When deciding to buy a horse, most often the impulse is to buy a young horse that you can train and grow with over the years. If you are a new rider, there may be more to consider. There are advantages to starting out with an older horse that may help you to bond with a younger horse once you have a little more experience.
Remaining active well into their 20’s and 30’s, horses are living longer these days. The average lifespan for a horse that has been well cared for is approximately 30 years with ponies and mini horses living an average age of 35 years. This can be attributed to improvements in equine medicine and nutrition and also advances in treatments for older horses. Those who have been well cared for in their early years, generally have a better immune system because have been exposed to more illnesses which will aid in building immunity.
Older horses have more life experience. They have had more contact with people and most have already learned to deal with meeting new people. In many cases, they have also had the opportunity to learn to get along with other horses.
For the beginning rider, older horses can be much safer. Most older horses are good mounts and tend to take care of young, inexperienced or disabled riders. They generally have a better temperament and a lot of education to share with a new rider. New riders may not recognize problems before they occur but the older horse is more experienced and will correct issues on their own. They actually have the ability to teach a person how to ride.
Older horses generally don’t get as stressed or anxious and therefore make good companions for younger horses. Their actions are usually more predictable. With an older horse, you have the opportunity to work on your riding skills without having to worry about training the horse or teaching it to behave.
Although older horses may have physical conditions that require extra care, it may be worth the effort as long as their health can be maintained so that the horse remains comfortable. Having an exam before the purchase of the horse can give a good idea of the condition and any special needs that it may have.