In my recently published book, I lamented that I owed two dollars to a friend from over 30 years ago. The story in brief was that I had a horrific horse accident when in my twenties, cutting short my ambition to ride my way into history. After years of recuperation, I dreamed of working with horses back in the bush. It was then in the early 1970’s that my accountant had bet me two dollars that if I put an ad in the local paper, I would find enough horses to shoe in the Adelaide Hills to keep me busy 24 hours a day. He was right, but I lost contact with him, and the two dollars that I owed him was the centrepiece of my silver belt buckle.
After the book was published, I found him again less than 100km away, and it was great to renew the friendship over the phone. I dropped in unannounced to his property one day and finding no-one at home, strolled over to the horse paddock to see what horses he had.
There in retirement was an aged Arab, and I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. It was the same Arab that I used to shoe over 30 years ago. El-Hawa was obviously thoroughly enjoying life, spoilt rotten and pampered in the home paddock, and was delighted to renew my acquaintance and nuzzle me with his toothless gums.
Kevin told me later that El-Hawa is now 36 years old. It is great to see horses happy and in good condition in these advanced years after a lifetime of love and good care.
I am often asked what can be done to keep an older horse in good condition. The greatest remedy I have found is cooked pumpkin, mashed into the feed. It puts on condition at the rate of knots.
One other tip that I often pass on for horses of all ages is to use gelatine for hoof growth. Biotin is excellent, and gives the best and fastest result. However, it can be expensive, and for owners on a budget, gelatine is an inexpensive if somewhat slower replacement. Used at the rate of about one tablespoon mixed in feed or water per day, it doesn’t break the budget and can be used continually.
As Kevin and I reminisced, he reminded me of the time all those years ago when we went for a picnic at Brownhill Creek, one of Adelaide’s premier picnic spots. We had with us an old ex-trotter called Chester, pulling a beautifully restored horse carriage. During the afternoon a child rode by on a very much in-season pony mare and Chester sprang into action, absolutely determined to rape her while still in the shafts. The end result was a shattered horse carriage that the two of us had to pull home that night. Life with horses is never predictable, and certainly never dull.