Smashing the myth that older equines are no longer athletes.
Gail M. Staines, Ph.D.
Founder, The Senior Horse
April 12, 2021
It is common to hear people say that horses over 15 years of age are “worthless” and “washed up.” Did you know that 23% of the horses that competed in eventing at the 2012 Olympics were 15+ years of age – the oldest being 20?
Let’s take a look at older horses that have had great success at an advanced age:
Adelinde Corneliseen’s (Netherlands) mount Parzival, won both an individual bronze medal and silver team medal in Dressage at the 2012 Olympics. Chablis, Valentina Truppa’s (Italy) mount also competed in these games. Both were 19 years old.
Robinson, ridden by Richard Spooner of California, competed until age 21, winning 40 Grand Prix classes over his career.
Al Jabal, 19 year old pure bred Arabian, won The Three Horseshoes Handicap Stakes in 2002.
Creepy Junior was 26 years old when he competed at the AQHA Select World Championship Show in 2015. Owner/rider Lisa Hamilton got the horse free because no one wanted a 20-year old barrel racing horse. He has placed in top barrel racing competitions.
In 2018, PL Mercury, completed the Tevis Cup, a 100-mile endurance test, at 27 ½ years old finishing 13th out of 149 riders and horses.
Claire and Mercury riding at Fort Valley 2016. Photo Courtesy of Becky Pearman
Know of any other older equine athletes? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief blurb about the horse, with or without a photo. Verified information will be posted on https://www.theseniorhorse.com
Bevis, B. (2015). Older Horse Competing at AQHA Select World is 26-year old “Creepy Junior.” The Equine Chronicle, http://www.equinechronicle.com/oldest-horse-competing-at-aqha-select-world-is-26-year-old-creepy-junior/
Braddick, K. (2016). Olympic dressage – Horses & riders, Youngest/Oldest, Male/Female, Breeds/Sexes. Dressage News, https://dressage-news.com/2016/07/20/olympic-dressage-horses-riders-youngestoldest-malefemale-breedssexes-2/
Hayes, M. (2018). 27-year-old ‘Merc’ Becomes Oldest Horse to Complete Tevis Cup
Horse, Oldest Race Winner, (2002). Guinness World Record, https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/search?term=horse-oldest-race-winner&page=1&type=all&max=20&partial=_Results&
How Should I be Feeding My Older Performance Horse? (n.d.) VitaFlex, https://www.vitaflex.com/the-arena/senior-care/feeding-the-older-equine-athlete
Staszek, C. (2018). Defying Age: Here’s What it Takes to Keep a Top Grand Prix Horse Thriving Late into its Career. Horse Power, https://www.noellefloyd.com/blogs/sport/defying-age-here-s-what-it-takes-to-keep-a-top-grand-prix-horse-thriving-late-into-its-career