Older horses are often overlooked as wise investments by prospective buyers. Most people think that a middle to more advanced aged horse is only a candidate for "greener pastures" or that they have no value. As the owner of quite a few of these gems, I would like to advocate for these wise, talented and sometimes forgotten horses.
After being the horse crazy girl in grade school that few understood, except for my 2 other horse crazed friends, my focus switched to music by the time I hit middle school. My horse dreams vanished as I spent all my time and energy studying and performing throughout high school and college. After graduation, marriage and 2 children, like so many, the lack of focus, time and money had my dreams of riding into the sunset evaporating.
We then moved to a house that was down the street from a Saddlebred farm. My then 11 year old daughter and I would visit these horses, feeding them carrots and visiting with their owners. Soon my daughter had the horse bug and we began taking lessons on these horses. It was then my husband said maybe we could get a horse of our own and my dream started to materialize.
Like most uneducated horse buyers, I was going for young and beautiful. In my mind, anything over 12 was not to be considered since that was ancient and probably not going to live long. We looked and rode horses and then leased and bought an arab mare at a local barn. She was cute, well broke and only 7. Unfortunately, youth does not always equate health and even though we had a complete prepurchase vet exam, she had to be put down due to cancer 8 months later. We were heartbroken and began a search for our next equine. We made the beginning horse owner mistake of buying young, beautiful and barely broke. It's true that green horse equals black and blue. Penny is now coming 28 this year and we have an awesome bond and I believe she would do anything for me, but she was never the safe, confident mount I had hoped for. I have learned that I probably should have gone for broke over beauty, and this is where senior horses are great prospects, especially for young or inexperienced riders.
Our third horse was found in a newspaper ad. She was 19 at the time and hadn't been ridden much. We tried her out and she was a great match for my 13 year old daughter. That horse could be ridden by anyone; she adjusted her gait and demeanor by your riding expertise. She was with us until 29 1/2 and never had any health issue until the day she died. She was my daughter's best friend and confidante, especially during her teenage and young adult years, for which I am eternally grateful.
We have since adopted several horses ages 29+ and all have given us more than we could give them. We currently own 5 horses between the age of 24 - 32 and they have taught us patience, compassion, how to be better riders, become favorites with our grandchildren and have been the greatest therapists on the planet. Not every senior horse is perfect and I would definitely recommend a prepurchase vet exam for any horse you are thinking of purchasing or adopting, but when you are looking for a horse, please don't let it's age determine it's usefulness and what that horse could bring to your life.