Nestled away in the rolling hills of Fallbrook is a ranch that owners Bob and Mary Manns have aptly named Manns Magic Ranch. The magic is not just in the fact that these two self-proclaimed horse lovers have five horses of their own, but more specifically the oldest one they have.
Magic, a distinguished Polish Arabian lives on the ranch. She is celebrating her 46th birthday on June 15. For Magic’s human counterparts, that would be the equivalent of turning about 140 this year.
Horses generally live to be about 20-25, while Polish Arabians as a breed have a longer life expectancy, commonly living into their late 20s or early 30s. Though there has been no confirmation of Magic being the world's oldest horse, being that she is a purebred Polish Arabian, the Manns do know that she is the oldest living of her breed.
Despite being a member of what is commonly accepted as the longest living breed of horse, Magic has astonished the Manns with not only her age, but also her health.
From looking at Magic, one would never know of her impressive age. She is in peak health condition. She is still fit enough to give riding lessons to complete beginners as part of the business Mary runs from her stable.
"She is so easy to learn on," Mary said, of why she still uses Magic to teach kids.
Magic has straight legs and a firm back, two common signs of an aging equine. She has also never had to have her teeth floated (to smooth or contour the teeth), which is a common treatment for horses every two to three years. She does not take any dietary supplements and sticks to the same hay-based diet that the Manns feed all their horses.
"She drinks more water than any horse I’ve ever seen," Bob said, speculating on Magic’s longevity.
Magic has not always led a passive life on the ranch. For 25 years, Magic competed as a professional barrel racer and pole bender. She competed as recently as 2011 with the Manns at the Valley Center Vaqueros Club where she took home seven awards.
"I’ve never ridden a horse as fast and intelligent as she is," Bob Manns said endearingly of Magic. "She and I just have a ball."
This is saying something, as Bob has been riding for over 60 years, and grew up on a horse ranch. As recently as last year, Manns would take Magic for 10-mile rides in the back canyons and rivers behind their home. Magic was a celebrity on the trail; everyone, it seems, has heard of the "really old horse."
"Magic is a tank," Manns says referring to her uncanny fearlessness on the trail. Magic is always the first horse galloping ahead, and she loves to swim in the rivers as they cross them.
Though the Manns have only owned Magic for 10 years, she is a treasured part of their family. She has even contributed, giving birth to her youngest foal 14 years ago, a male named Santana who the Manns also own.
Magic’s personality is just as strong as any other horse, and she has not given in to the passive nature of older horses. One of her favorite stable pastimes is listening to people talk. As a result of many years of doing so, she has quite the extensive English vocabulary. She loves to listen to NPR as a result of this.
Just as any family might celebrate a birthday, Magic gets her favorite type of birthday cake every year to celebrate her special day. Mary bakes Magic a carrot cake decorated with carrots sticking out of the top; and they said she absolutely devours it.
The Manns have among them a natural phenomenon that can only be explained as Magic, and she’s going to keep going just as long as they will let her.