Super Senior Sport Horses

Galbraith says good conformation and judicious training can help a reiner continue performing past his youth.

Photo: Courtesy Dr. Nadine Galbraith

A look at three equine athletes that are excelling in their golden years, along with how their owners and veterinarians keep them feeling young

There are exceptional equine athletes in every discipline—those stars who stand out from the pack and win awards and titles time and again. We typically expect these athletes to be at that magic age where horses peak for a specific breed or discipline. However, some exceptional horses are defying logic, competing well into their senior years. Retirement doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon for some of them. We talked to the owners and riders of three senior horses who still have plenty of “get up and go” and continue to excel in their disciplines. 

Meet Your Elders

Currently the United States Eventing Association’s highest scoring eventer of all time, Ballynoe Castle RM is a Belgian Warmblood/Irish Thoroughbred cross owned by Cassandra and Carl Segal and ridden by Bruce (Buck) Davidson Jr., of Riegelsville, Pennsylvania. The 15-year-old bay gelding’s lifetime accomplishments include helping the U.S. eventing team to a fourth-place finish at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) and competing at the 2014 WEG. He ran fourth at the 2013 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and third in 2014. In 2015 “Reggie” was still winning a slew of top level events. 

Ballynoe Castle RM, at age 15, is still competing at the top of his sport.

Photo: Erica Larson, News Editor

Hadji Halef Omar is a purebred Arabian endurance horse who has logged 8,575 lifetime miles over 170 American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) rides with owner and endurance veteran Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss. In 2014 the gray gelding completed the Tevis Cup, and in 2015, at 23, he placed in the Top 10 in 11 out of 19 rides. Palmer-DuRoss, of Queen Creek, Arizona, calls Hadji irreplaceable.

At 23, Stephanie Palmer-Duross's Hadji placed in the top 10 in 11 out of 19 endurance rides.

Photo: Courtesy Stephanie Palmer-Duross

Smart Snap, a Quarter Horse owned by Nadine Galbraith, DVM, has earned National Reining Horse Association and American Quarter Horse Congress championships with three members of the Galbraith family, who own Morning Star Performance Horses, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The now-17-year-old bay stallion, nicknamed “Snap,” has competed in France, Italy, Germany, and Canada and won 150 events. 

This article continues in the February 2016 issue of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. Subscribe now and get an immediate download of this issue to learn how the owners and veterinarians keep these horses feeling young.

About the Author

Sarah Evers Conrad

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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