The Value of Age

Senior Horses Enrich Lives

By Catherine Madera


Tigerbelle and me (circa 1987). Photo credit Catherine Madera

We are not a culture that values age. Instead, we idolize the youthful, the athletic, and the beautiful. This trickles down to horse ownership: forget the old grey mare, we want the young, black stallion.

My most interesting horse growing up was one purchased for the family, a 25-year-old Arabian/Appy/ Tennessee Walker cross named Tigerbelle. By the time we got her she’d long since lost her looks, but she remained a grand mare of great dignity, wisdom, and patience. I’ll never forget the day my non-riding father jumped on her at a fun show, impromptu, and won the Western Pleasure 40 and Over class. He received a silver trophy because old Tigerbelle knew what to do each time the announcer called for a change of gait (“And trot your horses; and lope your horses…”). She kept Dad safe and made him look good that day in the way only an older, seasoned horse can do.

We have a beautiful issue this month featuring the unforgettable show Cavalia, an exclusive interview with Hollywood horse trainer Bobby Lovgren, head wrangler on the new film War Horse, plus all our regular columnists who consistently bring you valuable information on horse care and training. Still, the heart of this issue is the senior horse and our essay winners will touch your hearts with stories of two aged horses that changed their lives. Congratulations to Ellen Archer and Alatia Babin and don’t forget to read the honorable mention essays online. I appreciate each and every reader who entered this contest. It inspired me to dig out a picture of Tigerbelle and thank God for the lasting memories she made in our family.

As always, email your thoughts to me at

Merry Christmas!


Published December 2011 Issue




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