My Mum, who I have had to live without for five years now, was always a voice of reason. I remember her talking to me about her end-of-her-life thoughts and I would tell her that I, in my fancy, didn’t want to listen to such foolish talk, that she was in fact going to live forever.
In the months and years after her death, I often find myself going back and playing her comments about aging again in my mind. My Mum was busy doing things right up to the last week of her life. As my three sisters and I looked after her during her final days, I just couldn’t relate to a Mum that stayed in her bed. I think I secretly believed that she would, in fact, surprise us, get up and start telling us what needed to be done around the house. Making a pot of tea would, of course, have been her first request.
And now in 2020, I find myself looking at turning 60. With the example of my Mother in front of me always, I can tell you that I am not frightened by the number. She was never frightened by a number. If I had been smart enough to let her talk to me, I think I would have learned so much more from her, especially as she faced her golden years with dignity and grace. The gift she offered all of her girls, is the wonder of a lifetime of being active. This constant need to exercise regularly, explore and eat well, continues to offer me good health.
However, turning 60 does make one stop and pause. Both of my grandmothers lived into their late eighties and nineties, my Mother into her 80’s and my Dad is still alive and in his mid-80’s travelling the world. I have been asking myself as I approach my 60th birthday, what do I want to do with the rest of my life? And in saying the rest of my life, I am thinking that the goal of reaching 100 years of age is a good one.
On the subject of aging, I invite you to explore the research of Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer and writer, who wrote the cover story, “The Secrets of Long Life,” in the November 2005 issue. It was one of National Geographic bestsellers in the magazine’s history.
Perhaps what people found interesting is how individuals, in what Mr. Buettner calls the “Blue Zones”, are not only living longer, but better; that is, they remain active in their 80s and 90s, typically without the degenerative conditions that people suffer from in most of the industrialized world. In the United States, for example, the average lifespan is about 78 years (about ten years less than the Blue Zones), and almost 50 percent of adults have one of the three leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
In addition, with my parents being British, and my heading an equestrian company, the goal of which is to step onto the global stage and strive to effect social good through the love of horses, one picture continues to stand out in my mind. Just a few months ago, the 92-year-old British monarch was spotted riding on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The Queen rode a Fell pony.
You don’t, however, have to be the Queen of England to enjoy the benefit of riding! The right horse, at the right time in one’s life, experts agree, offers one common thing to all: that riding and caring for a horse makes a person young (young while they are in their 80’s, 90’s or 100’s).
Horsemanship skills are taught from the minute you sit on their back, to leading a horse, teaching a horse, cleaning a horse, feeding a horse and the realization that without the care and love you give your horse it would surely die.
The responsibility you learn about is invaluable throughout your life, whether you learn this starting at a young age or are older. It helps you develop personal habits that teach you more than you would expect.
Once you have bonded with a horse, you never forget the feeling you have with them that you can never have with almost any other being. Yes, we all have cats and dogs and hamsters and those smaller pets, but the horse, the horse offers an absolutely unforgettable feeling:
- You feel like you have accomplished something special, something secret, something that many, if not most, people are unaware of.
- You connect with a 1000 pound (plus) animal, and because of that connection you are able to direct its movement.
- You acutely feel this connection with this animal and the team that forms through this connection causes you, together, to feel a further connection with nature itself.
- You cultivate great friendships with other horse people, individuals who share the same love and excitement.
- You experience the benefit of a great physical strength and coordination, which comes to you directly through riding.
- You learn how to live with success as much as with failure.
- As a result of this, you absolutely know you can do anything you put your mind to.
Horses are beautiful, powerful, gentle, and at times crabby. They empower you in a world that can be cruel. In your presence in the quiet of the barn, you might experience a kind of meditation on nature. There is a feeling of appreciation for being closer to nature as a way of being in the world.
So, perhaps you've always wanted a horse, and you are now ready to make this commitment. Or, maybe you once were a horse owner or rider, but life got in the way, and you're now ready to re-enter the horse world. Riding a horse can be an amazing way to spend your pre-retirement or retirement years.
We at Red Scarf Equestrian believe in the power of good that comes with our personal interest in the world of the horse, whether you actually ride, or appreciate the horse and the nature that surrounds it from a little ways back.
Please accept my personal invitation to “join our herd” whether that means riding with us, shopping with us, working with us, or just hanging out with us.
As I embrace my 60th year, I am thinking that the best is yet to come.
“We’re comfortable back here,” they said.
“We’re too busy,” they said.
“It’s too high,” they said.
“We’re afraid,” they said.
“We’ll fall,” they said.
And they did.
And they flew.