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The case for not giving up on the aged horse - PICS!

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  • The case for not giving up on the aged horse - PICS!

    I started riding my friend's foster rescue thoroughbred about two years ago. We weren't exactly sure how old he was, but knew he was over 20. At the time she was teaching lessons on him, so I mostly rode him on the flat for no stirrup sessions, etc. I didn't really take too much of second look at the time. A pretty young mare had struck my fancy. She needed polishing and was a fun project.

    Meanwhile I had been helping a friend/trainer schooling some of her horses. I've almost always ridden "no-name" or OTTBs in my life and was not really familiar with the warmblood type spook. I didn't take a spill, but at 40, lost some of my confidence.

    I went back to riding this wonderful guy to get my confidence back. Playing around I discovered he had a killer trot, went on the bit easily, and could even do lateral work. There was not a stiff bone in the horse's body. As he started to muscle up, I started to jump him over an occasional x-rail. He was amped up and clearly enjoyed himself, although he was not quite the beginner school horse he could be on the flat. He stayed sound and we jumped him a little more ... up to 2'6". He was a star. We set up lines. He made it as easily down the lines as my friend's taller TB mare and powerful Holsteiner. What was this horse's past?

    With a small windfall, I contributed towards his adoption so he could stay with my friend (and me cough, cough). He is my friend's horse, but I put in as much as I can to help. (Before judging, I am a single mom with a disabled child and can only work part time. I do the best I can, and thank my lucky stars I have the best friend in the world.). The adoption had all his papers and I finally tracked down his racing record (1 start) and his owners. And how old was he? 23!!!!! And the soundest horse I've known.

    I tracked down his first owner who bought him off the track. It turns out he was a 3-foot star in Colorado. She had him for 10 years. She had been worried about his fate for several years, knowing his age. She was so happy to hear he was happy, healthy, and even working. Thank God for having his papers and everyone kept track of the changes in ownership. She hasn't gotten to come down to Arizona to visit him yet, but I send her updates and pictures.

    He is listed as Feliks in USEF, but most of their electronic records don't go back far enough to see his complete show records. He measured as 15.3 1/2, but I think he has shrunk a bit. He has a bit of an old man belly and his top line isn't quite as developed as it used to be.

    Occasionally I take lessons with a local hunter-jumper trainer. This fall I took him to the year end local association show, and we were reserve champion in the modified adult amateur division (2'6"). He was a star. He loved the attention from the girls who were working. He looked a little insulted that he was taken out to longe one morning. He raised an eyebrow, like "Seriously?" He probably hasn't been to a show in at least 8 years, but acted like it was yesterday. Apparently he used to be a hack winner, but we were 2nd to another lovely semi-retired hunter. We also won an over fences and got a second ... I think. It was amazing. On schooling day he was so excited I didn't think he would go around like the hunter he is. But he did. When it was time for the hack, I didn't know if he would relax as he was ready to step into the canter the second we stepped into the o/f classes. But no, he knew the martingale was off and the jumps were moved and he went around exactly like the old pro he is. I would've gotten a ribbon in the eq flat, but I didn't hear the "sitting" part of the sitting trot command and didn't realize til I was halfway around the ring that I shouldn't have been posting. Heh. Bad hearing.

    He does show his age in a couple of ways. White eyebrows. And no matter what we feed him, he shows a little bit of rib. He's got a big belly and he has decent muscle. It just doesn't seem to go away. (Yes, he is wormed, etc.) Unfortunately if he gets more than a half scoop of grain a day he is more likely to colic. We had a couple gassy colic scares when a front was coming through. His old owner told me he did have colic surgery (with resection) when he was around 10, so I don't want to play with fire.

    I wish more aged and elderly horses were kept in the loop. They deserve and are so useful. It seems in the show world people start having palpitation about buying a horse at 10 or 12. (Not always. That's a generalization). Or it's hard to sell a horse that's 14+. Maybe they are pounded too much and soundness is questionable. I don't know what makes this guy so sound. Maybe they just don't make them the way they used to. He was born the year I graduated from high school! (1988)

    Leo-Felik's pedigree:

    I don't know much about TB breeding, but any comments gladly taken.

