How Old Can A Horse Be Ridden? (Solution)

As a general rule, most horses should stop being ridden between 20 to 25 years old. Any horse, no matter their age, still requires a decent amount of exercise.

How old do horses need to be to ride?

  • As a general rule, most horses should stop being ridden between 20 to 25 years old. Any horse, no matter their age, still requires a decent amount of exercise.

Can a 30 year old horse be ridden?

It’s easy to undervalue the older horse that reaches 20, 25, 30 years, or even more. Sometimes riders are quick to retire them or find new owners. But the reality is those horses can be rewarding to ride and also make great companions as they age.

How old can you start riding a horse?

On average, it’s safe to introduce a horse to a rider at the age of four. That’s not to say equipment and ground work shouldn’t be done younger. In fact, it’s advisable to give your horse a solid foundation before even thinking about adding a rider. Your horse’s workload can increase at the age of five.

Can you ride a 3 year old horse?

Well then, can 3-year-olds ride a horse? A 3-year-old can sit on a horse in movement but will rarely be able to ride independently. At this age, neither their skeleton, balance, muscle coordination nor their attention spans are fully developed, and these are all important elements of horseback riding.

Is a 17 year old horse too old to buy?

Most experts agree a horse can be considered geriatric when he reaches 18 to 20 years of age.

Do horses get tired of being ridden?

they do get tired, but their endurance capabilities are similar to ours if we manage their gait properly. walking is pretty low calorie, but trotting is at the most efficient.

Can you learn to ride a horse at 50?

Can adults learn horse riding? Absolutely. Your learning experience will probably look a little different than if you’d learnt to ride as a child though.

Can a beginner break a horse?

Most trainers wait for a horse to be two years old before trying to break it. However, it will depend on several factors, including horse temperament and breed. In other words, you need to wait until your horse fully grows and develops before starting breaking it.

At what age do horses knees close?

The knees, in most breeds of horses, close between eighteen and twenty-four months of age in a horse. Closure of the knee is one indicator people use to decide if a horse is ready for training.

When should I stop riding my horse?

Some horses have physical conditions or diseases that require an early retirement. Other horses can be ridden late into their life without issues. As a general rule, most horses should stop being ridden between 20 to 25 years old.

Can you ride a 4 year old horse?

In general, with proper supervision, kids can start riding a (smaller) horse or a pony as young as 2-3 years old. Some schools do offer courses for toddlers as the earlier a child gets introduced to a horse, the easier it becomes to be comfortable around them.

How long can a horse live?

I would never work a 2yr old. This is because, in my experience, horses cope better with physical work when trained when their skeletal frame is closer to maturity – and are less prone to injury.

Can you ride a 2 year old horse?

Most breeds of horses are broken to ride when they are between two and three years old. It is important to wait until this age because the joints need to develop enough to support the weight of the rider. Horses that are broken too early can wind up having joint problems and soundness issues as they age.

What is the best age horse to buy?

How Much Does Age Matter? The ideal horse for first-time horse buyers is probably 10-20 years old. Younger horses generally aren’t quiet and experienced enough for a first-time horse owner. Horses can live to 30 years plus with good care, so don’t exclude older horses from your search.

How Old Is Too Old To Ride A Horse?

Every horse owner wishes for their horses to be able to live out their senior years in luxury and with their companions. However, it is difficult to predict when the “golden years” will begin. More precisely, it might be difficult to determine when your horse is no longer fit to be ridden. So the issue is, at what age do you stop being able to ride a horse? Communication with your veterinarian, as well as obtaining regular visits from your veterinarian, are essential in all procedures involving geriatric horses.

When it comes to stopping horseback riding, there are several factors to consider, including the age at which it is most prevalent, some typical signals that it is time to quit horseback riding, and certain techniques that may be used to determine when it is time to stop horseback riding.

How Old Is Too Old To Ride A Horse: Age a Horse Can Be Ridden

Most horses can be ridden for the bulk of their lives if they are properly trained. In most cases, horses are begun under saddle between the ages of 4 and 5 years old. And, if all goes according to plan, they should be able to ride until they are in their late twenties or early thirties, if not later. It goes without saying that there are certain outliers to this general age range. Some trainers like to begin training their horses while they are as young as 4 or 5 years old. Some horses suffer career-ending injuries before they reach the age of twenty and must be retired from riding as a result.

How Long Can You Ride A Horse

Except in the case of accidents, the length of time a horse may be ridden is frequently determined by the amount of training and riding it receives over the course of its career. For example, horses that leap at high heights in their formative years are more likely than horses that jump at lower heights until they mature to have joint weakening and discomfort sooner in life. There are many different examples of this, but the basic line is that a horse’s body, like a human’s body, can only withstand so much wear and tear before it becomes unfit for further use.

