Monday, December 10, 2012

Old people, old horses

Harv at 26
My family on both sides has great genes -- the Kimmels are blessed with longevity. As a kid I had more than a few relatives over the age of 90.  

The thing is, even the most robust and healthy relatives eventually succumbed to old age. And once they started to fail, it seemed like they failed quickly. 

For so long Harv has been fat and sleek and fit and sassy.  Just a few years ago, I was sure he would live past 30. This year Harv has aged, seemingly all at once.  He still looks good -- even great -- for his age, and he'll prance around the pasture like a youngster. But those moments don't come as often, and  I no longer think of him as ageless. He is more frail. He has more than a sprinkling of white on his face.  He has declined a little, there's no denying it.

The colic underlined this. When he colicked, he not only had symptoms of the tummy ache, but he was noticeably ataxic -- unsteady on his feet. The vet who came out to see him watched him walk, and raised her eyebrows: "Are you sure it's a colic?" she asked.  I nodded. She said, "OK. This horse may have several things going on." I don't know why he got so wobbly behind, but he was back to normal as the colic symptoms eased.

I am so grateful Harv is doing as well as he is, and he is doing well. But I've seen first-hand how quickly things change. I am grateful now for every day, grateful for the great care and attention he has, and thankful that I have time to spend with him. I scratch his face and ears, I feed him carrots, and we walk around the barn.

Oh,  on a more positive note: Harv does have a new love that I think it helping to keep him young -- I'll have to tell you about his May-December romance ;-).


  1. I have a 32 year old horse that I have owned since he was three (and my previous old horse lived to be 35). Both showed the same unsteady on the feet thing at about thirty. Sounds like Harv is doing really well overall and you are giving him the best possible life. My 32 year old loves attention and I try to give him as much love and hand grazing as I possibly can.

  2. I wanted to write something to you about Harv, but I just can't. I will tell you that I couldn't help the tears. I do not know if your post made me aware of the passage of time or if I just wish they could last forever.

  3. Blessings to Harv for a life that lasts as long as he is comfortable and pain-free - and to you for taking such great care of him. I have two seniors - Keil Bay is 23 but really at this point he still seems quite young to me. Salina is 29 and she is definitely slowing down and having some issues. With her I realize keenly that it could be any time now that either she goes or we have to make the decision to let her go. I have never cried quite so hard as when I think we might be at that place. It's just hard and there's no real way I know of to make it easier, except for what you're doing: scratching faces and ears, feeding carrots and treats, walking and grooming and just being with them.

  4. I noticed this my old guy,that just suddenly, he wasn't what he'd been.

  5. My OTTB is a spry young thing of 18, but he's changed too--and I think it's the weather. Winter doesn't make us (or our critters) look or feel our best. Heavy hair, stiff joints--just not my favorite time of year. Tendency is to stand in the warm sun and out of the breeze and enjoy balmy moments when they happen.

    Make many memories with the carrots and the scritches and the walks. I loved the picture, too.

  6. Stacey: Had to make the horrible decision to put down my 29 yr. old boy this fall. You are right, the aging happened all of the sudden. Enjoy him while he's doing well. Still missing my boy.


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