Breaking an older horse - am I nuts-o?

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Breaking an older horse - am I nuts-o?

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    03-21-2011, 04:53 PM
Breaking an older horse - am I nuts-o?

I've been hanging out at a rescue and am particularly interested in a cute little arab gelding who spent most of his formative years (perhaps 10 or more years) in a field by himself (not even another horse for company ). As you can imagine, he has terrible ground manners and has never been broke. The vet says he is 12-15 years old according to his teeth. Despite all of this, I really like the little rascal as he has a lot of personality and is truly gorgeous!

I am wondering what all y'alls thoughts are on breaking an older horse. I broke my last mare at age 8, now she is 17 and does dressage with my mom. My mom seems to be trying to convince me to just find a younger horse, that he will probably always be a biter (he is really nippy, especially when I ask him to move) and he may be a bucker since he is so old and unbroke. My thinking is that 12-15 is really just middle aged for an arab, he has lots of years left, and arabs are smart and adaptable, so given the right person he could really make a nice riding horse.

Me: I am 30, started riding at the ripe old age of 2, rode Thoroughbreds at the track for a while in my early 20's and am a pretty confident equestrienne, though I must admit that I took a break from horses for about 5 years while in school, and have been leasing a riding horse for the last 3 months.

What do y'all think? Am I crazy for wanting to make something of this horse?
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    03-21-2011, 05:12 PM
Super Moderator
When I got my mare (also an Arab) she was just green broke, coming off of a 5-10 year siesta from any work, AND 23. She's 26 now and I don't regret taking her on. It was a great experience.
I'd encourage you to go for it. If you feel a connection with this horse, and have the skills and/or training help available to you, go for it!
    03-21-2011, 06:18 PM
Your Mom is probably thinking about all factors here; 15 is about middle age for many horses, and just like humans health can start to decline from that point forward. This is before the fact that it has not been made to do anything and it is harder to teach an old dog (horse) new tricks. This all being said, I tend to agree with Wallaby for one reason; the connection between horse and human isn't made everyday. Perhaps you are just the one to brighten this guys life. If so, he will follow you anywhere and do all you ask of him. If you take him on, good luck!!
    03-21-2011, 06:19 PM
I honestly think that people make way too much fuss over a horse's age when it comes to starting them. Sometimes it is actually better to wait so that they are more mature.

In your case I would say why not. I think you are fully able to develop a relationship with this horse if you're motivated and flexible. Personally I've never started anything older than 10 but that doesn't mean I wouldn't if something presented. I've retrained lots of horses - even one that was over twenty that had a little bad habit. I can't imagine how age can determine whether or not a horse is going to buck. I've only ever encountered one horse that bucked so much that nobody could ride it and he was below 5. In retrospect maybe different teaching strategies could have been used which may have made it easier for the poor boy.
    03-21-2011, 06:29 PM
I'd say go for it. So what that he's a bit older, he could still make a great little riding horse. I think he might even thrive on having a "job", and a purpose, and it just might make a big difference in his attitude. Post pictures, I'd love to see this guy.
    03-21-2011, 06:53 PM
Thanks for the encouragement, guys! I was thinking along the same lines as all of you, but after talking to my mom and her friend/trainer, I began doubting that I was being realistic, especially since I am kind of known for not being very realistic, though I do usually make my dreams real through sheer force of will. Here are some pics - I've been calling him Bandit the Brave:

And I've been writing about him here: Forum - Nick - 9 yr old Arab Gelding
    03-21-2011, 06:58 PM
Oh, and obviously (as apparent by the abnormal amount of white) he is some kind of arab mix.
    03-21-2011, 07:29 PM
I think the oldest horse that I broke was a 10-12 year old mare. She was a little more challenging than a younger horse and it took her longer to become supple, soft, and responsive, but she did eventually make a very nice riding horse. One thing that I didn't have to deal with when riding her was spookiness. I don't know if it was due to her age or her temperament, but that mare wasn't afraid of anything. She didn't have the squirrelly, scatterbrained reactions that many young horses have for the first few weeks of riding.

I say go for it. 15 is right in his prime and he's a dang good looking boy.
    03-21-2011, 08:59 PM
I agree, go for it! Sounds like you have the know how. He is adorable and his face markings are awesome!!!

I broke one of my gpa's broodmares at 14. I thought she was cute and she was grulla, what wasn't to love? I found like smrobs said that she didn't have the sillies that a typical youngster has. She was pretty much unflappable from day one. I did find that she was a bit more stubborn and stiff, took longer to make her light and reponsive and she was laaaaaazy. She now belongs to a little girl who takes her trail riding every weekend and uses her to help move her father's cattle. You definitely can teach old dogs & horses new tricks :)
    03-21-2011, 09:16 PM
One of my first horses was gelded at 7 and broke at 10. He was always a pretty aggressive horse before he was broke, but he went through the right training. He was probably one of the best horses I've ever had. You could stick a three year old on his back and trust him.

I say go for it, and good luck!

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