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  • Longevity?

    I'm considering buying a TB gelding who turns 13 this year.

    He won't ever be jumped higher than 2'6"/2'9" or shown more than four or six times a year. My horses have 24/7 access to turnout and stalls for nasty weather, and we are lucky to have the services of an excellent vet/chiro/acupuncturist and a great dentist, as well as a trainer who is first and foremost a horsewoman.

    Assuming that he stays sound and healthy, how many years of work might I be able to expect from him? If I buy him, he will have a forever home, regardless of whether he's rideable, but I'd like to be able to talk realistically with my DH about how long our newest family member could be earning his keep -- he might very well be my last horse. How many of you are riding elderly TBs?

  • #2
    My guy twisted an intestine and died in surgery @ 25. He was still being ridden and living in a situation similar to the one you have. 10-15 years is not out of the question.


    • #3
      I work with a 28 yr old TB gelding. He is quite the man! Owner agrees we don't jump him much over 2' anymore but he's be happy to jump all day long. Horses go much longer with vet advances. 13 just getting going!!

      No more dumb 4 yr old accidents. Good wine ages well!


      • #4
        Lots of horses live and work with no problems well into their mid-20s, at least. My oldest, a blue collar TB who has had a job his whole life, still happily carts lower level riders around at 24 and will gladly show you how much gas is in the tank if you give him even half a chance.

        However, once they are in their mid-teens, every year is really a gift, and not a given. Good care and management can certainly make the teen years happy and productive, but they are not a guarantee. That said, I suppose buying ANY horse is really a gamble...

        If you like him and he appears suitable for the job you want him to do, that age would not prevent me from buying him.
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


        • #5
          Please, please do it!!!! My parents bought me a very wise and wonderful schoolmaster (a TB) when he was 18. I rode him until he was about 27, and really just retired him because he got sick of work, even though he was still sound. He was with me until this past summer at the age of 34, and I wouldn't trade a second of the time I had with him. I probably learned more from him than any other trainer I've ever had. He is only one of the "older" horses that I can credit for teaching me over the years. Our 24 year old TB/QH just died this year as well, still in work until the day he died. I have a friend learning to jump on a 25 year old TB. And I have a 32 year old pony still showing over fences. Veterinary medicine has done amazing things to extend the life, and the useful life, of horses.

          And if that doesn't convince you, this is the other important reason. A fantastic and very well-known vet pre-purchased Pookah for us, and he had the philosophy that you are actually far better off, soundness-wise, with a horse that is 12+ and has a performance record, and has stayed sound to achieve that record. The most likely scenario with these horses is arthritis, which is far more manageable than conditions that this horse has already proven not to be affected by (structural defects that limit performance, etc). There is, in many cases, greater risk in a 3 year that has not demonstrated that they can hold up to work and the rigors of showing. I've seen that theory proven over and over again, and had many horses stay sound and in work quite happily into their 20s. Assume that you will be spending some $ on maintenance-Adequan, etc, as he ages, but with a younger one you'd probably be spending that in training.

          There's no guarantee with any horse--they could all go lame tomorrow. But, this horse has already held up to work. And, I hate to say it, but attempting to be pragmatic for a second, if he goes lame at 20 and you retire him, you're going to be supporting him for many less years than if he were a 4 year old with a catastrophic injury.

          You sound like you are in an ideal situation-this horse is really in his late prime, not even aged yet, you are not going to be putting major demands on him, and you have access to an excellent care team--so you are certainly creating a favorable situation for 10+ years with this horse, and really, that's the best we can do--there are never promises with these d*mn creatures that we are so obsessed with :-).


          • Original Poster

            Thanks, everyone, for the encouraging feedback. Right now I have a 25-year-old QH (who, I've noted in other threads, thinks he's 7, although he's starting to show his age) and my current ride, an 18-year-old Welsh-Arab large whom I've had for six years. (My wonderful pony is unable to move up to a 2'6" division with me, but even if we can't find a little kid for him to cart around I will happily ride him here at home for fun and use him as Emergency Backup Horse.) We've also cared for my husband's 30-when-he-died QH; my first lesson horse, also in her 30s; and an ancient pony belonging to my trainer, so we're getting pretty good at coddling old folks!

            I've known the TB ever since he came to my trainer's barn (trainer owns him) years ago. He's a special guy, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to have him -- I think I'm just experiencing before-the-fact buyer's remorse because it's a pretty good chunk of change for us and my husband has relented after initially digging in his heels, which is incredibly kind of him.


            • #7
              I bought my TB at 13. The woman I bought he from was Champion of the country twice in the A/O hunters. I was lucky enough to show him for four years. He then did the A/A hunters for a couple of years. I retired him sound. He died in his sleep peacefully, none of the shavings were disturbed when he was found in the morning.
              He was a wonderful horse, I loved him. I remember, when I was trying him, asking myself if hw was too old to purchase. I am so glad now that I bought him, what a horse.


              • #8
                My boy is 17, but thinks he's 7. Still able to go rock a 3'6" jumper course no problem. He lives outside 24/7 now, but was in a stall with turnout until about 3 years ago. We laugh that he'll be carting some littel kid around a 2' jumper course when he's 30. Mare is 15, and does fine as well. My trainer has a lesson horse who is in his late 20s, and still teaches kids to jump. I think a huge part is the individual horse, but there's no reason they can't go on for a long time. I will let mine do it as long as they want.
                A proud friend of bar.ka.


