Horses Have Much to Offer into their Twenties and Beyond
By Kim Roe
I’ve always joked that horses don’t get good until they’re 10 years old, then you have a few good years and they’re old. As with much humor, there’s some truth there. Of course, there are exceptional horses who are wonderful by the time they’re 5 or 6, but most horses seem to bloom around the end of their first decade.
The part that’s not so true is that the productive years after a horse turns 10 can go on for a long, long time. Horses live longer and are much more useful into their senior years than they used to be. Horsemen once considered a horse “old” by 18 to 20. These days that’s not the case. Many horses are living useful and productive lives well into their mid to late 20’s. And those horses are often the best horses in the barn. Unfortunately, older horses are often put on the back burner (or abandoned altogether) while riders focus on younger prospects.
Senior horses have so much to offer us. All those years of training and experience make them a joy to be around. Even after they can’t be ridden they are wonderful to have around the farm or ranch, acting as babysitters and buddies for the others.
My own Beowulf (Wulf) is 28 years old and I’ll admit I was one of those people who got distracted by younger prospects too soon. He’s still sound and healthy and could easily be in work if I didn’t have so many others to ride. He is the best moving horse on my farm, and the kindest of souls. He was bred by my mother and given to me as a gift. And he turned out exceptional (although he was always a bit too big for me).
Now Wulf’s job is raising my yearling, Gus. He’s a wonderful “grandpa” to him, though sometimes too forgiving of Gus’s naughty antics. They live side by side in their shed and go out together in a field every day where they run and play like silly colts together. It gives me great pleasure to watch them grazing together. Wonderfully, Gus is beginning to have the same laid-back gentleness and loving attitude that I’ve always enjoyed in Wulf.
Enjoy our Senior Horse issue. Choosing a winner for our essay contest is never easy. The love the writers’ express for their old friends always moves me to tears. Thank you to everyone who entered! firstname.lastname@example.org