My warmblood gelding Beowulf (Wulf) is 30 years old. He’s been the model of health all his life, but this fall he’s beginning to show signs of his advanced age. He has difficulty eating hay (though he tries) and mostly lives on large amounts of pelleted feed. His topline is sinking, back and hip bones show a bit, and he seems rather tired. He has difficulty picking up his feet for the farrier, doesn’t hear or see well, and rarely lies down. He’s gripped by fear if he doesn’t have a friend close by.
I’ve had a few friends ask me how I’ll know “when it’s time…” and of course what they’re avoiding asking directly is, when am I going to put him down? That’s always a hard question to answer without some kind of catastrophic event that forces our hand.
I’ve never been good at goodbyes. I’m a wimp about change of any kind. Wulf is (mostly) doing well and enjoying life, I think. He was bred and raised by my late mother and given to me as a gift, so there are memories and grief of my mother that swirl around this horse. But I know the day is coming, regardless, and I’ll have to bear it.
The years tick by for horse and human. This issue celebrates The Northwest Horse Source’s 25th year! We at The Northwest Horse Source wonder (and worry) about the state of the publishing world. Is it time for a change? If yes, what is it? How can we best serve the horse community?
Old age is both a burden and a privilege. I continue to love my time with Wulf. I hang out in his stall and watch him eat; I brush him with the softest brushes. He loves having his lower legs rubbed and groomed. He stops chewing and closes his eyes with pleasure when I work on them. It’s wonderful to be able to give another living creature something they can never return to you. I too am growing older. Wulf shows me how to do it with grace.
Enjoy our annual senior horse issue. We once again celebrate the lives of our older horses with our senior horse essay/photo contest. Getting older can mean getting better. We’re more experienced and hitting our rhythm, so to speak.
Many years of knowledge and information can be found in past issues of The Northwest Horse Source on our website, which continues to be updated and improved. We hope you, dear readers, continue to enjoy this little magazine for many years to come. [email protected]
Kim Roe grew up riding on the family ranch and competed in Western rail classes, trail horse, reining, working cow, and hunter/jumper. She trained her first horse for money at 12 years old, starting a pony for a neighbor.
Kim has been a professional dressage instructor in Washington state for over 30 years, training hundreds of horses and students through the levels. In recent years Kim has become involved in Working Equitation and is a small ‘r’ Working Equitation judge with WE United.
Kim is the editor of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and also a writer, photographer, and poet. She owns and manages Blue Gate Farm in Deming, Washington where she continues to be passionate about helping horses and riders in many disciplines.