Hug Your Horses, Help them Grow Old

Hug Your Horses, Help them Grow Old

Another crazy day at work, but that’s the norm lately.  While browsing on Facebook on my commute in (only in heavy traffic or a red light of course!), this story on the world’s oldest horse caught my eye. Shayne, a 51 year old Irish Draught/Thoroughbred cross, was put to sleep after he couldn’t get up in late feb.

I love this story.

It’s not because the horse was really old (because he is), but that he was cared for well and thoroughly and was happy when he lived to be a ripe old age.  The article states he was in a sanctuary his last years, and although I would prefer he was with private owners instead of a donation based sanctuary – I still love the story.

This is how we should treat horses.  We are responsible for them, and that means caring for them well into their old age and letting them get to an old age.  I’m not suggesting keeping a horse alive just because you can, sometimes it’s kinder to put them down for a variety of reasons, but I mean stop treating them like objects.

A horse is not a vehicle for you to win ribbons on.  A horse is not something to be upgraded when they can’t perform anymore.  A horse is not a commodity.

I’m not saying you should never sell a horse, because there are tons of scenarios where selling a horse is best.  But know that when you take on ownership of this animal that serves you, you also take on a responsibility to serve them.  To me, this includes providing care however you can so you can see them to an old age.

That’s why I love the Shayne story, or why I felt both sad and warm/fuzzy when the old Arabian at my barn died last year.  She went from Arabian Nationals to aged retired school horse with the same owners, who had her best interests at heart the whole time.

That’s the kind of horse owner I want to be.

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9 thoughts on “Hug Your Horses, Help them Grow Old

  1. I agree; (and wow 51!!) There are legitimate reasons for putting them down, and there are legitimate reasons for selling them. As owners we should always put horsemanship before ambition and do right by them.

  2. Hah, I JUST got back from meeting my vet (during my lunch break no less) to check out my almost-25-year-old retiree. He’s got 100 little things wrong with him that we deal with every day, the latest is a strange set of lesions on his fetlock that seem to be growing. I can’t wait to get the vet bill from all the biopsies and cultures, but whatever, it’s only money. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse and he saved my a$$ more times than I can count, not to mention how much he taught me about riding. He’s too fragile to make it to 51, but however long he has left, it’s going to be the best I can give him.

  3. I agree! I’ve kept every horse I’ve ever had until she died. When I first got Wiley (my Mustang pony), he was a year, and the plan was to train him and sell him. Of course, I fell in love and he’s still with me! I’ll keep him til he dies, and I hope that he lives to a ripe old age. My mare, Sunshine, is getting up there in years (though certainly not old yet, she’s only about 17-18), and I won’t ever get rid of her. Then we have another Mustang pony, Rambler (Wiley’s 1/2 brother actually), who is basically useless. He can’t be ridden (well, maybe he could but no one wants to risk their neck!), so he’s just a pet. I would love to sell him and have the extra space, but I’m sure we’ll keep him for life, too, just to make sure he never gets a bad owner. ( :

  4. Yep! Not machines. Members of the family. That’s how we roll. :0)

    (When I had to put my mare to sleep in 2010, Hubby insisted on helping me pay the bill even though we keep our finances separate. His rational was that she was a member of OUR family, not just MY horse.)

  5. I love this story. It really makes me sad how some treat them as objects, and once they win the ribbons for them, they leave them at the curbside. I remember reading a story about an old school horse that had taught many riders the basics of riding, and that same horse ended up in an auction, basically heading towards the slaughter house. Thankfully one of the old students who’d learned from this old guy ended up saving him, but it begs the question of why was he there in the first place?

  6. I love this! When I grew up in AQHA, everyone tried to tell me “you can’t win with that horse, sell him and get another.” Well, (beside the fact that we did work hard and did do rather well even in AQHA), I knew he was a once-in-a-lifetime horse and he had already been passed from one owner to the next way too many times. As a little kid I promised him he’d never have another home and he’d live the rest of his days with me. So we played around and found something we both enjoyed (jumping!) and off we went. I retired him when he was ready, and he spent his last two years munching on hay happily and getting love. Unfortunately he broke his hip somehow and there was really nothing we could do so we had to put him down at 24 🙁 But he was such a well-taken care of horse that he had a very healthy and happy life up until then.

    I think Wizard is another life-long keeper. He has already given me so much and I plan to return the favor and take care of him to the best of my ability for as long as he’s around. I dread the day when I have to lose him. too. They are such special, special animals. Thanks for sharing this lovely story!

  7. Fifty one is such a big age for a horse! That’s amazing! When I get my horse, I don’t think I could ever sell it. I get attached to animals quickly.

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