I was ten when my parents decided to lease the twenty-one year old mare I’d formerly taken lessons on, and boy, oh boy, was I thrilled. You see, Lady Be Good was a one-of-a-kind horse. The kind you could put a complete novice on and know they’d be safe. The kind who never spooked—at falling trees, low-flying planes, barking dogs, or honking horns. She was the definition of bomb-proof, and in the years we spent together, Lady gave me confidence like I’d never known, taught me what responsibility was all about, and planted a seed which led to a life-long love of horses.
Fast forward fifteen years, and I was the one giving lessons. Not on Lady, but another older mare who was every bit as special and even had a rhyming name. On Kady’s back, five and fifteen-year-olds took delight in trotting around the arena. Simon Says was a lesson favorite; Kady always listened to her rider. She brought the age-old joy of horsemanship to many, and just as Lady had taught me, Kady showed my students how wonderful horses can be.
Both Lady and Kady are gone now, but I’m left with another heart horse, 25-year-old Hershey. I was a college senior when we began our journey together, and while Hershey’s never been what anyone would call easy, we formed an unbreakable bond from the start. Spooky, often difficult to catch, and finicky when it comes to trailer-loading, Hershey definitely has his quirks. But even difficult horses have wisdom to impart. Once a talented barrel racing horse, Hershey taught me that perseverance and hard work pay off. He helped to make my riding dreams come true.
But ribbons and buckles aside, I believe old horses have a much more important lesson to teach us. They give so much, only asking for one thing in return: that we continue to care for them when they’re long past the days of jumping fences or chasing cans. Old horses remind us of who we once were, but also of who we are today. Mine have taught me that horses have so much more to offer than just a ride on their back. They’ve taught me the value of unconditional love. For this, I’ll be forever grateful to them.
**Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as an owner/barefoot trimmer and certified equine acupressure practitioner. She hosts the blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse, where she regularly shares information on barefoot, equine nutrition, and holistic horse health. Once an avid barrel racer, Casie now enjoys just giving back to the horses who have given her so much. Follow Casie at www.casiebazay.com.