How old is too old?
   

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How old is too old?

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  • How old is too old for a riding horse
  • How old is too old to put a horse iin foal

 
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    01-23-2011, 08:21 PM
  #1
Foal
How old is too old?

Here is a video of Gabby, she is 23-ish. I am training her and I rode her, but people are saying that she shouldn't be ridden because she is "lacking muscle and too old." I disagree. Does it look like she is in pain? She LOVES being ridden and runs to the gate when she sees me/ my saddle. (: Her joints arn't bad and she has muscle (I've been working with her for a month, every day, trotting for an hour.) People are saying that I am rushing her and stuff like that, but she was ready. So what do you think? Should I be riding and working with her? And do you think I am rushing her?
     
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    01-23-2011, 11:22 PM
  #2
Started
Trotting for an hour every day is definitely way excessive. I strongly suggest that you cut that down to less than half as much. I would never do that much with my horses, and they aren't even that old. I have also been told by a vet that the trot is the highest impact gait on horses' joints, so it's probably not too good for old bones to be trotting for an hour every day.

That isn't to say that you shouldn't be riding her at all. Walking for an hour or more at a time shouldn't be too hard on her, and going up and down slopes can really help with muscling.

Something to keep in mind is whether this mare is getting enough feed to put on muscle and keep up her weight. Older horses usually require larger and higher quality rations. She does look like she could do well with some more meat on her bones. If she's not getting enough protein and calories in her diet and you're working her this hard, it really could be detrimental to her. I suggest that you research horse feeding and nutrition thoroughly on this website: Horse Nutrition Explained

The biggest thing is just to pay very close attention to how your mare acts and moves. If she seems lethargic or pins her ears and makes a fuss, she may be telling you that she's uncomfortable. Also, if she's moving very stiff and jerky or unevenly, it is a sign that she could be uncomfortable. You need to pay attention to that and heed her warnings.

As a side note, she is not performing Spanish Walk in your video. From what I can see, she's just picking up one front leg and stretching it out. A Spanish Walk involves picking up both front legs and literally walking forward with their movement. The Spanish Walk is also something that the rider needs to be intentionally asking for, not just sort of randomly getting.
     
    01-24-2011, 12:44 AM
  #3
Green Broke
Well I don't know if you should be trotting her for an hour everyday. But I have a 27 year old appy who I normally at least once a week and maybe a few more times a week if I have time. I also ride her at all paces especially a walk. I do not push her as much as I do with my younger horses but she doesn't have any joint problems and seems to enjoy it so sometimes I ride her for quite a while.
     
    01-26-2011, 08:20 PM
  #4
Foal
If she is fit enough to trot an hour a day more power to you!!!! I see nothing wrong with horses being worked several hours a day GRANTED they are fit and have been brought to this point slow and steady. Heck I had an almost 19 year old still coursing 3'6 with no signs of stopping... We would go on 5/6/7 hour trail rides with several hours of trotting/cantering.

HOWEVER there is a HUGE difference in trotting correctly and just plodding along.... If your horse has slowly been brought to this point, fed an adequate diet, and your working properly in a frame then go ahead and work them several hours...
     
    01-26-2011, 09:39 PM
  #5
Weanling
The age issue depends entirely on the individual horse, how healthy they are, what injuries they've had in the past, how hard they've been used, etc. I know a horse that is 18 and quite old. But my friend's thoroughbred is 30 years old and still goes on 2 hr. Trail rides that include lots of galloping. This friend is a real horseman who would never push a horse, but this mare has been kept fit for the past 10 years, and she is an ex-racehorse who would rather die than be left behind while other horses go out on a trail ride. She is like the sled dogs that want to die in the traces.
That being said, the key is "every day." If you only ride every couple of weeks, then trotting for an hour is excessive. Also, if you ride every day without a break, that can be wearing on any horse, young or old. They need recovery days for their muscles just like human athletes do.
Eolith's points about feeding are very important. A lot of younger riders increase their horses' exercise without significantly increasing a horse's feed and the horses lose weight and condition. Your horse will need extra food if she is working out more than she used to or she won't be able to build muscle.
Finally, just be sure that not only you are having fun but that your horse is enjoying herself too. Doing one thing over and over is boring for any horse, and repetitive cueing can make a horse sour about working. In your video there is a lot of tail swishing going on. Yet your horse seems willing to try to figure out whatever it is you want her to do, so be sure you reward that great attitude with lots of breaks and rewards.
     
    01-27-2011, 08:48 PM
  #6
Weanling
I agree with both Xela, and gottatrot.
I've got a coming 20 year old Quarter horse gelding that still love to jump 3'3" and go on trail rides. He's been properly manages with the right feed, proper farrier care, etc and he shows no signs of slowing down.
There's also a 30 year old pony that gives the rank beginner little kids lessons and moves half his age and he still jumps the low fences for them. It again is attributed to proper management.
     
    01-27-2011, 10:32 PM
  #7
Started
I should clarify. It's not that I think any horse older than twenty needs to be put out to pasture. However, the sense I got from the OP's post is that this older mare had not been in prior work when the OP started riding. It doesn't sound like she has been brought back to work on an appropriately gradual process, and the mare looks a little more lean than I would like to see for a mare being expected to trot an hour daily.

There are some older horses out there in fantastic condition. I just had a lesson on a 24 year old Appaloosa last night and we did everything I would have done on a horse half his age.
     
    01-27-2011, 11:49 PM
  #8
Green Broke
As long as she isn't in any pain and is in good shape I don't see anything wrong with riding her.
We have a lot of people at our arena who still ride their older horses up into their 20's. In fact the older horses are usually the best ones for the kids to start running barrels and roping on.
You just have to be careful because they can get injured easier & don't heal as fast plus they usually need a little extra nutrition wise.
     
    01-28-2011, 02:39 AM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eolith    
I should clarify. It's not that I think any horse older than twenty needs to be put out to pasture. However, the sense I got from the OP's post is that this older mare had not been in prior work when the OP started riding. It doesn't sound like she has been brought back to work on an appropriately gradual process, and the mare looks a little more lean than I would like to see for a mare being expected to trot an hour daily.

There are some older horses out there in fantastic condition. I just had a lesson on a 24 year old Appaloosa last night and we did everything I would have done on a horse half his age.
The place I used to ride had a 30 year old and he still jumped and cantered. But it doesn't seem like she had been ridden at a walk long enough to be doing an hour of trotting a day. She looks like she needs lots of nutrition and supplements and a lot of walking with maybe half an hour trotting. Then you can build her up. Maybe it's too late to go back now, but it's an idea.
     

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