What are Your Limits?

We talk about goals a lot, but there is another side to that coin. Do you have any limits when it comes to riding, like how much you’ll ride, what horses you’re willing to ride, or what you’re willing to do when you ride?


I have never set limits related to fence height or level of competition. The horses I have access to, time, and the money I have to spend set those limits for me for the most part. But some other things limit me, by my choice.

Duh, I’m old.

Not gonna lie, age is starting to be a factor for me. Most days I don’t feel much different from when I was 26, not physically (but mentally is a whole ‘nother story). However, with age comes more responsibility, so I can’t realistically just get on whatever someone throws at me and hope for the best. Being able to ride my own horse is important to me. Consequently, I mostly just ride my own horse because I know what I’m getting into. The thought of injury as a result of riding a different horse and leaving Eli riderless genuinely bothers me. Not that people are throwing horses at me to ride–they aren’t. But I am at a place in my life where if offered, I am very likely to turn down a ride on a horse other than my own. That I am even at a point in my riding that I am more likely to turn down an offer than take it surprises me, because I never thought I would get here. Even just a few years ago, I wasn’t here.

I just want to ride this guy.

One other thing I consider — I know what I like to ride and I can ride what I like because I own exactly the right horse for that. I don’t have a kick ride in me. I feel too big and long in the torso for ponies and cobs. I don’t like to be dragged around or taking a strong feel. It’s one thing to be paid to exercise ride a horse–compensation changes the dynamic entirely, of course, in a very humbling way (I am not at all saying I won’t ride a horse unless I am paid, far from that!). But if someone offered a hack on their really nice but totally dead-sided mount, I would probably turn it down. How selfish, entitled, and inconsiderate of me? Yes. I know. Why decline such generosity? When so many people are begging for rides and willing to get on anything, why shouldn’t I have the same attitude? Honestly, because I am almost 40, not 14. I have ridden a lot over the years. I did have that attitude for a long time. But now, I do not have any immediate goals other than to enjoy my horse, which is easy. I would much rather cheer people on from the ground, and help people to enjoy their own riding.


So, those are my limits–simply a recognition of my own mortality and knowing what I like.

What are yours?

34 thoughts on “What are Your Limits?

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  1. This is a really interesting post.

    Obviously, first and foremost I prefer riding Roger. The same way that you prefer Eli, Roger is my dude. He’s my horse child, he’s who I pick every time and I don’t think you can continue to bond with your horse and improve your partnership with your horse if you aren’t around them. I will admit that I am extremely picky about who I let sit on Roger. I am unwilling to let anyone I don’t know or any kind of beginner rider bop around on him (not that that ever happens, I’m just saying). Call me a helicopter parent if you want, at the end of the day I pay his bills and I make all of his decisions, so I am not comfortable with a random person on my horse. If I don’t know you and/or I’ve never seen you ride, it’s not happening.

    We hosted an IEA show at our barn last month, and I was asked by my trainer to help school horses for the show. Over the course of 3 days, I rode 8 horses, which is a lifetime high for me. I’m pretty willing to sit on anything, except something that is obviously wild or dangerous or has dangerous habits (violently spooky, dirty stopper, etc). I’ll sit on green beans, schoolmasters, ponies (being 5’3″ FTW), and everything in between. However, like you I’m no longer a teenager, so I need to keep in mind how a potential injury affects my adult working life as well as my horse’s. I also haaaaaaaate a kick ride; I want a horse with a “go button,” and don’t want to have to convince a horse every.single.step. that we are, in fact, still trotting…that’s extremely frustrating for me, and not my idea of fun. I don’t mind carrying a crop or wearing spurs, but I don’t want to have to constantly rely on them to get the horse to go forward. I do think that riding a wide variety of horses helps make us better riders, so I don’t turn down the chance to sit on something other than Roger. But he’s always my first round draft pick 🙂


    1. I do agree that riding as many horses as possible will make anyone a better rider.

      I helped out as a warm-up rider at an IEA show once, too. Oi, that was an exhausting day, but really fun!


  2. Interesting to think about! I think we all tend to focus so much on our goals, but realistically we do all have limitations (self-imposed or otherwise). I’d say mine are pretty boring- time and money. If I had more time, I’d hop on a lot more horses. If I had more money, I’d HAVE a lot more horses. And show more. I’m really proud of the progress Frankie and I have made together, but I can’t help but think we could be doing even BETTER if I could spend more time in the saddle- even if it isn’t his saddle.
    But I am kinda picky about what I’ll hop on- I don’t care if they’re young or old, green(ish) or broke to death, big or small, forward or dull, as long as I can feel safe. The moment I don’t feel safe in the saddle I am off faster than you can say, “Don’t worry, he’ll work through it!”


  3. Yes to this. I have friends that ask me to come ride frequently, but I don’t particularly like any of their horses. lol. I’m used to something with a soft mouth and I really prefer my butt be planted in a saddle that fits (friend says my saddles are hugely too big for her horses) me. Nothing worse than riding a too small saddle on a horse that doesn’t give to pressure and enjoys picking the speed himself…I prefer my small herd for sure.


  4. excellent topic, tho one that i personally avoid dwelling on. maybe bc most of my own limits are basically mental. having struggled so much with confidence or nerves i tend to be somewhat overly protective of that good feeling, that rush, we get from riding. sometimes this means i don’t push myself as much as would be necessary to break through to a new level. but. ya know. i think that’s ok.

    also i totally get where you’re coming from about knowing what you like to ride and not straying very far from it. this summer when i was basically begging for rides i rode a lot of different horses. many were awesome and had a lot to offer me, sure… but some i wouldn’t really choose to ride again given other alternatives. and again, that’s a-ok in my book.


