Horse & Hound

Golden oldies

- Sarah Jenkins Editor-in-Chief

IT is wonderful to discover horses refusing to retire – and those giving their riders the best of times in their twilight years – in our veteran special features this week (p30).

I’m not for a moment suggesting we start selling on older horses – we owe it to them to keep them in the manner to which they have become accustomed until they are no longer comfortabl­e in that manner, at which point we owe it to them to give them a dignified end. But it is utterly wonderful to see those owners who have kept their horses in fine condition rewarded, and continuing to find enjoyment in riding and caring for them in their later years. From the 30-something ponies still teaching Pony Club children the ropes and the hunters as happy in the field now as they were in their teens, to the eventers growing old disgracefu­lly, they are all precious in their own way.

It is interestin­g to consider when we would label a horse a veteran now – versus 10 or 20 years ago. I think of the name of the feed 16-plus and contemplat­e that you still get 16-yearolds going to the Olympics. And should Tokyo run, I wonder if we’ll see proportion­ally more “veterans” there in 2021 than at previous championsh­ips, a few having been carefully managed with the target in mind and nurtured through 2020 with an easy year.

Vets remind us of the advances in medicine that are keeping horses fit and well for longer – and not only with a view to keeping them in competitio­n, but simply enjoying life and having an active purpose where possible.

Here’s to all those golden oldies, who are still bringing so much joy.

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