Here’s something that came in via email (posted here with permission because I think this is a big issue that might stir up some great conversation and insights, either here or in our Facebook community! I’d love to hear what you guys have to say — and so would she!
Here’s the issue (identity and confidentiality protected, but the facts are common to many of us!).
“I am weighing the possibilities of horse ownership, and it appears that the biggest obstacle for me is the way my husband feels about my dream of paying off our house, selling, and moving to a place out in the country were I can keep my midlife horse on our property. He finds the whole thing stressful and overwhelming, not only because of all of the work involved, but because of the cost of another house and of horse ownership in general. I am an idealist and feel we could do it if we try. What do you think is the best way to handle this skeptical husband issue? I know it’s a loaded question. I guess I just need a pep talk.”
So reaching out to all you wonderful Midlife Horses pep talkers out there, it’s time for us to rally here and help this woman think this issue all the way through. Her challenge is to figure out what’s most important to her and what will make the most sense to her — throughout her whole life, not just the horsey part.. Anyone want to weigh in with some navigational tips for this sticky issue? Any fellas out there have something to say?
I totally get both sides of this issue — and to some extent, I live it myself. I adore the community I belong to at the Fort Worth Horseshoe Club and am thrilled with the great care my horses get there. I can’t say enough nice things about the wonderful friends I’ve met there, the good horse company we share, and the joy of having such a beautiful place to go (especially when i need a quick escape!) to immerse myself in the horse world. (If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to check out my new video on this topic!) HOWEVER, I also would dearly love to walk out my back door in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and say hello to Trace and Rio before I start my day (or talk to any humans). I’d love to be able to watch them in the pasture behind my imaginary house and just hang with them sometimes with no agenda or timeline. AND YET, I also love NOT having to muck stalls, haul shavings, dispose of manure, fix fences, mow, brush hog, plow, scrub troughs.( I have a hard enough time staying ahead of the rolling dustbunnies in my dining room and running the occasional mop over my perpetually grody kitchen floor.) With my work schedule and busy family life, I can’t imagine adding another full-time job to an already overflowing plate. It just might take the fun out of the whole thing.
Thoughts, insights, advice, or observations from any of you out there on either side of this sticky fence? Let us hear from you! (Free Rio T-shirt to first three posters!). Post your comments here, on our Facebook page (and while you’re there, give us a “like” if you haven’t already! ) Or retweet your support and ideas whenever you see this pop up on my Twitter feed, or share a video that illustrates your point on our YouTube channel.
Just got back in from a two hour ride that turned into four — and grueling trot-a-thon on Trace and a bend-o-rama on Rio that has my core muscles quivering like Santa’s legendary bowlful of jello. You just never realize the need for well-developed core strength until you’ve trotted around in circles for two hours on a snippy horse, followed by another hour and a half on my passive aggressive sweetie pie that much prefers leaning to bending, whose cantering is more like a ride on Six Flags Over Texas’ Runnaway Mine Train than the slow, easy circles of my dreams.
Hobbling back to the cool comfort of my twirly desk chair, I just decided to go back and re-read Chapter Four, “Leg Up!” of my recently released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses . When I was writing the book, I realized through countless conversations with other women like me that one of the biggest challenges to midlife horsemanship is getting and staying fit to ride. Not only does this kind of conditioning make sense for improving our overall health and wellbeing, but when it comes to riding and working with our horses, it is crucial to be strong enough to be effective, keep ourselves safe, have a good time, and above all, keep coming back for more!
And, perfectly timed with today’s epiphany, there was a nice reference to this chapter on Rebecca’s TSB Riding Adventures July 27 blog post, titled “The Working Rider’s Workout,” as she prepares for a Wyoming Ranch ride (Yee Haww, Becca! You go, girl! I just learned the other day that dressage is like crack–more on that later– and I can’t wait to see if Becca finds the same is true about chasing cows!) Let’s stay tuned to this one and see how it comes out!)
Any others of you out there have a neat destination ride planned this year? Let us hear from you! We love to be inspired — and sometimes, live vicariously. Also, look for my upcoming post on some great fall rides I just learned about from a new friend who has personally done them all and can give us some great inside information on a surprising “trail culture” cropping up out there for trail enthusiasts across the nation.
And, as for getting that “core of jello” I’m sporting these days a little more solidified so I can be more effective in future trot-a-thons and bend-o-ramas, stay tuned for more info and exercises as I go back this coming month and revisit (and actually consistently DO) all those great core building exercises I tucked into Chapter Four of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. Anyone out there want to do them with me? Anybody up for a little spirited “core building competition?”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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!
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? 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.
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 !
“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 Flickrto 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!