We now live around half an hour away from the farm I grew up on where my parents still live. It's 159 acres, about 1/3 of it being fenced pasture. My parents only kept one horse when I moved out as a teenager. He was born when I was 8, so he's now 19 years old. Like the majority of the other horses we owned, he has never been ridden. The horse bug got to my dad when my sisters and I were kids. They were the go to people if anyone ever had an animal they didn't want anymore. Cats, dogs, livestock, you name it we've had it. Someone gave them a horse that couldn't be ridden, not by an adult. She was a Thoroughbred that someone had tried to saddle break and ride at one or two years old. She had back problems that lasted her whole life. They got her before I was born. She would let us ride as tiny kids, but anything over 50 pounds and she'd suck in her stomach until the saddle fell sideways. We had a pair of easily spooked albinos, brother and sister, that someone had bought to pull a wagon and they refused, so they ended up with us. As my sisters got older and too heavy to ride our one sort of broke horse, my dad bought a pony that had been used to ride kids around, and she was pregnant. The baby she had was my horse, and the mother of the horse my parents still have. She was sold when I was 17 to a barn for kids to ride, and they found out she loved it. So by the time she was 15, she was barrel racing. My dad paid thousands of dollars for a race horse, I don't remember if he was a quarter horse or a thoroughbred, he is the father of the horse still back at home.
My horse, Duke, is now 19 years old. He can be lead with a bridle, or even just a loose rope around his neck. He's gentle enough to stay still for hoof cleanings and grooming. He is a stallion, and he's been alone for 10 years. The old thoroughbred with the messed up back was his mate. I believe she was too old at that point to have babies when they became a pair, or being half pony he was just too short, but he mourned so long when she died that I thought he would starve himself to death. I call him mine, because he was mine when I was a child, but I've been gone for so long, and my dad has taken complete care of him, so I guess he's really my dad's horse. His mother was never really trained, we saddled her up one day when she was 5 years old, and I was 7 or 8, and she let me ride her. I was the only one she let ride her though. So she was never really properly trained while with us, but she did very well with it as an older horse. Our horses were basically large dogs. I can remember riding horses probably less than fifteen times in the years we kept horses. They were large yard dogs. Lol. Our lawnmower broke one summer so we would just turn the horses out to graze during the day and they would go back to the pasture when my dad fed them at night.
I think I'm mostly interested in finding out if Duke is too old to be trained. He just turned 19 in march, and has never had anything on him other than a bridle. I asked my dad about gelding him, but he says he thinks he's gentle enough without it. However, there are no mares within miles of him and he is all alone. He can be very stubborn and frisky even as an old horse, just like his mom. I think the only reason he wasn't sold is because my heart broke when my dad told me he sold Duke's mother. I literally could not remember life before her. I still see so much of her in him. She was so easy to just put a saddle on and ride with no prior training. I am almost hoping that I can go out to the farm and start working with Duke, and maybe by the time my daughter is old enough to be on a horse he will be trained enough she can sit in the saddle and we can lead him around. He looks great. I was shocked when I did the math and realized he's 19! He looks like a much younger horse, maybe a little fat, but not old. It makes me feel old too that I was there with my horse when she gave birth to him. For the first few weeks I was the only one that she would let near him, she was a very protective mom.
We want to do our research. We would love to buy a house within the next five years with enough land to keep a few horses. So we aren't looking to jump right in and buy right now. I spent time with horses every day, but there are still things that I don't know. My dad did almost everything. We had a vet that made house calls, so we never even had to load up the horses to take them to a vet. I'm sure that won't be the case now. I don't know the specifics of hoof care. I don't know what diet is best and how much. At one point with our horses and their babies, all together we had 9 horses. My dad would just fill a feed trough with food and he would go buy a huge round bale of hay and replace them when they were gone. They had woods and pasture to roam and they did a lot of grazing. However I doubt my husband and I will be buying enough property to fence over 50 acres. Our horses were really spoiled, they got sweet feed a lot more often than they should have I think. We had apple trees and pear trees in the pasture, and one of our favorite things to do as kids was to climb one of those trees full of fruit and bounce to see the horses come running. I see horses labeled as working horses and it just doesn't click in my head. Our horses were just pets.
As I continue to do my research, and have questions, I'll be here asking them. Lol. Until then I'll probably be just lurking. We're planning to go out and see him on Wednesday, so I should have plenty of pictures. My little girl absolutely loves animals, just like me, and she loves watching horses on tv in movies and she has abandoned her Cinderella doll in favor of playing with the horse that came with her. Hopefully she'll be just as excited to meet a horse in person for the first time.