My first horse was a 26 year-old retired gelding who was in chronic pain and cribbed every moment of every day. No one knew what to do with him. When I looked at him I saw a horse coping as best he could with the environment he was in. His needs were changing as he was aging, and he was no longer a fit with the environment. My thought was if I changed the environment and how he was managed, then his behavior and condition would change.
Eager to try my experiment, I took him into my care, which began a straight up learning curve about everything horses. Why not cure cribbing? Why not be rid of chronic pain? Why can’t a senior horse be active and full of life right up until the day they die?
God’s Window Senior Horse Rehab is the compilation of everything I have learned to date from this horse, and others on how to bring about a fully alive senior horse. The results are amazing:
- Silky soft hair coat
- Bright and curious eyes
- Excellent body condition
- Increased fitness
- Eagerness to interact with humans and other horses
Listen to our interviews on the Love Has Many Faces radio program (KKNW 1150 AM) about our work rehabbing senior horses retiring from therapy work with at-risk kids.
Oct. 2016 (discussing my first two rehab cases and what holistic rehab looks like)
Jan. 2018 (discussing what I’ve learned from horses about who they are)
Nov. 2018 (discussing what it looks like to really listen to a horse in rehab with our last rehab case).
Aug. 2020 (discussing the downside of feeding grain, the benefits of letting the horse make their own decisions and how it relates to dying and hospice care to a natural death).
This was MAYA, our last rehab case who was with us much too short, but taught us so much about living and dying. She died 3 months after coming to us with significant health issues. You can learn more about her and what she taught us on our blog, and on her facebook page, which has now become our horse hospice facebook page. If you are looking for alternatives to euthanasia, this page is for you.
UPDATE: 2022 The first seven years of rehabbing senior horses, no one died. Then over the next 5 years, four horses died. (You can read about them here).
Through their deaths, we learned and developed how to do hospice care to a natural death. Our first online class was born: Introduction to Horse Hospice.
Out of the hospice class, people asked, “How do you manage pain in senior horses?”
Our next class was born: Pain Management for Senior Horses.
Out of the pain management class, it became clear that people needed more tools for how to connect with their horses and be able to differentiate between themselves and their horse. Our next class was born: Connection with Horses.
From all of this learning and several horse deaths later came our fourth class: Post-death of a Horse. It’s a practical guide on what to do with the body, with grief and with the surviving herd members once your horse has died.
For more information and to register for these classes, click here.
I hope the information here will give you ideas on how to improve the health and well-being of your own senior horses (or any horses for that matter) in living and in dying. Keep learning and listening to your horses. They will not lead you astray.
Mary Walby, Founder, God’s Window Senior Horse Rehab