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Calypso, Oldest Horse in Australia Dies Aged 50

The oldest living horse in Australia, a gelding called Calypso, has died at the ripe old age of 50.

Almost double the average horse lifespan, Calypso had a few age-related ailments, but his death came as a surprise.

Calypso lived on the Gold Coast and there was a big party to celebrate his 50th birthday on 1 August 2019, the equivalent to a human reaching 150 years of age.

Living peacefully in Tallebudgera Valley with his carer, Jenny Dyson-Holland, Calypso was found dead in his paddock on Saturday, 8th February.

Tough old boy

Quarter horses have a reputation for being hardy and tough, but Calypso outdid them all with his resilience and determination to enjoy life.

Ms Dyson-Holland described him as a “tough old boy” and said that right up until the end he was “lively” and with a good appetite.

Those who spent time with Calypso said that he had an unshakeable will to live, and was seemingly able to brush off the weight of his years.

Unsurprisingly, in his later years, Calypso started to suffer from typical complaints of old age. He was nearly deaf and had little sight left but this didn’t stop the sprightly horse. Calypso enjoyed his food and had plenty of energy, despite the limitations.

Ms Dyson-Holland said she often joked that he needed a hearing aid and glasses, but Calypso remained happy and content with his life.

Good genes

Calypso was looked after by horse vet, Rhian Partridge, based on the Gold Coast. The experienced vet admitted that even she was surprised at just how long the horse had managed to live.

She said that Calypso had obviously been blessed with “good genes” to enjoy such a long life, being doubly lucky that he had managed to keep his own teeth for so long.

Dr Partridge said that reaching age 50 meant that Calypso had done “amazingly well”, likening it to a human reaching 150 years. She went on to explain that the majority of horses die between the ages of 25 and 30 years, a fact which really brings home quite how impressive Calypso’s longevity is.

Calypso celebrating his 50th birthday
Calypso celebrating his 50th birthday

Not the easiest start

Although Ms Partridge said that the good care Calypso received from Ms Dyson-Holland contributed to his long life, it wasn’t always the case for the gelding.

When he was younger, he lived at a riding school where he was forced to endure a tough time.

Born in 1969, Calypso was part of a riding school for a few years where he was abused. On discovering what was happening, the Naric family bought Calypso to rescue him.

In 2004, they relocated to the Gold Coast with him which allowed Calypso to live out his old age in comfort.

It wasn’t the easiest transition as after the experience at the riding school, Calypso was reluctant to trust anyone.

However, with a slow and gentle approach and bucketloads of patience, Ms Dyson-Holland gradually bonded with the horses and the pair had an unbreakable bond.

She says that up until his death, Calypso was happy and content, eating and drinking well. Ms Dyson-Holland was the one to find Calypso in his paddock on the morning that he died.

A younger Calypso (left). Image by Eva Nakic
A younger Calypso (left). Image by Eva Nakic

Big fanbase on social media

Calypso’s ability to live to an advanced age meant that he had celebrity status. As well as being popular in the local community, Calypso also had a big following on social media.

Being one of the oldest horses ever to live in Australia meant that many were curious to see the equine enigma for themselves. Described as looking like a “little old man”, Calypso was visited by many local children on a regular basis.

The oldest horse in the world

Although Calypso’s age far outstripped most other horses, he doesn’t hold the record. That honour goes to Old Billy, a horse from England that reach 62 years.

Old Billy was born in Woolston, Lancashire in 1760 and died in 1822. The Manchester Museum still displays his skull while his skin was carefully preserved with taxidermy and after being stuffed was given as a gift to an art gallery and museum.

To read more on Old Billy, see our article on the oldest horses in history.

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