I need opinions !! Would it be wise to teach an old horse (17 years old) new tricks ? Especially if she was only used as a pasture ornament. She's perfectly healthy. No injuries. I can post a pic of her if you like ? She's a quarter horse who was trained western but I was thinking about training her for english riding. So what you guys think ?
We had a wonderful 14.2 gelding. He started life rather oddly for the UK as a western trained pony for a boy who gave up riding for ballroom dancing. He was then used in a riding school for a while, moved on to do gymkhana though he was rather large for it, someone had him then and did some showjumping with him and then sold him to someone who did quite high level working hunter pony, he then went back to showjumping before we bought him and he became a working hunter pony again for a while then back to showjumping at a higher level. When my son out grew him he had a short retirement which he hated so I decided to hunt him - which he was wonderful at - I also got roped into an adult team gymkhana thing. A friend loaned him off me as he needed a quieter life but he disgraced himself by bucking and rearing when he wasnt allowed to gallop downhills so he came back and spent his last riding days - in his 30's as an escort to our young horses. He was 36 when he died.
I would be a lot more interested in her attitude than her age. If she is a hateful, nasty tempered old mare, it is probably a losing battle. If she is pleasant with a good disposition / attitude and willing to comply with simple things like being trimmed, doctored, stand around tied, etc, she will probably train just fine.
Most older horses seldom take the pressure and hard training needed to achieve a high level in a difficult discipline but they make good saddle horses and trail horses if they have the disposition and attitude to accept training after years of doing nothing.
We saddle-broke an 11 year old broodmare for a lady a few years ago and they are still riding her today in 4-H and on all of the trail rides.
Husband is riding an 8 year old gelding that has had about 20 rides since last spring. He is by our old stallion, Classical Silver who sired some . He had been sold as a 2 year old and turned out for 6 years by the buyers and never started under saddle. He had gone the last 3 years without ever having a halter put on his head. He is riding real nicely, but has not been asked for more than just pasture and trail riding up until now. Husband thinks he is riding nice enough to make a cowhorse or roping horse. He really likes him. I still doubt he will get to a very high level with a 'real job' or discipline.
Most horses like the time attention paid to them when they are being used. Most of my horses really liked seeing what's out on the trail.They also really liked the grooming afterward. I took pride in getting the saddle marks off.
Sounds fine to me, just remember that she may not be as flexible as a younger horse, especially if she has been out of work a little. Just keep in mind, if you're doing any work that requires her to be more supple, you'll have to start slow and work up, as she won't be as limber as a younger horse :) However, I do think she'll enjoy putting her mind to work, especially when it gets attention and praise. Much better than being a pasture ornament :)