The grace of older horses…

I’m writing this today with a smile on my face.  You see, I’m not sure if I’m writing about myself or my horse…

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to move Gwen into the barn at night.  She’s 28.  It’s not that she can’t be outside, she can.  But I really don’t have the perfect pasture mate for her, and she doesn’t like to be alone at night during bad weather.   And truthfully, I don’t like to have her outside during bad weather (even though we have plenty of trees and shelter).  So, I brought her in.

She was happy.  I was happy.


Since I’ve owned this house, I’ve had 2, now 3, horses who have lived in the barn long-term.  The first was Aladdin.  The second was Mama Tess.  And now we have her daughter, Gwendolyn.

The interesting thing is that I’ve owned all of these horses since birth or shortly thereafter.  I know/knew them all very well…

I can say from experience, there is a distinct difference when they move into the barn.

Gone are the days of mischief and shenanigans.  It is as if they decided that being older means it is time to drop all pretenses and simply reap the benefits of a warm stall with lots of great food.

I swear, Tess was totally unmanageable as a show horse – and for many years thereafter.  Yet when barntime came, she was an angel.  Same with Aladdin.  He wasn’t unmanageable, but he got into everything if he was left in the barn.  Yet, when barntime came, he was an angel.  And now with Gwen, the bullymare of all time… she has turned into an angel.

Barntime is a nod and a smile.


I think barntime is when your horse realizes that they know most of it and don’t need to prove anything anymore.  Time to enjoy and settle into their new normal.  Mostly, though, it is time to be kind and forgiving of the little human.

For example, during barntime, all three horses came when I called – every. single. time.  I never had to use a rope or halter if I let them out.  They always came back when called.  They didn’t mess up their interior surroundings, in fact, all of them created their bedrooms and bathrooms respectively.  They didn’t mess with my things.

In return, I gave them special attention.  They had cozy and lovely Barndo living.  And, of course, all the special food, grooming, tender nothings and love.

And now, Gwen is enjoying Barntime in her Barndo with me.  I kinda figure we are both understanding our limitations now, and respecting the heck out of each other.

This is really a nice feeling…

Gwen sticking her head into the tack room as I prepare her special meal…

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3 comments have been posted...

  1. Rox

    You are so right about old horses. Just a lovely post, thank you. I became the “failed foster” of an elderly Arabian mare who spent a dozen or more years just barely living out of a mostly eaten-down pasture with little or no human contact except when (thank goodness) her feet were trimmed once or twice a year (she’s an angel about the farrier). No excuse for the neglect of care or contact except humans who thought it was cool to have a horse in the front pasture until neighbors started calling animal control on them – for good reason. At least she was willingly surrendered without a court battle! She is soooo happy to have her double stall here, deeply bedded, a full hay net and clean full water buckets every night. Best of all she loves being groomed so much she stands stock still without being tied – and any pause in grooming elicits a gentle nudge from her nose to my arm suggesting I continue with more. AND she gallops to the gate when it’s time to come in for the night!

  2. Beverly Kay Hoffmann

    I love these posts about your everyday life with your horses and their goings on. I have missed these when you disappeared for awhile. Please try to get back to these. I have wondered how Dalton is doing and all the other “kids”. Love these writings.

  3. Melissa

    What a lovely mare Gwen is, and what a wonderful post! Yes, “barntime” is a pretty special transition for horse owners and their amazing horses.

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