This week’s answer to “Why Horses?”: elderly gentlemen.
This wonderful, small, old-fashioned Arabian spent his career showing up the big boys in endurance riding competition. D.D. (Dashing Devil) is 32 in this photo, sound, fit, and in good health. His owner was looking for a way for him to stay gently fit for light weekend riding. We decided to try him as a pony horse for other elderly horses. Sure, you can lunge an older horse, but continual 20M circles are awfully trying on aging joints.
We started with Pumpkin. Pumpkin was trained to stop if the lead was dropped. Instant problem resolution: drop the lead. D.D. had never ponied anyone, but he had been ponied on trails as a youngster. He remembered, and figured out the change in positions in under ten minutes, and gave me a number of ponying stories I’m sure you’ll hear about.
Soon, I was tacking D.D. up every day, and we’d take one of the older horses out on a ‘trail’ ride, walking for 45 minutes, it kept his interest, his athleticism, and importantly, became a service to retired horses who were not moving enough on their own. He relished his new job, and made sure the ponied horses knew he was The Boss.
For me, it became a daily meditation ritual. He was a supremely easy ride: auto-pilot installed and active, but instantly aware of any request. Sane, not even remotely spooky, radiating calm and confidence. He helped rehab a number of elderly horses who could no longer be ridden, and had become somewhat anxious out of their paddocks.
Anyone who insists all Arabians are spooky, unreliable, nut cases, should have had the opportunity to spend time with this Dashing gentleman.
He was retired from riding at 35.
What is your “Why Horses?” for today?