Time to Retire Your Horse

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Is your horse getting older and slowing down in his current riding career? Retiring an equine friend is never an easy choice to make. Thankfully there are a number of ways to keep your horse happy and healthy even in his retirement years.

Knowing When It’s Time to Retire a Horse

Retirement is a choice that is often made by the horse’s body. As horses age new physical issues often arise, including arthritis and general stiffness, along with limited range of motion. Intense athletic careers, such as those that top showjumpers, racehorses, and dressage horses face, place a lot of strain on a horse’s body. This intensity limits the amount of time that a horse can realistically compete at a high level.

Even if your horse competes at a lower level, he will likely need to be retired at some point. For some horses, retirement simply means the end of show ring competition – many horses can still be ridden in their retirement, but just at a less strenuous pace. Other horses may need to have their riding careers ended entirely.

Selling a Horse Into Retirement

Depending on the situation, selling a horse into a home where he will be “retired” may be an option. If you have an upper-level competition horse, he may be sound enough to continue on with his career at a lower level. For such horses, selling them to a young aspiring rider can provide them with the perfect job. The horses continue to train at a lower level and reduced pace, using their career experience to teach a novice rider.

Additionally, experienced show horses can make excellent riding mounts for lesson programs. Depending on your horse’s temperament and skill, he might be well-suited to be ridden in a lesson program. A light lesson schedule can keep a retired horse in shape and continues to challenge them mentally.

Alternative Retirement Ideas

If a reduced-riding career isn’t an option for your horse, there are other ways to ensure that he retires in comfort. Consider looking for a person in need of a companion horse to keep their horse company. Some riders look for horses which can go out on occasional trail rides. Additionally, retirement farms are available where your horse can live out the rest of his days in comfort.

If your horse is steady, calm, and patient, look for local therapeutic riding programs to find out if he might be a suitable mount for them. Therapeutic riding horses go through a good deal of training. Once that training is complete they can help people to cope with and overcome mental and physical disabilities. By donating your horse to a therapeutic program, you are saving the program from having to look at horses for sale to keep their program filled with suitable mounts.

Equine assisted therapy programs can be an alternative to therapeutic riding in the event that your horse can no longer be ridden. Equine assisted therapy uses ground work to provide therapy to humans; little to no riding is involved.

Retiring your horse is always sad, but through finding him a new career to suit his needs you will be rewarded by knowing that he will be happy and comfortable.

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