How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

How have you helped senior horses find their forever homes?
Share
Favorite
Close

No account yet? Register

ADVERTISEMENT

Grooming horses at KyEHC
Web producer Jennifer Whittle and I groom Scarlett at the KyEHC. | Photo: Stephanie L. Church/The Horse

Last week my coworkers and I traded work clothes for barn garb and headed to the Kentucky Equine Humane Center (KyEHC) to volunteer as part of TheHorse.com’s 100,000 Minutes of Service campaign. The farm, located just outside Lexington in Nicholasville, is home to horses ranging in age from in utero to seniors, most of which are searching for their forever homes.

Julie Cooper, the barn manager, explained that the KyEHC takes in horses from all over Kentucky, and that those animals come from a variety of circumstances: Some from owners who simply can’t care for them anymore or need to reduce their herd size, others from tracks when their racing careers end due to either injury or lack of competitiveness, some that have been abandoned or turned loose, and still others from abuse or neglect cases. As a result, the equine residents range in condition from less than thin to pleasantly plump. But every horse at the center including the skinny new arrivals looked happy and content, and many came up to the fences to investigate the herd of humans wandering around their farm.

We helped with chores including bedding stalls, filling water tubs, and removing wet and moldy sections of hay from round bales, but our favorite part of the day was when armed with curry combs, shedding blades, and mane combs we ventured out to the pastures to help some of the mares get rid of their winter coats

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.

Share
Favorite
Close

No account yet? Register

Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

48 Responses

  1. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I had a feeling that the writer who advocated euthanizing horses who are no longer able to do their jobs — she put it more compassionately than that but I can’t  remember how she said it — had a sad experience informing her opinion.  I walk

  2. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Useful? Hmm!  I have a 36 yo Tbred and his a 28 yo Walkaloosa wife, a 31 yo QTR who’s owner died and was just left at a barn, a 19 yo Tbred and his 13 yo Tbred wife.  The youngest are great trail horses and the 19 yo sure doesn’t act senior.

  3. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Yes!  I have three.  The oldest, Rebel, is 30+.  I just got back from a ride on him, and that boy is STuBBoRN!  Every ride is like a training ride, letting him know that I am the boss, not him!  My other 2 are a 27 year old qua

  4. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    My 20 year old mare has a mystery hip issue. She hasn’t been ridden in a bit over 3 years but will favor that hip. She may or may not be up to a little light trails in the future. She will not be bred but will not be put down unless she’s suffering. Sh

  5. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    My young horse is 20! The old one is 32. I don’t even think of a 13 year old as aged. Things are changing.

  6. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I, too, have enjoyed reading about those with senior horses.  My husband and I work very hard to take care of our five horses and two donkeys.  We bought our ranch 8 years ago never dreaming we would be taking care of abandoned, starved, ‘use

  7. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I’m 68 and privately own 12 horses, down from 24.  I’ve been on this property with horses for 20 years – it is 5 acres.  My inheritance went to build a barn with covered turn-outs, to get a trailer, a truck, a tractor, and a dumper, plus for

  8. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Linda, you said you want a halflinger, you said you want a calm gentle horse.  Be careful, many halflingers are NOT calm or gentle.  They can be pushy, overbearing, and ill mannered.  Some are sweet but then, so are lots of other horses

  9. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I adopted a registered QH mare at 19.  She had joint issues that made her unfit for showing but she was fine for me to poke around on as I have my own physical limitations.  I got her from her original owner who showed her extensively.  

  10. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    After many years riding and boarding horses for others we have become a 501C3 rescue.  If you would care to find out more about us please look up Hoofprints in the Sand Rescue, Newberg, OR.  We have horses ranging from yearlings to 36.  

  11. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I admit, I was at first rankled by Beverly’s comments. My first thought was that horses are not toilet paper — they should not be thrown away after they are no longer "useful." But I reread her comment several times.

