Long in the hoof! Meet Orchid: the world’s oldest horse going strong at 49
She may be going grey and struggle to clear a fence but this 49-year-old O-HAY-P could be the world’s OLDEST horse.
Orchid the Arab-Thoroughbred cross is almost completely blind – and more than double the age of most of her stable mates – but still enjoys a good gallop and roll in her field.
Despite being completely emaciated when she arrived at the Remus horse sanctuary in Brentwood, Essex, after being rescued two years ago, she has stunned vets when not only did she make an incredible recovery – but they realised she was almost half a century old.
Sue Burton, founder of the sanctuary, said: “When Orchid was originally found she was laying on the floor, emaciated and full of sores and had given up. To see her today running, bucking and rolling is so heart-warming.
“She’s almost totally blind but it doesn’t seem to bother her too much. She’s a very happy horse nowadays, full of energy and has a great attitude.
“Orchid knows her own mind which is great to see for a horse of her age. Every morning when we go down to the stables, she will bang on the door waiting for her breakfast and doesn’t stop until we give her what she wants.”
Rescuers knew that Orchid was an old mare, but were stunned when vets and equine dental specialists revealed that Orchid is 48 years old – with staff celebrating her birthday on New Year’s Day, as she has no official equine passport – because she was born before they became obligitary in 1998.
The average horse’s life span is between 25 and 30 years.
Orchid has a carrot-free diet but goes through four to five cabbages a week – more than 200 cabbages throughout the course of the year.
Sue added: “I’d say that her lifestyle in retirement is the secret to her old age. She’s a very relaxed horse and lives a very stress-free life. She’s also really determined and shows tremendous grit.
“We don’t work our oldest horses. Orchid’s day consists of waking up, having breakfast and then we leave her to do as she pleases in the paddock until dinner time. She’s certainly enjoying her retirement.
“Horses are living much longer nowadays. When I first set up this sanctuary 31 years ago, 15 was a good age for a horse but now it’s normal for them to live to the age of 30.
“There’s been so many veterinary advancements in the past few years that we’re a lot better equipped to treat the animals but it’s also a matter of lifestyle. Orchid’s very happy and relaxed. We think that’s why she’s lived to such a good age.”
Orchid takes up the mantle from previous record holder Shayne, a 51-year-old liver chestnut Irish Draught cross thoroughbred who died in September 2014.