Proving that age is no barrier to enjoying the company of horses, 70-year-old Patti is one of our most mature riders and also one of our least experienced – and she thoroughly enjoys every minute of her weekly lessons with us.
Having been taught to ride in Kenya some 40 years ago, by a locally-famous war hero called George Llewelyn, Patti spent five years learning the basics until circumstance forced her to give up the sport. Little did she know at the time that it would be another 35 years before she would be back in the saddle!
In all that time Patti never lost her love for horses and when she moved to Cyprus she wondered whether it might be time to take up riding again, albeit at a more leisurely pace than before. So, two years ago, after passing the Ranch, she came in to see the horses and have a chat with us. Patti then watched a few of the lessons before deciding that she did in fact want to take up riding again. Soon after, she started coming for lessons with a friend and Patti has stayed with us ever since.
Despite having ridden many years ago, when Patti first got back into the saddle it took her some time to get used to things again. Unsurprisingly, she was very nervous to begin with, but we gave her a very nice horse called Mystique and he’s really looked after her. As a result, Patti has come on very well. But, of course, the main thing is that she really enjoys her lessons.
With older pupils, a little extra care is always required in regard to energy levels and the safety of the horse and rider. Here at George’s Ranch every lesson is individually tailored to the needs of each client and so we do as much, or as little, as the person riding feels comfortable with. In Patti’s case, she is not only a very nice lady to work with, but she is also very ambitious and so we push her a little every time she has a lesson, and I think she really enjoys that part of her training.
As an instructor, it’s always great to see your clients progress and succeed, but it’s just as satisfying to see your students truly enjoy their time with you, and Patti tells me every week how much she looks forward to her lessons, which is really heart-warming. Of course, it’s not solely about the riding, Patti also loves the social atmosphere at the Ranch and she and her partner have been especially enthusiastic in their support of the various activities we organise – in fact, they were the star attractions at last year’s Christmas Toddlers’ Group.
Of course, one of the great advantages of riding – and this is true for all ages – is that it is a wonderful way to keep fit and to work on and correct any balance issues. Patti has told me the riding really has kept her fitter – as does her weekly Zumba class! – and so the benefits are manifold. For someone like Patti, the lessons keep her active, fitter, more agile and balanced, but more importantly – they make her happy.