Do you own a veteran horse? A much-loved old stager of the equine world? Read on for nine problems which you’re likely to be all too familiar with...
1. However frequently you call the dentist, his teeth aren’t what they were. Eating a meal takes HOURS. Get your OAP used to being ridden before breakfast rather than after — else it’s practically midday before he’s ready.
2. You spend a lot of time, particularly in the winter, wondering if he’s fat enough and taking and comparing pictures. I mean, he should be fat enough — he eats most of your salary every month, but wait, are those his ribs? Is he going downhill? Will this winter be his last?
3. Meanwhile a lot of that expensive food seems to come back out the other end, often in less than solid form. His digestion isn’t quite top notch any more. You spend nearly as much time washing the back end as shovelling food into the front end.
4. Grazes. You can give him the thickest bed in the world, but getting up is tough for oldies and they tend to have scrapes on the elbows and hocks.
5. He knows all the rides and what pace you go where. Don’t even try to trot where you usually walk or walk where you usually canter. It really isn’t worth the fight.
6. He’s a little bit deaf. If you arrive early to deliver breakfast and he’s not in his usual field corner, you can’t attract his attention by banging a bucket — you have to actually go and fetch him.
7. Also, this means that man and dog in the bushes in your hack come as a surprise once he spots them. And he’s still more than capable of whipping round/leaping sideways to express his shock at their appearance.
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8. He’s really really bony. Never ride him bareback. And you have to get your saddle re-flocked frequently and/or use a big thick sheepskin pad under it.
9. He grows a thick winter coat and seems reluctant to get rid of it — even if he doesn’t suffer from Cushing’s. I mean, why do you think I’m going to stop rugging you? I’ve rugged you for 18 years! Why would I stop now?