What challenges you?

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

Just got back from a morning watching Lisa Ramsey ride in the Fort Worth Stock Show Chisholm Challenge, and of course, it got me to thinking. She took first place in trail (Click here to watch the video!), second in Western Equitation, and a show stopping first in a drill team event, winning against several other teams with a prehistoric themed routine she and Cody-saurus did with others from All Star Equestrian. (Click here to watch this dyno-ride. It’s quite a bit of fun. I’m still not sure how they talked the horses into this . . .) As far as I’m concerned, however (and regardless of what the judges decide), it was a blue ribbon outing all around.

Lisa, you may remember, was featured in the Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses on page 22 as part of  Chapter Two, “Why Horses? Why Now? In which we explored the  idea of grounded horsemanship—how horses can enrich and enhance your life even if you don’t, can’t or have no desire to ride.

Since being injured in the line of duty as a Fort Worth Police Officer in 2003, Lisa spends almost all of her waking moments confined to a wheelchair. Except, of course, for the time she spends on the back of a horse.  Working with All-Star Equestrian in Mansfield Texas, Lisa has found a new sense of freedom, one she never imagined possible, and with steady progress that keeps surprising her and everyone else around her, has found a challenge that keeps her competitive spirit alive and well.

Lisa, who has participated  — and won belt buckles — in this event for the past two years, has discovered a new opponent — the one on the inside. “For me the competition has become all about doing just a little better at something than I did on my last ride. Sometimes these are big things that other people notice, and other times it is something only I recognize, but I know was a mark in the win column.”

Though each heat is a judged competition between riders with similar challenges,  it’s never about the other riders, Lisa will be the first to tell you. In fact, she notes the progress since last year in all her competition and celebrates these milestones as if they were her own. Each year, the Chisholm Trail Challenge reflects  the aggregate of all these little weekly milestones — a celebration that reflects a unique victory for every participant.

When Lisa began therapeutic riding several years ago, she required two sidewalkers on each side who literally held her up on the horse. This, some would have predicted, was about as good as it was likely to get. With no feeling from the chest down, Lisa has great difficulty with even the simplest of bodily maneuvers; lying flat, she can only lift her head and shoulders. When sitting, balance is difficult for her, and sometimes even staying upright in the chair is a challenge in an of itself. (She says she fakes it sometimes by relying on her arm strength and a subtle grip on something stationary to make it look like she’s sitting unassisted.)

But somehow — and some would say, miraculously, Lisa has learned to balance on a horse so well that now she has sidewalkers there if she needs them, now keeping a hand on just her lower legs. Making tight turns, changing directions and negotiating obstacles are, in and of themselves amazing feats, given the circumstances, but she does it — and does it so well she wins competitions and has been invited more than once to do an exhibition to show others what is possible in this arena where miracles are everyday occurrences and possible is just a word.

Still, she keeps striving for more. A former collegiate athlete and lifelong competitor, Lisa’s challenge is achieving some sort of personal best every single time she rides. And at the end of the ride, after she celebrates, she, as any driven athlete does, sets her next goal: What can get just a little better the next time out?

Cody,  the handsome Haflinger horse she rides, is a kindred sprit, one she describes as “laid back until it’s time to go into the ring, then he’s all business, ready to go out there and do his job.”  Cody, like Lisa, is a serious minded competitor who relishes challenge — and  gently rises to it every time they enter the ring: “He hates being third or fourth to go out, Lisa adds, “he has to be first. “

Lisa and Cody get a standing ovation at the PBR exhibition featuring All Star Equestrian's therapeutic riding program.

Lisa and Cody are quite the team to observe — earning a standing ovation at the May 2010 PBR exhibition they participated in and will be featured in an upcoming episode of Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship show on Fox  Sports, to be aired in March. (Watch this space for details!) In fact, Clinton’s crew was there today, filming the event and doing a follow up interview that brought home to me just how far Lisa has come with her Midlife Horse experience that began just before our first conversation in 2009 when she was starting her rediscovery of how much she enjoyed the company of horses.

Look for Lisa's remarkable story on Clinton Anderson's Downunder Horsemanship on Fox Sports, airing in March!

When you set your feet on the Midlife Horses trail, there’s just no telling where it may lead. And that, I think, is half the fun.

So what challenges you? What obstacles are blocking your personal Midlife Horses trail — and what will take to remove them? What resources do you need to clear the way to your own  joy that comes from being in the company of horses?

Let us hear from you! It’s that time of year to get a renewed grip on that joy and inner sense of purpose that attracted us to this experience in the first place, and there’s no better way to remember it than a good conversation with kindred spirits. Post your thoughts below as a comment, on our Facebook page, Twitter, or share a video of you enjoying your horse on our YouTube channel!

Whatever your challenge, large or small, just figure out that first next step is the key to getting there. Let’s all gather up our courage this year and, with a bow to St. Nike,  “Just Do It!”

Happy Trails!

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!

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




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!