I've got a 25 yr old New Zealand TB that is finally starting to show his age. His topline is finally starting to sag just the tiniest bit. Now, he has a coat like a Yak but in the 3 winters he's been with me as a companion to my horse he always looked like that. The last 2 summers while he shed out completely, his haircoat has remained a bit on the long side. Long enough that I actually gave him a full clip last summer and considering the extreme heat and humidity we had, I'm glad I did. I've had him tested annually for Cushing's but so far his results are in the normal range.
My horse is 22 yrs and his topline was never great but then he's got a long back and showed sag when I bought him as a 7 yr old. Not much sag but still low. As far as a winter coat on my boy, it's about normal. He also has tested OK for Cushing's thus far.
Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you!
My old guy never competed before 13, then proceeded to foxhunt, do dressage, trail ride for probably 12 hours per week AND event Training Level through age 21. At that point he strained a check ligament and I thought that might be a good time to stop Eventing him, but he came back from it and remained sound and usable through age 30; when he very suddenly turned into a "little old man."
I put him down from an intestinal twist at almost 32.
Another horse I had seemed utterly ageless; was passing for 15 everywhere, hunter pacing, going Western in shows, taking off with people on the trails until a kick from another horse finally took him out at age (again!) 32.
Growing up, we had a number of beginner school horses still working in fine style well into their late twenties and beyond.
Some things to be aware of as horses get older: longer warmup, longer cool-down, more attention to pain-based sources of "resistance." The more turnout, the better! 24/7 if you can swing it.
We have SO many more resources for them today; better feeds, deworming, meds, etc. so ride and enjoy the best years of his life! He may not be "old" for a very long time!
My guy just turned 19 yesterday. He's got a little extra grey coming out of his star, but otherwise looks 12. He's a TB and hasn't had it exactly rough these last 5-6 years or so. Granted, he also gets a ton (12+ hours a day) on hills and we don't do a lot of strenuous work. We hack around and have fun on the hills.
ETA: I did start him on MSM just this week, but the vet prescribed it more for his allergies than his joints. Honestly, I'm a little worried that if he IS "ouchie" and this takes care of it, he'll be too hot to handle. I keep waiting for him to be a settled down old man.
Honestly, I'm a little worried that if he IS "ouchie" and this takes care of it, he'll be too hot to handle. I keep waiting for him to be a settled down old man.
I've had my mare for 13 years, and she was a handful (to say the least) for the first few of those. I remember telling my friend at the time "at least by the time she is 20, she'll mellow out". Um, no, she regularly reminds me that age is only a state of mind! And in her mind, she still has days where she feels like a filly again.
My AQHA gelding is 21 and just last year started showing his age a bit. I limited his showing to four or five classes per day. I debated about not showing him at all and am glad he told me he was up to it as we were high point for the year in both of our over fences classes.
This year I think I will use another horse for the flat classes and just do the two jumping classes with him. He loves it so I hate to leave him at home.
I stopped eventing my TB at 19 because I was pregnant- he could have kept going no problem. I never really got back in the saddle and at 25 he really does look old now. Last summer he looked great- but by fall he really started to look older. He seems to still be doing well and enjoys being brushed and fed treats. He walks a little slower than he used to.
My TB Gelding was basically a 4 year old until he turned 19, when he suddenly became a 24 year old. About a year and a half ago, at 20, he got a nasty sinus infection, and though he's still in relatively good health, he hasn't really picked up 100%. He's totally a pasture pet right now, and though I hope he thrives, I'm prepared to accept that this might be his last summer.
It's probably a little like people.... some will show their age younger and others later. My 22 show hunter is still showing. She does show her age in that when she grows her winter coat and has the winter off she loses all muscle mass on her topline and she looks like an overgrown goat. But the coat comes off and she gets brought back to fitness slowly and she's a beautiful show hunter. Everyone is shocked when I tell them she's 22. She certainly doesn't know it. Your horse will tell you.
My mare Feronia will be 16 in a few weeks. She does have some arthritis but it's managed well enough that most people would never guess. The management has definitely become more intensive (and more expensive!) over time. When I put her into full training at age 10, the trainer thought she was 4 or 5, and most people can't believe she's in her teens. When she's having a Morgan day (ha!) I regularly get asked if she is a "young one!"
I have noticed her back has dropped just a tiny bit... again, something that no one who doesn't know her would ever notice.
The two in the RIP photo below, Trump and Minnie, didn't show their age, really, until a year or so before they died, at ages 21 and 26 respectively.
