Normally, I enjoy talking about positive subjects, keeping the material light and fun, and teaching some sort of lesson (usually based on my own experience).
But today I want to talk about something that happened that is not so positive and may be a touchy subject for some. It is something that is near and dear to my heart and I want to talk about “what NOT to do”.
The subject is Senior Horses.
I was recently looking at a Facebook horse group discussion that I’m a member of and was shocked at some of the responses people were giving this one person. And I realized that age discrimination isn’t just about humans.
This person had put up a video of her riding her horse and was just saying that she was happy to be spending time with her horse. It was a very happy, simple, positive post.
She was a woman over 50 and she was riding her horse who was over 30. She and her horse were both in good health, they weren’t doing anything strenuous, and they were just happy together.
It was only a quick, under a minute, video. You could see that the horse was happy being ridden bareback and without a bridle and they were only going at a slow walk in a safe grassy area. It was very sweet.
There were a few nice responses about how good her horse looked and how sweet they were together. They obviously had a great relationship and they loved each other.
Then the nasty posts started.
- Someone said that she needed riding lessons as her seat was wrong (she was bareback and relaxed and was doing this for fun, not a show)
- Someone said that her horse was too old to be ridden (the horse looked healthy enough and obviously was enjoying the experience)
- Someone said that her horse was crippled (the horse had some arthritis and an old injury that was being managed, but was far from being ‘crippled’)
- Someone else said that she was an idiot and didn’t know anything about horses since she didn’t see that her horse was injured. (Name-calling is never acceptable and if they had asked her, they would have found out that she knew he had been injured, that she had taken care of it, and that she had received the ok to ride from a vet.)
OMG! The comments were so cruel to both the owner and her horse.
No one asked her any background on her horse, no one asked her about her story, no one asked ANY questions… they only bashed without understanding or care, viciously.
It turns out that her horse had arthritis and was sickle hocked, but was in good health, especially for a senior horse. Her horse had been injured in the stifle early on in his life by a nasty kick and was further injured by “poor training” before he even reached 1 year old.
She rescued this horse and had taken exceptional care of him so that despite his injuries he could live the life of a ‘horse’, happy, healthy, and loved beyond belief. No one or no horse could ever ask for anything more in life than that! We are all lucky and blessed to find that in a human or a horse.
So, back to the video. All she was doing was posting how happy she was and sharing her and her horse’s loving relationship. What she received was a few niceties, but mainly hurtful, ignorant comments from people that never asked her, or cared to ask, about her or her horse. They assumed she didn’t know AND they assumed they knew better.
You know the saying about what happens when you assume something…
Anyway, she had never received so many bad comments about her horse and many of them said her horse was too old for this or that.
She had a comment saying she should give her “old” horse away and get a younger horse and even had a comment telling her to “put her horse down” because of his age.
She couldn’t believe how badly people were talking about her horse just because he was “old”.
It was sad to hear that so many horse people out there that were willing to discriminate against “old” horses, even talk about putting them down, or just giving them up when they became a senior horse. That is a real sore spot with me.
What is “too old”? Some people think 28 is too old, but there is a 40-year-old Arabian at my barn. Age is relative. It should be about the horse’s quality of life and the health of a horse, not their age.
I am a strong believer that when you get a horse, you are together forever. It is a responsibility, a commitment, and a blessing. So, you should make sure to be thorough when you are looking to get a horse and do your research to find the right horse for you.
You also have to know and understand that they will get older and they will need more care. Your horse is a part of your family and just as important. You wouldn’t give your grandmother away because she is old or sick, so why is it so easy to do with a horse?
I’m not trying to chastise anyone for making that tough decision. I know and understand that sometimes it’s not possible when there is financial hardship or the horse is just not the right match for the owner. And for the sake of the horse, sometimes it is better for the horse to go to a different owner who can take better care of him or her for a multitude of reasons.
I’m just talking about this one particular situation.
I have been called the “crazy horse lady” by a few friends because they know that I will feed my horses before I feed myself. They just don’t understand me, as the ones that have said this are not “horse” people.
And that is not just ‘talk’. At the worst part of my life when I was down and out… I moved into a room in the barn where I was boarding my horse. It was a stall in the barn that had been converted into a very small room with a cot and a dresser. I was very thankful the barn room was available and it actually was nice living with my horses. Plus, at that time I did a lot of fasting as I fed my horses before myself. But, that’s a whole other story for another time.
My horses have always come first, as would any of my family. I would, and have, done anything to make sure they had the best care.
I now have two senior horses and love them to death. I will be there until the end for them. If you have senior horses as well, I applaud your dedication and love for your horse and wish you the best with their care. You can always reach out to me if you have questions about caring for a senior horse.
If you are on a horse Facebook group, I ask that you PLEASE –
- Be a hater online
- Assume you know someone else’s horse or their situation without asking
- Give up on your horse or someone else’s horse just because they are ‘old’
- Be kind and understand there is always a story behind a picture or a video
- Be grateful to have a horse in your life, no matter what age they are
- Care for your horse like you would a family member with love and understanding
In case you were wondering… the lady in the Facebook Group I mentioned with the senior horse…
That was me and the horse was Jazz.