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'He was snoring in there': 26-year-old horse uses Lake Pleasant for arthritis therapy

Rowdy the horse's arthritis therapy was recently upgraded with the use of a floatie and the water of Lake Pleasant.

WITTMANN, Ariz. — What do a floatie, a horse and Lake Pleasant have in common? Rowdy, a 26-year-old gelding, found himself floating, relaxing and living his best life on the lake with his owner not too far away.

His owner, Ruthie Gribble, placed a floatie around his neck for the first time and the horse quickly became overjoyed with the weightless feeling in the water.

Rowdy became still. He blinked slowly, moved his lips to show his teeth, and began humming.

“That’s a sign of being relaxed,” Gribble said. “He was like snoring in there.”

The aging horse floated for about 10 minutes after he figured out how to do it.

“Rowdy and I started walking out and as he got a little further, he couldn’t touch anymore, and he just started to float on his side, and he just held on with his head in the tube and was loving it,” Gribble said.

She eventually had to drag him out of the water.

“When I brought him home that day, oh my gosh, he was alive,” Gribble said. “He felt so good.”

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Friendship two decades in the making

Gribble got Rowdy in 2003. Since then, their bond grew as they explored hundreds of miles of Arizona trails.

The 19 years of mounting hard terrain put a strain on his joints, and now Rowdy has arthritis. Water therapy helps.

“When we go swimming, his lips go right up and he shows his teeth, and that’s how he gets his, what I call ‘motor boat,’ started,” Gribble said. “He loves it.”

But now, at 26 years old, Rowdy is taking it slow.

“I believe this is his last season,” Gribble said. “What a way for him to go, is experiencing more of the water in the summer, give him those last times swimming, because it’s not as hard on his joints.”

With more lake visits to come, Rowdy not only cools down from Arizona’s heat but continues to make memories with his long-time friend.

“They’ll never be another horse like him,” Gribble said. “I’m so grateful for all of our years together.”

RELATED: 'Stop the roundup of wild horses': Lawsuit claims Forest Service unlawfully removing Apache-Sitgreaves horses

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