How to tell if horse needs retired?

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How to tell if horse needs retired?

This is a discussion on How to tell if horse needs retired? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Is there anything wrong with buying a retired horse
  • Horse trips, should he retire

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  • 1 Post By HagonNag

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    06-03-2012, 04:42 PM
How to tell if horse needs retired?

I have a 28 year old TB mare. Up until this past winter Belle has been in great shape, sound and energetic for her age. This past winter she seems to have aged all of the sudden. I even considered having her put to sleep just because she seemed so unhappy but then with spring she improved.
However, I'm not sure Belle is safe to ride anymore and I'm looking for some more opinions on the matter.
I've only ridden her walk/trot this year because I tried cantering her and it just felt terribly unbalanced even though she is sound. I figured I'd wait till she was a little more fit later in the year, which now I don't think is going to happen. I've been giving a friend some lessons on her but only a couple this year, we stopped because I wasn't sure it was safe. Belle kept stumbling and I was afraid she was going to fall or even just have a bad trip when she's trotting and hurt her beginner rider.
Also a few times when I was picking up her hooves she'd loose her balance and almost drop down to her knees except that I'd drop the hoof. Like I had just taken it right out from under her even though I had warned her and picked it up slowly.
She has little energy in general and Im not sure about her eye sight, is there a way to test that?
She still seems to like trail rides and doesn't stumble as much even though the footing isn't as good because she's more alert on them. She also acts more energetic and seems to kind of come alive on them.
Do you think she needs retired entirely? How do you tell if it is no longer safe to ride an older horse that is sound but sometimes has balance problems? I think I'll continue trailriding her as long as she still seems to enjoy it, but I'm questioning the safety. I would appreciate any input.
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    06-03-2012, 04:44 PM
I would retire her. From everything you've said, it's definitely time. I would get the vet out to check her eyesight and health for riding, to see if she's okay for light trails, but light trailing is all I'd do with her at the most, no matter the outcome. Just enough to let her do something she enjoys and get out.
    06-03-2012, 04:50 PM
It seems odd that she would suddenly 'age' so quickly, have you had the vet out for a check up? Maybe he could pull blood and run some tests
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    06-03-2012, 06:24 PM
Green Broke
The first horse I leased aged suddenly like that. She was always a very forward horse, and I always joked that when I took her to shows I never once had to cue her to canter- I just stopped holding her back! She was always like that until one show when she just had no energy, and she never was the same energetic horse again after that. I switched to another horse, and she was retired, and then died about 2 years later...
    06-04-2012, 08:40 AM
I sympathize with you, I use to ride an old TB, he was around 25ish and the greatest horse I had the pleasure to ride, he never acted his age, I would take him to shows and everyone would be surprised when I told them his age. But then he started to spook at everything when I rode him (he never spooked), so when the vet came out, he said he had cateracs, so that gave him trouble with shadows. So I couldnt ride him anymore and he was a really hard keeper, I know the winters would be tuff on him, and he always had a stall at night to stay warm. So my instructor wrestled with uethanizing him, because when she got him he was starved terribly. But it was kind of a blessing when he died suddenly a little less than a year after I stopped riding him. We think he had an anuerism or a heart attack. Then we didnt have to make the decision...
Its tuff to decide what to do with older horses, if you have the money to just have a hard keeping pasture pet that's great, but not everyone does
    06-04-2012, 12:14 PM
Keeping any horse is going to become an issue for me soon, so that's something to think about too, I obviously can't rehome her at this point. I am a college student, leaving in August. I don't have spare cash to start with, and she is not an easy keeper.
I'm hoping switching her grain will help some. She's starting to lose weight and dropping it out of her mouth quite a bit so maybe that will change if I switch to a food that's softer or that I can soak.
I will talk to the vet and see what they think. I can't afford to have them run a million tests, but maybe they will notice something I don't. She does tend to have good and bad days, I hope the vet appointment ends up being on one of her bad days so hopefully if there is something wrong it will be easier to tell.
There are way too many depressing things to think about with an older horse. I wich I had endless funds so I could just keep her happy and comfortable for the rest of her days!
    06-04-2012, 01:31 PM
Hugs to you, srh1. We all wish that and very few of us are in a postion to do it. It's something that very few of us think about when we first get a horse, but it is a fact of horse ownership. Sooner or later, unless you deliberately keep changing horses, you will end up with a senior citizen. At 28, your mare sounds like she's ready for retirement.

These days there aren't as many options available for seniors who can't perform a function. There are a LOT of deserving horses floating around looking for jobs as companions or pasture pets. If you think you'll need to rehome this horse when you head back to school, I'd start looking now.
Talk to ANYONE, vet, farrier, trainer, friends, post signs...but get the word out.

If the horse is truly failing, or when she does, I'd talk it over with my vet. My personal belief is that one of the kindest things we can do for our horses is to prevent them from suffering, or end their suffering. I'd rather let them go a day too early than an hour too late. At 28, she's had a long life. But this is something you need to think about and prepare for. If you can't rehome her, who will buy her? What will her life be like? I'm not saying right now...I'm not saying this Fall. But you need to be prepared. If you can't take care of her, who will? If she can't be ridden, she needs to be retired. If you can't find a way to afford her retirement or rehome her?... It's something you should be thinking about.
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    06-04-2012, 02:54 PM
Sometimes you can give an older horse away to a home as a companion or pasture horse. I would definately
check the place out and get references though, cause anytime you give something away for free you can attract bad attention from people with wrong motives.

balance issues, elderly, stumble

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