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Celebrating Our Senior Horses

With foaling season in full swing, much of the Arabian horse community is focused on the future, the next generation and all it will hold. Meanwhile, quietly, our treasured senior horses who were once also new foals, are still loving and giving. Many older Arabians are teaching our next generation of Arabian horse lovers to be horsemen, and riders, and thoughtful stewards of the breed. Plutarch said “a good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service.” Owners of aged Arabian horses were eager to share more about their special senior citizens, and how they are spending their golden years, in this first part of our Senior Arabian horse Celebration.

Foaled in 1996, twenty-three-year-old Purebred Arabian Gelding, GA Legende will be competing at the 2019 Scottsdale Arabian horse Show this week with his 13-year-old youth Rider and owner, Grace Obermeyer. “We acquired GA Legende in August 2014,” Michelle, Grace’s mom, shares. “He had a successful Main Ring career and at the time we were looking for an experienced horse for Youth Western Pleasure, for Grace who was then 9-years-old.”

During their first year of showing together Grace and Legende did well together at local shows. Their second year marked a big

transition as they decided to try their hand at dressage. “At this point Legende was twenty-years-old, stiff, and not accustomed to the flexing required for Dressage,” Michelle recounts. “We had a few setbacks as he was showing some signs of arthritis, but he and Grace worked through it.” Last year Grace and legend were finally able to compete on the Arabian circuit, earning 8th in the USEF Horse of the Year Awards for Dressage Junior Exhibitor for Region Five, and 6th for Arabian Dressage Amateur Training Level. Legende was also Reserve Champion in the Dressage Training Level for USEF Region Five with Grace’s trainer, Kim Lacy.

Though their journey has not always been easy, Legende and Grace have built a beautiful partnership and are showing the world that Senior horses have much to offer inside the show ring and out. “Grace really had to grow into him,” Michelle explains, “He didn’t always feel she was the boss in the beginning, and often they battled for top position. She never gave up on him even when it was tough, and now he follows her everywhere.” This week GA Legende is in Scottsdale. With a little extra care from his family and trainer, Legende is showing the world that he isn’t done competing yet.

Lisa Potter has owned her treasured Purebred Arabian mare, registered as Michie and known as “Rosebud,” since she was a weanling in 1992. Today she is 27-years-old.

“I purchased Rosebud as a weanling from a stack of pictures sent to me by a breeder on the West Coast,” Lisa says. “When she arrived at my farm in Maryland, I knew she was very bright. One day while hand walking her, we stepped on some ice and we both started to slip. She maintained her composure and carefully stepped sideways off of the ice. When she was old enough to start under saddle, she could not wait to learn. Her enthusiasm made me laugh. I remember our first official all-breed group trail ride where everyone was watching me on the young Arabian with trepidation. She was perfectly behaved. After a while, when we reached obstacles that the front horses were unwilling to cross, someone would say, "Bring Rosebud to the front," and she would always carefully cross. Later I started an all-Arabian trail riding business in Maryland. She went on every ride and always took the most frightened, inexperienced riders. She has a very protective sense about her.

One day I had an elderly man who was dying of cancer. We were walking along with him riding Rosebud and me on another horse when suddenly he just fell off. His balance was no longer good due to his being so sick. I could tell Rosebud was upset but she stood quietly while he got back on, and we finished our ride. The next day I had some young people booked, and when we got to the spot where the man fell off, Rosebud came to a complete stop. She started looking around, trying to figure out what danger existed that she had not noticed before. It was extremely touching. I think the greatest thing, if I had to name one thing about her, is she is willing to try anything you put in front of her. She has complete confidence that you would not ask her to do something she could not handle. We've done many, many competitive trail rides, judged trail rides, team penning, placed well at a Biltmore Estates endurance ride, camped extensively in many places, been in many parades - often with a little rooster on the saddle, and she had done hundreds of lessons and small horse shows. One year at the local fair, she was the only horse that began the day in walk class and ended the day in hunter over fences. She is still very kind and loving as a senior horse. I will be standing and talking to someone and suddenly her head is hanging over my shoulder. I love all that personality. It's what having an Arabian horse for a friend is all about.”

WR Scarlet Rubey is a 21-year-old mare, loved by her owner Cindy Lou Ashauer. Though they have not been lifelong companions, Cindy Lou and “Scarlett” have quickly formed a special bond. “Arabian horses are so smart and willing to trust,” Cindy Lou explains. After she rescued Scarlett from an unfortunate situation a little over a year ago, she worked hard to forge a bond and give Scarlett safe and enjoyable golden years. “I don’t exactly know her story before I bought her, but I saw her on Facebook and knew I needed to bring her home,” Cindy Lou shares. “She was skittish at first, and I was told she had not been treated well at some point in her life. Despite this, Scarlett has come around to trust and love me. My favorite time with her is when I go sit out in the pasture with a particular treat she loves. She just about crawls in my lap! She loves to spend time and have her cheeks rubbed.”

Despite only meeting Scarlett later in her life, Cindy Lou is determined to take care of her for as long as she lives. “She was and is so worth bringing here for the rest of her life,” she says. “I have taken her for a few short rides around the field. I don’t know that she’ll ever be an amazing show or trail horse, but she will always be my friend.”

Grace and Michelle, Lisa, and Cindy Lou are enjoying the talents, love, and companionship of their senior Arabian horses. In next week’s post, we will meet more older Arabians and those who love them.

Do you have a senior Arabian horse? We would love to see a picture and hear more about your journey together in the comments!

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