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Buying an older horse

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  • Buying an older horse

    Well, after 3 concussions in 2 years, my husband has convinced me to sell my beautiful horse in favor of something safer ( to clarify, he's never hurt me, but he has the potential to. Plus my show days are over )

    I'm looking at safer horses, something my husband, parents and in-laws can ride as well, and the only horses that fit the bill are 17 years and older it seems ( at least in terms of what I'm seeing for sale in our area). None of them look "old" but being used to young athletic horses as I am I just see them as ancient. It makes me kind of sad to think of having a horse and it being unusable or die a few years later. Of course, any horse can die or become lame at any time, but you know what I mean...

    Am I being silly? I'm just so down about all that has happened to me . I want a nice horse that I love and whom I will have for a very long time...

  • #2
    I hesitated to buy a 15 year old gelding for my then 13 year old daughter, but she was new to horses and I wanted a safe mount. Honestly, I couldn't have afforded him when he was younger, but as he was supposedly winding down in his career he was on the market and the right price.

    He turned out to be priceless. Took care of her, took care of me, was a blast to ride and yes, safe and sensible. He evaluated his rider and then behaved according to what he thought you could handle. I had several people offer to buy him over the years, but there was no way I could part with him.

    He died at 27, was still being ridden until the last six months of his life.

    Honestly the best money I ever spent for a horse. There are no guarantees with horses, but I think the teen years are prime time for horses now.


    • #3
      Originally posted by KiraSophia View Post
      Well, after 3 concussions in 2 years, my husband has convinced me to sell my beautiful horse in favor of something safer ( to clarify, he's never hurt me, but he has the potential to. Plus my show days are over )

      I'm looking at safer horses, something my husband, parents and in-laws can ride as well, and the only horses that fit the bill are 17 years and older it seems ( at least in terms of what I'm seeing for sale in our area). None of them look "old" but being used to young athletic horses as I am I just see them as ancient. It makes me kind of sad to think of having a horse and it being unusable or die a few years later. Of course, any horse can die or become lame at any time, but you know what I mean...

      Am I being silly? I'm just so down about all that has happened to me . I want a nice horse that I love and whom I will have for a very long time...
      I was about to come ask the same question!

      I'll be watching this thread to see what everyone has to say. I may still be young, but as a McScaredyPants I need a been there done that type of deal. And no, your not silly. Some older horses with great care and little health issues live a very long time. I used to think older was bad, but I'm in a whole new boat now. Older is what I need. And who knows? It may turn out to be the best investment you'll ever make!
      I walk into the barn and hear her soothing nicker, feel her soft muzzle against my cheek, her warm breath on my skin, and it is at that moment I realize there is no where else I would rather be.


      • #4
        I think you can find safe, sensible younger horses, but if you do you'll pay a pretty penny for them -- usually, unless you get very lucky -- because they are worth their weight in gold!

        My last horse I bought when he was 12, he's 14 now and retired. I was given a 16 year old bombproof TB/Oldenburg who seems to be going strong and giving every indication that he'll keep on going for a very long time.
        Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/


        • #5
          They're awesome

          When I was horse-shopping, I only looked at horses 15 years old and up, because I am a middle-aged re-rider, knew I wouldn't be able to ride every day and needed the horse to be okay with that, mentally and physically,, and this was my first horse and I wanted a horse from whom I could know what to expect from her (though that was a myth. She still throws me a curve-ball when she is feeling interesting). Also I wanted a horse who would be experienced and kind enough to handle it when I made a mistake, especially since we trail ride alone most of the time. My horse was 17 when I got her; it has been 5.5 years, and she is GOLD. There is not a single day I regret bringing her home. She was sound and sane then, and is the same now. She is also a blast to ride, very willing to work IF you ask her correctly, is very smart and opinionated, and anything but dull.

          Also, I think the older horses know what a given rider can and can't handle. If they know you can handle alittle snort and blow, they still got it. I have heard many stories of people whose horses are very quiet when carrying non-horsey hubbies or new riders, but are firecrackers when carrying a rider who enjoys alittle more joie de vivre.
          Last edited by SharonA; Apr. 18, 2012, 04:24 PM.


          • #6
            I am a huge fan of older horses. How long they last depends on the breed, as well as the individual horse.

