2015, we'll have known each other for ten years. My project horse will be 21 and me 31. But let's not count numbers. Let us focus on quality: My project horse doesn't get older, he gets better.

I don't need fiery temperament in a horse. But I appreciate calmness and understanding. When you've been together for some years, communication becomes more and more subtle. I don't need words anymore, barely gestures. Unanimity. I can count on my horse. He takes the lead if necessary, but he willingly gives it back to me. Reliability.

 We cannot use these old horses as we used to and as we would like to. They endure their little ailments, and some might have to retire earlier than expected. But that does not mean there is nothing left for them to give. On the contrary. We don't need to form and mold an old horse anymore. He already is someone. An old horse won't be impressed that easily. He has seen his fair share of things. An old horse has his position. And he takes it up. He doesn't need to be taught new tricks. He can learn them, of course, but what for? He'll make boundaries very clear. He understands the human and his demands. But he might come to the conclusion that there are things he just does not have to do anymore in his life. That is not disobedience. That is an opinion. An old horse has the right to get away with it from time to time.

Let's think about all the lessons he has taught us and the great moments we shared. An old horse knows us and he knows our weaknesses. He is forgiving of our inadequacies. An old horse will ignore our mistakes benevolently or even make up for them - sometimes, we might not even notice. An old horse bears with us and our tempers, and he will stand up for us if necessary. An old horse is reliable. An old horse is at peace with himself.

And as he does not insist on his right to refuse - in moments when he could -, we as well should be open to compromise and refrain from imposing our will on him. Let us be considerate and lenient with our old horse as he is with us. Let's give him something back - we have received so much from him. Old horses help us to become better horseman.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on December 27, 2014 at 4:07pm

How true.  I am currently riding an Arab mare that is around 30.  I have learned to compromise more.

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