Tuesday, August 07, 2012


For those of you who don't read comments on blogs, here is the slightly sour comment that I received on my last post -

"Anonymous said...

Let me see if I understand..

Your senior horse, who worked his tail off for you, is sore, is hurting, is uncomfortable..

and you still had someone riding and showing him?

Please justify for me (and everyone else) why this is "ok", especially in a world where FEI disqualifies a horse/rider because the horse had a small abrasion..."

A few points for you, Anonymous -

#1 - My vet told me not to stop working this horse, even if he seems a little sore. He has arthritis in his left rear fetlock, and most likely other areas. For him to just stand around is a bad thing. I asked him if I should just walk him, but he said that letting him get out of condition would not be a good thing either. His recommendation was to reduce his workload, and bute him when he gets sore, which he said may become more common. After all, humans have daily aches and pains as they age, but it doesn't mean we want to stop doing what we love. And this horse loves to work. I never ever push him if he feels off.

#2 - I appreciate the fact that you feel sympathy for Kaswyn, and you feel like you need to stand up and defend him. However, you don't know me, you don't know him, and you don't know our relationship. I've had him for 18 years and I know him very well. I'm doing what I feel is right for him, which is light work 3 times a week and turnout the other days. That's hardly a grueling training schedule.

#3 - If you have bothered to look at the other posts and videos on my blog, you'll see that Kaswyn has been showing Introductory and Training Levels AT SCHOOLING SHOWS. Kaswyn is not showing FEI anymore. He's not asked to collect, or bear unnecessary weight behind, or to do strenuous work. Please have a look at this video, and tell me: do you really think that he looks sore, is hurting, or is uncomfortable?

Ears are forward (not pinned), plenty of energy (not acting like he doesn't want to go), tail relaxed (not swishing except at flies, not wringing). The judge didn't ring him out, so she didn't think he looked lame or sore. In fact they got a 63%. Pretty good if you ask me.

#4 - You certainly have a right to your opinion. I respect that. What I don't respect is posting a comment anonymously that criticizes anyone. It's a cowardly act. Next time I hope you have the courage to sign your name and stand up for what you believe in. Like I just did.


Judi said...

I'm in a similar position that you are. My 25-year-old doesn't always move like he should. I like to call it an "irregular gait." The vet said the worst thing I could do is stop riding him. Cruiser will tell me when he doesn't want to go anymore. We just go shorter distances at slower speeds.

Anyone who criticized you probably doesn't have any experience with Arabians, too. Arabians don't want to quit! They are happiest if they still have a job and all the attention that goes with it.

V. Viola said...

DM, Thank you for posting this example. In the world of caring for large, fragile domesticated animals, there is plenty of ignorant scrutiny. There is always more to the story as much as there can be something to learn. I continue to love learning from all of your experiences. Keep up the great work!

Val said...

Kaswyn looks like a happy horse to me. Horses are pretty good at telling us what they do and do not want to do. Clearly, you and Kaswyn have good communication.

I know a person who thinks all horses should be retired from riding at 15 years of age. Since my horse turns 15 in March, that would mean that he is nearly finished with his riding days. I am pretty sure he would revolt and break into the tack room if I "retired" him. The entire horse must be considered when making such a decision, not just a number.

McFawn said...

Good for you. Letting a senior horse with Kaswyn's set of issues just sit would be inhumane--this is preserving work.

East Bound said...

I recently had some bad replies to a post on COTH. Was told I should retire my 23yo horse that i've owned for 13 years for no other reason than he's old and i've ridden him for 13 years. I don't think many people out there understand whats best for a senior horse's mind and body.....

Monique said...

There is nothing more aging for a horse than not working anymore. Work is relative to age, so you don't work a 25 year old the way you work a 10 year old. But moving and age appropriate work keeps them young and healthy. It also keeps them part of your herd, which I believe is very important to them as well. So good luck, we are all striving to do the best for our horses. And we make decisions based on what we think is best. The owners knows his/her horse best. Keep him moving and keep him healthy.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you, Sheri! I HATE it when people make comments without knowing all of the facts.

