“We’re going to the horse show; want to come along?” This, from Linda, the stable trainer/manager. “It’s cross-country, and you said you’ve always wanted to do it,” she added, coaxingly. “But I’m 74, Linda, aren’t I too old?” “If you can do it, you’re not too old!” she sensibly answered, so I signed up.
I didn’t own a horse, but there was a little mustang in the barn named Knight I thought could do the job. We trucked over that Saturday and “walked the course” so I would know where we were going, once I was mounted. I had chosen the lowest level of competition because neither Knight nor I could jump any higher. Frankly, even those smaller jumps looked like Mt. Everest.
As I was warming up, a splendidly turned out woman on a huge thoroughbred trotted up next to me. “WHAT kind of horse is that?” she snickered. “What does he look like?” I responded. “The clue is, he has a tattoo on his neck.” (Bureau of Land Management, a tattoo that all wild horses get when they’re captured). “No idea” – she was now chuckling. “It’s a MUSTANG!” I pronounced with pride. She was laughing full bore now, and rode off. “And I’ll beat your ass in this class,” I snarled to myself, at my competitive best.
Linda, at her most supportive, said, “Don’t worry, you’ll never make it past the fourth jump; it’s too high for the two of you.” Out on course we went, whipping and driving. I wanted Knight to be more afraid of me than of the jumps, and I/we succeeded, coming in third out of a field of 25 horses and riders. I was so excited, in fact, to have cleared all 20 jumps on the 2-mile course that I forgot to cross the finish line and was ultimately disqualified, but I successfully completed a cross-country course, for the first time in my life, at age 74.
Sally Haver is a senior career management consultant with a broad-based business background encompassing human resources consulting, recruitment, advertising/marketing, music production, academia and show business. Now retired, she is an editor and a frequent contributor to The Connector, covering the emerging new work force of retirees, who are choosing to work for the sheer love of it.