Those who are subjected to it at a high intensity for a short length of time are more likely to get physically exhausted in a shorter period of time.

How Old Is Too Old To Ride A Horse

In this video on when to retire senior horses, Dr. Gray from SmartPak explains that no magic number exists when it comes to retiring senior horses.

When it comes to deciding when to retire your horses, there is no magic number to follow, just as there is no magic number to follow when deciding when to stop riding your horse. However, there are several typical indicators to look out for that might assist you in making these judgments.

How Old Is Too Old To Ride A Horse: When To Retire

First and first, you must become acquainted with your horse, learning what he enjoys and dislikes, as well as what he is accustomed to and what would be unusual for him to encounter. Horses, like people, flourish when they are given a schedule and a routine to follow. Understanding what your horse appreciates and what he is accustomed to is a useful tool in determining when he is no longer interested in certain activities. For example, a senior horse may have a habit of meeting its owner at the stall door when it realizes it is time to go for a ride.

  • This conduct might be an indication that the horse is no longer enjoying its current job duties.
  • However, the actions all point to a common characteristic: the horse no longer likes or finds pleasure in whatever duty it is assigned to perform.
  • They can also indicate that a horse’s schedule or program may need to be adjusted, depending on the circumstances of the scenario.
  • The decision to retire a horse from riding owing to its advanced age is reached in consultation with the horse, the owner, and the veterinarian.

Helpful Practices

Several things may be done to protect or maintain your senior horse, which will allow you to ride him for longer periods of time and therefore extend your riding years with him. By following these guidelines, there is a larger possibility that your horse will not have to retire from riding as soon as you may imagine.

Vet Checks

Always, always make sure that your horse receives routine veterinary care, even if he is not yet considered a senior citizen. Vets can prescribe a variety of methods and items that can aid in the preservation and maintenance of your horse’s health. Vets will always be more knowledgeable about horse health than we are, and listening to them and taking their advice can help to lengthen a horse’s riding career.


Changing the feed or adding particular vitamins to the horse’s diet is something that veterinarians may propose, especially for elderly horses. Senior grains are available in a variety of varieties from companies such as Tribute, Triple Crown, and Nutrena, among others. These grains can aid in the weight increase of elderly horses, the prevention of ulcers, and a variety of other benefits that ordinary grains cannot provide. There are also a variety of supplements available to assist in the maintenance of geriatric horses.

Joint supplements, hoof-strengthening supplements, and coat-health supplements are just a few of the options available. There are many different forms of these supplements, and your veterinarian can advise you on which types and which brands would be the most beneficial for your horse’s health.


The importance of turnout time should never be understated, especially with older horses. For a variety of reasons, many individuals choose to keep their senior horses indoors more, either because they feel the seniors are more delicate or because they believe they have less energy to burn off. However, these are not valid reasons to confine horses to a stall.| The more elderly horses are given the freedom to wander around, the more comfortable they will be overall. They may not be galloping, bucking, and playing like the horses in the 4-year-old paddock, but they will be moving about and extending their muscles.


It can be quite tough to make the decision to no longer ride your senior horse. However, if you pay close attention and listen carefully, your horse will tell you when it is appropriate to ride. Your horse’s physical and medical history, as well as how well they have been cared for and maintained, all have a role in determining how long they will live. I hope this post has given you a better understanding of when it is appropriate to quit riding your horse! Please spread the word about this post and share your own experiences making decisions about older horses in the comments section.


“Old Billy” was the name given to the horse who lived the longest of all time. Old Billy was born in 1760 and lived until his death on November 27, 1822, at the age of 62, when he was 62 years old. He worked as a working barge horse on the canals of England for the most of his life. Old Billy belonged to Edward Robinson of Woolston, Leicester, England, who was the owner of the horse. Old Billy was claimed to be entirely blind and deaf at the time of his death, yet he was still able to move and eat on his own at the time of his death.

One explanation is that he was never gelded, which allowed him to maintain high levels of vitality throughout his life.

Even though there have been other horses who have survived into their 50s, Old Billy was by far the oldest of the bunch.

It’s incredible to think about it.

What is an average lifespan of a horse?

Generally speaking, horses have a life expectancy of around 25-30 years. There are, however, a variety of factors that might influence a horse’s life expectancy. A horse’s lifetime can be shortened by a variety of factors, including: – malnutrition or poor nutrition – lack of exercise The exposure to potentially dangerous environmental variables, such as contaminants or severe weather conditions. Damage to one’s body or health difficulties – Infectious illnesses are a type of sickness that spreads through the body.

Can older horses be trained?