            The first Fjord I ever bought was 21 at the time. I had her until the day she died at 29.5 years. She was happily working right until the end. During the 8.5 years I owned her, she produced 2 foals, toted countless kids around in up down lessons, was evaluated with terrific results in riding, driving and draft performance, and was just a joy to have on the farm. I liked this mare so much, I bought one of her daughters (also a wonderful mare. This daughter produced a lovely filly this weekend, so this exceptional mare line continues.
            Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


            • #7
              I rather "inherited" an older horse here at the farm when my own horse went lame for a season. Celby, who was 22 when I first got here, had been retired by his competitive dressage owner and returned to his breeder as an opportunity to pass his twilight years in grace and dignity. Celby had other ideas.

              I began riding him in 2007, and in 2008, he took me to my first ever dressage competition. He was way more feisty than I could handle particularly well at the time, so we didn't score very well (quiet obedience is not Celby's strong suit), but he taught me all about how to go to a show. Faith in him (and his been-here/done-this attitude) was the only thing that got me through the first-time nerves.

              In 2010, when Celby was 25, he took me on my first-ever hunter pace, and kind of smoked my good friend's six-year-old mare, who had been training for this sort of XC riding for a good while. I could barely walk the next day, but that old bugger trotted out to pasture light as could be, broke to canter, did two flying changes, and threw in a buck before dropping to roll off the last of the previous-day's sweat-itchies. He was quite pleased with himself!

              Last year, after a very hard winter, Celby came out in the spring looking his age for the first time... a little lean, a little low in the back. Light riding through the spring revealed some first-ever soreness in the front feet, which a pair of shoes through the season fixed right up. He had a light riding year, as I was starting the Bay Boy Wonder, but we had many a delightful outing, including one crazy mishap where Celby stepped on a woodchuck tunnel that collapsed, caught his hoof and tripped, sending me somersaulting left, while he somersaulted right. We both got up, looked at each other for reassurance, and then got back on and rode for another 20 minutes, with nary a lame step nor sore muscle afterwards.

              Celby's half-brother, Tank, was still being ridden at 27 as well before we lost him to a stroke. Our two primary lesson horses here at the farm are 19 this year.

              A lot of this is Morgan attitude and stamina, that never-say-die approach the little buggers have to life, so maybe we don't have a representative sample of what all horses can be after 15, but we're very grateful for what we've got.

              At 27, and after a pretty easy winter, Celby is fit as a fiddle and ready to roll. In fact, I think I'll go get on Celby right now!


              • #8
                I just lost a horse that was almost 20. the horse died form a non-age related issue. I don't think I would look for an older horse as my primary riding horse BASED ON MY GOALS NOW. I bought a 7 yo.

                It was great buying a horse at 13 at that time of my life, I believe I would be still showing the horse now. Its just a lot of STRESS and MONEY for me.

                If I had a backyeard place or really good pasture board avail should the horse be retired it'd be a different story.

                My horse also needed legend/adequan for the last 5 (?) years and had a few assorted issues that cropped up. If I was going to evaluate a horse I would do films on the neck too, not just hocks, pasterns, etc.


                • #9
                  My horse is 15 this year and I wouldn't trade him for 10 5yo's! I only ride once/twice a month - and I can hop on him anyday and have a safe ride. He is a retired event horse so he doesn't spook at anything. Goes through water, ditches, etc. I love him.

                  You really can't go wrong buying an educated (older) horse!


                  • #10
                    My 24 year old would have people clawing the door down if I ever announced he was for sale. We adopted him 8 years ago at age 16 and I admit that I had the same fears you did but so far, so good. He just keeps getting better!
                    McDowell Racing Stables

                    Home Away From Home


                    • #11
                      I had so much fun with my old mare, who was my first horse; got her when she was 22 and she had to be put down this fall, five years later. She was an ex-eventer, and though BTDT, was still quite feisty and had a lot of "go" to her. She was an incredible teacher and taught me so much. I really could not have had a better first horse. We did a little bit of everything, from trailriding to dressage to crossrails and she took me on my (and her) first foxhunt. I also leant her out on several occasions to younger, lighter riders to do their first event/hunter trials.

                      The one thing I'd say about older horses is that they, like older people, greatly benefit from working some everyday rather than skipping long periods.


                      • #12
                        Don't overlook an older horse because he might not last as long. Loads of horses are still out there riding with their partners up into the 30s. Might have to cut back some, but they are still very capable and a load of fun.

                        My old guy drove a couple of miles a couple of times a week until 3 days before he died of a fall in a field at age 39.

                        There was a barrel racer at the barn where my first horse lived (many moons ago) who did local shows until 36.

