There are several, very wonderful web sites set up specifically to get older dogs (and other animals) adopted and I think that it is truly fantastic, and very much needed. Since I have quite a bit of experience working with older horses (and dogs and cats and birds…), I wanted to share what amazing experiences that the older generation has given me. Honestly, some of these most enriching, funny and heart-warming times I ever had were with my years of taking care of the “older generation.”
Many years ago, I managed a farm that had many retired horses that we cared for on the farm. Although it was not specifically a “retiree” farm, the large bulk of the horses we boarded were either completely retired, or only in light work. Several of these horses had been national champions in their day and quite frankly, in their late teens and twenties, still looked great (I routinely kept them groomed, trimmed and looking sharp) and felt great. It was their amazing attitudes that taught me things daily.
All older animals have a certain amount of “slowing down”, due to arthritis and other common aging problems. Still, they all managed to get themselves into trouble enough, meaning that even in their increased age, they all still managed to act like a bunch of kids on the playground. I used really enjoy cleaning and treating all the scrapes, cuts and abrasions they would have because I always thought, “Good for you!”
As humans, we have a LOT to learn about getting older gracefully and still enjoying life. We spend soo much time complaining about, “My bones creak, I’ve got too much arthritis, I can’t do that anymore…” Then, we sit in our homes, not going anywhere, or doing anything. Those sedentary lives and attitudes are like a slow suicide, I think. The one thing I will say that I learned for sure from older animals is, “move it or lose it!”
Animals come at it at a completely different angle. They used to make me laugh so hard, watching those foolish horses act like little foals sometimes. The great thing about age is the patience and appreciation they would also have to then lay full-out on a sunny day to bask in the glory of the sun, or to just SIT STILL when I was cleaning up all their little “war wounds” from enjoying each other (again, like kids).
We used to have three separate herds of fully retirees and “living out” horses, but I’d watch them gallop up and down the hills, kick out and “fight” each other and just enjoy each day like it was the most important day of their life. Because of them (and all the times they put me in the hospital! LOL) I have definitely learned to keep moving, keep loving life and just try to live each day like it might be your last.
Horse Business Card Holder