I admit, I'm no spring chicken! I refuse though to stop riding even though things are creakier. I am inspired by older people who continue to ride. I am no where near ready to stop but I do make some concessions. I appreciate a good older horse for the sensiblity they have. I overlook their occassional off days because they overlook mine.
Its often the younger, more beautiful horses that make you appreciate the term age before beauty. I had my younger horse out for a ride yesterday but due to the cooler temps and windy weather he was... well there is not other way to say it but a nutcase! I had a sunny day ahead of me with the specific plans to ride and now because of a little wind my plans looked like they were going to be cut short. Not wanting to waste a day to ride I got Rhythm, my equine senior citizen tacked up... which is easy because I ride her with a bareback pad and a rope halter. She was a dream to ride. Afterwards I came in the house floating on air! Ahhhh, the pleasures of an older horse! She keeps me in shape for the younger ones!
Week after week I see wise, older horses heading for slaughter. I follow the rescue efforts of a kill pen rescue on facebook. They video tape horses that find themselves in the pipeline heading to Canada's slaughterhouse to become a meal on a European menu. People work together to find them homes and donate money to get them in safe hands.
I have had the pleasure of owning many an older equine and they are often the real treasures of the barn. They babysit the younger riders. They are accommodating for beginner's. They are the trusty trail horses who don't spook at every leaf....sometimes they require special diets and supplements and might need to be ridden more lightly but usually it is well worth the extra effort to keep these wise horses around. I think of them as the good ambassadors of the horse world. They are the horses children take their first riding lessons on. They are the ones who stand patiently while a newbie learns how to tack up a horse. They are the ones little girls learn to braid manes and tails on.
I've been riding Rhythm to get me back in shape for my younger, more athletic horses. I love the benefits of riding bareback but can't risk an injury which I would be doing possibly by riding bareback on another horse. Rhythm is helping me get my seat and balance back and like I told my husband after my ride yesterday-- I get to feel like a cowgirl riding her!! Her broad back and smooth trot are easy to sit so in my mind's eye I feel like an accomplished rider! And that is priceless!
I encourage you to hang on to these older horses... or find them another home that appreciates their wonderful qualities. I recently heard from a family who adopted an older horse from me. My horses were beginning to pick at Flicka and I was at the point where I would either need to seperate her from the herd (and have her likely stiffen up and go downhill from lack of exercise) or keep her moving with the herd but be picked on. Those were not good options for her as she still had so much to give. I advertised her for a small sum of money-- never advertise a 'free' horse-- they get picked up by horse brokers and end up going to slaughter! I screened the family and as it turned out they were perfect! Flicka now has two little girls to love and fuss over and the girls have a gentle, safe horse to ride and love. Flicka's mobility has improved because the light riding the girls provide is good for her. It was a win win situation all around. I even got the reassrrance from the new owner's that when the time comes Flicka will humanely be put down rather than sold thru an auction.
Flicka Family Classics Collection (My Friend Flicka / Thunderhead: Son of Flicka / The Green Grass of Wyoming) The 'Old' Flicka
Flicka The 'New' Flicka. Our Flicka even looked like this Flicka!
I am starting a new project with my artwork to help raise awareness of horse slaughter. You can read about it here: visit my web site at Horse Art Online to see my animal art.
animal portrait artist
pet portraits in oil