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Mostly venting- coming to terms with horses getting to be the O word

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  • Mostly venting- coming to terms with horses getting to be the O word

    ...the O-L-D word.

    My guy will be 18 next year. 17 was bad enough, but he's still a mental 2-year-old, so it was easy to see him that way. He's recently experienced an injury that may mean semi-retirement to trails and teaching up-downers. He hasn't seen the clippers or a mane pulling comb in months, which normally makes him look like a big teddy bear, but now makes him look his age a bit. He still runs around in the field like a total idiot when the mood strikes him and has recently learned how to buck. But between the injury and him starting to look like a grand old man, I'm just bummed. He was supposed to be a magical unicorn and live forever.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

    Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
    Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.

  • #2
    Enjoy him, be grateful for the good years he's given you, and let him go on doing all he's capable of. Horses' healing powers are frequently astonishing, and vets are wrong as much as they're right.

    BUT . . . keep your eye out for a prospect, too, in mind of the day when he will retire; and don't try to "replace" him because it can't be done. Your next will be someone completely different, and that's OK!


    • #3
      Ahhh I had a reply and hit post then it was gone...oh well. Here's to attempt #2.

      I know the feeling. My golden oldie will be 21 in March, and I have had him since he was 9. He was also the energizer-bunny type (go all day/ tons of personality). This past year I've noticed him slowing down and semi-retired him when I got my 5 year old green-bean earlier this year. While it's taking me some time to adjust to seeing him in his current wooly-mammoth state I know he is enjoying just being a horse again. He has taken care of me for the past 11 years and has won me hundreds of champion ribbons, so it's the least I can do to give him the retirement he deserves.

      Plus there's a bright side to having a golden oldie. You always have some to pull out and just go for a "spirit" ride on. The type of ride where you just get on and go for a nice canter through the pasture and not have to worry about silly spooks. So enjoy your old man and take him out for spirit rides if you can.


      • Original Poster

        Oh sure, he has no life plan at this point, if he wants to be a trail horse and teach up downers (which he's really good about) or really anything else, he can do whatever the heck he wants. As long as what he wants isn't complete retirement to a field, which wouldn't suit him metabolically. He's wonderful and really the horse of a lifetime! I take him out for long trail rides bareback with a halter and two lead ropes and his version of spooking is to stop and watch the deer. That's just his personality- he's always been this way. He's very, very special. It isn't about maybe losing a show quality horse so much as recognizing he's starting to get to the age where he's the old bay gelding who kinda ain't what he used to be.
        "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

        Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
        Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


        • #5
          I have a 19 year old gelding I got when he was 12. He was full of vim and vigor (and spit and vinegar some days) until he hit about 16/17. Over the last couple of years he has started to look a little o-l-d. It makes me sad. Even at 16 people who didn't know him still guessed he was a 3 or 4 year old. Now, I can see a little weight coming off of him, a little shag to his Winter coat, a little more white in his face... And he's certainly slowed down quite a bit. But, I still have precious moments with him. Even though I can't ride him very much because of my own crappy schedule these days, we still have bonding moments. And I *love* what Philadephia said about "spirit rides." My boy is often not sound enough to canter, but we do go on a ride about twice a month or so, just W/T, and they are the most enjoyable rides I have because I can just relax and take everything in (I also have a 9 year old - awesome girl, but not quite the solid citizen my oldie is, so I feel very blessed to have him for relaxing rides!).

          Really, it's just about recognizing he may not be around forever (a hard pill to swallow), and then enjoying every minute with him from this point forward.

          Enjoy your distinguished gentleman. These golden years may just be some of the best you'll have together.
          ~*~*~*~Founding member of the Spotted Saddlebred Pals Clique~*~*~*~

          The equine love of my life: Gabriel
          4/6/1993 - 8/23/2015 ...RIP my big, beautiful boy <3


          • #6
            The horse in my profile is 21 (I think he was 16 in that photo). He's pretty content being a trail horse, although it breaks my heart a little bit to see that "old horse neck" dip in front of his withers and his slighty saggy topline. Last year was the first year I didn't body clip him, but I ended up giving him a modified trace (sides, front/neck up to throat latch and his entire belly) because he makes an art form out of pawing in mud puddles and that GA clay just does not groom or even wash off long belly hair. He got some serious belly dreadlock action going last year before I took action with the clippers!

            But we have a blast going on hunter paces, poker rides and trail rides. Our group mostly walks and yacks the entire pace (uh, and drinks from our flasks) with small 200 foot canters to jump the odd obstacle. Horses and humans alike have a good time.
            Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


            • #7
              My old guy wants to pace with your old guys!


              • #8
                Mine is 17 and I hadn't really thought of him as the O word... time flies, I sure have to keep that in mind.
                Renn/aissance, your horse sounds very special, lucky you! I love mine very much but he still spooks at every occasion, despite his age. Even stuff he's seen hundreds of times...



                • Original Poster

                  I didn't want to think of him as the O word, until my farrier looked at me the other day and said "Renn. Four years horse time per one year human time. Do the math." I did the math, and thought, "Aww, shhhh..." Since he's so young at heart it's easy to forget.

                  DMK, your paces sound like a lot of fun! If mine will be sound enough to jump, and I hope he will, I should find a group like yours!
                  "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                  Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                  Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                  • #10
                    Mine is nearing 20 but does not know that he is the "O" word. He's sound and bright, acting like a spooky 4yo on chilly mornings. He still jumps 3'6 with ease and sometimes plays in the corners just because he can! I'm waiting for it to catch up with him but in the meantime I'm just enjoying everyday I have!

