by Michelle Kingston
I love older horses! Often I meet people looking for a horse, who won't even consider a horse who is a teenager or above. I say, they are missing out.
Older horses often have a confidence that can only come from experience. They have seen so many things, nothing phases them. They know not to waste energy on things that aren't a true threat.
The perception is that these horses are too slow, or too broken down. These perceptions are false. A well trained and well maintained older horse can be sound to the very end of it's life. A few supplements and some proactive joint care can ensure a healthy, useful life.
A healthy aged horse will still have zip and vigor. They will be just as fast and just as responsive as always. A change in that is an indicator that something might be wrong.
More than one "older" horse who I have had the privilege to ride were perceived by others as dull and unresponsive. They were actually excellent horses who had learned to filter the riders requests. If the request wasn't quite right, or the aides were unclear, the horse didn't respond. This is what I like most about older horses, they keep you honest! They make you ride better because they are willing to wait for you to get the request right. Once you ask correctly, they respond perfectly. Older horses are a perfect reflection of your ability, they don't lie.
I also find that the human/horse bond seems greater with the older horse. They know what they like and they appreciate your efforts. Those scratches behind the ear or under the chin seem more valued. Older horses recognize genuine affection and caring when they encounter it. I love older horses!
The next time you consider a horse, I challenge you to not limit your choices, consider those senior horses. All of those years of experience have great value.