Ever dreamt of learning to ride a horse, play a musical instrument, golf 18 holes well or another pursuit? “Push yourself. Make time for it,” advises 65-year-old Kathy Browning.
Kathy’s dream was to learn to ride horses – a dream she finally has time to pursue.
A Dream Deferred
“When I was little, my uncle had a dairy in Artesia and he had horses, and I think that’s where I got interested,” she says of her childhood. “You get busy with your kids and work. I used to own my own business, a beauty salon, and I didn’t have time. I was single for 20 years, and I thought if I break anything but my nose I can’t work, so I just stayed away from horseback riding.”
But at age 61, Kathy was finally able to work less, and a friend introduced her to Cowboy Boot Camp and her instructor, Lori.
Learning to Ride
“It’s been fabulous,” Kathy says. “It’s been quite a learning experience. We learn everything from bathing to cleaning the hooves to saddling and bridling. You learn to be cautious because anything can happen since they’re so big.”
At first Kathy worried about getting hurt and wondered what she was doing pursuing horseback riding. But the drive was there, and she pushed through the doubts. “I’m real proud of myself. It’s the first time in a long time that I pushed myself to do something,” she says.
“I saw a little girl riding a pony over the jumps, and I thought, ‘If she can do it, I can do it!’ ”
Something Ventured, Something Gained
Kathy’s husband and family are supportive of her endeavors, and her new hobby gives her time for herself. “It’s something that I do for me. This is my place,” she says. Working around horses also focuses you on the present, Kathy explains. “It’s like being in another world. When you’re around the horses, you don’t think about it if you have any problems because you have to be thinking about what you’re doing. You have to be calm.”
Kathy’s also gained many new friends. “I’ve met so many wonderful people,” she says, adding that potlucks and get-togethers are frequent among her barn buddies.
But the No. 1 thing Kathy has gained is confidence. “It’s pushed me and I’ve achieved something,” she says. “I feel proud of myself.”
A Continuing Education
“I hope I live to 90 at least because I still have a lot to learn,” Kathy jokes.
“There’s a lot more to it than you realize,” she adds. “A lot of people think you just get on and go, but that’s not the way it is. I’ve really learned a lot. I just absolutely love it. It’s given me a whole new life.”
Her advice to others considering finally pursuing a passion? “Go for it! If it’s something you really want, make it a priority and don’t give up,” she says. (Of course, make sure you are medically cleared for any new sport.)
About realizing her childhood dream, Kathy says, “It’s given me a lot to look forward to.”
Live the Life You Love – AARP.org
Karina Wahlman—Horses Double as Friends and Exercise Equipment – AARP.org
AARP Survey on Lifelong Learning – AARP.org