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Eventing a Senior Horse?

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  • Eventing a Senior Horse?

    I have a 21 year old TB gelding who my parents and I purchased ten years ago as an event prospect. He had evented up to Intermediate but struggled at the upper levels (slow, spooky in the jumping phases). I was successful with him up to Novice, but struggled at Training level with refusals and bolting in open fields. We transitioned to dressage as a result, competing successfully up to PSG.

    I'm now finishing grad school, and no longer feeling satisfied by pure dressage. My passion is eventing, and which is why I purchased him in the first place. This past year we've done lower level stuff at home, working on the basics. But I have a strong desire to event.

    A second horse is not financially feasible, even with my second job (currently work about 55 hours a week). Working anymore would not allow for riding time. My current horse lives outdoors on affordable "pasture board". He is NOT safe for a beginner (serious bolter and spooker), and HATES happy-hacking. He is so quirky that I have not been able to lease him out. I don't have anyone who would be willing to take him on as a companion horse. I'm definitely not ready to euthanize him as he is so full of life and sound, but trucking around the ring no longer sparks joy for me.

    Do I try to send him for re-training to try and event again? I'm committed to this horse and want him to enjoy his retirement, and I don't think he would enjoy eventing again. On the other hand, I want to be able to enjoy riding and doing what I want to do. I could realistically be paying for his retirement for another decade. How long do I put my goals on hold for?

    Thanks for "listening"!

  • #2
    It depends-- if he is still sound and healthy, I don't think it's unreasonable to give very low level eventing (BN or even starter) a try and see how it goes. If you will not be happy unless you are doing Novice or higher, that may not be reasonable/ worth it at this point with his history. If you have a trailer, I would just find a trainer locally that you can haul to for jumping lessons/ meet to school and that can maybe get on him occasionally as necessary rather than sending him out for training.


    • #3
      If he has competed successfully up to PSG, can't you lease him as a dressage schoolmaster?


      • #4
        21 isn't that old for the lower level work if he's sound and happy. If he is good at Novice he probably would be again.

        I wouldn't be expecting him to run Training if that didn't work out last time you tried.

        If you don't think he'll enjoy it then I wouldn't bother. You'll have no fun at all eventing a horse that doesn't want to play, and it can be dangerous for you besides. You don't want to lose all that effort you put into grad school to an unlucky dirty stop.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


        • #5
          I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with teaching an old dog new tricks or eventing an older horse if he’s sound and fit. But it sounds like he’s been tried at eventing twice and it just plain isn’t his cup of tea.


          • #6
            I’d lease a confirmed PSG horse. If he’s a jerk then maybe I could actually afford to!


            • #7
              Have you ever taken him fox hunting? You might consider that also.


              • #8
                I evented my first event horse until 22/23, to Training level, but he loved eventing. If this horse is MEH about it, what about jumpers?
                Boss Mare Eventing Blog


                • #9
                  I think a lot of people would lease a PSG horse, despite other issues of bolting or spooking. I think that's your best bet. Get a younger more head in the eventing game TB for your goals. Let the old guy do what's comfortable for him and pays for his own keep.
                  Last edited by Tyrus' Mom; Aug. 13, 2019, 02:32 PM.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LovieBird View Post
                    Have you ever taken him fox hunting? You might consider that also.
                    I’ve never been hunting, so I’m just speculating, but a horse who’s main previous issues with eventing have been refusals and bolting on the X country doesn’t seem an ideal candidate for fox hunting?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Toblersmom View Post

                      I’ve never been hunting, so I’m just speculating, but a horse who’s main previous issues with eventing have been refusals and bolting on the X country doesn’t seem an ideal candidate for fox hunting?
                      You sometimes don't know until you try, I had on failed eventer( spooky , stopped at water etc) who made a great hunt horse.
                      He was anxious on cross country alone, but with a group he was wonderful, would jump anything and go through any water as long as he was part of the herd.
                      There are horses in their twenties out there in the hunt field, but not sure how many people would be interested in putting the work into training a horse that will retire soon.
                      I ride dressage and lots of people would be interested in a PSG dressage horse quirks and all.
                      Send him where his strengths are, plenty of riders might be new to straight dressage but very capable from other disciplines and they would be able to deal with him.


                      • #12
                        I think patience is key here. I agree with other posters. If is sound and willing I would give it a go. Don't rush advancing through the classes. Your horse will tell you if it is ready.


                        • #13
                          Tend to agree that if you decide to try eventing your current horse again, your aspirations should probably be Novice at the highest - and you would need to work up to that. Would that make YOU happy enough?

                          Sounds like you must be a pretty skilled rider to cope with the current horse - could you fully retire current horse and look around for a lease or half lease of an eventing horse? You don't sound like the "usual" AA who needs a complete packer so there might be more possibilities for you than a less accomplished rider.


                          • #14
                            I too would suggest rehoming him as a dressage schoolmaster. They are in short supply and high demand. If he's going PSG then he won't be ridden by beginners. You have to be a good rider already to ride that level. Reach out to dressage trainers in your area. He has use despite his quirks in a dressage program.