                    ETA- Adding pics of the "old" man
                    Last edited by dani0303; Nov. 8, 2012, 10:36 PM. Reason: Pics!
                    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                    My equine soulmate
                    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


                    • #11
                      Geez. I feel old knowing he's going to be 18!!!

                      I have no good advice as I am still coming to terms with my older horse being old....and he's 26.


                      • #12
                        Years ago, my vet said in passing, "Yeah, I'm seeing a lot of that with my older clients." And I was like, "What?! I'm not talking about an old horse! I'm talking about this one!"

                        Like I said, that was years ago. I think he was 17 or 18 then.
                        I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


                        • #13
                          We just put down my former ch jumper. She was 35ish and had only been retired for 3 or 4 years. At her peak she jumped 4' as a 25 year old (She had never been jumped or shown before age 22!) and was nearly unbeatable in the jumper ring. After seeing how well she did as a "senior", I'm much less worried about my 22 yr old ottb (who looks and acts like a 12 yr old).

                          Regardless, I always consider it an honor to own an older horse. I enjoy being able to ensure a good retirement and happy ending.


                          • #14
                            I have my little old guy, he's supposed to be about 20 now, but the vet thinks he's probably closer to 23-24.

                            I've basically retired him because of bad arthritis....and well, a rather frustrating personality. I've had him for 11 years and he was always really difficult...quite a jerk actually. Around 15 he really seemed to mellow out. Except his version of mellow is only just approaching normal horse behaviour. I've always said he was perfect 80% of the time, naughty 15%, and downright possessed 5% of your rides.

                            Anyways, I finally gave up and let him be. He generally seems happier, he gets to hang out with his mare and be fat and hairy. But I wish I could look back on my time with him the way the rest of you all seem to. I do love him, he's my first horse and all...but...well, he's a jerk. He even kicked me this past weekend.
                            Oh well. He's rather cute all fluffy, and his little white star is slowly spreading across his entire face


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                              Geez. I feel old knowing he's going to be 18!!!

                              I have no good advice as I am still coming to terms with my older horse being old....and he's 26.
                              Ah, but you haven't aged a day, right? May you have many more happy and healthy years with your grand old man!

                              Dani, what a handsome guy you have! I love the last pic especially.

                              I'm glad I'm not the only one to have experienced a bit of shock when the O-word was mentioned.
                              "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                              Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                              Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                              • #16
                                I try not to think of the "O" word in relationship to my mare. She is 17 this year although she doesn't look it. She's a redhead TB mare and is ridden regularly. She competes in low level CT's, musical freestyle dressage, Actha rides, hunter paces. She even team pens. She is pretty been there done that, but can have an occasional TB moment. I know in the back of my mind that if I plan to ride into older age(currently 58), I need to be looking for a younger prospect to be bringing along to step up when my girl needs to retire.


                                • #17
                                  My old man is 25 going on 26 here soon (He's the one in my second link below). I got him in 2000 and taking him everywhere with me, including college. I had him semi-retired 3 years ago and then retired a year later. But recently I went to his farm and he was bored and lacking something to do, so I brought him over the mountain to me and he's been great. He is much happier having a job and doing something, he even carted my fat butt around a 2'3 course at a show last weekend and I don't think you'd see him any happier!

                                  You're boy will be happy to have a job, even if its trail riding and up/down lessons! They old guys are special and enjoy him! This is his chance to teach all the knowledge he has learned from you to the younger generation!!
                                  Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                                  Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                                  Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                                  Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


                                  • #18
                                    My old man is 20 this year and I've had him since he was late 3. He has some navicular issues and is sound enough to flat occasionally but not jump. He is the grand old man of the farm and I get sad sometimes when he's having a stiff day or his neck looks thinner than it did when he was fit.

                                    But on the bright side, just think of the gift you are giving your horse -- a happy old age and down time when he can enjoy it. I am lucky to be able to do this for my old guys and still have a youngster to ride seriously -- but if I had to choose, the old guy would stay! Riding him is like having an old friend you can not see for five years and pick right up where you left off -- complete understanding and harmony, even if it's not quite what it used to be.

                                    Mine is still pretty sassy. I made the mistake of trotting him over a pole on the ground the last time I rode him. He cleared it by about 3'6 and was sore for 2 days -- but he LOVED it. Hilarious! But no more poles for him, the old legs just aren't up for those massive leaps.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by hntrjmprpro45 View Post
                                      Regardless, I always consider it an honor to own an older horse. I enjoy being able to ensure a good retirement and happy ending.
                                      Yes, I lost my two old ponies at 27/28 over the last few years and my old corgi a few weeks ago. It really sucks losing them, but it's also a nice feeling knowing they had a good home to the very end. But I really want one of mine to make it into the 30's. And then go lay down one day and take a nap and not get up. It would be nice to have just one of my animals have that happiest of endings.
                                      Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                                      • #20
                                        My heart horse is 18 and after trying to bring him back to fitness many times after many injuries and major illnesses I finally just retired him and now he just hangs out and watches his younger brother learning how to be an event horse. I had my farrier pull his shoes last week, I guess it's official.

                                        It does make me sad to see his wooly self age. He is a one-of-a-kind and my true heart horse.