                        I have several friends riding over 20something horses with basically no restrictions and having a blast.

                        When we were looking for new horses after loosing the old guy we couldn't find what we really wanted 10-15 yo. Had to settle for 6 year olds and it's taken those years to ten to get the horses we really wanted.


                        • #13
                          Bought a 15 yr old TB dressage schoolmaster. Sound as could be. He also liked to trail ride... In five years he taught me enough to move all the way to Prix St Georges. Leased him to a lower level rider for almost two years. He took care of her too. Now at 22 he's got some arthritis in the spine, had injections done and he's back to light riding; I will not work him more than what it takes to keep some muscle tone, but he would happily do something every day, every other day or whatever.

                          And OP, you know that horses can do themselves in at any time, so you have risk no matter what the age. The big thing w/ buying an older horse is to make sure they are pretty sound and healthy AND what maintenance they need. Then get ready to have them forever because a good one deserves that. I actually could have sold my TB when he was 20, but I didn't have the heart to send him on. The lease was perfect solution.
                          We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                          • #14
                            I love older horses. They are so settled and easy going and people around here if they are 15+ think they are older than dirt and the price is low.
                            I'm so busy.....I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse.

                            Alright put your big girl panties on and deal with it!


                            • #15
                              Well kept horses don't age as fast as they used to, with our advances in medicine and management.


                              • #16
                                I bought an older horse because I too wanted something I could depend on to be relatively consistent. Remy is 15 now, and his nickname is "Mr. Metronome" because he is always the same. He knows his job, knows to take care of me, and has a huge sense of humor. Even when he is "fresh", which is not very often, he is easy for me to handle. He has done wonders for my confidence, both on the flat and over fences. With maintenance, I know that I can keep him going for probably another 10 years. I have a retirement plan in place for him, and he is taken care of in our will should he, for some reason, outlive Mr. Hasahorse and I.
                                My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
                                ReRiders Clique


                                • #17
                                  I was so very lucky to have my GP horse come into my life when he was 21. He's 26 now, and is in better condition than when I got him. We work 30 minutes 3-4 times per week, and he's a wonderful partner. I wouldn't hesitate to take an older horse, but would be careful to evaluate for potential soundness issues. I do spend quite a bit of time monitoring my horse's health, providing best hay/grain, supplements, etc. to make sure he has what he needs to feel good. No soundness problems at all, and I give a ton of credit to the great trainer/vet/farrier/dentist team that I work with.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by atr View Post
                                    Well kept horses don't age as fast as they used to, with our advances in medicine and management.
                                    This. I'm not exactly sure what your riding goals are, but I will say that my two show horses are 17 and 23 this year (I was given both these horses at age 15). And by show horses I mean AA hunters (3'3") and jumpers (3'9") still actively competing. I'm not sure at this point you could talk me INTO buying a young horse. I'm a firm believer that if a horse makes it into it's teens still able to do it's job that it will continue to do so (freak injuries aside of course) if well maintained.

                                    Both of my horses are seen by a vet about once a month, even if just for a quick once over. They get regular adequan, legend and pentosan and are shod by the best farrier in town. They also get ample turnout and are kept very fit (but not overjumped--they only jump at shows) to help ward off fatigue type injuries.

                                    I know a lot of people would think that all of this is excessive, but I'd rather spend my money maintaining an older horse than pay a trainer to make up an unknown that may or may not work for me--or most importantly become unsound in the process.

                                    Go get yourself a horse that you can enjoy. And btw, they're not old, they're "aged"!
                                    Originally posted by EquineImagined
                                    My subconscious is a wretched insufferable beotch.


                                    • #19
                                      I own a coming 22 year old fjord gelding who I bought when he was 17 for my son to learn on except that I ended up riding him myself too so now he is our family horse. Very healthy, easy keeper with a world of experience and cheerful attitude. He enjoys being worked and according to the vet who did his PPE "this horse will easily go another 10-15 years so just keep riding him"

                                      I'm currently looking for a second horse and the ones I am most interested in are over the age of 15. Having an older horse doesn't bother me except that I might not have as many years with them but the enjoyment we get from them is well worth it


                                      • #20
                                        I became the proud owner of a 25 year old Appendix Quarterhorse a month and a half ago. Lexy, per the vet, is hale and hearty and is in great shape to be ridden, as soon as I lose some more weight. Today, out in the pasture, she was running and bucking like a young thing. Don't be afraid of the older ones, they are like a good wine, much better aged.
                                        If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                                        Desmond Tutu