Saturday, October 23, 2010

When is a Horse Too Old?

I certainly won't pretend to have the answer to that question. Like people, each horse is an individual, subject to their own rate of aging, effects of past injuries, illness, and infirmities. Some breeds, like Arabians, are known for their longevity. I've heard, from reputable sources, that one of the keys to their longevity is continued use and exercise.

Smokey turned 21, this year. I find myself more acutely attuned to his health and well being. Towards the end of summer, I found myself wondering if, perhaps, he was getting too old for what I ask of him.

The other night, as I was bringing him in from the pasture, I couldn't help but notice that his eyes are bright, and he has a spring in his step. And, in the arena, the old boy was hotter than a two dollar pistol. He wanted to go fast. Being an equine speed junky, I of course, let him.

Nope, he's not too old.




18 comments:

roughneckturtle/Jeff C. said...

I don't have much experience with horses, but I've noticed with the animals I've dealt with the best indicator is how they act and their willingness to do what you ask. And, I have asked myself the same question about my trucks, and ex's.

Kate said...

Depends on the horse, depends on what you want to do, and depends on what the horse tells you about it - if the horse says it's still fun, then go for it!

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

I grew up loving horses. No dolls for me, instead my room was filled with horses. Breyer horses. My favorite was an appaloosa that I named "Smokey." Smokey still resides in my house, but as Breyer introduced more and more variety I finally got a buckskin. His name is "Buck," and he still lives here, too. Yeah, I wasn't very creative with names! They were my best friends regardless. I ADORE Smokey your buckskin and love your photos and stories! Go get 'em Smokey!

Bag Blog said...

You will probably have lots of good years to come with Smokey. Did you see the pic I posted a few days ago of our horse, Smoke?

Buck said...

Nice pic! I can't offer any advice on the subject, as you well know. But I'm thinkin' the ol' "you're only as old as you fell" prolly works.

Buck said...

Jeez. fell = feel.

wenstumped said...

Smokey looks healthy and active enough in the pic. I think he's one of those 'age is only a number' individuals.

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Kipp said...

...course he has a spring in his step and a gleam in his eye; he is 21 now, he's legal.

Buckskins Rule said...

Jeff: I do think you are right, on all accounts.

Kate: That's how I see it. If he's still healthy and willing, then I see no need to stop.

Giraffe: Many people aren't too creative with naming the live horses, either!

Lou: I did see that pic, and was amazed that he could lay down while saddled, without trying to roll on it.

Buck: Agreed, sir! And, I make typos all the time, so don't sweat it.

Wen: I think that is indeed the case with that old horse.

Kipp: I gave him a beer on his 21st. Sadly, he didn't seem too interested.

Veronica Lodge said...

Smokey is gorgeous. My first event horse competed until the age of 23, and I had my first pony until she was roughly 36. They are never too old, if they are happy, and willing.

breugels said...

Smokey definitely looks in his best years. It's great when they are so happy they want to keep going for ever. And also thank you for your comment.

Andy said...

BR, I don't know much about horses. But, I do know about old humans.

I think that deal about keeping moving probably holds true with horses. If Smokey has a task (other than just grazing all day, waiting for old age to set in), I imagine he'll rise to it for as long as physically possible.

People that get put out to pasture usually crater pretty quickly. I imagine it's the same with a horse.

~Ang said...

Definately each horse is different, but I will tell you that I use to ride an old Appendix QH and he was still running 16sec. barrels at 25. It seemed if he stood in pasture too long, his joints became stiff and his arthritis affected him more. However when I was riding him daily he loosened up and was more mobile. I stopped showing him but would just ride him on trails and he picked the pace that was comfortable for him (usually a nice jog).

As long as he is happy thats all that matters!

Kat said...

He looks so happy, healthy and handsome :)

Buck said...

(other than just grazing all day, waiting for old age to set in)

Hey. Waitaminnit! Exactly WHAT are ya sayin', Andy? ;-)

Kris, in New England said...

What a fantastic picture BR! Just gorgeous in every respect. Smokey looks like one very happy boy doing what he's doing there.

But then again - so do you! :-)

Jessica said...

BR, Lena's older brother is 27 and still as feisty as she is. He gets babied a little because they want him for the grandkids, but I have it from a reputable source (Eclipse himself) that he is not ready to retire to pasture.

We are learning a lot about how to keep horses healthy and happy as they age, and you and Smokey look like you're doing great.

Heck, keeping him active is probably the best medicine there is.