Old Horses, New Friends (Part 1)

By Della St Louis

We believe in riding older horses.  This summer, the delightful ladies in this article, happen to all ride horses over 20 years of age, all met while riding the ACTHA Freedom Horse Ride.  We were drawn to each other and formed a bond because of our admiration for our older mounts.  A topic of discussion was our response when asked to help people find a beginner horse for a family member; we most often suggest they consider an older horse.  This is often met with a frown and “No thanks, older horses always have problems”.  We disagree and these are the stories of Diana Wingfield and Maverick, Barbara Hackney and Perky Lucky Lady “Lady”, and Della St. Louis and Sidewinder Skip “Bubba”.

Diana Wingfield rides Maverick, a stunning black gelding with a very bright star in the middle of his head.  He is not big in statue and stands at only 14-2 hands, but he gets Diana around and she has the utmost faith that wherever they ride, he will take care of her.  At 21 years of age, Maverick shows no signs of slowing down.

Maverick was donated to Diana for the Therapeutic riding program she started in Texas.  He was four at the time and came with some “Old Indian Way” training, but Diana felt he would be a good fit for her program.  Maverick’s first trailer ride was a bit overwhelming, but he survived and Diana was happy to have him.  Maverick was only asked to be kind to his riders; a task he succeeded at hooves down.

Diana’s number one helper for her riding program was her daughter Robin.  Life is not always fair.  Robin acquired an illness and unfortunately became disabled and sadly the Therapeutic Riding School had to be closed.  With Maverick out of a job, he soon became a transport for Diana’s grand kids, who she would see crawling up his back, bareback and with no bridle or halter.  Maverick, unfazed with the grand kids crawling over him, seemed content to amble round his pen with the grand kids in tow.  Diana rode him, but only occasionally just to keep the joints limbered and only on the property.  The only time Maverick ever left the farm was for his yearly trek to the vet.

Maverick had been such a trooper while serving as a therapeutic horse, Diana knew he would be perfect as her mount for the ACTHA CTCs.  When Diana heard about the ACTHA, she loaded up, saddled up and down the trails they went.  Maverick has been such an inspiration for her and others who ride with Diana; a strong team and hard to beat on the ACTHA CTCs.

As with some horses, Maverick has his faults.  Unfortunately he does not like to be away from his buddy Bailey and does not like man-made water obstacles.  He opens unlocked stall doors; this is not one of his positive assets.  Diana refers to Maverick as “The Old Man” but he is young at heart and accepts every path, trail, hilltop or valley that Diana points him to.  He is becoming more trusting of water after putting a white bath tub in his stall with balls floating. The shine of the water seems to be the problem.  Maverick is a little dropped in his back now and sometimes has issues breathing when it is dusty.  Thinking back to when she first got him as a four year old, Diana would have preferred she had taken more time with him, but having several others horses at the time, and playing coach, chauffeur and all about grandma to her grandson doing Special Olympics Equestrian events, she did not have the dedicated time for just one horse.

This is Part One of a Four Part series story. Check in next week for Part Two! We welcome all members’ stories! Everyone has a special story to share about their horses and experiences. We would love to hear yours! You can send stories to Debbie@actha.us. Please also include a couple of good quality photos!

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