With all the emphasis on aged events in the performance horse world, it’s always heartening to hear of new classes that offer a chance for older horses to prove they’ve still got it.
The National Reining Breeders Classic is the latest to offer such an opportunity, with a new program for horses 7 and older. The NRBC Classic Challenge begins in 2011. As the show’s news release points out, the class will encourage training and maintaining horses for longevity, rather than just pushing for aged-event success. It offers major added money ($20,000 in the Open and $25,000 in the Non-Pro).
There have been some great showcases lately for older horses. It was fun to go to Oklahoma City and watch Bald N Shiney (featured as our Arena All-Star in the September issue) win the World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout at Battle in the Saddle in July. Nelle Murphy’s 16-year-old gelding is going strong, and he looks fit and happy.
The Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, which spotlights the Open and Non-Pro in big added-money events throughout the year, has brought some horses out of retirement and kept some show-pen veterans earning healthy paychecks.
This year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are open only to horses 6 and older. The event is sanctioned by the Federation Equestre Internationale and at the end, world champions in eight disciplines will be named. Among those is reining, held for the third time at the WEG. Three of the four U.S. horses are 6, but the fourth, Mister Montana Nic, is 12. He’s been in Craig Schmersal’s training program since his 3-year-old year, and Craig will tell you he’s adamant about building a horse that lasts long past the aged events. Mister Montana Nic is a shining example of that, and he helped the U.S. team win gold last weekend.
Few people can resist the lure of big money paid out at the aged events, not to mention the excitement of riding or owning a talented young horse, and who can blame them? I can’t deny that I’d love to have a 3-year-old to show at the NCHA Futurity someday. But right now there’s a 6-year-old gelding in my barn that’s barely begun his career. By aged-event standards, he’s almost past his prime. In my world, with any luck, his best years are still ahead.