Elderly horses may be trained and taught new skills, however they may progress at a slower pace than younger equines. When teaching a senior horse that has never rode before at the age of 15 or 20, it will take them longer to master the same abilities as when training a senior horse who has ridden from the age of 5. Senior horses, on the other hand, may still be trained and taught new skills! Senior horses are typically calm and eager to work, despite the fact that they may not learn as rapidly as younger horses.

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Additionally, mature horses tend to have a greater grasp of their environment and are less prone to be afraid or disturbed than their younger counterparts.

Always keep in mind that older horses have a wealth of life experience to share, so don’t be disheartened if they don’t pick up on things as soon as you’d like them to.

What health issues can arise from riding an old horse?

Riding an aging horse can result in a number of health problems, which are listed below. There are several of these: – Joint disorders, such as arthritis – Back and neck pain – Muscle exhaustion – Dizziness – Dizziness – Dizziness In order to prevent these potential health risks when riding an older horse, it’s necessary to be aware of them and take efforts to avoid them. For example, if your senior horse is beginning to exhibit indications of arthritis, you may want to refrain from engaging in rigorous activities such as jumping or galloping on the horse.

Always use a saddle that is correctly suited to your horse, and be sure to adjust the stirrup lengths accordingly.

If you notice that your senior horse is becoming fatigued easily while out on a ride, consider reducing the pace until their stamina improves a little.

How Old Does a Horse Have to Be Before Saddle Breaking?

Photographs courtesy of IJupiterimages/ Images If you have a young horse, you are most likely looking forward to the day when you will be able to ride him. In the long run, breaking a young horse too early can result in soundness issues later in life, while waiting too long might result in a horse that is difficult to teach. It is critical to collaborate with your trainer and veterinarian in order to assess when your horse is ready to be ridden again.

The Average Horse

Young horses should not be ridden hard until they have physically grown to the point where they can safely bear a lot of weight on their back. When a horse is roughly 2 years old, this will happen in the majority of the breeds.

Some trainers like to begin teaching a horse when he is a late yearling, which means he is between 18 and 24 months old, while others prefer to wait until the horse is 2 1/2 years old before beginning training with him.

Physical Development

It is critical that you do not ride a horse whose knees have not yet fully closing, regardless of its age or condition. As a consequence, if the horses’ knees have not closed completely, it signifies that the knees have not fully matured and as a result, the horse’s joints are very prone to harm that can occur as a result of exerting excessive pressure on the joints. Equine riders who ride their horses too early risk causing joint injury and affecting their overall soundness for the remainder of their lives.

Breaking Your Horse

Your veterinarian will be able to tell you whether or not your horse is physically prepared to be saddled and ridden at this point. Once your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead, you’ll need to spend some time training your horse to accept the saddle and bridle you’ve purchased. Over the course of several days or weeks, the horse is progressively introduced to the various pieces of riding equipment, one at a time. After your horse has accepted the equipment, your horse trainer will mount your horse and instruct him on how to accept a rider on the back of his neck.

Breed of Horse

Some horse breeds develop sooner or later than the typical horse, depending on the breed. Thoroughbreds reach maturity at a significantly earlier age than quarter horses and other closely related breeds. They are taught to ride from the time they are 18 months old, and by the time they are 2 years old, they are ready to compete. It is possible that warmbloods and draft horses will not be broken to ride or pull carts until they are 3 to 4 years old since they grow later than the normal horse. References Photographic Credits Biography of the AuthorJen Davis has been writing professionally since 2004.

Davis graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, with a Bachelor of Arts in communication with a specialization in journalism in 2012.

When Is Your Horse Too Old for a Certain Activity?

According to my customer, “Cruzer is the most amazing horse I’ve ever owned.” “He’s sound, dependable, and he’s still winning every event he enters.” He’ll be 18 next year, though, and it’s past time to put him to bed. “I’m sure he’ll be missed.” What am I thinking, you could ask? Because he is getting older does not imply that it is time to call it quits. In fact, in recent years, we’ve seen horses as young as 21 years old compete effectively in the World Cup jumping competition. Apart from that, why not try allowing the horse to drop down to a less difficult role rather than entirely retiring him from service?

  • Then she’ll remark, “I think something is wrong with my horse.” “He’s just 24 years old, and he’s having trouble keeping up with the horses of my friends on trail rides,” I explain.
  • Can you tell us if there’s anything we can give him to help him get more energy?” “Hmmmmm,” I mutter.
  • “Perhaps he’s simply feeling his age?” After all, considering that every year of a horse’s life corresponds to around 3 or 4 human years, your 24-year-old horse is equivalent to a 72- to 96-year-old human.
  • Even if your 20-year-old horse is robust and healthy, he’s likely to have slowed down a little in his later years of life.
  • That issue cannot be answered just on the basis of one’s age, just as it cannot be answered in the same way for persons.
  • Then I’ll tell you five critical considerations to keep in mind when you’re thinking about reducing your horse’s labor demands—or maybe considering retiring him completely.
  • The Fundamentals of Aging Father Time has a way of catching up with everyone, no matter how hard we try, and your horse is no exception.

