Would you buy an older horse?

PictusSweetDreams

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As per title really. If you were simply looking for a happy hacking horse, something to enjoy a quieter life on, would you buy an older horse? (Late teens/early 20s)

I have a friend who did, she bought her cob at 20 and he’s 29 now and done everything she wanted him for (to gain confidence and hack) and now he’s happily living a retired life. I know they can begin to get health problems at that age but should that be a reason to not consider buying a horse of that age if they fit every other need?

Would you write off a horse in its late teens/early twenties simply because of its age?
 
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simply, yes i would buy an older horse, but I wouldn't be passing it around after me either. I think oldies should have a home for life, if possible.

my first pony was 19 and she lasted me a good 11 years, a horse can have health problems at any age. imo from what i've seen it seems to be the younger ones that break down easier now adays, the 90s and early 00's ponies seem so much more reliable.

my second horse was 15 and lasted 5 years, it just depends on the horse.
 

LeneHorse

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If you go into it with your eyes open and a willingness to deal with issues such as cushing's, arthritis, tooth problems etc and their associated veterinary costs I would not discount an older equine. I'm not saying all elderly horses would be affected by these conditions but it has to be borne in mind.
 

Trouper

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I think if they have got to a reasonable age without too many problems then they are a good bet for a few years more!!! I would - but then we would be tottering off into the sunset together. As others have said, it depends on what you want to do with them
 

milliepops

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for that kind of work, yes I would consider an older horse, provided it had been fit and healthy throughout its life and I was prepared to be the last home.

That may not be great if you keep your horse on livery and the horse has to (or you choose to) retire, as that may eat into funds available for another riding horse. So that's just something to consider.
 

Skib

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I sharted an older horse who had been well cared for all her life.
But older horses are not necessaily plods. She did have a habit of spinning and running for home unseating staff who no longer hacked her. Being a learner rider I was used to falling off and risked it. She did it only once with me, terrified by a white bucket but I never came off her. My current hack is younger but feels to be safer.
 

Sprout

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I would and have bought an older horse for hacking. Although I only had 3 years riding, before I lost him to cancer, they were the most enjoyable and relaxing hacks ever and he was a joy to have around.
 

Bonnie Allie

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Yes however make sure you understand the financial commitment to additional care of the mature horse. Our oldies have cushings meds, arthritis care, laminitis proactive care, joint supplements, physio, additional rugs in winter and special food for those with tooth wear.

Love them to bits and really enjoy keeping them happy and healthy but it’s a big financial commitment.

Also agree with oldies not being plods. Our 20yr retired eventer, that supposedly has mild arthritis can shy, spook, buck and tank off with me in a 1hr ride that was supposed to be a quiet stroll in the park to help keep her mobile. Not going out again without a neck strap.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I bought a 17 yr old Westphalian Kaltblut who had run away with her novice male owner. She was one of the most characterful horses I have ever known. Sadly I only had her 6 years before she had to be pts because of Cushings but I would certainly do it again, if I was likely to be buying another horse (which I'm not)
 

AUB

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No, for a simple hacking horse I wouldn’t go for an older horse. If we were talking a GP schoolmaster, then yes, I could go for something around 17 years old.
 

Annagain

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I know so many older horses still going strong: a 28 year old ex advanced eventer turned GP dressage horse - so not an easy life; a 27 year old still doing elementary dressage; my 25 year old former share horse who was still doing pony club until lockdown and has been hacking well for the last year (he's currently on box rest after damaging a suspensory ligament in the field last week but vet is hopeful he'll be back hacking in a few months); a 23 year old ex-eventing pony who's helping his older loanee get her confidence back for hacking and dressage after a nasty fall on a previous horse; a 23 year old ex show-jumping cob who could still be doing it but his owners decided to give him a quieter life before he was forced to so is hacking happily. These have all been fit and sound for most of their lives though. My old boy retired last year at 24 after years of managing foot problems - it's still a good age but (hypothetically) I wouldn't have bought him at 15+ while I would have considered all the others.
 

oldie48

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Yes absolutely for what your after (I'd be the same) it sounds ideal BUT I would only do so if i could ensure I was there last home. I dont agree with oldies being passed around, it just doesnt sit right with me (just my opinion)
I'm sure you didn't mean to sound so judgemental but selling an older horse to a suitable home is rather different to "passing them around". An older schoolmaster that needs to step down can be just the right horse for another rider as can a horse that needs a different job. Not everyone can afford to loan out such horses nor can everyone afford to keep them but a well mannered, well schooled, sound horse will always find a good home whether or not money changes hands. There's always a queue for the right PC ponies and so many little riders learn the ropes on an older, been there got the T shirt pony. So yes, I'd buy and older horse and I'd also be willing to find a new home for one of my own if needed as I know I'm not the only person who is able to look after a horse properly.
 

