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Thursday, November 18, 2004



Hi my name is J. I ride at a farm in cambridge and there is a horse that looks pretty old and is still being used in lessons. I want to know if any one can tell me if she should be being used in lessons anymore. Please email me so i can send you a picture of her. Then you can tell me. Thanks so much!!


Dear J,

I would not presume to make a judgment call like that from a photograph or even a video. Some horses can work productively well into their 30s. Some older horses develop various conditions related to age that cause them to be quite ribby--think of thin old people you know-- but as long as they are getting enough calories to keep healthy, palpable ribs are not a reliable sign. Actually the horse's veterinarian is the determining agent here--is the horse sufficiently sound to be comfortable at the level of work? Are the horse's teeth in good condition for its age? Is the food provided for the horse consistent with the horse's need? (Some older horses lose enough teeth that soft feed must be provided, etc.) Is the medical regimen (supplements etc) in the horse's best interest? etc. etc.

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