There is a 23 year old Morgan mare at my barn who is still quite a handful, and the only way you can tell that she's older is that her back has dropped, and she's grey under her forelock.
My Arab just turned 29 this month and he acts just the same as he always has. This year he's gotten some gray sprinkles on his face and a few here and there on his body. He's built downhill so his back has always looked a bit dippy.
A few years ago he became very lethargic and lost condition but it turned out to be Cushings. Now, with Pergolide he looks great. He lost weight this winter, but that turned out to be mild ulcers; Uckele's G.U.T. has turned him around and he's a piggy again. Dentist says his teeth are great.
So far the combination of joint sups, all inexpensive, that I've been using have worked better than anything I've used before. He gets regular Masterson Method treatments from me and wears BOT hock boots and leg wraps before riding; all of these things have turned back the clock.
I'm hoping he'll be just the same 5+ years from now. I should feel this good.
My old TB is 30, and I have had him 26 years. Mentally he has always been a crabby old man, which made him an excellent teacher of manners for foals. He was evented and foxhunted, now he does dressage and takes me on trail rides. Twice he was semi-retired due to arthritic hocks, but the joints fused. His back is low, he's getting a lot of grey on his face and in his forelock.
Last summer my two year old grand nephew had his first horse ride on him. My nephew, his father, also had his first horse ride on him when the nephew was about the same age.
He is out on pasture 24/7, weather and bugs permitting. We go out on looong trail walks, especially in spring. He is missing teeth, and we watch his weight very closely. He's always seemed a bit stiff, but warms up out of it. I still use him for dressage lessons, which he loves. And he still throws hissy fits when we don't go with his program.
I just hope when the end comes it is quick for him, or that I will be able to make THE decison.
My old mare is 25yo. She was born in Argentina, bred to play polo. She played high goal polo for about a decade. Then she was donated to a university's polo club where she did lessons for years. The club shut down and she was sold to a terrible h/j farm (I don't object to the discipline as a whole...these people were just morons) where they tried to "slow her down" and ultimately just gave her a nasty attitude and a rearing problem and she started chucking kids. She wound up on Craigslist and I bought her from the idiots. Within two weeks she was giving beginner lessons...bitless at 20something. She's a jumping machine, she just isn't ever going to do it in classic hunter style. She'll safely pack anyone over jumps though.
She's about 25 now. As of last summer I was jumping her 4ft occasionally (3ft on a regular basis) and she didn't bat an eye. She's potentially permanently retired at this point due to a pasture injury this past fall. She's one that likes to work and hasn't ever been unsound a day in her life besides that injury. If she hadn't done that, I see no reason why she wouldn't still be in full work and jumping. She's certainly acting bored with no work for the last several months.
My Morgan just turned 15. He has not slowed down a bit, but I start noticing grey hair above his eyes, and to be honest, I'm getting a bit panicky. I have wonderful youngsters coming up but I don't know whether any will ever measure up up to him, smart, powerful, and a wonderful disposition. He is a hot pistol but that hotness is never uncontrolled. I mean, he can GO like you were riding a tidal surf, and yet we can work on serious dressage works and have a herd of loose horses galloping and playing right next to us and he never loses focus on me. I don't think I can take it if I should lose him.
15 is young for a Morgan. They're usually sound and healthy well into their late 20's or early 30's* so don't panic yet. I've seen many of the darker colored ones get that grey/white tuft of hair under their forelock. Don't think I've seen that with regularity in any other breed.
*Please don't let him get overweight or out of shape. Almost every older Morgan I've known has foundered, often from untreated Cushings and/or obesity (IR).
It's also usually a gradual decline...can't hold the canter, a bit of trouble doing things that used to come easy, the boisterious horse starts to mellow out (a bit), the easy keeper becomes hard to keep weight on, and the horse you never had to blanket, you blanket by November. My guy started slowing down at 20 but at 22 had some other issues going on. The decline can become faster the older they are- my guy became very lame and colicky due to his Cushings & IR and was put down in the span of a week (at 24). I would rather have that though than an elderly horse who is really having difficulty or suffering in some way.
Our 16 y.o. paint eventer is in his prime, in my opinion. I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that he was not ridden hard until he was 6-7 years old. He had time to physically mature. I have him on a mid-level joint supplement and a senior pro-bio/digestive supplement, just to keep him healthy and happy.
I am curious- if your horse has never been lame, why is he having his hocks injected? Not a criticism, just wondering why it was started.