    If this link doesn't work ... try the facebook one.

    This is the whole album on facebook:
    You hate that, don’t you? Do you like oysters? You have to acquire a taste for oysters and the deep distance.”
    -- George H. Morris on learning to love the deep distance

  • #2
    Thank you for giving such a great guy a purpose! If I see you out at any shows I'll have to cheer you on for sure!
    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


    • Original Poster

      Oh! I should also say he lets my disabled autistic son climb all over him. He can do beginner lessons. And does trail rides with my not-so-often riding sister! He is the horse of a lifetime. Irreplaceable.
      You hate that, don’t you? Do you like oysters? You have to acquire a taste for oysters and the deep distance.”
      -- George H. Morris on learning to love the deep distance


      • #4
        Congrats to you guys! The old dudes are the best. A few years ago I ended up with an aged TB gelding, sort of by default. He had been doing lessons 6 days a week and jumping 3', but through a strange twist of events he ended up in a field, two legged lame.

        Anyway after 8 months of rehab he turned into a really lovely boy. We thought he was 15.... oops, he was 21!

        He never did come totally sound but there were days when he was ridable, and absolutely brilliant at times under saddle. I loved him dearly. We put him down this past November at the age of 24 due to degenerative tendonitis. I miss him terribly, he was a really neat guy and the epitome of a war horse.

        Enjoy your dude, he is lovely and it is nice to see someone take a chance on an older fellow.
        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


        • #5
          I leased an older horse for about a year. He was (and still is) the BEST. He helped me move up to the children's at the ripe age of 21 =]. At the age of 23 he won the hack at the Old Salem May show last spring (in the local hunters.. but we were still a bit shocked, although in his defense he is a pretty darn good mover.)

          Here he is at 21 at HITS. He thinks he is younger at shows, I swear!
          (I bought the photos by the way, just don't have them on the computer)

          So yes, older horses ROCK and are worth their weight in gold!


          • #6
            We brought one home last April..... we were told he was 20 but after researching his tattoo we found out he is actually going to be 25 next month

            In his younger years he was a Maclay horse (or so we were told) and he has proven to be the absolutely best horse- I can put anyone on him and he is a perfect gentleman. He's become my daughters best friend and given her so much confidence- she is going to make her short stirrup debut with him next weekend

            He was a bit rough looking when first got him but he's muscled up nicely (still needs to build more of a top line)

            Pics of when he first arrived:


            And now (taken 2-days ago)


            He has a forever home with us


            • #7
              What a wonderful story thank you for sharing! We have an old guy one of my students rides. 21yo TBx, in his hayday showed at rolex and all sorts of major events. He how happily and soundly packs my student around the 1.10m. He is by far a barn favorite and the happiest horse I have ever seen. His owner tried to retire him twice but each time he saw the trailer leave to a show he would run the fences down. I love the old guys they are just so good at teaching something to every level of rider.

              And for fun here is French Twist aka french fry

              from his eventing days. http://www.briarcroft.com/jessica.htm
              Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.


              • #8
                Great story, and certainly the older horse does get over looked as a prospect for a lot of buyers. I do not think the FEI helps any with its mandatory retirement age, horseman at that level should know when their horse is past competing at that level, and the perception it projects is that a horse around 18 is over the hill and must be retired for its own sake.

                I was lucky enough to have hitched a ride on a horse much like the one you describe. After a great career as an open hunter, he took me through the junior hunter/jumper divisions all the way to the GP ring, and then continued to nurse other young riders through the junior jumpers until he was almost 29, then retired to trail horse/baby sitter well into his 30's. Never an unsound day in his life, and he had far from perfect conformation.

                Correct me if I am wrong but didn't Gem Twist/Democrat ( a couple that come to mind) compete into their 20's as well?


                • #9
                  This is my guy's last year at 3'. Don't tell him he's 25!
                  There's coffee in that nebula.


                  • #10
                    This is awesome! I LOVE the oldies! They have so much to give/teach.

                    He looks fantastic. Good job, you.


