by Karen Pickering
For those experiencing them, the golden years don’t always seem that way. However for two hours a couple of weeks ago they took on a golden hue for my retired mare Dawn, and some of the folks at Stafholt’s retirement home in Blaine, Washington. The retired folks lit up when Dawn entered their courtyard. At 26 years of age she patiently stood while wrinkled hands reached out to touch her, or bumped her with their walkers and wheelchairs. She welcomed the outstretched hands offering carrots and a pat. They welcomed the warm memories of time gone by with their horses.
It was especially meaningful for me as I watched my mother who recently suffered a stroke and moved from her home to Stafholt. It was amazing to me how people respond, no matter what age, to the presence of animals. All forgot their prejudices and sometimes-grumpy mood when the horse entered the scene. Sometimes I think we take for granted how fortunate we are to have horses in our lives.
Our horses need purpose, especially as they age, even if it is their purpose to be that loving vessel we take care of every morning and night. I have great respect for those who find a use for their aging steeds that are no longer able to compete. One of our columnists and local trainers uses her retired cowhorses to educate people getting into the sport. Allison Trimble of Coastal Equine also uses her horses for day camps for a kid’s program called “Blue Skies for Children.” What amazing purpose for aging horses.
Our senior horse essay contest is coming up. Watch for details in the e-newsletter and this issue. We’d love to hear how you give your senior horse purpose.
At the end of this month we will be attending the Cascade Horse Fair in Lynden, Washington. We’ve even got Ken McNabb on the roster! Don’t miss this event October 28-30. I look forward to meeting you there.
I truly believe that wellness has a great deal to do with a meaningful existence for both man and beast. Have a great month and remember to ride!
Published October 2011 Issue
Owner/Publisher Karen’s lifelong love of horses began at a very early age when she wore out a couple of rocking horses before convincing her parents to get her the real thing. That ill-tempered bay gelding, Brandy, was a challenge for the young horsewoman, but it drove her ambition to become a horse trainer. After attending Canyonview Equestrian College’s Horsemanship Program, Karen realized she needed work that was a little more lucrative than training, so she took a job with Customs Brokerage to pay the bills. There, she discovered an affinity for computers and a talent for creating informative, entertaining newsletters. The Northwest Horse Source began as such a letter in December 1995, with a distribution of 1000 copies for its 12 black and white pages. Since then, it has grown into beautiful, all-gloss magazine with the largest coverage of any free equine publication in the Northwest – a distribution of over 16,000 copies and over 600 locations monthly. Not bad for the results of one woman’s dream to work with horses!
Today, Karen remains involved with every aspect of the magazine and treasures the community of thousands who share a common passion. Somewhere in the wee hours of the early mornings and late evenings, she still finds time to care for April, her gorgeous and sweet-tempered Quarter Horse.