    Her second senten

  12. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    There’s nothing better than coming back from a day off to see so many great comments about your senior horses and your experiences with them. I’m confident all of your aging horses are enjoying their golden years!

  13. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    When I first returned to horses in my late 20s, after giving them up in my teens to attend college (and become a "responsible adult") the only horses I could afford were the seniors – the older ones with issues that needed a lot of time and n

  14. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    We have two older mares – a 14 year old and a 16 year old – and wouldn’t mind adopting more; even adopting another mature horse. My concern is the end-life care. We haven’t been through that yet and I fear the potential expense of it. Our existing mare

  15. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    We don’t ride, LOL, haven’t been around horses since a child on my grandparent’s ranch. In our 60’s, retired to the country. Five years ago we adopted 2 feral horses that were being sent to sale when our neighbor sold his property. Cody, a gelding, is

  16. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Older horses are TRUE GEMS.  They are experienced, slower for human handling and perfect to teach humans the art of ground handling.  having a horse rescue, I watch people over and over make the mistake of passing over the senior equine citiz

  17. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I have to leave one more comment.  We have been through an economic roller coaster in this country.  People who were more than comfortable lost their jobs, their homes and when they turned to friends to help them with their older horses they

  18. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I rehab old retired horses and wholeheartedly agree with Karin’s comment.  I too have found that being outdoors 24/7 with freedom of movement, great nutrition and dental maintenance makes a huge difference in the life of a senior horse. They don’t

  19. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Excellent, excellent article and comments.  Responsible horse ownership means ensuring a forever home.  If this is too much "economic stress" for you and your family, then don’t get a horse.  Try a hamster.

  20. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    The part of my week dedicated to volunteering is going towards the care of five senior horses in my herd. I run a horse business and take care of these guys for a nominal boarding fee so that their owners can continue to afford their care throughout th

  21. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I am the person who said it is not realistic for all people to be able to keep a horse after its useful life.  I am a person who is financially secure.  I have a 29 year old, a 15 year old, a horse with laminitis and a couple of horse I bough

  22. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    The senior horses who are part of our empowerment for women programs are priceless. They are the "steady Eddies" with the "been there, done that" attitudes to help our non horsey gals feel comfortable and safe. Youth may have its be

  23. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I love it!  I live in SD, and the prevailing thought about horses around here is to ride them at 3, sell at 10, even if it’s to kill.  Oh, and also, must be Quarter Horses; nothing else exists…

    If I’d realized all this when I moved h

  24. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    While I agree that humane euthanasia is a better option than slaughter or starvation, I would personally never put down a healthy, happy horse simply because it is not longer "useful".

    I was given an aged (28yrs.) retired broodmare as

  25. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    When I bought my retiring school horse(at 22)seven years ago, she came with her boy-toy, who was also in his senior years. Since then, I was given another aging mare from the same stable – she may be closer to 30 at this writing. We have an unspoken ag

  26. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Thank you all for your comments and for engaging in this great discussion. You’ve raised lots of great points and I’ve enjoyed reading your stories about your seniors!

  27. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    It’s comforting to know that only one individual here defines a horse as deserving of life only if they are still "useful."  Both of my horses were pulled off kill buyer’s lots; both are a little banged up.  When the day comes they

  28. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    So pleased to read some of the comments taking care of the Seniors with love and respect.  Nothing makes me feel as sad as when reading local for sale ads listing older horses for sale with crappy excuses to sell them.  They really deserve to

  29. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    26 years ago, when my daughter was a year old, I bought her a black pony that was trained to ride and drive. Dolly was 8 years old when she joined our family and she is still the first one to come in and get her grain every night. She cannot chew hay o

  30. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Wow, did that person actually say that if a horse outlives it’s usefulness it’s unrealistic to keep it?  Last time I checked, my two 29 year old quarter horses while both in great shape and retired fulfill a very useful job, they help me relax, br