                • #9
                  I had a half-lease on a wonderful 20yo TB. Former prelim eventer, sound and energetic. He had just hit the point where he couldn't handle competition anymore, so his owner wanted him jumping no more than 3'. I'm sure he'll be going strong for years to come. I wouldn't hesitate on a sound 13yo, especially since you aren't looking for a horse to go up through the levels.

                  And frankly, anything can happen with any horse - I have a 29yo pony who I rode until he was 27, but just had to put down my 6yo a few months ago. That was not by any means the order I expected things to happen! All you can ever be sure of is that the horse is ok today.


                  • #10
                    I leased a TB cross at 18; had him two years, and he jumped adult ammie courses all that time; after I gave him up, he did intermediate/childrens w/ a kid for another couple years; then someone else at the barn actually bought him and he did trail rides.
                    More recently I bought at 15 a TB dressage schoolmaster; never had injections, showed Prix St Georges for about 6 months ending last winter. I am his forever home but he is leased out to a woman showing first level and happy as a clam. I stopped the PSG work primarily because he has a heart issue and I didn't want to stress him. He is now 21, sound and likes a job.

                    I think so long as they are sound, they can go physically a long time provided they are kept reasonably fit and at a realistic work level.
                    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                    • #11
                      My TB just turned 12 and just started his over-fences training. He was on the track until he was 10 and then spent most of his 11-year-old year laid up with various issues.

                      He's going like gangbusters now and I'm hopeful he'll be a solid 3' horse for the next several years.


                      • #12
                        I'm currently riding a very athletic 18 year old who LOVES to work!


                        • #13
                          You know this horse and have a sense about his soundness - and he sounds wonderful. However, I am on the other end of this. I have a wonderful OTTB who retired at 15. He owes me nothing - took care of DD from short stirrup through the 3' medals and then took care of Adult rider through long stirrup for another three years. He absolutely deserves the retirement he is enjoying. But he is retired because of soundness issues.

                          Make sure that this one is sound and comfortable and does not currently require much maintenance. And, then go ahead.

                          Just think that you should consider the downside as well.


                          • #14
                            Lets see here is what we have, what theya re doing and ages! A 23 yr old ex-jumper pasture retired by his owner, but still ridden occasionally. A 27 yr old TB that is retired but still does flatwork with his owner. A 22 yr old appie gelding that is still jumping and showing with kids over 2', a 25 yr old large pony gelding, still showing with his 7 yr old rider and doing 2'. A 15 yr old appie still jumping 3', a reitired 19 yr old appendix QH, healthy and was showing til two years ago when she developed a growth that prevent her from being saddled (fatty tumor) but still rides bareback. All of these horses look MUCH younger than their true ages! Old horses rock!


                            • #15
                              My then 20 year old mare was Reserve Champion in my state association at 2'6" last year with less then a third of the number of shows the Champ went to. I bought her at age 10 that turned out to be 11. Got about 5 years out of her at 3' and then several GOOD show years at 2'6".

                              Unfortunately at age 21 screwing around in the field this past summer, she managed to blow a DDFT and is not going to be ready to even try to start back until this summer at age 22 and no way ready to show without another 6 months of rehab, a hock job and god knows what else.

                              Since this was my horse of a lifetime, I promised years ago I would never do that to her. I am blessed she is healthy and may give me some nice hacks in the years to come.

                              13 and with a known history as OP asked about with dreams of just a few shows a year at 2'6"? What a gem. Grab him and enjoy a great teacher and one you can trust.

                              Just be prepared something is going to take him out at some point. Maybe that will be 26. Maybe 18. But he has some great years left to share with you and can enjoy your gift of retirement at the appropriate time.

                              Can't think of a much better situation for both of you.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              • #16
                                I leased a (then) 20 y.o. TB gelding for my #1 daughter to do the local 2'6" division in. He was a real pro who had totally been there and done that in the big time at higher levels. There's know way I can put into words all that horse taught my daughter over the next few years. He probably would have been happy to keep going, but retired when the kid went off to school.

                                I bought a (then) 15? y.o. gelding for #2 daughter. He's another pro who has been a wonderful fit for that kid in their 3'-3'3" outings for the last couple years! He's the hardest keeper I've ever had, but I knew that going in because we leased him first.

                                BTW, I'm not sure where you are, but both of the guys I mentioned were and still are, turned out 24/7. They're very happy and I think it's a 'good thing' for them to be out and moving around as much as possible.
                                Y'all ain't right!


                                • Original Poster

                                  OT: Findeight, I've been reading your comments for years now but just today noticed your sig line. You wouldn't happen to be from St. Louis, would you?


                                  • #18
                                    Tonight I rode my 25 ("legally" 26) TB mare. She prefers to be in work and loves it. Still has days where she needs to run, buck, and fart in the round pen before I can get on her. She is my heart horse. Do it!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      After getting my vet's final approval today, I wrote the check and brought my new guy home. Please send jingles for many happy years together.


                                      • #20
                                        yay congrats!!