My senior horse is 28, and he still LOVES to be ridden. All 3 of my vets have told me NOT TO STOP riding him, but lighten his workload. I show him at Training 1, at schooling shows, if I do show him at all. Otherwise, he gets exercised a couple of days a week, and he feels great.

What some people forget is that older horses still need to MOVE, to keep their joints lubed up and tendons/ligaments strong. Their muscles need to be kept in shape, so support their weight (which isn't as easy as they get older). The old guys need to work their abs, to keep their backs up and strong. Standing in a stall, doing nothing, and being babied does NOTHING for the oldies' bodies OR minds! Shoot...when I'm old, I don't want to stop moving around and doing things, and just hole up in my house!

Since I don't have a Google account, and don't comment on posts often, I'm gonna sign this in as "anonymous". However, my name is Shannon. :)

Enginerd said...

I too have an arab - he's pushing 17.

What I have seen is that they LOVE to work - they LOVE having a job. simply "turning them out to pasture" is not something that most of the show Arab's I've seen would enjoy. They are too used to be fussed over, and too used to being asked to work and then preen when they do a good job.

Some folks don't get that. I don't know if its primarily a breed thing, or not, but there are quite a few horses that need work to seem "happy."

My trainer has an FEI warmblood who is 22 - he becomes an tyrant and clearly unhappy if he's not taken out and worked - preferably under saddle. She still does tempis on him, and right now, I Think she's limiting his work when he's truly feeling good to a third level collection, but mostly, he needs to get out and move, and I think he resents it when she just turns him out instead of spending time with him, "going dancing."

Good on you.

Like I said - some folks don't have the experience of having a horse that Loves having a job.


Jenflex said...

Sheri, the other thing that you are doing for Kaswyn that I think is really cool is he is getting to be a teacher. My daughter and I lease a 21-year-old "schoolmaster" and I truly believe he enjoys the teaching aspect of his work with us...and it's such a great way to learn.

Equine SS said...

Looks like a healthy, happy senior! And so lucky to have an owner that knows what they need. It would be great if all older horses were that fortunate.

Anonymous said...

I really do not understand people comments online, with out having any physical evidence or expertise they just make opinionated views. I really think keeping older horse mentally and physically active is really important to their health. Keep up the good work

Anything Equine

Urbancowgrrl said...

Yeah - don't even bother justifying to people like that. You're right, they don't know you, they don't know your vet and they don't know your horse. When my senior horse had such bad arthritis that I couldn't ride her anymore at all and it was getting much worse living in a stall, I put an ad on craigslist looking for a place she could live where she was in a pasture 24/7. There is no place like that for her anywhere near my house so I was looking for somewhere she could be a babysitter or pasture pet and I would keep paying for food, vet, farrier, etc. I got the nastiest email saying I was horrible and throwing away my horse because she wasn't useful anymore from someone who wouldn't sign their name either. The internet brings out the self-righteous and rude, I tell ya. Btw - I did find a wonderful situation for my senior horse and she is doing MUCH better living in a pasture full time with another horse. She put on weight, is less stiff and is very happy and I get to see her about once a week (because she's kind of far away)

Urbancowgrrl said...

@East Bound - good lord! Retire a healthy horse at 23??? My daughter rides a 28 year old horse right now. Granted she is ridden very lightly, but she loves it when my daughter comes out to ride. I think horses are like people - if you take away all their sense of purpose and all their "work" they get depressed and suffer.

Anonymous said...

Humans should exercise as they get older. Why is it different for horses? Am I supposed to lock my aging patents up now? Forbid them exercising because it's inhumane?

I recently saw a 28 year old Arab at a schooling show with a younger rider. The horse looked very happy, relaxed, and adorable.

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