One of my favorite things about 18-year-old Dorado is that he has no clue, whatsoever, that he's a day over 7 or 8. But at the same time, the most nerve-wracking things about 18-year-old Dorado is that he has no clue that he's a day over 7 or 8 or that his body won't be able to keep up with his brain someday.
We've had some pretty brutal weather here in Kentucky lately, so when our local meteorologist said we'd have two sunny, mild days last weekend, nearly every rider made a beeline to their horses and tacked up. The barns were especially full because the next week's forecast included several single-digit days with below zero wind chills…not ideal riding weather!
My wild-child has no idea that he's nearly 20 years old!
Photo: Keith Larson
Since both arenas were full and Dorado—who hadn't worked in a week due to said bad weather and hard footing—tends to get, uhh, excited around other horses, I took him off by himself for a quick longeing session. And before I even knew what was happening, he bolted, lost his footing, and ended up on his left side. He'd scared himself, so he popped up just as quick as he'd gone down, took off, and galloped around until I could reel the longe line in. At that point, he skidded to a stop and stood staring at me with his left hind leg in the air.
Insert heart attack here.
I checked him over quickly before moving him and nothing felt out of the ordinary, so I walked him back to the barn. Well, I walked, he bounced, unable to contain his energy. Once in the barn, my friend Kristen and I gave him a good going over—nothing seemed to elicit a pain response, he was sound, and nothing felt out of the ordinary. I decided give him the afternoon off and check him out the next day.
Fortunately, the next day, Dorado was sound as a bell and seemed none the worse for wear. (I did schedule a session with his massage therapist, though, just to make sure he wasn't too body sore after his butt plant.) We dodged a bullet this time, but it's episodes like this that make me wish he acted just a little more his age.
No matter how many times I explain the scenario to him, he just doesn't get it: 18-year-old horses with the amount of wear and tear he has should not spend their days trying everything in their power to self-destruct! This is why Dorado goes out in a paddock with one other quiet horse instead of the big field with the younger horses—he used to come in beat up, bruised, and quite pleased with himself on a regular basis from rough housing.
All that said, I'm absolutely thrilled that Dorado still feels good enough at his age to run around, play, jump, and compete. I just hope he continues to stay in one piece!
Please tell me I don't have the only wild aging horse—how do you keep your young-at-heart-and-mind seniors from self-destructing?