It is possible that your horse’s teeth contain a “reserve crown” beneath the gum line; this reserve slowly emerges to compensate for tooth surfaces that have been worn away as a result of his grinding his meal.

A consequence of this is that he’ll have a more difficult time swallowing his feed efficiently.

And it isn’t only a matter of his chewing ability that is putting a strain on his digestive system.

His inability to digest proteins can have far-reaching consequences, the most notable of which is muscular atrophy.

He may possibly have persistent diarrhea as a result of this.

If your horse is in discomfort, he is more likely to move about less, which can contribute to additional loss of strength and condition in your horse.

This pony was a cherished walk-trot mount for youngsters far into her 30s, proving that the definition of “too old” is decided as much by care, condition, and situation as it is by chronological age.

Finally, as your horse matures, his immune system becomes less efficient, leaving him more susceptible to infectious illnesses and excessive parasite burdens, among other things.

Cushing’s disease is thought to affect as much as 30% of horses over the age of 20 according to some estimates.

When a horse reaches the age of 18 to 20 years, the majority of specialists believe that he is considered geriatric.

A broad response is required to address this issue.

Think about each horse and his circumstances separately when deciding whether or not a horse is “too old?” to ride.

Question1: Is the level of performance still acceptable?

Have you noticed that your ancient trail horse is having difficulty keeping up with the others?

It may, however, be time to consider a different approach if your veterinarian discovers nothing wrong with your horse.For example, Dasher is a 20-year-old Quarter Horse gelding who has been a top barrel racer for several years.

During the previous season, on the other hand, he constantly improved his time by a second.

Is he too old to be a barrel horse at this point in his life?

However, it is possible that he is too old to compete at the highest level.

An excellent second career as a riding instructor for young riders or older amateurs may be envisioned for this former high-level competitor.

Your horse may have navicular-bone degeneration or a persistent high-suspensory-ligament injury, which may have been detected.

Although it is possible that he may live into his senior years, if his lameness has deteriorated to the point where it needs more regular care and medication, it may be time to retire.

For example, Trooper, a 22-year-old roping horse, suddenly became terribly lame in one of his hind legs and had to be put down.

Is he too elderly to expect a full recovery and a return to his previous employment?

As an elderly gentleman, he has earned the right to enjoy his retirement free of the stress of an ongoing plan to re-enter the workforce.

Your horse, who is 20 years old, does he appear glossy, plump, and content?

Is it easy for him to lose weight when you transport him great distances to events?

Depending on whether your horse is having difficulties maintaining his weight, it may be preferable to minimize his energy requirements by reducing his job demands.

After developing severe diarrhea, he has been forced to live on an elderly-formulated diet, which makes his ribs easily visible.

Is he too old to compete in endurance horse competitions any longer?

Expenditure of the amount of energy necessary to participate in endurance sports, even at the 25-mile level, will most likely be counterproductive if he is having difficulty maintaining his weight.

Question4: Do you have any additional medical concerns?

Chronic health problems can speed the aging process by many years.

Sinbad, an 18-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, has lately been diagnosed with chronic renal disease, as an illustration.

Sinbad’s veterinarian has suggested that keeping him well-hydrated is perhaps the most crucial factor to consider when it comes to safeguarding his health.

If he’s utilized really little, the answer is probably no­.

Not only that, but he need all of the calories he consumes in order to keep his weight under control.

Question5: Are you pleased to see you have arrived at the barn?

When you approach his stall, does he welcome you with a nicker, or does he pin his ears back and turn away from you?

If your horse is content and appreciates his work, it’s likely that he is not too old to continue working.

Suzy is a 37-year-old pony who is employed as a walk-and-trot mount in a therapeutic riding program, for example.

Pricked ears and a nicker are her trademark greetings for all of her young riders, and she trots around the ring joyfully with any of them on her back.

No way, not at all!

Old horses that have been well-cared for, such as those at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center, can enjoy second life as therapeutic mounts.

SIDEBAR My older mare is above the age of breeding.

The American Quarter Horse Association has records of a 42-year-old mare that gave birth to a healthy foal successfully.

Without a doubt, no.

The answer to the issue of “how old is too old” varies from mare to mare, just as it does with everything else.

(Of course, your mare would have to be in outstanding general health and condition in order to qualify for this.) Before you make the decision to breed your older mare, you need carefully examine two criteria.

Second, she has a higher chance of difficulties during pregnancy and foaling, including a potentially deadly rupture of her uterine artery, which is more prevalent in older foaling mares than in younger ones.