                    • #11
                      My first guy was an oldie. Didn't jump until he was 15 (before I had him) but schooled 1.30 with me. He had all the buttons and was a great teacher--if you didn't ask just right, then you might as well be riding a bronze statue... he was not going to let you get what you wanted until you could ask perfectly. He went into semi-retirement last summer with a "forever" home who turned out to be a scam, but luck brought him to a wonderful barn where he's spoiled rotten by little girls and does walk/trot lessons.
                      Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                      • #12
                        My 22 year old TB doesn't know how old he is either! Took me from the 2 foot hunters (no oxers!) to mini medals and winning 3'3. Even did a BC Summer Games qualifier on him (3'6) but had rails. Still, he's the best. Owned him for ten years now....and the little bugger managed to bronc me off recently. Who says 22 is old? he teaches adult ammies and the odd kid how to ride now...he's a wonderful teacher!


                        • #13
                          Old guys are absolutely the best!!

                          I've had my old guy 10 years or so...he's 23 this year. Of unknown breeding, a very modest start, and not fancy...but worth his weight in gold.




                          • #14
                            What fun stories and lovely photos. Thank you for sharing.


                            • Original Poster

                              Anyone have suggestions for keeping these guys (esp. thoroughbreds) healthy, fit, and weight on?
                              You hate that, don’t you? Do you like oysters? You have to acquire a taste for oysters and the deep distance.”
                              -- George H. Morris on learning to love the deep distance


                              • Original Poster

                                The "Now" photo doesn't show up.

                                And I sent a "friend request."

                                Originally posted by myforx4 View Post
                                We brought one home last April..... we were told he was 20 but after researching his tattoo we found out he is actually going to be 25 next month

                                In his younger years he was a Maclay horse (or so we were told) and he has proven to be the absolutely best horse- I can put anyone on him and he is a perfect gentleman. He's become my daughters best friend and given her so much confidence- she is going to make her short stirrup debut with him next weekend

                                He was a bit rough looking when first got him but he's muscled up nicely (still needs to build more of a top line)

                                Pics of when he first arrived:


                                And now (taken 2-days ago)


                                He has a forever home with us
                                You hate that, don’t you? Do you like oysters? You have to acquire a taste for oysters and the deep distance.”
                                -- George H. Morris on learning to love the deep distance


                                • #17
                                  Thanks for starting this thread.

                                  As a proud new owner of a 15 year old Tb this gives me lots of hope that we have many, many good years ahead of us. After years of not actually owning a horse and leasing I just wanted to feel safe on a horse of my own again and my guy was the perfect fit.

                                  I just love all the pics and stories.


                                  • #18
                                    I love stories like this! I first got my children's hunter 10 years ago when she was 11 and I was 14:


                                    Now she is 21 and her new owner takes fabulous care of her and she is still showing I couldn't be happier for my girl! Here she is at a BEST show:



                                    • #19
                                      yay! I'll play. I actually moved my 19 yo OTTB up to the 1.30 at the end of last year and we even attempted a 1.35 class at thermal this year. Getting through the combinations (mainly the triples) will take some good riding on my part, but the height is not an issue for him. He raced for 4 years, then evented up to ** as well.

                                      He gets injections a little more often than yearly and adequan (or now pentosan) monthly along with a daily oral joint supp. We also don't show that much & he lives out all the time, which is good for his legs and his mind. For weight, I found that Cocosoya really did the trick after I'd tried literally every other weight gain supplement out there.

                                      As a TB, he really just enjoys have a job and regularity in his life I think. So many of his WB counterparts are coddled and not allowed to be horses really, whereas he thrives on trail rides and weeks off, and, in return, can do multiple classes a day at a show (unheard of for the WBs jumping at this level). We've made it much farther than other people thought we could and I am continually amazed by him. Sometimes I take it for granted almost and I need to stop and really appreciate him. Of course, I'm in total denial that he will EVER be unable to do what he does

                                      It's really got to be a horse-by-horse basis, as they say, age is just a number
                                      Last edited by forward ride; Apr. 2, 2012, 02:04 PM.


                                      • #20
                                        OveroHunter, if I see your mare at BEST, I'll ask the rider if I can pet her for you

                                        I love reading stories and seeing pics about the older horses. A nice reminder that me and Dobbin have years to enjoy each other's company.