  31. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Older horses are such a treasure!  They generally have all the good qualities you want in a horse and the training is already done for you.  Plus, they always seem to appreciate when they are treated well because they have seen many different

  32. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Thank yo so much for this article and for all (well, almost all)of the comments. I have a small small small self funded horse rescue/retirement home. Right now I have 5 1/2 retirees ranging in age from 18 to 28 (the 1/2 can still be ridden a little), a

  33. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I have had an incredible experience during these past 10 days.  I was suppose to buy a rodeo horse and returned with two senior horse.  One I named Red was an abused horse from a divorce the husband decided to starve to death his wife’s horse

  34. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I have six horses, four of them over 22 and one astonishing Arabian who is a fiery and beautiful 30 and still the ride of my life. All  live outdoors 24/7 and all but one are rideable on trails, two of them still pull a carriage or bobsled.  

  35. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Yes I agree Leigh.  Just what does define ‘useful’.  Having the companionship of my elder horses to surround my home and care for them everyday was a huge source of joy and rhythm to my daily life. It was so very enriching. Horses serve us an

  36. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    How do you define "useful"?  If anything, my two 20+ yo guys have been useful just "being".  Ace has been my therapist when I have had to deal with stressful issues.  Shadow is a clown in the simplest terms. And they

  37. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    The people above who have noted the problem of never-broke horses and need to be realistic about keeping a geriatric retiree on pasture for a decade both raise serious points.  It is crucial to work with breeders and trainers at the FRONT END to r

  38. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Kudos to Gentlewomanfarmer for the great service she provides! I too have several old lifers. One is a 36 yr old TB who is a cancer survivor and has had a fractured leg. He was retired many yrs ago with a bad heart, but he remains " My Best Guy&qu

  39. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I adopt seniors, exclusively, and they remain with me until death.  I currently have no vacancies but, as my seniors leave me, I take in others consistent with my own timetable for retirement and ultimate sale of this property – as when I leave I

  40. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    My husbands Arab, Donny is 31 this year and looks terrific.  Here in FLorida for the winter and he gets 4 servings, 2 gallons@, per day.  This fall just after we got down here, he got very sick on acorns.  Teeth can’t grind hay or grass,

  41. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I was shocked by the person who said we should not keep horses pass their useful life. We are not talking about a car!!When I got my 29 yo 24 years ago I told him that as long as I had a place to live and something to eat he would also. Now we are both

  42. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    With a very few exceptions, all of our purchased horses and ponies have found a forever home with us on our small acreage.  We now have 3 (out of 6) in their mid to upper 20’s. We’ve had a number of mares, but have never bred any babies. I know so

  43. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    Pocohantas is a 35 year old appy that was my daughter’s "partner in crime" for many years.   My daughter vaulted on her, rode her on the trail, entered  her in local hunter jumper shows and chased cattle on her.   I promised Po

  44. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    It is unrealistic to think we can keep horses fifteen years past their useful life.  It is unfair to the owners of horses to stress the economy of their families to keep horses alive a decade or more past their natural life span.  Horses shou

  45. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I recently took over the care of a senior horse after her owner passed away. She was boarded at the facility I have my horse at for so many years. She was offered for free to a good home but is lame & foundered. I knew this meant she would probably

  46. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I have been a foster for a senior horse for going on 3 years now.  He is going to be 28 this year.  He has been a challange as he has been a windsucker all his life and is very hard to keep weight on.  His owners thought to put him down

  47. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    I have a 27 year old mustang that too will be here till she takes her last breath. She still has tons of get up and go though I try not letting her get carried away. We have been slowly looking another horse for my daughter (her horse passed away this

  48. re: How We Can Help Senior Horses Seeking Homes

    i now own a 24 y o qh gelding. he has been my faithful companion for 19 years, teaching my children to ride and helping me recover my confidence after a bad accident on a previous mount.

    he is being offered to a children’s rehabilitative farm, f

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What lameness issues has your horse experienced? Select all that apply.
253 votes · 506 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!