Have you ever had a horse stand over you in protection? If you’ve fallen or become injured on the trail? I have a photo of my horses where 7 are laying down and one is standing sentry. The boss is in the very middle– laid out and snoring. The horses around her are laying down but have their heads up. They know she is dominant, but she has to sleep sometimes. The leader can’t always be on but they look up to her and protect her. They know she has to sleep sometimes. This same thing can happen with you and your horse if your horse sees you as the leader and has that bonded respect. I have heard of horses protecting or taking over momentarily when they know that you need a rest or are injured.
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Q: Has Julie written any articles or done any tv shows on riding the 20+ year old horse? I have a mare that is 21 and has been a pasture pet the last couple of years. I’m wondering if I should try to get her back in shape-totally retire her or what?
A: Most horses in their early 20s are still ride-able, for a few years at least. They may not be able to ride as hard as they once did, but some horses are still very active at that age. They better shape your horse is in the greater his longevity; once you “let a horse go” and retire them, it seems like the sooner they fail. And most horsemen agree, that horses do better when they have a purpose and get attention and exercise.
It would definitely be beneficial for a horse that age that has been sedentary to get back into condition. You’ll have to take it slowly—make it a six month plan, for starters. Maybe start with walk-only rides 3-4 times a week for a month, then start adding a little trotting. You can also use my bitting system as a means to strengthen an older horse’s back and abdominals; this will help tremendously in preventing sway-back.
We do have an episode of Horse Master on reconditioning an older rescue horse that may be useful for you. It is episode 214, “Rescue and Rehab”. You can view it online.
Good luck with your horse!
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