Photo & Poem: Aged-Out

Aged-out with his horse, he said, like a sell-by
date in the grocery store. We all stop riding, just
a day at a time until we hit to a wall. Surviving
cancer knocked the wind out of him, he said. The

pain echoed for days and eventually, his body was
forced to answer. He came to horses sixty years
too late, he said, but the mare disagreed. They
called her wild and crazy. She was his first horse in

seventy years. The mare found a soft landing with
a man aged-out on aggression and long on kindness,
with an apparent good eye for horses, recognizing
in her what others had missed. Never quite fitting

in with the cowboys, he rode out with women. I
don’t know if horses feel love, he said, but they
cannot stop us from loving them. With courage and
tears, he will not ask her to retire. Instead, he gifted

the sweetest mare on the ranch to someone younger.
He has aged-out on riding, yet a novice at eighty,
with no expiration date on the sacred moments that
pass between a good mare and a true horseman.


for Fred.

Anna Blake for Relaxed & Forward 

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Anna Blake

45 thoughts on “Photo & Poem: Aged-Out”

  1. Well, that one made me cry!

    Just checking my mail before heading out to scrape tons of hair off my wooly beats with my husband’s help to do manes and tails. Not yet ready to pass any of mine along. They don’t seem to be suffering the decision though. I’ll know if/when it’s time I guess.

  2. I sure do feel for him. Not sure I could have been as generous & caring if I had been in that situation. My horse has been gone for 18 years now – he left me before I had to answer that question.

  3. I would love to know Fred, sit in the shade and just visit. I miss not knowing him and my heart is a little heavy.

  4. Thank you Anna. It was a lovely poem that truly captured my feelings and experience. I will make a copy and frame it next to the picture of Aruna that is over my desk. I am not through crying yet and your note and poem did not help me stop that function but I know it will get better slowly. I do not plan stop reading your posts every week and may even make a comment occasionally. But I will never forget your kindness and support. And you will always be the one who showed me the way.

    • Oh Fred, thank you. I tried hard to do you and Aruna honor. I’ve been weepy, too. We are all on the clock and you have meant so much to me over the years. Thanks Fred. You’re still my hero. Take care.

  5. Beautiful, Anna. It connects with so many of us. You and Fred have a very special connection that is abundantly clear in your poem and his reply. I’m teary eyed.

  6. I wrote a comment earlier, but I don’t think I hit the right buttons before closing my laptop.

    I like this poem so much, and I so appreciate Fred and his connection and love for his horse. I am rapidly approaching that wall myself I think, and will remain a novice to the end myself.

    I wish we had more men like Fred in the horse world and here on your posts. .. I celebrate Fred’s “sacred moments” with his mare, and your words remind me to treasure my moments.

  7. Not sure my comment from yesterday was received..

    I want to meet and know Fred . Sit in the shade of a tree and share stories. My heart is heavy and my eyes full of the tears and joy that a horseman who recognizes that mare.

  8. Anna – Why dont all those wonderful comments from “It could be worse, you could be married to me”
    show up on the blog – I keep getting them in my email. And they are so great – but on the main post
    there are only 9 comments – and I have gotten probably 10 or 12 in my email. They are so great –
    they should be here on the main post!!

  9. Wow Anna! This one blew me away. It has taken some time to comment as I couldn’t see through the tears to type. My riding partner died 5 years ago. To most people he appeared a gruff old fellow, but never a more tender heart has existed. He was a bachelor, and his animals were his beloved family. He arranged a new home for his horse prior to his death, and it nearly ripped his heart from his chest. I adopted his goat and dog after he was gone. I still have his cattle dog , now 16. I miss him so. A horseman extraordinaire.

  10. With that title “Aged Out” I had to read it. I put down my horse a couple years ago because of the toll heaves took on him. He was my best friend. Losing him came at the same time that I aged out with osteoporosis. I had hoped to be one of those women I know who keep riding into their eighties. Such a beautiful thing when a person is able to turn their loss into another person’s and an animal’s gain, like the man in your piece.


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