Originally Posted by Saddlebag
I am going to suggest you short term lease as many horses as you can. You will gain awesome experience by doing this. Even a cranky bull-headed horse has a lot to teach. Altho I wanted my own horse desperately, in hindsight it was the variety of horses I rode that taught me so much. Despite all the claims that 17 isn't old, in a few years it could be entering the most expensive stage of it's life. It's an unknown. At 20 it is unfair to ask the same of the horse as at 10. Often the head is willing but the body is having a harder time. I watched two horses barrel race, first 18yr old, then the 5 yr old. It took the 18 yr old longer, at least 3x longer, for it's respirations to return to resting rate. Those are things we can't change and have to be mindful off. When my big gelding turned 18 he could no longer charge up a long hill like he could at 17. We made it 3/4 of the way and had to stop. I always let him make the decision but I realized I'd have to be more mindful of his capabilities.
Need to jump in here as I feel this is directed at me.
My mare in terms of physical ability has no problem with her resp rates coming back down. She recovers just as quickly as the 5 year old that trains with us. Her heart rate comes back down just as easy and she has had a complete go over by the vet and chiro and both said there is no concern. Mind you she is a low mileage 20. But still she has no problems keeping up with the young guns.
Now at 20 I am not asking her to go out and pound around a prelim event. She will probably hang at pre-training level.
Its one thing asking an older horse to do lower level stuff, its another asking one to go full out at the higher levels when they are older.