Friday, July 16, 2010

Why I LOVE My Older Horses . . .

. . . well, first I have to admit that I am an older horse owner. At 58 I have no desire for wild rides up logging roads, sticking to the back of my bareback pony like burr. That was decades ago. I do want plenty of forward action on the trail and in the arena. If you have ever visited this blog, you may know that my little herd has grown to three: Red, Lyra, and Autumn.

Red is an 18 year old Appendix Quarter Horse gelding. He is willing with a huge heart. He gives me his all in whatever I ask him. He came with issues and has made amazing progress. A highly intelligent horse, he has been started in Trail Trials. Emotionally he is high strung, a vigilant horse who worries about what is under each leaf on the trail. His health needs include contracted feet that I manage through my own barefoot trimming, a somewhat slow to get going left hind leg that has a puffy tendon sheath from an old injury, and stifles that need a bit of nurturing.

Lyra is my 25ish year old TB mare. She was relinquished to a local rescue, starved. Adopted, her owner was hospitalized and she was left in a stall to starve once again. Re-rescued and adopted by a friend of mine, she became my girl when my friend had to sell her. I couldn't bear to see high-needs (emotionally) Lyra return to the market. Lyra is someplace over 25, judging from her teeth. She is healthy but very difficult to keep weight on throughout the winter. It is essential to have her teeth done every fall. Her feet are a challenge and this year she had a nasty abscess that blew out her back heel. She is a delight to ride in the arena with a floaty, consistent trot that goes on forever. On the trail she is psycho. Someone once trained her to give kisses for carrots. She has become very affectionate and will now approach me, asking to come into the barn.

Autumn is a 23 year old Appendix Quarter Horse mare. She was left to starve in the general pasture last winter and when I rescued her was days away from death, according to my vet. Sweet, earnest, and a hard worker Autumn is my finest trail horse. So far nothing has spooked her. She has amazing stamina, is sound (if you give her about 10 minutes to warm up her creaky left hind leg), has lovely hard feet, and is just a delight to ride. She is a horse I can have friends (intermediate riders cuz she is sensitive to subtle aides) ride.

So you have met my geriatric herd. I adore these horses who give me their all. I ride every day, taking turns between horses. Hard core competition might be beyond their physical capacities, but they are more than capable of fulfilling my most demanding riding needs - a full day of trail trials or a 15 mile ride.

Older horses appear in great numbers in the adds on Craig's List. Many are for sale because the children they carried have grown and moved on to other interests. Please consider an older horse when you are horse shopping.

For a wealth of articles about living with older horses, click here.


allhorsestuff said...

Excellent...I loved reading about your herd of 3!
Your lovely horses have the perfect life...and you too!

Breathe said...

I love older horses - so many over 20 end up not being sound - but I've learned a great deal about what it takes to give a wonderful horse (like our lily) an ongoing trail career.

Sydney_bitless said...

Older horses make my life. When I was looking for MY OWN horse I wanted something younger. Indigo seemed all wrong, colour, breed, age. I guess goes the saying a good horse is never the wrong colour or breed. Shes 18 this year, sound as ever and can do a whole multitude of things. She truely is the versatile horse.
Naigen came to me at age 18, emaciated and near death. With consistent care she bounced right back and offered many young kids the opportunity to ride and play with a horse. I miss her every single day she was such a gem. I could have trusted her with anyone.

Kate said...

I'm a big fan of older horses - thanks for the profiles of your 3 - they're all lovely but I especially love Autumn.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Being the same age as you I agree, I don't need any more wild rides as you put it.

I'll take the older horse over the young untried one any day. Your horses are wonderful and I'm sure they are very happy to be loved and cared for by you.

Esther Garvi said...

I loved to read about your mounts! It reminded me of how much I appreciate my own, and each one of them for different reasons. Autumn is amazing. And I know how much you love Red. Lyra is so beautiful.
Thank you for sharing them with us Cherie!