How to Tell If It Is Still OK to Ride Your Senior Horse

Many folks are concerned about the amount of labor an elderly horse can handle. Is it possible to ride it in the same manner as you have always done it, should you give it a less demanding workload, or should an older horse be ridden at all? Unless your horse is really fragile and ancient, there is a good chance that your horse will benefit from mild labor on a regular basis.

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Exercise With Your Senior Horse

Regular, mild exercise will aid in the maintenance of your horse’s health. Take into consideration the fact that your horse may not be as nimble or supple as it was in its earlier days. It is possible that a horse who has been working all of its life would suffer as a result of being a total pasture potato, as well. It may be necessary to forego sliding stops, all-day trail rides/drives, or jumping, but frequent light riding may be advantageous in the long run. Exercise, just like it does with human elders, can help maintain its muscles strong and its joints supple as it gets older.

  • When it comes to performance horses, it may be time for them to transition to being kid’s horses who only carry a lighter burden a couple of times a week.
  • Of course, some horses are completely unaware that they are older and behave as if they are still 2-year-olds.
  • The majority of the time, light labor is beneficial to the horse.
  • When it becomes tired, its muscles don’t recover from tiredness as rapidly as they used to.
  • Preparing to give your horse a few days off after a long or difficult ride is a good idea.

Medication for Your Senior Horse

Pain remedies can be administered to your horse if hurting joints are a concern; however, you should consult with your veterinarian before doing so and carefully examine the potential adverse effects of such medicines. Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), can be difficult on a horse’s stomach, resulting in equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) (EGUS). Just because your horse is no longer in discomfort after taking the medicine doesn’t imply it’s safe to return to full service.

  1. It’s crucial to remember that most drugs, including those that are considered natural, have adverse effects.
  2. If your horse gets arthritic or otherwise unsound, it may be necessary to put him down for good completely.
  3. Exercise is best provided in a pleasant pasture with plenty of green grass or hay, easily digested concentrates, and forgiving footing at this point.
  4. Continue to provide your retired horse with the finest basic care possible and allow it to enjoy the golden years it deserves.

Always consult your veterinarian for health-related inquiries, since they have evaluated your pet and are familiar with the pet’s medical history, and they can provide the most appropriate suggestions for your pet.

How Old Should a Horse Be Before Riding? What You Need To Know!

Horses require a long time to reach maturity. Horses don’t attain their maximum height until they are about four or five years old. Warmbloods and drafts take significantly longer to mature, with some taking as long as eight years to mature. So, what exactly is the guideline about when to ride? To be honest, the age of a horse varies depending on its breed. The full development of numerous physical characteristics, as well as the attainment of emotional maturity, are more significant. The good news is that we have gathered some very amazing material on the issue.

What’s a Good Age to Get a Horse Under the Saddle?

No horse should ever be subjected to strenuous riding before its body has reached full maturity. These animals develop at a far slower rate than, for example, a domestic cat or dog. It is recommended that the horse be at least two years old to guarantee that the growing process is not disrupted. Many equestrian enthusiasts and specialists, on the other hand, would agree that it is best to wait between three and four years before beginning the process of breeding. Because each breed matures at a somewhat different rate, the exact time varies from breed to breed.

Physical Developments

When deciding whether or not to ride a horse, you should never rely only on your age. Before you even consider riding a horse, make sure that its knees are properly locked. If your horse’s knees are open, it implies that they have not yet reached their complete development. Increased strain on the joints might have negative consequences for development. Growth plates are located above and below joints and are responsible for the growth and lengthening of the bone. In order for knees to be deemed closed, it must first be determined that the growth plates have changed into their ultimate bone structure.


The horse must be willing to obey directions in order to be a good candidate for riding. Some breeds or individual horses can be a bit difficult to break, so you must consider how much patience you will need—as well as how quickly they will react to instruction.


Some breeds are more prepared to be ridden than others. Draft breeds and warmbloods develop at a slower rate than other breeds, thus they will not be ready for breeding for a significant amount of time. Image courtesy of AlkeMade and Pixabay.

Risks of Premature Riding

Because of the increased sensitivity of the body throughout growth stages, it is important to understand why it does so much harm.

Joint Issues

Because excess weight exerts strain on the joints, it can lead to long-term problems that are quite inconvenient. This condition can potentially render a horse unrideable, which is a tragic outcome for many horses. The condition can induce developing orthopedic disease in young horses and can also lead to juvenile arthritis in horses of a certain age.

