What to do with an older horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 06-03-2011, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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What to do with an older horse?

I have a horse that is about 20 years old. She used to be owned by my cousin, but a many years landed her in our pasture. Apparently she is trained to drive but I haven't tested that theory and I'm certain she hasn't in years.

My father asks me quite often if I like her, which I respond to with yes. Although I sort of feel on the edge about her. With my other horses they are young, so even if I liked them less than I do now I know that there is room to work with them.

With her I would hate to ship her off to some other place. For all I know she could end up in a horseburger and I wouldn't want that. But I'm not sure what I can do with her at this point. (She is not a large enough horse for me to ride, plus she is old enough that I would not want to.) She isn't really all that friendly of a horse. She isn't mean, just not social. More of the pasture ornament type, but I think my dad expects me to do something with her.

So to any owners of older horses, what do you do with them? How much do you put on their plate? How many new things do you teach them? She would be a great little horse to teach tricks, but I'm not sure if in her advanced age she would be as willing to learn as a young horse.
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post #2 of 16 Old 06-03-2011, 11:45 PM
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Twenty is hardly at death's door.
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post #3 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 12:17 AM
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My boy is 20. I still gallop, jump, barrel race, and go on long trail rides. I have never stopped teaching him new things and working on our rough spots. I let him tell me if its too much. I just keep an extra eye for any soreness and check on his legs and back every now and then. He's still sound and ready to go.

No reason to do ground work or anything of the sort with a horse thats too small to ride. Just make sure your horse is sound and healthy and do what ever you would do with a horse that you couldn't ride. You make sure you don't over exhaust them what ever their level of endurance is at.
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post #4 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 06:01 AM
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I used to have a 20 year old I worked with regularly. He could gallop and even jump and was healthy for his age (even the vet said so).

Considering you think you're too big to ride her though, I would do as you suggested and make her a trick horse. Just be sure to keep the sessions short, fun, and food oriented.

You can tell a gelding. You can ask a stallion. But you must discuss it with a mare. -Unknown
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post #5 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 07:17 AM
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^^^^I agree.
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post #6 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 08:41 AM
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No reason a healthy 20 year old horse can't have a job, even a new job. If she is sound and healthy then she would more than likely benefit from being used for something.
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post #7 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 08:57 AM
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I agree with previous posters. Bring her back into work slowly & let her tell you how old she is.

I still ride my 29 year old stud on a regular basis. Even let him have a play day when the neighbors cows got out a few weeks back. Their nasty old bull thought he was going to challenge Hondo, but he got down & dirty on that bull. You'd have though he was at least half his age in that moment, ears pinned, teeth bared, hunkered down on that bull. I wish I'd have had the neighbor snap a few pics. The old man had a great time, I think he licked his lips the whole ride home :)

My helper was my recreational rider hubby and my 23 year old mare, Jana. It was the first time my hubby put a horse on a cow. He says afterwards "I won't make fun of cutters for using the horn anymore and I'm pretty sure I pulled my groin" haha! He didn't, thankfully but he did realize that still in their 20s, athleticism & drive is still there.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 09:08 AM
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I was interested that you say she's not social? My old horse used to get a bit grumpy if he wasn't ridden regularly. Perhaps a bit of light work will make yours feel useful again. It's sometimes hard to feel a horse is not a project if you're used to that, but isn't it great to give a horse a happy time in its latter years? She'll tell you soon enough if she doesn't want to be exercised.
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post #9 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for all the advice, it is definately helpful. I wasn't intirely sure what I could do with her as my first horse was 2 years old when I got him. (I was just as green as he was, so most of what I've learned was with him.) A horse we got a year ago was 14 and still very nimble, so I was only hardly introduced to the idea of an "old horse". She was trained, but needed alot of work and I've definately fixed most of it.

But now a horse that is 20 I was at a loss. She is in the shape of a horse let age and eat in pasture. So if you looked at the three of them, you could tell easily that she is the oldest.

And as for the being not social; I am only saying that based on she did not really warm up to anyone. If anyone would approach her she'd trot away. My other horses are usually following me around, so that might be what chased her away. She is still fairly new here, and hasn't had much of a use for years, so it could be just that she doesn't have a job.

I will start a little with her today if it isn't too windy or generally crappy outside. Hopefully it goes well. From the time I've spent with her she is a little flighty at times, but you can definately tell the training is there. I barely have to touch her leg and she will pick up her hoof and stand there. With every one of her feet, too. (She can tell the difference between asking for foot and just touching the leg, though. I sort of have to be on a mission. xD
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-04-2011, 01:43 PM
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Arthur is going on 24 this year. I've had people in recent years offer obscene amounts of money for him at fun shows, thinking he's no more than 7 years old and apparently well trained. I gallop, jump, barrel race, trail ride, and bareback on him, and he stays in the same condition as the 6-yr old in my avatar, who practically exercises himself!

Gain her trust by grooming, grazing, and spending time with her. Make your presence a positive thing, something to look forward to. Older horses often have better, calmer temperaments and a calm frame of mind that appears to a lot of people. Ride her for short periods of time at first, see what she likes (be it trail riding, arena work, or bareback walks around the pasture), and work from there. If you find that neither of you enjoy riding together, it's safe to retire her as a pasture puff.

If she seems sore or restricted when you start putting her through her paces on the ground or under saddle, try a senior or joint supplement and see if she improves.
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