Old vs. Young: What Age is Horse Is Best For You To Buy?
With age comes experience, patience, and understanding. Three qualities
any horse owner wants in a horse.
Have you given any thought to what age horse is right for you? The age of a horse is a part of horse ownership that is sometimes misunderstood. Many people feel that older horses are washed up and ready for the pasture. That could not be further from the truth in many cases.
There are pros and cons to young horses as well as horses in their late teens and early twenties. The age of the horse you are looking for is not as important as to how well the horse fits you and your program.
When asked, "what is too old when looking at a horse?" I always answer that question with a question. What kind of shape and how sound is the horse? The age of a horse is not nearly as important as how sound and healthy the horse is, as well as how well the horse fits its rider.
I recently had a conversation with a man whose son bought a horse for his family. He thought it would be a good idea to have a young horse for his kids to grow up with. In this situation he had no idea of what it takes to handle a young, inexperienced horse. The horse did not work for the family and the kids lost interest in riding because of the difficulty they were having. This is a common myth and mistake.
Two of our cutting horses were nineteen years old when we bought them. Both horses were purchased to teach youth riders to cut and work cattle. We were looking for horses that could teach us the tricks of the trade of cutting. They have been great for us, and one is still competing and doing quite well. The key to the success with these older horses has been that we have taken good care of them and exercised them regularly. Regular exercise and a consistent program is critical to helping older horses remain active.
While we do have young horses on the ranch, what I have found through the years is that a sound, older horse with experience is much more reliable day in and day out. Young horses provide energy, and stamina for their rider. However, with that energy comes quickness. I have ridden many young (4 to 7 years old), very well trained and well mannered horses that wouldn't think of hurting a rider on purpose. Their quickness and athleticism, however, made them difficult to ride, especially for a novice rider.
Horses with age have had (in many cases) the opportunity to see more through the years. In my experience that has meant the horse is more stable and suitable for riding out on the trail. Usually, it takes a little more to spook and concern an older, more experienced horse. If you are a novice rider, think about looking into an older, more experienced horse for your first purchase.
Things To Be Aware Of With Older Horses
A Vet Check is critical with the purchase of an older horse. Have the Vet check for Navicular, and Arthritis. Cardiovascular is also important to check in the older horse. Ask the Vet to examine the horse's teeth and mouth to assure healthy teeth and gums. A problem in the mouth could lead to lack of nutrition. The teeth of many older horses need to be floated upon purchase.
Older horses will need to be cared for a little differently in extreme weather. Be sure to take into consideration that they may need to be blanketed in cold weather, and may need to be brought in and offered electrolytes in the heat of the summer. Having shelter and clean water available is also very important. Seniors may require a special feed to maintain a quality health.
Some senior horses do require a little more care than a younger option. But don't let that out weigh all of the wonderful benefits they have to offer you in the best years of their life. If gentle, experience, wisdom, and a desire to please is what you are looking for in a horse, don't overlook a horse in their mid to late teens.
Always keep safety in mind.
About the Author: Jason Borchardt has spent his life with horses. He has been involved with many disciplines in the horse arena,
from showing, breaking, western pleasure, cutting...the list goes on and on. He currently co runs a
family ranch in the Texas Hill Country, where he spends the best part of his days on the back
of a horse. His desire is to educate people on buying horses, through http://www.realhorseappeal.com,
so they don't make the same mistakes he has through the years.