One of the advantages of horseback riding, be it competitive or just pleasure riding on the trails, is that we can enjoy it at all ages. We’re pretty sure that if you were to take a quick glance around your current boarding stable, you’d probably find people at many stages of life mounting up for a ride. Whether young, middle-aged or senior citizens, all generations can reap the benefits – both physical and emotional – of spending time with horses.
Take Captain Canada, Ian Millar, now 73, who set a record by becoming the first athlete in any sport, from any nation, to compete in 10 Olympic Games. It was in London in 2012 that he achieved his personal best Olympic performance with a top-10 finish. And who could forget when Millar captured his first Olympic medal at Beijing 2008, taking silver in the team event at age 61. It was only in the spring of 2019 that Millar announced his retirement from international competition to re-focus his attention on coaching and developing young horses.
But you don’t have to be an international-caliber equestrian to pursue competitive goals. In the category of It’s Never Too Late to Pursue Your Dreams, there’s Canadian rider Mary Ann Kissner. Not only did this Thorold, Ontario, resident start riding as a mature student at the age of 54, she never gave up on her goal to compete in the show ring over fences. And this past summer shortly after her 80th birthday, she did just that at Angelstone Tournament’s Silver Series aboard her Arabian mare, Rockridge Silver April. Kissner, who is also a cancer survivor, competed in the Cross Rails Division at the Silver Playoffs at the Erin, Ontario venue and said that her horse “has kept me sane, motivated, and given me the will to live.”
Those are definitely words that all horse owners can relate to! We wish Mary Ann and her Arab mare many more show seasons to come.