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View Full Version : How old is too old?



Miloandme
Jun. 6, 2010, 04:01 PM
We're no where near too old...Milo is 12 this year, and we started some slow conditioning for him to do a LD in October in Moab, Utah. Curious though, how old is the AVERAGE horse before they retire. I read about one horse that was 21 and had passed the 20,000 mile mark and was still going strong with his 74 year old rider. WOW.

calatar
Jun. 6, 2010, 06:16 PM
Age is just a number...

...how about 38?
http://www.examiner.com/x-11822-San-Jose-Horses-Examiner~y2010m2d18-Competitive-trail-horse-Elmer-Bandit-dies

That said there a lot of factors that will determine when a horse should/must retire:
-age when started under saddle
-type of activity (horses doing a lot of jumping usually have to retire sooner)
-injuries (can lead to early arthritis)
-condition (keeping older horses in shape is a must)
-genetics

IMO 21 is not "old" if they have been taken care of. If a horse has been started properly, not over extended and had no major industries, they should be able to be ridden into their mid-twenties easy. But there are always exceptions on both sides.

PRS
Jun. 6, 2010, 08:00 PM
If you start a horse young (2 or 3) and put him into hard impact work before he is 5 or 6 then you can plan on retireing him by his mid teens. However, if you start a horse at 3 or 4, keep him in light work (no jumping or hard impact sports like reining or barrel racing) until he is at least 5, 6 is better when he is fully mature, barring injuries you can have a horse that is still competeing well into his 20's. HOW you start them and what you ask them to do when they are still maturing makes a huge difference in later soundness. Genetics, of course, will play a role too. But waiting until a horse is mature is as important, if not more so.

I have a 27 year old mare that is still sound and still being ridden. Why? Started when she was 4, shown on the flat until she was at least 6 and then trail ridden with some light jumping interspersed from the time she was 12 or 13 until the present.

Miloandme
Jun. 6, 2010, 10:30 PM
Good to know. I don't know my horse's history. I've had him a year, and the girl who had him up to a year before I did is unwilling to share any info. I got a little bit of info from the guy who had him the year between her and I, but he gave him to me pretty skinny. He's nice and fat now :). And a great horse.

Bank of Dad
Jun. 6, 2010, 11:56 PM
My current horse was retired by his owner at 16 and given to me for non-competititve trail riding. He was started about 4-5, and then in several 50's and 100's every year. Occaisionally he was pulled, when he finished he was around the middle of the pack. Not sure why he was retired, except his owner had several other young horses and was just letting others ride him for competition. He doesn't think he's retired however and was quite the handfful on a large trail ride last week.

wylde sage
Jun. 7, 2010, 12:03 AM
My Tb is 21. Please don't call him old...he'll out walk anything out there and as an added bonus old enough to legally share beers with....

sisu27
Jun. 9, 2010, 05:42 PM
If you start a horse young (2 or 3) and put him into hard impact work before he is 5 or 6 then you can plan on retireing him by his mid teens. However, if you start a horse at 3 or 4, keep him in light work (no jumping or hard impact sports like reining or barrel racing) until he is at least 5, 6 is better when he is fully mature, barring injuries you can have a horse that is still competeing well into his 20's. HOW you start them and what you ask them to do when they are still maturing makes a huge difference in later soundness. Genetics, of course, will play a role too. But waiting until a horse is mature is as important, if not more so.

I have a 27 year old mare that is still sound and still being ridden. Why? Started when she was 4, shown on the flat until she was at least 6 and then trail ridden with some light jumping interspersed from the time she was 12 or 13 until the present.

How do you explain all the ottb's out there on their second and third careers after dozens of starts and lots of impact work that are sound?

I know how to explain it....crap shoot. Genetic wheel of fortune. Russian Roulette. I know bubble wrapped WBs that have barely been backed that are not sound.

In a perfect world your suggested methods are just that....perfect. The reality is that most of us will own horses that have started their lives elsewhere, with someone else and must make do with what we get. And there is just no telling what that might be.

So, to the OP. It depends. Don't ya hate that answer?

ETA Hey wylde sage....better not let your thbd talk to prs....he'll be pissed when he finds out he should have been retired years ago :)

PRS
Jun. 9, 2010, 06:03 PM
How do you explain all the ottb's out there on their second and third careers after dozens of starts and lots of impact work that are sound?

I know how to explain it....crap shoot. Genetic wheel of fortune. Russian Roulette. I know bubble wrapped WBs that have barely been backed that are not sound.

In a perfect world your suggested methods are just that....perfect. The reality is that most of us will own horses that have started their lives elsewhere, with someone else and must make do with what we get. And there is just no telling what that might be.

So, to the OP. It depends. Don't ya hate that answer?

