Saturday, July 20, 2013



 Originally published in Horse Directory August, 2013

 By Tom Gumbrecht

 I've been hearing a lot of the platitudes lately. "It's just a number." Well, it is just a number, yes, but it's a fairly large one, and it's evenly divisible by ten. "You're only as old as you feel." I don't feel old at all, most of the time. Except when I have put my date of birth on a form. "Sixty is the new forty."

Lola, my OTTB mare, keeps me young..
No it isn't. Sixty is still sixty. However, except for some occasional minor joint pain, in many ways I feel better than I did at forty. The thing is, in the horse world, 60 is not a big deal. Having begun my riding career at age 45, I feel like an "experienced novice" in many ways. I have many friends and aquaintences who have demonstrated that a riding life can go on long after 60 is a faint memory. So why the concern with this particular number? Because I was, in a word, unprepared.

Numbers, and all they represent, have never concerned me much, so based on experience I believed this one would be no different. It was, though, a little bit different. At sixty, I am just at the point where I'm really comfortable jumping a horse, the point where it's no big deal and I can work on perfecting the subtleties. That's been a long road, and I found myself wondering if I have enough time left to get really good at it, or did I start too late? I began to ponder my next horse, if there would even be a next horse! My herd now is a young one. If I were to get another, would that horse outlive me? Or are these my last horses?
DannyBoy gave me a few grey hairs.. and blue ribbons!

 I never considered that before. I found myself being more concerned with the mathematics of things, and shocked by the results of my mental equations, so I went to where I go when life no longer makes sense: to the barn. I never really think about it, but age hardly exists in the barn; I suppose that's because there is no such thing as age to a horse. They are pretty much OK with doing whatever their bodies are capable of doing that day, and adapt to it almost immediately. They are grateful for having their basic needs met and can be happy in the moment they are experiencing because they are not concerned with what tomorrow's moments may bring.

 To live in the moment, to experience each moment fully and not live in the moments of yesterday or tomorrow.. that is what we have been struggling to achieve for a long time, and what our horses already know inherently. We seek knowledge in words and books; the horses carry it in their blood and bones, and are more than happy to share it with anyone who will take the time to learn their language. Perhaps that is why God decided I should have a horse...

Best friends with a racehorse.. life is good!

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