Cheers to the Senior Horse
Recently, my cousin sent her horse, Helga, to stay with me for awhile. Helga is a 19-year-old Canadian Horse who has done a little of everything and loves to be in work. My cousin, a busy realtor in Vermont, has a lot on her plate and knew that she wouldn’t have time to keep Helga going, especially through the winter. So in an effort to keep the mare sound and happy, she asked if my daughter and I would like to keep her in work—a job we readily agreed to. Having previously owned an older horse, I know how important it is to their wellness to keep them moving.
This month we focus on the senior dressage horse in a few of our stories. First, we share the story of the Olympic horse named Granat in “An Unlikely Champion” on p. 32. Swiss Olympian Christine Stückelberger and her former trainer, the late Georg Wahl, who had been chief rider at the Spanish Riding School (SRS) in Vienna, Austria, found Granat as a 4-year-old. The Holsteiner gelding had a heavy build, a complex mind and proved to be a challenge to train. But with time and patience, he and Stückelberger went on to win at the Olympics and World Championships before his retirement from competition at almost 18 years of age. After that, he continued as a schoolmaster before he was euthanized at the age of 24.
Another horse featured this month is Donnerluck (“Donner”), a Rheinlander gelding who, after being a successful FEI horse, fell into a rescue situation. Fortunately, a young girl saw his potential and brought him home. After some difficult training hurdles, the Young Rider went on to earn her USDF gold medal on the horse. Today, Donner is retired from competition but at 24 still enjoys performing two-tempi changes and going for a good gallop. Read “My Diamond in the Rough” on p. 52.
Smart equine management is key to keeping older horses like Granat and Donner happy and healthy. In “9 Tips to Keep Your Senior Dressage Horse Competitive,” we hear from three experts on how they manage the older horse’s training and health care. Correct basic training, a varied routine and proper joint and hoof maintenance are just a part of the process. You can read the full story on p. 40.
Our cover story comes from U.S. Olympian Kathleen Raine, shown riding her 17-year-old Hanoverian mare, Breanna. Raine discusses the importance of suppleness and offers several exercises to help achieve it. She says, “Correct basic training includes suppleness right from the beginning because the horse needs to learn how to use his body, no matter what level he is doing.” Read more starting on p. 26.
Finally, last month we incorrectly identified a rider on p. 38 of the Carl Hester article. The correct information is Brittany Murphy riding the 4-year-old gelding Flirt.
Until next time,