Where should a horse retire?
 
 

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Where should a horse retire?

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  • Where to retire my horse
  • When to retire horse

 
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    11-02-2011, 01:17 PM
  #1
Foal
Where should a horse retire?

I am just looking for other peoples input on when they think a horse should be retired. I know it depends on all different factors and is very situational but I was just wondering what other peoples ideas on this may be.
I have a 24 year old Morgan. I don't ride her "hard", I've always gone easy on her (got her when she was 19) and don't take her on strenuous trail rides. We used to do Gymkhanas but I don't think we will anymore. Most of what we do is just walking around the pasture (up until recent crummy weather we would ride 3-4 times a week for about an hour at a time) and the occasional short bursted canter when she wants too. Her hooves and teeth are in great condition for an old gal but recently I am struggling to keep weight on her and she doesnt seem to enjoy the ride like she used too. I am thinking that it might be time to retire her and have been searching for an additional horse. I do think its time to retire her but I know exercise is important as well so I am just debating on whether or not I should continue doing light rides with her. Anyone have any useful input for me? Thanks :)
     
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    11-02-2011, 01:42 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
First off, I think that there's no set age that a horse "should" be retired at. Personally, I have a 26, almost 27, year old Arabian mare that I ride relatively hard (because she wants to) without a thought. She's always raring to go and I have trouble keeping rides light and easy even when I want to go easy! Haha
For instance, yesterday we were trotting and cantering on gravel for about 2 hours and when we got home, she was wanting to canter some more!

I know that for me, I'm going to start thinking about retiring her when rides start not being fun for her. When she stops wanting to run, when she stops enjoying herself on the trail (no pricked ears, no walking faster to explore a new place, etc). Alternatively, if her body starts showing signs of not being able to handle our pace (I try to keep her as fit as possible to combat that) I'll start thinking about retiring her since, currently, she hates going for slow rides.

Some things I can think of with your mare:
What's her diet like? My mare gets less happy about working when something is missing in her diet/she's not getting enough food. I have mine on 15 pounds of alfalfa, free choice grass hay, a pound of a ration balancer, and a pound of beet pulp, daily, and that keeps her happy to work. My mare is a very easy keeper though so if your mare is harder, you will probably need to give her more.

Is she on any joint supplements? Her joints might be sore if she's not.

Do you have the ability to trail ride her on a gentle trail or two? I know my mare gets pissy when we go on the same route every time. She loves exploring neighborhoods, finding kids playing, exploring a new trail, going to the park, etc. I try to mix it up all the time for her so that her mind stays active as well. My thought is that the older the horse is, the more their mind needs to work. They often don't have as much physical energy that needs to be released but I've found that most older horses have a ton of untapped mental potential.

Also, have you checked her saddle fit or had someone knowledgeable do that recently? Like humans, horses change shape as they age and saddle fit can definitely contribute to her enjoyment of being ridden, or not. When my mare starts getting stuffy undersaddle, one of the first things I check is her saddle fit. In her case, sometimes she's lost weight and needs a thicker pad and sometimes she's gained weight and needs a much thinner pad.

Another thought I have is that you say you've always gone easy on her. Have you ever tried increasing her fitness and challenging her a bit more? When I'm out of shape, I hate exercising but when I'm in shape, exercising can be super fun. My mare was crazy fat and completely out of shape when I got her (when she was 23). Once I got her into shape, she became unstoppable. She's really fit and she looks forward to being ridden where she hated it as a fatty.

These are just some things to consider. I think you're doing a really good thing by considering your mare's state and her enjoyment of being ridden. Kudos. :)
     
    11-02-2011, 01:49 PM
  #3
Started
If you think she isn't enjoying it then retire her. I wasn't sure but did you say you want to find another as in a new horse to ride and have a buddy for her. Because that alone would be exercise for her in the pasture and you can always pony her off your other horse for short rides. I did it with my now passed away mare when she was retired at age 32 (morgan breed) until she passed at 36. She loved going out just not carrying anyone :)
     
    11-02-2011, 02:33 PM
  #4
Started
If you don't think she's comfortable being ridden anymore, she should probably be retired. That doesn't necessarily mean you couldn't hop on for a little cruise around the pasture once in a while, as long as she's healthy enough. What kait said is a good idea - you could pony her once you get another horse. I bet she'd enjoy that.

The main thing is keeping her active. Moving around keeps her joints lubricated and helps minimize stiffness and soreness. Horses that are kept in stalls or seldom exercised are the ones that tend to break down quicker and generally don't do well.
     
    11-03-2011, 02:37 AM
  #5
Foal
Ha! I just realized that I titled this "where should a horse retire" apparently you all figured out what I meant that... WHEN :) I appreciate all the replies, thank you for taking the time to do so. As far as an additional horse goes, yes I would like to find another but she is currently pastured with 2 other mares so I know she's not lonely. Her saddle and pad fit fine, I got it specifically to fit her tall withers and I use a thick pad on her and don't tighten it up too much. I feed her grass hay (alfalfa is too rich for her), 3.5lbs of senior feed grain and 3.5lbs of rice bran a day plus a double does of Equerry senior vitamins with glucosamine daily, she also has a selenium salt block and when we are real active I give her powdered electrolytes in her water and almost every day she gets apples, pears, and carrots, Soooo that covers her diet and from what I have been told I am feeding her more than enough and she is a very slow eater (teeth are fine though) so she is fed in the round pen so the other horses don't get her food and she is never kept in a stall and has lots of room to run around.

I rarely ever use a saddle on her and almost always riding bareback so I don't think its a saddle problem and I have tried 3 different types of headstalls and am currently back to using a hackamore. For mental exercise I set up poles and make a course like we would do in Gymkhanas, and I switch up the patterns often. Someone said maybe its because I have always gone easy on her, I guess that could be it too. I rarely trail ride anymore because I can't get anyone to go with me and she's buddy sour and would be a big problem if I were to try and ride off by myself so maybe she is just bored of our pasture. We have 4 different sections of pasture though and we open up each of them at different times hoping to keep them interested.

I am wondering if she isnt enjoying the ride and if its time to retire because almost every time I walk her over to the stump that I use to get on her back, she stops about 10ft away and plants her feet and if I try and mix it up and walk her up next to something else that I can get on her from, she turns her body away from me so I can't do it. I wish I was limber enough to just jump up from the ground and get on but I can't. Its not got to the point where I just get her as close as I can to an object and then I kinda jump onto her back. Does anyone have any suggestions as too why she would plant her feet and refuse to go where she knows she will be mounted? That's what makes me think retirement or maybe its just stubbornness.
     

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