I have a special soft spot for old horses. I've been fortunate in my lifetime to be around many aged horses and my experience with them has been so rewarding and full of joy!
There was a time when "old" may have been a horse in his teens. Now, with advancements in veterinary care, and better horse care knowledge, a horse's prime is his "teens." A horse whom in preteen years may have been "spooky and spunky" mostly due to lack of experience exposure, may be a completely different horse in his 20's.
Aged horses make fantastic teachers for inexperienced riders. They've "been there done that" so to speak, and tend to be more patient and forgiving with beginners. They have "mental maturity" which can make them a pure pleasure to work with. This is not to say they are "dead heads" or "nags!" They can have plenty of pep in the step, but are the trusty steeds riders choose when they want to have "FUN!" For example, I have a very talented and fun young Thoroughbred gelding, whose extremely well-behaved for his age. But, when I want to go out on a leisurely ride, and just have FUN, I go for one of the "old geezers" at our farm! I know, I won't have to focus on a "training ride" and can just focus on riding for joy!
Old horses can learn new tricks too! They often have the demeanor to learn new disciplines, such as carriage driving. They often make excellent therapy horses and their loving, trusting, and quiet nature can have an emotionally healing affect on their subjects. Babysitters they are! Old horses often bestow their wisdom and have a great calming affect on younger, inexperienced horses. They make good role models and examples to both horse and human!
I for one, wish more humans would take note of the special lessons old horses can teach us. They deserve to be appreciated, loved, and well-cared for in their later years rather than forgotten, discarded, and mislabeled as useless. Look into the eyes of an old schoolmaster, and you will see the years of stories hidden beneath. The mystery of what was and what is now. Once you realize this as I have, your heart may be forever changed by the realization of what a special gift these horses are and have been for us humans. They spend their lifetime in servitude to us- willingly. Stop and think how miraculous it really is that a 1000 lb creature willingly allows us to be "master."
All horses deserve to be loved and well-cared for, but especially old horses due to their many years of dedication and service. They deserve this respect back from us, and I hope to see more and more humans taking responsibility for their old "angels on earth" and show them the dignity in life and care that they so deserve right down to the end of their days.
From Memphis Horses- A Blog All About Horses in Memphis & Beyond