Ruftysdad

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simply, yes i would buy an older horse, but I wouldn't be passing it around after me either. I think oldies should have a home for life, if possible.

my first pony was 19 and she lasted me a good 11 years, a horse can have health problems at any age. imo from what i've seen it seems to be the younger ones that break down easier now adays, the 90s and early 00's ponies seem so much more reliable.

my second horse was 15 and lasted 5 years, it just depends on the horse.
I bought a 17 year old and rode him for 9 years, just a happy hacker. He has been brilliant. Now retired as he has arthritis. No regrets as he is a lovely person and was a forward going bomb proof ride
 

sportsmansB

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I definitely wouldn't rule it out. My current horse is 16 now and has evented internationally all his life and is perfect for me and what I want to do. He would still skip around a 2* but I am quite happy at 90 and 100 tbh. He is not however a quiet hack nor for being complacent on, he has a right buck and spook in him when the notion takes him.
Older horses can be excellent as they have alot to teach you and genuinely have seen most things in their lives and are likely to make less fuss about them. Do be aware of additonal cost of supplements / medications, and be prepared to retire or pts if necessary, but I think its a lovely home for an older horse to get to hack around and be fussed over. It is still worth getting a vet to take a look, not to ensure that they pass every flexion as that is unlikely, but to do a quick check of eyes, heart, melanomas if they are grey, etc. Often the ones still going at late teens early 20's are the hardiest and will continue, but it is still worth getting an opinion on it depending on how experienced you are of course.

The notion of potentialy needing to keep two if the oldie has to retire is important. My friends are in hysterics at me at the moment as I am looking for a property with land so that when the time comes my boy can come home with me to retire ('you're actually buying a house for your horse!' lol) but I would never let him go just in case he ended up in the wrong hands, he has been such a wonderful servant to me and his owner before me and he deserves to live out his days in certainty and love.
 

Nicnac

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Yes. I bought my first horse when she was 18 (I'd known and ridden her for a few years). She was amazing and we had 7 years of fun together until she dropped dead in the field. Great way to go for her!
 
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Absolutely yes, but only if I was quite confident about the history, in terms of soundness and also workload. I think if a horse makes it to 18+ without any recurring issues then that's a solid horse who's got a good shot at staying sound for a good while yet! We all know you can't protect yourself from soundness/health issues just by buying a younger horse.
 

Nudibranch

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I bought a 16yo as a spare hack/something for OH to ride. She was super. You do need to be aware of arthritis, PPID etc but as long as you're not wanting to push them they can often be managed well. They can have a lot to offer in terms of experience.
For kids ponies I only ever look for something older!
 

Leandy

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For hacking yes I'd buy late teens but probably not into the 20's. But as others have said, only if I could afford to retire it as and when necessary. So it would depend how tight the finances were. There is always a risk that one ends up with an unworkable and unsaleable horse when you buy at whatever age but obviously with an older one this will happen sooner or later. If I could afford only one horse, then I would look for something younger.
 

Sussexbythesea

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Yes definitely as long as I didn’t think my ambitions would change and that it would be their last home. My WB is 26yrs hacked 4 days a week and full of it. Touch wood no cushings and not on anything anti-inflammatory wise other than Buteless. Could change tomorrow but I’ll enjoy it as long as I can. I did buy a second horse 2.5yrs ago with the intention of doing more but for various reasons including time and money he’s currently just happy hacking too!
 

ownedbyaconnie

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for that kind of work definitely! As others have said I think a lot more can go wrong with a younger horse, if it's made it to late teens/early 20's and still sound then it's obvs been treated well/made of solid stuff!

But I would be buying it knowing that it would have a home for life with me and if I couldn't afford to retire it and have another riding horse then I'd be going without a riding horse.
 

Gloi

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I was given the chance to have a pony of mine given back to me in his late teens and he was doing long hacks with no trouble until he was 28 when he was retired due to a field injury, then PTS at 30 when his teeth failed. I'd be happy to take on an older horse for hacking if he was still sound and the right price.
 

SOS

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I wouldn’t buy a horse for that work as it’s not what I’m interested in but I would buy a mid teens horse with experience eventing or hunting if it was a school master I could have fun on. I would weigh up the purchase cost of the horse vs immediate satisfaction.

i.e
I could buy a 4 year old for £££££ and it never gets me around say a novice. Yet I spend lots of money on it.
Or I could buy a 15 year old who’s evented to a high level and will take me round one by the end of the season for ££££. Even if I only get one season it may be worth the money.

Obviously either horse could break at any time and an older one may be more likely too but it would be a cost:risk for getting a horse that’s ready to go.

Id also be prepared to retire horse at grass or loan to a hacking home or fully be prepared to make the decision to PTS if in best interest of the horse.
 

Hackback

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No, not in my current situation. We already have one oldie. We got him when he was 13 and he's now mid 20s. He has navicular and arthritis but is perfectly happy being a field ornament one one bute a day. He's so healthy otherwise that I couldn't have him pts but he costs a fortune on livery and is showing no signs of intending to die any time soon! I know horses can go wrong at any age but the risk increases with age I feel.
 
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