When people get a dog or cat, they anticipate about 15 years of responsibility and care. When you take on a horse, it’s 20 or more. In addition, most families can easily keep an older dog or cat around the house without a great deal of added expense. Keeping an older, retired horse is another situation altogether.
You may luck out and find a good home for your retiree. Maybe a neighbor has an unused pasture, small barn and two grandchildren who would enjoy riding bareback at a walk around the pasture. Many times, we aren?t that lucky however.
If you board your horse(s), keeping a retired horse around can get expensive quickly. Even if you have your own facility, grain, hay, farrier and vet bills add up. Euthanizing a horse who is comfortable isn?t the option most horse lovers want to take for good reason.
Of course, there are horse retirement facilities. Many take a one time fee?I’ve seen $10,000 listed ?to take care of your horse for the rest of his life. But that fee may be out of the range of many families.
However, you do have to step up and take responsibility for the horses who have served you well. A young, sound horse can fairly easily be sold or re-homed. Our family was able to sell a horse my daughter was no longer riding to a good home. The quality of the home was more important than the price.
Still, we have three senior horses, and we lost two stable hands with both kids off to college. We joke we’re running a hospice for horses.
One horse is a really neat Arab gelding, blind in one eye and with occasional episodes that are similar to seizures. No more than one or two per year, otherwise he happily herds ?his mares? around and comes when called for supper. Monte requires minimal care and can get away with just hoof trims.
Crispy is a lovely red dun Quarter Horse who lived through an EPM (equine protozoal myelitis) infection that included a week at the Cornell University veterinary clinic. She is rideable?sort of ?with an occasional head tilt and unsteady gait at times. Crispy is the original easy keeper, who stays round with minimal feed and can get away with hoof trims, too.
Cinnamon is one of the equine loves of my life. SHe’s a big, 16.2-hand Appaloosa mare with a heart as big as she is. Cinnamon has ringbone, heaves and the worst feet of any horse I’ve ever known. Still, she is the horse we can put a total novice on and they can ride at a walk around the 60-acre field to their delight. Cinnamon requires medication for her heaves much of the year and special shoes to keep her sound. So, sHe’s the more expensive retiree.
Monte and Cinnamon have been with me for over 25 years. Crispy has been with us about 10 years. She was my son?s beloved 4-H horse and even did jousting with him!
Would I like to replace them with a single sweet young horse to trail ride’ Some days. But most of the time, I’m happy to have my equine family members here where I know they’re cared for and safe. I owe that to them.
Plan ahead with your horses. Sell them while they’re still capable of working or plan to keep them for the rest of their lives. Follow up if you place your older horse to be sure he isn?t starving in a neglected back field. After all, your horse deserves the best of care in payment for the service He’s given you