If we are lucky, our horses can live well into their 20s and still enjoy their work under saddle or on the ground. Many of our Hack 1,000 Miles riders are partaking on the momentous challenge aboard their veteran horses – proving that age is just a number when it comes to enjoying your time in the saddle.

Cathy and Palomo

Here, the riders celebrate the golden oldies who are still out and about totting up the miles.

Cathy Dance completed the challenge on her veteran Argentine Thoroughbred x Criollo gelding Palomo.

“My boy is 23. He’s a retired polo pony and now we’re just happy hackers,” says Cathy. “I haven’t ridden him as much lately as I normally would, but that’s due to me, not him. He still likes to be a speed demon and charge about like he’s on the polo field.”

Lesley Moore also completed the challenge on her 20-year-old veteran.

“We do between 10 and 30 miles per week, with the occasional 40 miles here and there,” she says.

Many owners will claim their horses aren’t aware of their age and still have plenty of enthusiasm for their work.

“My mare is 28-years-old and we still go for a plod once or twice a week,” says Rebecca Middleton. “Well, I say plod – the other day she tanked off with me at 100mph up the woods, and then we ended up cantering back up a lane because I couldn’t stop her. She’s a bit of a mad thing, really, but I’m used to it so I was laughing in between my desperate plea for her to stop. I tried telling her she’s too old for this nonsense! She’s definitely a character.”

Georgia has found Slinky to be a great teacher

Georgia Sugden has found that her mare’s experience has meant she has progressed further in her riding.

“Slinky is 17 but she acts like she’s a lot younger,” says Georgia. “She’s my first horse and she’s taught me everything. I ride her four or five times per week.”

Many of us with a golden oldie have had them from their younger years and the bond we form with them is undeniable.

“I still ride my mum’s old boy,” says Chell Ward. “I backed him at three years old and he’s still going strong at 23! He retired from the odd dressage competition we used to do when he damaged his proximal suspensory ligament in 2016 but we continue to hack out, albeit he’s still speedy.”

Suzanne Johnstone shares a special bond with her horse Mr Piper.

“He’s my very best friend,” she says. “He’s somewhere between 27 and 32 years old – we don’t know exactly – but he’s been with me now for nearly 20 years. He still hacks out three times a week and does liberty and groundwork. He gets to choose whether he carries me, gets ponied or stays home but 99% of the time he still wants to work. I love him more than anything.”

Lowri riding Flossy (right) with her mum on Flash (middle) and her daughter riding Tucker (left)

For Lowri Anne, the love of veteran horses is a family affair.

“We love to hack as a family and have a trio of chestnut veterans,” shares Lowri. “Flash is 26, Tucker is 17 and Flossy is 19. Me and my mum try to get out at least once a week together – more often in the summer – and I’m hoping by next year my little girl will be off the lead rein and able to come out even more.”

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