Super Senior Sport Horses

Meet three equine athletes that are excelling in their golden years.
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Smart Snap
Smart Snap, a 17 year old Quarter Horse stallion owned by Nadine Galbraith, DVM, has competed in France, Italy, Germany, and Canada and won 150 events. Galbraith says good conformation and judicious training can help a reiner continue performing past his youth. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Nadine Galbraith

A look at three equine athletes that are excelling in their golden years, along with how their owners and veterinarians keep them feeling young

There are exceptional equine athletes in every discipline—those stars who stand out from the pack and win awards and titles time and again. We typically expect these athletes to be at that magic age where horses peak for a specific breed or discipline. However, some exceptional horses are defying logic, competing well into their senior years. Retirement doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon for some of them. We talked to the owners and riders of three senior horses who still have plenty of “get up and go” and continue to excel in their disciplines.

Meet Your Elders

Currently the United States Eventing Association’s highest scoring eventer of all time, Ballynoe Castle RM is a Belgian Warmblood/Irish Thoroughbred cross owned by Cassandra and Carl Segal and ridden by Bruce (Buck) Davidson Jr., of Riegelsville, Pennsylvania. The 15-year-old bay gelding’s lifetime accomplishments include helping the U.S. eventing team to a fourth-place finish at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) and competing at the 2014 WEG. He ran fourth at the 2013 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and third in 2014. In 2015 “Reggie” was still winning a slew of top level events. In 2016, he retired from upper-level competition and is competing at the lower levels with his long-time groom, Kathleen Murray.

Hadji Halef Omar is a purebred Arabian endurance horse who has logged 8,575 lifetime miles over 170 American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) rides with owner and endurance veteran Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss. In 2014 the gray gelding completed the Tevis Cup, and in 2015, at 23, he placed in the Top 10 in 11 out of 19 rides. Palmer-DuRoss, of Queen Creek, Arizona, calls Hadji irreplaceable

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Written by:

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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