It takes an army, including trainers, veterinarian, farriers, grooms, and others, to get a horse and rider to the only four-star event in North America: The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. But it takes a little extra TLC to keep an aging horse who's competed his whole life in condition—both mentally and physically—to such an event.

Nineteen horses aged 15 and up started the competition this year, and as a salute to these horses, their riders, and all the people behind them, I'd like to introduce you to them. Even if they didn't finish the competition, each rider and their team deserves a huge congratulations for keeping their aging horses so sound, happy, and competitive as they approach their 20s.

Each of these horses looked super this weekend, and their bright eyes and perked ears make me think none of them look ready to retire yet.

Do you have a favorite aging equine athlete? Please share your favorites below, and enjoy meeting these super seniors!


Seacookie TSF—15-year-old Trakehner gelding ridden by William Fox-Pitt (GBR)
"Cookie" is a seasoned eventer and was second here in Lexington in 2013. He looked just as nice and full of running this weekend as he did the first time I saw him go. He placed ninth this year.

Photo: Courtesy Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS

Pawlow—15-year-old Irish Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Will Faudree
"Ernie" has battled injuries throughout his career, so it was exciting to see him back at the top of the sport this weekend. Unfortunately, things weren't going his way on cross-country, so Faudree made the wise decision to retire on course.

Photo: Erica Larson

Madison Park—16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Kyle Carter (CAN)
"Parker," a seasoned four-star competitor, suffered a pretty serious hock injury in 2011 that could have ended his career. But Carter wasn't ready to give up on him and used a rehabilitation program he and his father (a veterinarian) developed for another horse with the same injury. It took a while, but Parker returned to his previous form and looked great this weekend (Editor's Note: For more on Parker's injury and rehabilitation, see Giving Up Not an Option for Kyle Carter and Madison Park on Eventing Nation). Unfortunately, Parker fell during cross-country and was eliminated from the competition.

Photo: Erica Larson

Rafferty's Rules—16-year-old Australian Warmblood gelding ridden by Sharon White
Another old pro, "Reggie" bounced around the first few cross-country fences with no problem. But he unfortunately fell on course and was eliminated.

Photo: Courtesy Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS




























Mensa G—16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Michael Pollard
Mensa showed everyone that aging horses still have what it takes after taking the lead after the first day of dressage, and he made easy work of both the cross-country course. He took down a couple rails in show jumping to finish in 14th place.

Photo: Courtesy Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS





























The Alchemyst—15-year-old sport horse gelding ridden by Debbie Rosen
"Al" is a notoriously tough horse and has been around Rolex a few times, but Rosen wanted to give it one more shot. Unfortunately, Saturday didn't go as planned: The pair retired at Fence 5 on cross-country. As she wrote on her Facebook page, "As all who know Al know, this could have gone either way. It went the wrong way, but you'll be happy to know he didn't even break a sweat and we are both (okay)." At least he's a fit aging horse! Unfortunately, we don't have any photos of this pair from this weekend.

Irish Rhythm—15-year-old Canadian Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Rachel McDonough (CAN)
It was both horse and rider's first four-star event, and both made it through with flying colors. The pair finished in 25th place.

Photo: Erica Larson

Last Call15-year-old Mecklenburg mare ridden by Alexandra Knowles
Last Call put in a great dressage test for her rider, but the two ended their weekend early when Knowles popped off after a few sticky jumps. Unfortunately, we don't have any photos of the pair from this weekend.


Shiraz16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Colleen Rutledge
"Luke" and Rutledge are the only horse and rider pair to have completed all five four-star events in the northern hemisphere. He's a great cross-country horse and made easy work of this year's course, but was withdrawn before show jumping.

Photo: Erica Larson

Tsunami15-year-old Thoroughbred mare ridden by Sally Cousins
"Sue" is a cross-country machine, and still had springs in her feet on Sunday. The pair finished in 18th place.

Photo: Courtesy Keith Larson

Inmidair15-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Jan Byyny
"JR" is a mainstay in U.S. eventing, and once again showed everyone how quick, tough, and nimble aging horses can be. The pair finished in seventh place.

Photo: Erica Larson

Mr. Medicott15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding ridden by Phillip Dutton
"Cave" is an international eventing veteran, having competed at the Olympics with his former rider. His experience and athleticism left him and Dutton in third after cross-country, but he was withdrawn before show jumping. Yesterday on his Facebook page, Dutton said, "I decided to withdraw the Mr. Medicott Syndicate’s Mr. Medicott from Rolex, as he didn't feel good enough for me to jump him today, unfortunately. He will be evaluated by our vet team later today, and we will post an update when we have more information. Hopefully there will be many more Rolexes for Cave in the future."

Photo: Erica Larson

Expedience17-year-old Thoroughbred mare ridden by Kaitlin Spurlock
Spurlock was having a super first four-star cross-country run aboard experienced "Spedy," but the she pulled the mare up midway through the course. Spurlock posted on her Facebook page Sunday that the mare had sustained an injury, had four screws inserted into her right front pastern, and was recovering well after surgery. She'll be retired as a broodmare.

Photo: Erica Larson




























Ziggy18-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Rachel Jurgens
At 18, Ziggy is the oldest horse in the field to complete the competition this year in his second attempt. The pair finished in 27th place, and Jurgens looked incredibly excited as she completed the jumping course on her long-time partner.

Photo: Erica Larson

Relentless Pursuit18-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Dana Widstrand
"Rover" is one of the two eldest to start the competition, but was eliminated after two refusals at the same fence on cross-country. Unfortunately, we didn't get any photos of Rover this weekend.


Bellaney Rock15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding ridden by Selena O'Hanlon (CAN)
Olympic and WEG veteran O'Hanlon piloted "Rocky" around his first four-star very successfully. The pair finished in 30th place.

Photo: Erica Larson

Kilrodan Abbott15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding ridden by Peter Barry (CAN)
This experienced pair had a run-out on cross-country, but completed the competition confidently in 33rd place.

Photo: Erica Larson

Arthur15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding ridden by Allison Springer
Another aging horse who showed the crowd he's still got it, Arthur led the competition after dressage. The pair had a lovely cross-country run, but had a run-out. Arthur was full of energy on Sunday to finish in 24th place.

Photo: Erica Larson




























Sir Rockstar16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Libby Head
These first-time starters had a successful weekend, adding just a few time faults to the dressage score. They finished in 19th place.

Photo: Erica Larson