Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Praise for the Older Horse
Why do so many horse lovers shy away from buying an older horse? This is a photo of Mary, a non-descript bay mare we owned for years. We all rode her: me, my sister, our nieces, visiting friends and relatives, even my husband. My sister and I knew that Mary would babysit our mother,too, so we'd toss a western saddle onto Old Mary's back and our mom would climb aboard and ride Mary in our arena and on the trails. Mary was at least 15 when we bought her, and at least 20-s0mething when things in our family changed and Mary needed to go to a new home. She became a well-loved babysitter in a neighbor's family.
There are lots of older horses out there, just like Mary. Though they may sprout gray hair on their faces, and their teeth may grow long and yellowed, they are valued, reliable horses for beginning and novice riders. In fact, many an older horse-- providing it's still sound and spry-- makes an excellent mount for more experienced riders. The older horse is often blessed with a decade or more of training, making them a suitable team mate for a skilled rider.
Two of the best horses I ever competed were well into their 20's while I was winning hunter championships and hunt seat medal classes on them. They knew their job and they seemed to live for the atmosphere of the showgrounds.
I guess I'm bringing up the topic of older horses because it seems that more and more often I'm crossing paths with horse lovers who are in the market for their first horse-- or they're saving for their dream horse-- and it's usually a horse that's really, really young and really, really green. I'm talking even yearlings. Not that there's anything wrong with buying a baby and starting it yourself, but... It's undeniably a long, unsure process and you might not end up with the horse you thought you were going to have.
I just wish more riders would consider an older horse. These old souls have much to offer. And though they may sometimes be a little creaky in the joints, or exhibit other signs of age-related wear and tear, their character, charm and training often make up for the extra TLC they need.
If you have any comments about older horses, you can share them by clicking on "comments" below.