Considering that treatment for these types of illnesses may be quite expensive, it is preferable to prevent the risk entirely. The following are signs of joint issues in young horses:

Training Difficulties

If you attempt to ride a horse before it has reached its full mental maturity, it may be quite difficult, to say the least. Simply said, things will never turn out the way you want them to. It may also make them significantly more difficult to train in the long run as a result of the possibility of irregularities. Even if your horse appears to be in good physical condition and ready to ride, their general mental attitude is the most important element to consider. Image courtesy of Clarence Alford and Pixabay.

Breaking Your Horse

Before you attempt to teach your young horse to ride, you should take them to the veterinarian for a thorough examination. Once they have completed a medical examination of your horse, they will be able to tell you whether or not they believe your horse is fit to race. Getting your horse accustomed to his new bridle and saddle is the following phase. It may take some time for your horse to become used to the new environment. However, after they have been accustomed to these two pieces of equipment, you may gradually expose them to the rest of the equipment.

They will soon be able to accept riders and will be able to trot with the best of them.

Conclusion: When Can You Ride Your Horse?

So you’ve learned that it’s fine to ride your horse after two o’clock, but it’s not the only thing you need to consider. When it comes to determining when your horse is ready, the breed and overall willingness to learn are just as important. Always have your veterinarian inspect and approve any horse you want to ride before you get on it. Make certain that your horse’s knees are closed in order to avoid future health problems. Also, keep in mind that mental maturity and preparedness are equally as important as physical maturity and fitness, so trust your horse to tell you when they are ready.

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is now pursuing a degree in animal therapy at a local community college.

Her objective is to raise awareness, educate people, and provide amusement about dogs in order to avoid homelessness in the future.

When is a horse old? We have to stop calling “20 year old horses” seniors. They are not old horses.

Horses that are more than a decade old. Horses that are more than a decade old. When do horses get truly “old,” on the other hand? I’m going to start with a really fitting opening statement:

  • When my Papaw was a young man, he considered a horse to be “aged” when it reached the age of 18 to be reasonable. To be sure, at the time, a horse nearing the age of twenty, who had been worked hard, who did not have easy access to dental treatment, educated farrier care, or adjusted diet, may have been regarded past his prime (though this was not always the case, even then).

Things are always changing. Not always for the better, but in this particular instance, it does turn out to be for the better. In 2019, there is no reason to believe that the majority of horses over the age of twenty are old and no longer useful or functional in the riding industry. Even though there are few exceptions and certain breeds age more gracefully than others, a 20-year-old horse in good condition is rarely considered to be a retirement-ready animal. Actually, I feel that these horses are among the most underappreciated assets of the equestrian business.

  • Take into consideration that I am referring about a horse that is 25 years old and has not been properly cared for.
  • Owners of horses approaching 40 years of age are becoming more common than most people would suppose feasible.
  • The fact is that, if handled with care, a 20-year-old horse is really only in his mid-twenties.
  • It’s difficult to describe how detrimental to horses labels such as “old” and “senior” may be when people use the words for horses who are 13 to 16 years old.
  • Those that are a little older don’t either.
  • Consider Claire and her Arabian, Mercury, who was 27 when she finished the 100-mile Tevis Cup in 16th position with her Arabian, Mercury.
  • It is not the case that these horses are outliers, please understand.
  • As is the case with the majority of equine difficulties, we believe the problem lies in the way humans think about horses.

All of the horses in the slideshow below are over 20-year-old HOP horses who have been adopted as active riding horses by their new owners. Jpeg Continue reading about horse fitness, food, and competition for horses beyond the age of 20 in this section.

What’s The Perfect Age To Start A Horse Under Saddle’

Being involved in the training of young horses is a significant part of my life, and I’ve long wondered, “What is the optimal age to begin training a young horse under saddle?” I feel that the answer is that there is no such thing as a?ideal? age for beginning a horse’s career. I feel that, like with so many aspects of horse training, it is dependent on the individual horse. My own experience has taught me that horses who are 3 or 4 years old are the best age to begin riding. Their mental and physical capabilities are sufficient, but they are not yet physically or intellectually strong enough to withstand a severe amount of punishment, nor have they gotten too entrenched in their habits to learn new skills.

  1. By the way, this is what I like to refer to as a training act.
  2. as a result of the fact that we are attempting to teach the young horse how to cooperate with us We’re not (and shouldn’t be) attempting to crush his spirit or merely control him, and we should refrain from doing so.
  3. And it should be based on respect rather than fear.
  4. We’ve gone through the motions.
  5. She began her education in what we refer to as our pre-school program.
  6. I knew Amani was going to be my event horse in the future, so my first priority when she was two years old was to create a basic level of fitness in her, focusing on the soft tissues of her legs in particular.
  7. Earlier this month, I returned her to work as a 3-year-old.

In mid-May, she was able to ride with a rider on her back for the first time.

At the unrecognized Twin Rivers combined test in central California, she participated in her first competition (dressage and show jumping) and completed her first cross-country school in mid-January; she won both events.

