7 Reasons to Buy a Senior Horse for your Youth Roper, According to the Pros

ProRodeo breakaway ropers have come through the ranks just like the rest—and they tip their hats to the senior teachers.

Bailey May (12) is the proud owner of Martha Angelone's old mare "Vegas," who is more than 20 years old. Photo courtesy of the May family.
Bailey May (12) is the proud owner of Martha Angelone's old mare "Vegas," who is more than 20 years old. Photo courtesy of the May family.

Senior breakaway horses can be worth their weight in gold, and nobody knows it better than ProRodeo breakaway ropers who have ridden them and gone on to advance to the highest levels of competition.

The Breakaway Roping Journal presents, “7 Reasons to Buy a Senior Horse for your Youth Roper, According to the Pros,” supported by Cosequin.

Reason #7: Senior horses have been there and done that. — Bradi Good

These horses have been there, done that and are used to being around rodeos and other horses. Not much scares them, and they can be great babysitters. With an older horse, you don’t have to worry about box issues, not leaving the corner, shutting you out or running past the calf. Older horses has been doing this for a long time and already knows the job, so they’re going to do the same thing every time. This is what you want to build confidence on, and it can be a great way for kids to learn to compete in breakaway.

Bradi Good rode “Smoke” until he was 18 years old. Here they are competing in Las Vegas in 2015. Photo courtesy of Good.

#6: Senior horses teach youth what a run should feel like. — Taylor Munsell

Riding a horse is a tough skill to master—and so is roping a calf. When you add both of those things together, it’s a true talent. An old horse is going to make it easier on your kid, and it’s going to be more fun and easier to win. That old campaigner will teach your kid what it is supposed to feel like and, from there, your roper will know what to look for in future horsepower when it’s time to level up.

“I rode a super nice old mare named ‘Naked Lightning’ when I was in junior high, and that’s what set the standard for me on what one should feel like. I had no idea what I was doing when I trained Monster and Ray; I just knew what I wanted them to feel like and figured it out from there.” —Taylor Munsell

Taylor Munsell and her siblings Hunter and Lindy stand alongside ‘Naked Lightning,’ a mare that taught Munsell the feel that later helped her train Monster and Ray. Photo courtesy of Munsell.

#5: Senior horses are not derailed by rookie mistakes. — Jackie Crawford

Older horses often already have their pattern, so a rider making a lot of mistakes is not going to derail them easily. A younger horse is more sensitive and will be affected by a rider’s mistakes more easily.

#4: Senior horses help youth gain confidence. — Hali Williams

Senior horses can help kids gain their confidence, because that horse has done it before. So, when a kid starts out, the horse is solid and ready for anything that the kid throws at them.

“My parents bought me a 17-year-old mare named ‘Sassy’ in 6th grade, and she taught me so much about how to ride and care for a made horse. She definitely showed me to not play around on her. You got on her and she did her job and then she was done, and that taught me to not overdo it when they do their job. She gets a lot of the credit for how I am able to keep my good horses working now.” — Hali Williams

Hali Williams credits senior mare "Sassy" with teaching her how to keep a finished horse working well.
Hali Williams credits senior mare “Sassy” with teaching her how to keep a finished horse working well. Photo courtesy of Hali Williams.

#3: Senior horses don’t get as nervous as young horses. — Martha Angelone

When kids are learning to compete at a younger age, they have more nerves than we usually do. A horse has to be able to take a lot of pressure with a kid—even though [we ProRodeo ropers] ask them for more than a kid would. A seasoned horse is good for kids.

“I had a 21-year-old horse named ‘Vegas’ that was so tight for me, but she’s the best first breakaway horse for the girl Bailey May that has her now. She’s been learning how to rope on Vegas, and won her first buckle the other day. The horse is a babysitter for her every time. Now, I’m not saying go buy your kid somebody’s old tight horse; I’m saying most older horses dial down into whatever the kid’s needs are, and makes the job so much easier. If you put your kid on a young horse and they’re both still learning, that’s not a good combination.” — Martha Angelone

Martha Angelone’s old mare “Vegas” dials it down for her new rider Bailey (12), and the two have won their first buckle together. Photo courtesy Angelone

No 2: Senior horses might score for their rider. — Shelby Meged

I think older horses know the game better than the kid that’s on them. They’ve seen the same looks thousands of times. I swear some of them even score for us. I’ve watched junior ropings where the kids try to kick before the gate comes open and the horse is like, ‘Ugh no, we’re not supposed to be going yet.’

I think getting two, or even one good year out of an old horse is worth more than 10 years out of a green horse that does something different every time. Kids have to get confidence, and it has to be fun. Winning is fun. I’ve seen so many kids just be so frustrated and hate it because their parents have them on a horse that is scary in the box or won’t do its job.

“I had an older horse named ‘Flop’ I grew up on. He made me and my sisters who we are. We actually laid him to rest in November. He was a huge part of our family. The main thing that shaped who I am was having Flop and getting to feel what a good horse should feel like. I then went on to make them, and just had to figure out how to get them all to feel like him. People undervalue what a good, old faithful horse is worth. If it sets you up for a lifetime career and gives you confidence, it’s worth its weight in gold.” — Shelby (Boisjoli) Meged

#1: Senior horses can improve youth’s horsemanship. — Joey Williams

Having a seasoned older horse is extremely important for kids to learn on. Learning to rope off a horse is enough of a challenge in itself—if a kid doesn’t have to worry as much about position or riding perfect, it can really get them the confidence they need starting out.

I think that kids need to learn good horsemanship as well as correct position, and it can come with the confidence you get from riding a been there, done that horse. Also, a senior horse will more than likely stay consistent for a kid from the practice pen to a rodeo, and consistency is important while you are learning and gaining confidence.

The Breakaway Roping Journal cheers on equine athletes of all ages thanks to support from partners like Cosequin.

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