From the Ed­i­tor

Horse & Rider - - Contents - You can reach Jen­nifer Paul­son at jpaul­son@aim­me­dia.com.

WHEN BOB AVILA pulled Juarez Whiz out of the stall to pho­to­graph for this month’s Win­ning In­sights on car­ing for the se­nior per­for­mance horse (page 36), I was puz­zled. How was I go­ing to tell Bob—ex­pert on all things per­for­mance horse—that we couldn’t use a geld­ing that wasn’t any older than 8 in the se­nior photo shoot? I mean, yes, tech­ni­cally, in the arena, “JW” com­petes at the se­nior level—that is, horses age 6 and older. But he couldn’t be a se­nior, gen­er­ally a horse over 15 years of age.

I searched for a tact­ful way to raise my ques­tion. Bob chooses each horse specif­i­cally for each topic dur­ing our an­nual shoot; but why would he pick a non-se­nior for this piece? Did I mis­com­mu­ni­cate the topic? “Wow, Bob, he looks great,” I said, then stut­tered, “how old did you say he is again?” “He’ll be 16,” Bob replied. My jaw hit the floor. No way was this shiny, fit, well-mus­cled, down­right youth­ful geld­ing old enough to be a se­nior. But I should’ve known bet­ter. Not just be­cause Bob knows his stuff, but be­cause everything about se­nior horses, how we care for them, and the longevity of their lives is evolv­ing.

CHANG­ING VIEWS

The stereo­type of the se­nior horse as the sway­backed pas­ture or­na­ment has been, well, largely put out to pas­ture. Yes, there are re­tirees who en­joy R&R on acres of green grass and mosey from pad­dock to wa­ter tank, then take a nap. If your horse is ready for this life phase, you’ll want to turn to page 56 to read our step-by-step process for choos­ing an ex­cel­lent re­tire­ment fa­cil­ity. There’s def­i­nitely a time in ev­ery horse’s life for that level of pam­per­ing, care, and rest.

But we con­sis­tently read and write about horses per­form­ing well into their teens…20s…and yes, some­times even 30s. Take “Still Go­ing Strong” from the July 2016 is­sue, which high­lighted Bald N Shiney, then 22 years old, and his re­turn to the show pen af­ter his own­ers de­cided re­tire­ment just didn’t agree with the spry horse. Or “Se­niors That Still Have It,” from last year’s se­nior is­sue, where we shared the sto­ries of six horses, ages 17 to 28, that lead ac­tive lives as les­son mounts, trail com­pan­ions, and show-pen win­ners.

Even in my own horse life, I never thought my kids would still be rid­ing Old Paint into his third decade. But thanks to new ways of think­ing and close at­ten­tion to se­niors’ needs—nu­tri­tion­ally, phys­i­cally, and men­tally—Old Paint and horses younger and older than he lead ful­fill­ing, ac­tive lives. HOW CARE PLAYS A ROLE Cold, wet win­ter weather keeps Old Paint on my mind, and I’m sure you spend more time think­ing about your se­nior horse’s care this time of year, too. We pay close at­ten­tion to hair coats and ribs, check that their drink­ing wa­ter is warm enough, en­sure that they’re eat­ing, and man­age blan­ket­ing as nec­es­sary. It’s all stuff we think about with our younger horses, but with a lit­tle more vig­i­lance for our older equines.

On top of at-home main­te­nance, ad­vances in feeds and ve­teri­nary care play piv­otal roles in our horses’ longevity. Con­tribut­ing vet­eri­nar­ian Barb Crabbe lists five of those se­nior-horse game-chang­ers be­gin­ning on page 44.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR SUPER SE­NIOR

Our “Gal­lop Poll” (page 16) con­firms our re­search that most of you own some pretty fan­tas­tic se­nior horses. We want to hear about them! Send us pho­tos, share your sto­ries, and tell us what you’re do­ing to take ex­tra care of your se­nior mounts. We’ll share some of these let­ters and pho­tos in up­com­ing is­sues. You can send them to the email ad­dress be­low. 

Not all se­nior horse feeds are cre­ated equal. And no one knows that bet­ter than 31-year-old Boo. He was al­ways an easy keeper. But at age 25, his den­tal con­di­tion had de­clined to the point that he no longer was get­ting the nu­tri­ents he needed out of his win­ter hay. He quickly dropped over 100 lbs. For­tu­nately, three months on Pu­rina Equine Se­nior Horse Feed got him back to his orig­i­nal weight. Now, he’s still teach­ing of a pro­pri­etary pre­bi­otic, Ac­tivAge, to sup­port his ag­ing im­mune sys­tem. But don’t take our word for it. Let Boo do all the talk­ing.

It’s true: 30 is the new 20! Thanks to ma­jor ad­vances in se­nior-horse care, horses like Juarez Whiz (above) can live long, ac­tive lives.

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