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 Is Your Child's Horse Too Old?


One day at a large stable, a young rider was heard to say that it was time to “trade in” her 15 year old horse for a younger one because the gelding was getting too old.  This seemed so sad, not only because such a young person had this idea in mind, but because it seems to be a foregone conclusion in the horse world.  It also reveals the prevailing opinion that horses are somehow disposable. Recently, an 18 year old Arabian gelding was Champion at a major show.  On TV, a 22 year old warmblood was grand prix jumping.  And a 29 year old Quarter Horse still gives lessons to children.
    So how old is too old?  In the case of children, when looking for a horse, consider two factors:  1) will this be a lifelong obsession for the child, or just the latest passing fad, and 2) how much will the expenses be for training?  If your family just wants to try a horse out, lessons or a lease may be best.  It is ironic that families often want to buy a younger horse that will be sound  for the next 10 years, when the child’s interest may wane in two. On the other hand, horses 15 and older are often the best and most affordable buys.  They are usually trail and/or show savvy, are very well trained, and if cared for properly, can live to their late 20s or even 30s with no more vet expenses than a younger horse.  Talk to someone who has owned a cherished horse in  its golden years and find out how it enriched their own.
    Finally, before you trade that  15 year old horse in for a new model, remember that this is a living and sensitive animal.  Your discard might go to a nice new home.  Or that gelding/mare that you or your child pampered and brought carrots to every day may not be going to a home at all.  If everyone thinks mature horses are useless, the next stop for that “trade in” may be a feedlot.  One wonders how much love he could have given someone for another 15 years.

 
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