    1. Mental limitations are very, very real for me, too. They primarily affect me when I am riding a horse other than Eli because I want to ride the horse well and if anything little thing isn’t quite right the perfectionist in me starts hyperventilating, which can be difficult to suppress.


  5. I have a lot of adulting limits right now in terms of finances. The kind of shows I can do and quality of horse I can afford are severely limited by budget. Also, I have a mental cap on my riding at the moment. It has to feel easy (as easy as riding can) since the rest of my life is decidedly NOT. That’s a huuuuuge limit, but I’m hoping I’ll eventually move past it.


  6. I tottttally hear you about getting older mentally. Gone are the days when I would sit on anything just to ride. Now, my main limitations are money and if I feel safe. I don’t see a point in riding something that seems dangerous. Green is fine but there’s a difference between that and scary. Other than that, it’s mainly money that keeps me from owning a horse – so one limitation has been that I rely on riding other people’s horses. It has huge upsides and downsides, but for the moment I think I’m in a great place figuring out the ride on two new horses that I’ll be alternating rides on!


  7. My limitations are safety, of course. Also, I consider wear and tear on my body. I don’t want to wear my body down, riding horses that don’t belong to me and will not further my skills. I do ride extras when my own horse is off, and I have been riding a friend’s horse this week. But this horse, and the horse I rode when Chance was off, were beneficial for me to ride… I know that sounds selfish, but I have goals, and I don’t think we should feel obligated to ride whatever anyone throws at us. Not every horse is going to help us to get better. I also have financial limitations, of course, but I am working to change those a bit 🙂


    1. I completely agree with you about not committing time to horses that don’t help us get better–I do not see it as selfish at all personally.

      And of course wear and tear over time from riding can be quite serious. I hear frequently about trainers having joints replaced. Not fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well when I lived in the bay area to protect my sanity I only rode a couple days a week (and frankly it probably protected me physically since I wasn’t putting myself in danger of getting into a bad accident or something.)


  9. I want to have fun when I ride. I’ve had reiners, AQHA all-arounders, hunters, barrel racers and pleasure (like ride for pleasure, not western pleasure) horses and I’ve enjoyed most of them. When I found something I liked more, I changed what I did. Right now I have a TB hunter, and up and coming warmblood who I hope will be a hunter, a non-rideable geriatric horse and my Mom’s 4yo QH. I enjoy all of them for different reasons. I have no desire to ride a hot horse. I like a kick ride much more than a pull. I don’t mind a horse that looks around, but I don’t enjoy spooky. The highest I’ve jumped is 3′. If I had a horse with the scope to jump higher, I’d probably be fine going higher, but right now I don’t know if either of mine have it. I’ve been really lucky with my 4yo warmblood filly (so far). She hasn’t done anything crazy. We are taking things pretty slowly, but she’s generally lazy and I like that. My limit is fear. Denny Emerson wrote an article in this week’s Chronicle that I think hits the nail on the head. If I have anxiety about riding the horse I have, then I have the wrong horse. I’m fine with breaking babies, but the baby has to have the right brain. I know 15+ yo seasoned show horses that I have no desire to ride bc I know they are hot or have hang-ups that make them difficult for one reason or another. Age isn’t always the best factor for me.

    If I had more time and $ I would probably show more, but it isn’t necessarily a burning desire. I love fox hunting and that takes up my weekends from November to March. I am borrowing my Mom’s QH for this hunt season bc my TB was a miserable failure at any kind of riding outside of an arena. Go figure. If my warmblood is the same way I will likely sell or lease one of them bc it is silly for me to have 3 horses and none of them can hunt!


    1. SO TRUE that if you have anxiety about riding your own horse, you have the wrong horse. I don’t always agree with what Denny Emerson says, but when he’s right he is SO right.

      Riding for fun is my top motivating factor, too 🙂 if it isn’t fun why would you?


  10. Most of my limitations have always been related to the horse I own and trainers I’ve ridden with.

    I feel like since I have moved to Nashville I have really started making good progress and Annie definitely seems like the horse that could get me closer to where I want to go so we will see what the next couple years bring! I would love to be able to ride in the AOs but that’s a very lofty aspiration.


  11. This is a really interesting topic! Loved reading all of the responses. I have some major mental limits right now surrounding jumping – popping around a 2’6″ course used to be easy for me, heck a 3′ course was no big deal, but now just thinking about it makes me nervous. Like many others have said, I’ve also imposed limits on the type of horse I’m willing to ride as I’ve gotten older. I ain’t got time for horses that are going to spook at every little thing, buck me off, bolt, or do any sort of other stupid nonsense. I don’t mind green or quirky, but I will not do dangerous, unpredictable, or high-strung. I do this for fun. If it ain’t fun, something’s gotta give.


  12. I’m generally not interested in riding a lot of horses. That sounds really bad — but let me elaborate. I enjoy riding different types of horses (especially on the flat) that challenge me… but I don’t like to get myself into potentially dangerous situations or situations where there isn’t much chance of success. I don’t have experience with young, green horses so I tend to not want to ride them… same with problem horses. I guess I typically think of riding as my hobby — so if I’m not going to have fun, why do it?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As someone a bit older as well, I think of safety first. I won’t ride anything I consider unsafe. Cause that’s just not fun. I’m happy to ride friends horses that I know, but am not interested in riding a problem horse. I’ll leave that to the pros!

    Liked by 1 person

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