-examination, why spending time with horses is especially helpful to women at this time, decision making when it comes to making this life altering journey, the challenge of finding time for a horse, getting fit for horsemanship, options for equine companionship beyond buying and boarding, things to do, places to go, how to find the help you need, how to find the resources you need to learn what you need to know, and much much more.

And beyond just a book (and its soon forthcoming e-book version), I’ve also created an online hub of information and sharing that includes this 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 an view our favorite photos (you send ’em in and I’ll post ’em!) along with a caption that tells your midlife horse story. So here it is. Your official invitation to come be part of the Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses community, with all the discussions, debates, friendship, laughter, and camaraderie  midlife horses can inspire.

We’re all in this together — 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!

by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

Pre-order your copy today of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life (Trafalgar Square Books, 2011) at www.horseandriderbooks.com (Click on the link, http://bit.ly/jqrt4s to download a sample chapter!)

They say 50 is the new 30. Really, marketers?

News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

 

by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

They say 50 is the new 30.  Really, marketers? And if that’s true, I ask you, did “they” (whoever “they” are) also re-designate our midlife birthday?

With all this “50 is the new 30” stuff flying around (and really annoying some of us), it has really set me to thinking. Last year, as I began work on my soon to be released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife horses: Finding Meaning Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life, (Trafalgar Square Books, 2011), I wondered how you know when you’re at midlife. After a lot of research and mulling over this rather complicated topic, I have your answer.

It turns out that rather than a specific, measurable amount of firepower on your birthday cake, the exact threshold of this epic period of transition is really as individual as we are — and, because it is often triggered by certain life events, large and small, it seems to be different for everyone.

If you’re wondering whether you’re “there yet,” take my quiz and see if your “certain age”  has arrived.

Have you recently:

1. Purchased your first pair of reading glasses? Then, finding your “number,” gone back to purchase them in bulk?

2. Plucked a dark and unruly chin hair? More than one? More frequently?

3. Waved goodbye to a child leaving for college?

4. Waved goodbye to a marriage that just couldn’t go the distance? (Flipped off a soon-to-be ex-husband leaving for his younger new girlfriend?)

5. Discovered that much of the knowledge you’ve spent your career accumulating is now obsolete?

6. Launched an adult child to true independence — a career and/or family of his/her own?

7. Witnessed the declining health of your parents? Watched them “downsizing” and realizing for the first time why.

8. Sorted through old photographs and memorabilia, wondering what happened to all those dreams, goals, plans, and things you always thought you’d do . . . “someday?”

9. Attempted to do something physically you used to do easily and found it strangely foreign and difficult?

10. Had to really think about it when someone asks how old you are, and found yourself stuck for an answer to long it’s been since you’ve done something that truly feeds your soul?

If you answered “yes” to more than a couple of these, my friend, there’s your wake-up call. Beyond any birthday that ends on “0”  (or even “5”) “midlife” for our generation is more of a feeling than a number; and, if we’re clever, we can discover our own ways to use that feeling to postpone the next stage indefinitely. Like the cream filling in a Double Stuff Oreo or the intoxicating sugariness in the heart of a July watermelon, we are the first generation to realize that we can make the middles of our lives  the very sweetest part.

How? Follow me. I’ll show you the trail I and millions of others are taking to bring Meaning, Magic and Mastery to the Second Half of Life.

 

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life is scheduled for release on July 1, 2011, and is now available for preorder at www.horseandriderbooks.com.

Reserve your copy today!

 

Trafalgar Square’s giving free samples!

News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

 

 

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses
by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) — Pre-order today at http://bit.ly/jqrt4s

Trafalgar Square’s giving free samples! Today I went to the link they gave me (http://bit.ly/jqrt4s)  to get a peek at my book, all posted and available for preorder . . .and for some reason I can’t explain, got tickled when I saw “Free Samples” underneath it. Maybe it’s because I’m hungry. Maybe because I’m overdue for a romp through Costco. But I do encourage you to take this nibble of my new book and let me know what you think.

When I began this journey a little over a year ago, I had no idea what was in store. Like some of my “test kitchen” readers said, I was expecting it to be some kind of sweet “Chicken Soup for the Middle Aged Horse Lovin Soul” thing, but in my usual habit, I just kept digging. As it turned out, it was really my horse, Trace, that helped most in keeping me searching for better, deeper, broader, different information than anything I ever considered before.

So what we have in the soon-to-be-released Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life (Trafalgar Square Books, 2011) is a book that explores both the practical and the esoteric sides of this life-reclaiming adventure.  In addition to 14 chapters packed with easy-to-digest information, humor (mostly at my expense), real life stories, and advice from the experts I found helpful, I’ve built an extensive resource section at the end of this book as a springboard to help you find your own answers. If there’s one thing I learned in the process of writing this book, it’s that the old adage is true: get any three horse experts in the same room and they won’t agree on anything. However, when one of them leaves, the remaining two will agree that the one who just left is definitely wrong. So the bottom line is, listen, think, and above all, learn how to  feel for the right answer. You’ll know what’s right once you wake up your inner lead mare. She knows. She always has.

And, by the way, I just want to get this said right up front. The irony of the title doesn’t escape me. And once you read about my epic horse blunders, it won’t escape you, either. The good news is, if you follow the breadcrumbs I’ve dropped along the way, the “Smart Woman” in that title can be you!

So here it is, Midlife Sisters . . . from the “why” to the “how” to the “what now?” this is the book I was looking for when I bought a horse at age 45, and I hope it helps bring more Meaning, Magic and Mastery to your second half of life !

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses

Book info Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

 

Click on the order button to buy this book now!


 

 

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?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Clinton Anderson and Melinda (Folse) Kaitcer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

From: The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses, here's my official author photo with my midlife horses, Trace and Rio

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.

From The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses: Author, Melinda Folse and her midlife horse, Trace, enjoy a Clinton Anderson inspired "head-shy" exercise

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.)

From The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses: Author Melinda Folse enjoys an itchy moment with her midlife horse, Rio.

And the rest, as you will see, is history that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

From The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses: Author Melinda Folse enjoys the sweetness of a quiet connection with her midlife horse, Trace.

 

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!