ETA Hey wylde sage....better not let your thbd talk to prs....he'll be pissed when he finds out he should have been retired years ago :)

Yes, it is a crap shoot but you weigh the odds in your favor if you take the time and care to allow the horse to mature before asking for hard impact work. Lots of people KNOW that they SHOULD allow their horse to mature physically first but they just don't want to and some are just too ignorant to give the time.

Rubyfree
Jun. 9, 2010, 09:14 PM
The barn I grew up riding at (and have gone back too now, many years later) has a magnificent record of keeping horses sound and happy well into their 30's. Not just a few, or even the majority; it's the rule there, not the exception. I've only known one of theirs who was ever 'retired', and he came to them at 30ish from a bad situation. He was put back into work as a w/t 30 min lesson horse for itty-bitties and he loved every second of it.

I attribute their fabulous record to the fact that their horses are kept in work indefinitely. When I went out into the larger horse world, I was amazed to find 19, 20 year old horses who were retired simply because they were 'old' and flumoxed when people whom I considered to be pretty savvy horse folk started eyeing them a few years later, thinking it was 'time'. Solid work keeps arthritis at bay, helps keep things moving in the digestive tract, and keeps a horse interested in their world.

I'm not saying that there aren't exceptions; certainly there are horses who don't care for work who may be happier lazing in a field for their last years, or horses who simply cannot hold up physically to a work load of any kind after a certain point, but I think those horses are pretty rare. The heart break of watching an older campaigner who has been 'retired' grow sad and weary in his supposedly luxurious retirement cuts me up.

Retirement is a human concept, not an equine one. :)

pnalley
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:44 AM
We are currently using a 22 year old on team sorting, ranch sorting and soon team penning. These sports take some energy. We so far are limiting her to 3 runs due to the heat & her fitness level. So far so good. We are about to start taking our 19 year old for the same events.

Auventera Two
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:55 AM
My best riding friend's horse is 27. She looks awesome and she has energy to spare. She's a Quarter/Arab. She still does all the organized rides, and 4 hour rides up and down hills. She has great conformation, really great feet, she's never been lame, and her owner rides her several times a week. She has all her teeth and has no eating problems. We're hoping she'll be another Elmer Bandit and that my friend has another 10+ years of riding her! She's ridden in a shanked curb bit because she'll lug on the reins trying to run every chance she gets if you don't. She's chestnut and the only giveaway of her age is her mostly white face. My friend has owned her her entire life (was her mom's horse before she took her over) and I've been riding with her for about 14 years.

When I was a kid and teen, I rode a lesson horse that was in her 30s and still jumping and doing lessons every day. She was fit, she knew her job, and man could she test you if you didn't do things right. They found her dead one morning in her stall. She had done lessons the night before and was fine so they never knew what happened.

Cartfall
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:34 AM
Old is a state of mind and body failure.

My Arabian mare at 24 was going strong, she didn;t know we weren;t doing LD any more. If she hadn;t fallen and broken her leg in a freak fall, we would still be out on those trails.

She had been on the race track as a youngster, won some races, did pony club jumping etc for 4 or 5 years when I got at 9. She was an awesome horse.

The older they get the more of a gem they are.

sisu27
Jun. 11, 2010, 02:42 PM
Yes, it is a crap shoot but you weigh the odds in your favor if you take the time and care to allow the horse to mature before asking for hard impact work. Lots of people KNOW that they SHOULD allow their horse to mature physically first but they just don't want to and some are just too ignorant to give the time.

I don't 100% disagree but there is a school of thought that believes that impact at a young age encourages bone remodeling and results in less injury prone animals.

Also, the OP is talking about a 12 yo horse.....that ship has sailed either way.

PRS
Jun. 11, 2010, 03:07 PM
My best riding friend's horse is 27. She looks awesome and she has energy to spare. She's a Quarter/Arab. She still does all the organized rides, and 4 hour rides up and down hills. She has great conformation, really great feet, she's never been lame, and her owner rides her several times a week. She has all her teeth and has no eating problems. We're hoping she'll be another Elmer Bandit and that my friend has another 10+ years of riding her! She's ridden in a shanked curb bit because she'll lug on the reins trying to run every chance she gets if you don't. She's chestnut and the only giveaway of her age is her mostly white face. My friend has owned her her entire life (was her mom's horse before she took her over) and I've been riding with her for about 14 years.


OMG! For a minute I thought you were talking about my old mare! She is a 27 year old quarter/arab who is still being ridden regularly, has never been lame and is generally in good shape, although she is missing at least one tooth and despite regular dental care she still quids her hay. I feed her soaked alfalfa/timothy cubes when the pasture is gone and she does great. She's gray so you can't tell by looking at her how old she is.
http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz258/dorim_2005/100_3900.jpg

http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz258/dorim_2005/100_3895.jpg