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Old Man Winter

Pete is around 29 years old now. I say around because we have no actual birth date on him, but a vet looked at him two years ago and proclaimed him 27. Since most horses have a spring birthday I just figure when Gem turns a year older every May so does Pete.

Looking pretty darn good at 29 years old

He looks amazing for his age. He is still full of spunk, his coat shines like a mirror and he never misses a meal. His teeth are in pretty good shape and he is still able to forage for grass, eat regular hay and a pelleted feed without fuss. In fact, if anything he remains a bit chubby but I’ll take it.

I start to worry about him though this time of year. While most people worry about getting their senior horses through a winter season, I become a hyper-aware nervous wreck come summer.

Hanging out by the water tub

Pete is a big horse and he gets hot easily. Every fall I see him breathe a sigh of relief and relax as the cooler temperatures start to arrive and the humidity leaves. Right now though it is the beginning of 3-4 months of heat and high humidity and the poor old man looks exhausted and worried most of the time.

I’m not really sure what all to do for him either. I don’t use fly masks or blankets on him as they just trap more heat in and so he gets sprayed with fly spray instead. He has access to fresh water, a mineral block and the pond right now is flooded up into the back corner of the lower pasture. I’ve caught him in the water belly deep or rolling in the wet mud along the bank on several occasions. When he comes in at night, if he is sweaty and looks uncomfortable he gets a nice cold shower until the water runs cold off his body. He always appreciates that.

Getting his evening cold shower

A lot of people around here will keep horses in during the heat of the day, but our barn isn’t really good for that. There are no windows for a breeze and the aisle is set facing the wrong direction for the wind as the breeze comes at it from the side and is blocked. Perfect planing to keep it warm in the winter, but it is an oven in there in the summer. Even with fans blowing, it is still way hotter in the barn and he looks even more miserable than if he was outside under the shade trees with a breeze.

His weight is maintaining, he is walking fine and drinking well so I will continue to do the above and keep him as comfortable as possible and wait for fall to come around and bring with it the relief of cooler temperatures. I like that he has a big pasture with lots of shade and water access to roam and keep his joints moving and two friends who don’t pick on him, He seems generally happy with life at the moment and I hope to keep Old Man Winter around for a long time yet.

16 thoughts on “Old Man Winter”

  1. What a sweet guy. I love the oldies. It is probably harder for you thinking about it than it actually is for him. Just be glad you do not have to fight the winter with him yet.

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  2. ugh i totally relate with Pete haha, the heat and humidity can be exhausting!! my guy has been coming in sweaty every day too and i definitely feel bad for him. at least sweating is better than not being able to sweat!

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  3. I love that you have so many options for him to try and keep cool. Stock tanks/ponds are WONDERFUL things for them to get in to during the heat of the day (wish we had one, my main ride is a water baby).

    He does look great for 29!! YAY PETE!!!!

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      1. I haven’t caught him in it but after dinner every evening Pete takes the herd to the back and goes for a dip. Afterward they come back up to the front and while Gem is perfectly pristine, clean and dry (the Queen would never go into dirty water) the two boys are soaked and muddy so I can only assume he has followed Pete in. Of note he went right into the water complex today no issues. Well, that’s not true. He did try to drop and roll. But going in wasn’t an issue LOL!

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  4. I agree it is better to leave him out if you can. Since he has access to shade and water and trees he should be fine. we just lost an oldster at my barn last week 😦 She would have turned 30 last Friday. She was doing fine (we worried about her over the winter because she did lose some weight but she seemed to have bounced back). However in her circumstances she went down out in the field on a coolish night instead of heat wave. (I am sure her heart gave out or whatever 😦 ) So you just never know. One thing I did set up when I had my own place in TX was a misting system. If you have a tree you can run a hose around that can be near the water, that is always a good option if it gets REALLY REALLY HUMID AND HOT. But he seems to be pretty adaptable and you guys are there to keep an eye on him. I think the showers probably help him with his body temp too!

    He is a cutie….I hope he lasts forever for you 🙂

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  5. I’ve known plenty of older horses like Pete who struggle more during the summer than winter, or at least down here. Heck we have a horse at camp that last August stopped drinking water and I thought he was going to die on us! But as soon as the temp dropped he was back to his cheeky 33 year old self and is doing really well so far! But I’m definitely watching him like a hawk this summer!!!! Hope Pete fairs well this summer and enjoys his pond time 🙂

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  6. He does look great for his age! I had a pony for several years as a teenager and all I knew was that she was “somewhere past 20” but she was a very sassy thing haha. It sounds like he’s a resourceful guy and you’ve given him plenty of options to stay cool – especially if the barn is out.

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