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Next weekend, Amani will make her first appearance at the preliminary level at the Galway Downs International Horse Trials.

Their program differed from Amani’s in that they were not put to work as 2-year-olds.

They’re both huge, hefty horses, and as 2-year-olds, they were both gangly and looked like they still had a lot of developing to do before they were ready to compete.

Afterwards, we began training them in March or early April of their third birthday year.

In a month, Seeker (now nine years old) won his first beginner novice event, after which he was quickly acquired by a teenager who rode him to training level before selling him to be trained as a dressage horse.

At the moment, we are in the process of breaking in a warmblood filly called Tiny, which we acquired as a weanling.

Unless, of course, we didn’t work her as a 2-year-old because she was so little and so young: she wasn’t born until the middle of August, and her dam is a miniature mare, so Tiny was clearly physically behind her peers when she started school.

Tiny has made tremendous strides since that day.

Her adolescent owner has been riding her for a few weeks now, and she is looking forward to the day when she will be able to compete against Tiny.

We didn’t begin training a Quarter Horse mare named Freckles, which our barn manager, Roxanne, bred and owned, until she was five years old and in November of her fifth year.

I’m sure it had something to do with her workmanlike reining blood, but I also believe her maturity had a role.

We had a difficult time balancing Freckles’ enthusiasm to accomplish any work with her relative weakness since she lacked a training foundation.

Moreover, Roxanne rode her to fourth place in their first novice-level horse trial, which took place the previous weekend.

When he was three years old, he participated in our three-month pre-school program.

He returned in early January, and, to our relief, he has clearly showed that he recalls his ponying and longeing lessons from earlier in the year.

When it comes to starting under saddle, he might be either mentally challenging or mentally easy to handle, and I anticipate that, like Freckles, it will take him a year or two to build up his strength.

If nothing else, I hope these examples have demonstrated why I do not believe there is a?correct? answer to the question of when to begin training horses under saddle.

How Old is Too Old for a Horse to be Ridden?

A regular light labor schedule, which may include riding, is beneficial to the majority of elderly horses in excellent health. A mild exercise regimen tailored to the needs of each individual horse is discussed in this article, which benefits both the physical and emotional health of the older horse. When a horse reaches the age of 16 years, it is called nutritionally senior. But at what point do kids cease to be regarded fit to ride? It is very dependent on the individual horse, namely on his or her energy, fitness, and soundness.

As a horse ages, it is still important to encourage frequent activity, but the workload may need to be adjusted to better suit their abilities.

Exercise on a regular basis The fact that your senior horse is no longer as youthful and nimble as they once were does not negate the fact that regular exercise offers a variety of benefits for their health, muscular strength, and joint flexibility.

Your senior horse’s workload should be tailored to his or her needs, just like any other exercise program.

  • Turnout on a daily basis, which necessitates only minor activity in order to get food, water, and shelter
  • Light exercise several times per week, which may include in-hand and under-saddle exercises, should be performed. Mild physical activities that do not aggravate any pre-existing ailments, such as arthritis
  • And

If your horse is doing well in modest work, it is not suggested that you put a total stop to their training as they approach their senior years. As a substitute, they should transition into a fitness regimen that offers them with lighter effort at least three times per week, as well as appropriate recuperation time between sessions. Nutrition and Medical Attention For the mature horse in light labor, proper diet, veterinarian, dental, and hoof care are all critical considerations. As your senior horse’s diet changes, it is possible that veterinarian, dental, and hoof maintenance may become more regular in order to keep them fit, sound, and healthy for the rest of their lives.

  • Veterinary Care: Senior horses should be inspected by a veterinarian at least once a year, if not more frequently. Having a pre-existing ailment that requires treatment or care may increase the likelihood of this occurring. Dental Care: Senior horses may require twice-yearly dental checkups starting at the age of 16 years. They will remain active and in good physical condition if they have a healthy dentition. Farrier or barefoot trimmer visits should be made every 4-8 weeks to check on the health of the horse’s feet. Your senior horse’s hooves must be in good condition in order for him to remain sound and fit for work.

Figuring Out When Your Horse is Too Old To Ride

As our cherished horses get older and become seniors, we can see and comprehend the effects of time on them. Not only do the physical impacts manifest themselves, but the pace of fiery mares decreases as they get more calm, and so on. When the latter years begin to arrive, most of us begin to question when it will be appropriate to retire our pony companion from the show ring and turn him into a pasture pal. When does a horse get too old to be ridden and must be retired? When does a horse get too old to be ridden?

The aging process of horses is similar to that of humans, and there are several aspects to consider when considering whether or not to retire a working horse from the job.

