Older Horse Elmer Bandit Ready for Winter

With four days of consecutive dressage lessons that ran from Nov. 20-23, Elmer Bandit, the 38-year-old National Competitive Trail mileage holder, observed Thanksgiving by resting at his Independence, Mo., boarding stable home.

How has Elmer prepared for winter?

"He has grown an inch of hair, at least, and is very soft and furry," reported his lifetime owner, Mary Anna Wood. With the fluctuating Kansas temperatures, Wood hosed sweat off the gray half-Arabian gelding after one of his recent dressage workouts. Elmer has donned his special blanket from his fans at TheHorse.com twice already this fall.

Wood said she believes the 30 years of dressage lessons have kept Elmer supple, active, and alert. During the recent string of lessons, Elmer worked on shoulder in, haunches in, maintaining straightness, and transitions. "Where were these transitions 20 years ago?" asked instructor Carlie Beisel as Elmer continues to improve his moves.

Both Wood and Elmer recently had chiropractic adjustments. When Wood first mounted Elmer after their treatments, she noted, "At the first step of his walk, I could tell the difference."

Other winter preparations for the gelding include his transition from steel shoes to bare hooves for roaming in his pasture. Wood personally shod the gelding for his 2009 riding season, in which he added another 60 miles to his record which now stands at 20,780 miles.

Wood still rises between 3:30 and 4 a.m. to feed her lifelong partner. Separated from his herd, Elmer is fed twice a day, a lengthy process due to his age and chewing capability.

Ready for winter, but still looking forward to spring, Wood is already considering a possible ride for Elmer in 2010 in Iowa.

"If they hold Brushy Creek, we might consider it," she said. "Elmer likes that trail."

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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