Depends on what you consider is an oldie. I was still doing UA veteran dressage at novice with one of my horses at 23, he'd stopped jumping a couple of years earlier as he had mild hock arthritis and he'd started rushing his fences which I thought was a sign that he wasn't entirely happy. He was ridden 4/5 times a week and completely retired at 25 as he became a bit trippy to ride but was completely field sound. He was PTS at 28 with colic. He had cushings which was well controlled and if he seemed a bit stiff, the vet was happy to let me give him a sachet of bute, keeping him active and warm, I'm sure was the key to keeping him sound and happy.
I took my then 28yo shetland out showing for the firs time in 6 years and thinking I was being nice I put him in the lead rein class. Yeah right! The little toad made it very well known he would rather be doing the open ridden! He pulled my arms out - considering lead rein ponies are supposed to be all sweetness and nice on the end of a loose lead rein ... and he managed to sneak in a few strides of canter ... He was most certainly enjoying yourself!
Some horses are capable of doing more than others. Take it by ear if you horses isn't coping then drop the work load.
Sorry for long reply but I have a mare early to mid twenties and she is no longer competed. A reoccurring leg injury has put pay to her working in the school also so we just plod around the block, no rush, nice and steady. I let her stop when she wants a nibble of grass, she owes me nothing and I don't really mind. We go out about four times a week and do anything from 25 mins - 1hr +. I was trying to get her a bit fitter and control her weight. Once a week when the weather and ground conditions were good we would canter about 20 strides twice in a field set aside for this purpose - we did this once a week - I didn't want to temp fate with her leg being the way it is but it stood up to it okay. It was the highlight of my week - and hers!!
So with all this preparation I was hoping to do a fun ride this year, (something that had the option of a shorter route in case she couldn't cope with the ground.) However her leg reoccurred again when she came in from the field, obviously been running around. So she had a few weeks off which meant I missed a fun ride. Then I had a problem with my trailer and that went in for two weeks to get fixed so I had no transport and then missed another fun ride. Then the two remaining fun rides near me had dreadful weather leading up to them and it was very wet so I decided not to chance it. Hopefully if I can get her unscathed through the dreadful winter predicted by forecasters there will be another chance of a fun ride or two in the future, I don't see why not, she shows no indication of slowing down, sometimes she can be a handful!
Riding horses with spavin on a little but often basis is the best thing for them and this regime suits her. She sees a physio three times a year I am guessing, has teeth done every 8 months, had a very good farrier, sees a vet every six months as she is on a sachet of bute daily, and is also on supplements for her joints and I try and keep her as comfortable as possible with neck stretches and a little leg stretch on the walker if she is not being ridden that night.
Oldies can go on forever but need more care as they get more conditions as they get older, as do people.
Definitely true. She's never been one to not let me know when something was bothering her so I trust her to tell me when she can't do anymore and she trusts me to listen which is really one of the most important things an oldie wants from an owner. And I won't let her down.
My 28yo pony hacks out most days. She is up for a good gallop around the woods and doesnâ€™t feel any different to when I got her 15 years ago. I donâ€™t in general compete her as she is a bit crazy but we do some veteran showing and the odd pole clinic.
Nice to hear everyoneâ€™s stories of their older horses. I have a couple of oldies, one in particular 23 is showing no signs of slowing down, heâ€™s in regular work of hacking and pleasure rides 20 miles or so.
Heâ€™s very fit and is still a handful at times and absolutely loves his adventures. He always gets compliments from the vets at rides about how well he looks for his age.
I will keep him going as long as he enjoys and is able to, at the moment heâ€™s not on any supplements or medication which is great.
As long as your horse is happy and active, then go for it, the most important thing is to listen to your horse and tailor the work.
I stopped competing Mist when she was 20 as she started travelling badly, her work didn't really change but gradually got less over the years, I lost her at 32 and I'd occasionally pop on bareback for a short mooch or lead her out for in hand walks which she also enjoyed.
One of ours is 21 years old & he looks like a 12 year old. He hacks out regularly, jumps occasionally but if he had his way he's do it daily. He is schooled several times a week & goes for a lesson most weeks. He competes at dressage but will be doing some unaffiliated jumping & arena eventing soon. He's be doing it now , it's not him holding it up it's his rider & her confidence. :}
Totally depends on the horse. Iâ€™ve got no oldies now but I had a jumping pony who was still competing and winning up the age of 27. She did a 13 mile charity fun ride at the age of 26 and was cantering sideways the whole way (even when we were meant to be walking!) not an ounce of sweat on her. She was the talk of the ride.
Though Iâ€™ll admit she really was in a different league to anything Iâ€™d seen previously and since, so sheâ€™s probably not a good comparison. She was, in the nicest possible way, a freak of nature. She lived for her work and and once retired (for various reasons), she stopped eating within a week and we had to put her down as she just faded.
Sheâ€™d worked and competed from the age of 4-27 and not just light work.
No chance of my current two being like that! The wouldnâ€™t know what work was if they fell over it!
I've known quite a few oldies over the years, even when 20 was then considered old! I was once complimented on my "nice youngster" when hacking out a 28-year-old who had been working in a riding school most of his life - he went on to have a few more years as a riding horse, although not in full work. The only sign he showed of aging was that he stopped taking his front feet off the floor when expecting a gallop, though he did continue to wear a standing martingale as he was notorious for breaking riders' noses.
Current horse's fieldmate is 26 and his only real issue is that he has got harder to keep weight on as he has no front teeth left. But he hacks out happily, can still throw a massive spook and was showing in the summer. He does like to worry us a bit to make sure we are watching though - last week he was throwing some spectacular bucks in the field while awaiting his tea before he did one too massive and fell over. No ill effects and hacked out the following day.
Generally, and obviously there are some awful exceptions, I think care of older horses has improved dramatically over the years and I think many can have an active working life into old age as long as it is managed properly.
Mads is 26 and doesn't have any signs of arthritis or legacy injuries so still can do everything as a flat out as she did when I got her at 16. Mostly I'm trying to slow her down to protect her from herself. She can still jump higher than I dare.
We've never competed but if we did I'm confident she would be just as capable as she was in her youth.
She also got mistaken for a youngster the other as she danced past someone daring to sweep out their own horsebox.