A Horse’s Lifespan

The average lifespan of a horse is well into their twenties, and they are regarded to be middle-aged when they reach their adolescent years. In reality, experts largely agree that the “old age” threshold is reached at the age of 20. (source) Having said that, some horses may show indications of “old age” earlier than others — and some may not show signs of old age till later! Because there are a large number of horses who live into their 30s on a regular basis, their twilight years may not necessarily coincide.

In other words, even while there is a broad consensus on the definition of old age based on longevity, when it comes to a horse being too old to be ridden, there are other, more relevant, and individual-specific signals to look for.

Amount of Work

The amount of work you intend for your horse, as well as the amount of labor they have done throughout their life, should all be taken into consideration when making this decision. If we consider thoroughbred racehorses, many of them were worked quite hard during their early years, which may have resulted in premature aging or joint problems later on. Alternatively, if you have a horse who has lived a healthy and frequently athletic life, their body may be better conditioned to continue with riding exercises for a longer period of time.

Body Condition

Equitation of an older horse in declining condition Think of a horse in his prime and you’ll immediately think of lustrous hair, rippling muscles, and an assured stride. Although older horses might have sunken eyes and frailer limbs, they often have withers that have lowered into somewhat of a sway back. The fact that you have tried everything, even moving to a senior feed, and your horse is still looking gaunt and losing weight quickly, it may be time to quit riding him. First and foremost, concentrate on keeping your horse in good condition.

If you are having difficulty keeping the weight of your older horse stable, you should read my article on dealing with weight loss in older horses.

Rider Weight

Because they lose muscular mass and bone density as they get older, horses’ bodies are similar to human ones in that they become frailer. As a result, hauling a heavy rider may be too much for them to handle. It is possible that even a rider that they formerly carried with ease may become a physical strain to an aged back. The majority of horses with reasonable fitness, as I discussed in my post on picking the proper size horse for your height and weight, are capable of carrying up to 20% of their own body weight.

Age-Related Issues

Diseases brought on by an aging and weakened immune system are not only frequent, but they are also significant in evaluating whether or not a horse can be ridden safely. It is thought that up to 30% of horses over the age of 20 are affected by Cushing’s disease, for example, according to HorseRider Magazine, according to HorseRider Magazine (an endocrine disorder). (source) Although the figure appears to be high, keep in mind that a significant proportion of horses go untreated as well. Among elderly horses, kidney failure is a prevalent problem that affects many of them, particularly those who have taken pharmaceuticals throughout their earlier years.

  • In addition, dental problems are a concern.
  • As horses get older, their reserves are depleted, and the gumline of your horse is reduced to bare areas and nubs.
  • Because the meal will be less finely crushed, bigger chunks will be ingested and absorbed by the stomach.
  • Furthermore, years of consuming wear and tear, along with damage caused by intestinal parasites, makes it more difficult to absorb critical nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals).
  • Senior horse feeds that have been specially developed to assist your older horse gain weight and maintain a healthy weight are available.
  • That article goes into greater detail on whether to choose a whole feed or supplements.
  • As a horse’s eye muscles atrophy and his or her vision deteriorates, he or she may spook more readily and appear less secure and certain while being ridden.
  • In fact, according to a 2018 research conducted by the University of Queensland, over 90 percent of older horses, in particular, had eye issues that affected them.

Because horses are predatory animals, they have a natural tendency to conceal problems that are bothering them. However, your horse may be too compromised to ride safely if he is suffering from a health problem.


Your horse may also suffer from arthritis or lameness as a result of previous injuries or just from normal wear and tear over time. Not only will this imply that you may not want to put any further physical stress on your horse, but a horse who is in discomfort may move about less on his or her own. This unintentional inactive lifestyle can also contribute to a greater likelihood of losing strength, muscle, and conditioning over time. Since of this, it is not recommended to ride a horse that has lost excessive muscle or confirmation because you will just bring them additional back problems and suffering.

Keep in mind, however, that older horses, with their bone, muscle, joint, ligament, and other structural issues, may just not be sound enough to ride.

A senior horse displaying a number of indicators of age.

Remember that your veterinarian can assist you in making these selections and can direct you toward an exercise level that your elderly horse can tolerate.

Riding a Senior Horse

If your horse is nearing retirement but is still capable of being ridden, it is critical that you limit your rides to to a few days per week and keep the ride itself as light as possible. Instead of galloping and leaping, perhaps a few peaceful hacks about the meadow might be more appropriate. Additionally, keep in mind that an older horse may require longer recuperation time after a ride than a younger horse. All of that being said, horses were created to be physically active animals. Despite their advanced age, older horses were still need to run and travel long distances in search of food and in order to avoid being hunted by predators.

If your horse is happy, healthy, sound, and willing, you could ride your “old” horse into his thirties if he is in good health.

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