. . . 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.