What is the best (and worst) part of owning a ‘forever’ horse?

The best part is easy…the time you have with them!
 
And the worst part is the natural side effect of that time.
 
My first pony & first horse both lived into their 30’s.
 
I loved knowing them as well as I did.
 
But I also watched as my pony struggled with a loss of vision and breathing issues.
 
With my horse, it was arthritis that gradually progressed making it difficult for her to get up when she would lie down to rest.
 
I’ve told Popcorn for years that he should be more kind to his body.
He runs in the pasture like he is coming down the home stretch at the Kentucky derby.
He jumps, bucks, kicks and puts on a show in the pasture.
Just a few years ago, people passing by in a car, slowed down to watch him in the field running like crazy and asked, “Is he even tame?”
 
Yeah, he runs like that.
 

I even showed Popcorn this article on “Secrets of Athletic Longevity”…but he didn’t seem impressed.

When he was eleven I noticed subtle inconsistencies in his gait.

 
About once a month I could feel him take a strange step. Very, very minor but because I knew him as well as I did, I also knew it was abnormal. When I hauled him to the first vet they couldn’t find anything. And neither could the second. Nothing but normal aging.
 
A year later I noticed the same thing but slightly more frequently. Now it was about twice a month. Again, so subtle that the vets couldn’t trigger it during a flexion test and there was nothing noticeable on X-rays. However, I was starting to see changes in his behavior.
 
If he was having a bad day he wouldn’t play in the pasture. He would watch the others running but he wouldn’t join in. To the casual observer, this would be no big deal…but this was my Popcorn. And this was not normal.
 
Part of me was happy. Maybe he was finally listing to my advice and slowing down. Maybe he was taking care of his body.
 
And now, a few years later, I think that this was half true. I think a part of him has aged and is more content to watch at times. But I also think he was uncomfortable. There was a dullness in his eye I hadn’t seen before.
 
When a friend suggested trying him on Equithrive Joint Pellets, I decided to listen. From what I had heard most people could see a difference within 30 days and it was easy enough to give.
 
I’m so happy I tried it!
 
Within two weeks it was possible to see changes. My crazy-perky-pasture horse was back! And strangely, the sensitivity in his ears was greatly reduced (Popcorn has had equine aural plaques from the time I bought him).
 
By the end of the first bucket, it was clear that the all-natural anti-inflammatory in the product was working on Popcorn’s whole body.
 
I know there is no cure for aging but I’m happy to do what I can to keep him comfortable through the process.
 
Owning an aging horse is such a gift.
 
No, it isn’t the same as the shiny new gift that you might find under the Christmas tree.
 
It’s even better.
 
* * *
I’d like to thank Equithrive for sponsoring this contest with will end tomorrow at 3pm with one of YOU owning your very own Popcorn Breyer model!

Entering is easy.

There are three ways. Simply answer the question (What is the best (and worst) part of owning a ‘forever’ horse?)
either 1) in the comments below this post, here on my blog 
3) on my Facebook page
 …or in all three places!
There will be a new question every day between now and December 19th.
The winner will be announced on December 20th!
I’m excited to read your stories! (and if you have time…reading what other people have posted is really fun!)

7 Comments

  1. Nicole on January 25, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    My AQHA gelding is definitely a forever horse. The best part is knowing that when it came to buying my first horse, I found a true unicorn. The amount of wonderful memories we’ve made after only three years together is a wonderful preview of all our years to come.

    That said, knowing I want him by my side for life will present some challenges. Eventually, as he ages, his body won’t be able to handle our multi-discipline lifestyle anymore. I worry about supporting him during his retirement and being able to afford a second unicorn (should I be lucky enough to find another one) at the same time… #crossthatbridgewhenwecometoit

  2. Shirley Nicholas on December 20, 2019 at 11:15 am

    The best…. knowing that they will be there, impatiently waiting for their feed, nickering away, and building a rapport with them. I have 3 forevers here and just having that commitment to them is a very steadying influence when times get hard. Not every day is perfect in my life or in theirs, but we are in it together.
    The worst…. knowing that their days are dwindling (ages 19, 17 and 16 this coming year) and the heartbreak it will bring when they are no longer here.

  3. Kim Robitaille on December 20, 2019 at 1:10 am

    The best part of owning a horse , for me, is the opportunity to learn so much about myself thru them.
    They truly are a mirror of us and yes, sometimes I don’t like what I see, however, I have the opportunity to grow.
    I can’t see those same opportunities coming consistently, if I didn’t have horses in my life.
    I choose to use positive words when I speak about my horses, so I’ll say,
    “The most challenging thing about having horses is the heartache I feel when I have to say goodbye. I remember a colt whom I started under saddle and then sold. Well, it didn’t take long for me to figure out that I would suck as a ‘Horse Trader’ because I become too attached.
    Thank you for allowing us to share…..this is cool.
    Kim

  4. CINDY OVERTON on December 20, 2019 at 12:25 am

    The best part of owning a “forever” horse is the bond you build with them . Being able to read them by noticing how they hold their head or what that snort means, or the flick of their tail. And also them being able to read me & my moods. If I’m having a tough day ; they seem to know just to stand & let me touch or just be with them . They can read me just as easily as I can read them. The worst part is having to let go & say goodbye ;( or seeing them struggle to be their old self when age wont let them. It’s never easy for that final day.

  5. Colleen Spada on December 19, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Lets start with the worse. We both have arthritis! And there are days like today the cold weather and blowing wind just wants to keep us in and warm!! It hurts to move from laying to sitting to standing and then we have to walk! The blankets are on them, the heat lamps are on and the arthritis supplements are in the feed buckets, but it doesn’t take away the pain — it just helps you to deal with it.
    For me its the same. But instead of heat lamp I have moist heat packs.
    But the best is growing old together and knowing each other we can deal with it and take it slow and easy to enjoy our rides, walks, or just time together. Its almost like we can read each other. If he feels good and knows I just need to get out but not really into a adventurous ride, he just lets me have a lazy walking trail ride. Its nice and he will be my forever partner on the farm.

  6. Megan Bean on December 19, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    The best part is the relationship you form with years of sharing experiences and doing things together. My horse has known me longer and better than any of my other horses or lesson mounts. Our communication is easy and we enjoy just being together.

    The hardest part could be the struggle to maintain that relationship as years pass and life happens. Not only does your horse age, but your own life has ups and downs that threaten the time you can spend together. At various times over the past several years, college and health issues have both made it harder for me to spend quality time with my horse.

    And yes, the other hard part is watching your best equine friend age. It hurts to see them hurt. Ginger hasn’t lost her spirit, but her body no longer lets her go running and bucking around a field. She’s no longer packed with muscle, and her gait is no longer smooth. It also aches to realize there are things you and your horse will never do again, and new things you won’t get to try with them.

    But relationships aren’t all about doing “interesting” things. I’m thankful for the things we did get to do together, but also simply for the time that we still get to share. And most of all for the bond that more than a decade of sharing has given us.

  7. Leslie Welles on December 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    The best part is knowing that she is part of our family and my two girls will grow up with her, riding her, caring for her. The best part is also knowing she has a loving home forever… I’m not sure what the worst part is. Probably the days I’m too busy with my kids and I can’t go see her and spend time with her like I know she would appreciate.

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