You're never too old or too young to start horse riding

Welcome to Richard Neale's amazing story


A thirty something horse owner and rider, nothing too amazing about that, lots of people in their thirties own and ride horses, but how many actually start to ride in their thirties? 
Over the next 12 months Richard will take us on his journey from his  very limited childhood experiences with horses, to making the decision to take up riding seriously, to where he is today, buying a horse with a clear goal of going to competitions.
Richard starts his story…..
It was a dry windy day in the 70's, and I was about six years old sitting watching my older sister and her friend having their riding lesson, wishing it was me. 
It took me nearly a year to build up the courage to ask my parents if I could have lessons too, only to be told that I would have to wait until I was of the same age as my sister who was eight (to make it fair) Two years seemed a life time away.
Finally the day came and I had my first lesson - I don't remember much about it other than when we were leading the horses away from the school at the end of the lesson, the instructor telling me not to stand too close to the horse in front … too late! as I felt the pain of the kick in the shin which was immediately followed by lots of tears from me.

I only had two more lessons before my parents decided it was just too expensive for me to continue.
The next time I got on a horse I was about ten - a relation who had a very safe horse kindly let me ride it, however I was too scared to get out of walk, although we did have a couple of nice hacks. Again this didn't lead anywhere and I certainly didn't progress as a rider.
Unfortunately a few years later my father died and we moved to the city - that was it for my riding! Although even in the city I would see people out riding and think it must be fun, but still I never took the step to find out.

It wasn't long before I soon found another exciting sport Climbing! and spent the next few years enjoying and having fun, until one day it all went wrong, I had a bad fall which smashed my left leg, three weeks in hospital was followed byan agonising six months of not being able to walk which left me overweight (15 stone) and depressed. I had been climbing without a rope and felt the accident was something I had bought on myself.

It took four long years of rehabilitation before I got back to the point of wanting to enjoy life again. I started by setting myself  targets, the first was to retake my English GCSE, being an academic failure at school this seemed like a huge undertaking at the time, but after my first year I passed with an A grade. Inspired I decided to do something about my weight and fitness and found myself entering a 10KM run and although I came in at the back, I was amazed that i had managed to run 8KM without stopping.

It wasn't long before I was looking for my next challenge and I'm not quite sure how or why, but I thought I would give horse riding another go, it took another six months from making the initial decision to booking my first riding lesson… but I got there!

I remember my first lesson so clearly and even now it still puts a smile on my face; there I was sitting on a Piebald cob called Muddle, walking around the school on a tight lead rope surrounded by several ten year old kids on Shetland Ponies! What a sight! But in a funny sort of way I came away knowing I had enjoyed it. 
 Tips for beginning your riding journey. 
  1. Find a good riding school, try and get some testimonials from people that go, and then go and watch some lessons and see if you like the instructor.
  2. Check the riding school you choose has qualified instructors, insurance and well cared for safe horses.
  3. Watch other peoples lessons, it's sometimes easier to see mistakes when you are stood safely on the ground and not sat onboard a horse.
  4. Remember you may not get it right first time, but you'll get there in the end.
  5. Riding is fun!  So don't give up if you have a bad day, all riders have them.