Bringing a horse out of retirement - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 10-20-2012, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Bringing a horse out of retirement

My 23 year old quarter horse gelding, Cody, has been retired for about four years. Just prior to that, he was ridden only occasionally.

Lately I've been noticing that was moving very stiffly with his rear legs. He also occasionally has swelling/pain in one of his knees.

Had the vet out and he diagnosed a bone spavin in the rear leg, arthritis in the knee.

After doing some research, it seems light exercise is recommended for horses with arthritis issues.

The problem is, he is kept at my parents' house (1.5 hours away from us) so it's only possible for us to get there on weekends to ride. I don't know that it would be at all beneficial for him to go for weekly rides.

He is kept on 30 acres and does occasionally meander through the pasture, but doesn't do any "real" exercise.

There is also the issue of how heavy of a rider he can carry. He is a very stocky quarter horse, but I think that only adds to the problem. He has had back issues in the past and now with the arthritis... I feel like a lighter rider would be best. I think I'm too heavy for him at 170 lbs.

My husband weighs 115 but is a beginner. Cody was a very well trained horse with a very keen sense of a rider's ability, but four years is a long time to not have a rider on.

There is also a girl who lives nearby that took lessons with me ages ago. She used to ride my pony when she was young, then got her own horse when she outgrew the pony but the horse sadly passed away a couple of years after she bought her. She has expressed an interest in riding and I'm thinking of asking her if she'd like to start riding Cody on a regular basis, but I'm not sure if a slow mount she can't do things like games, etc. on is what she's looking for. I need to be able to 100% trust she isn't going to overwork him.

What do you guys think? Should I slowly start bringing him out of retirement? Any advice/recommendations would be much appreciated.
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post #2 of 4 Old 10-20-2012, 02:56 PM
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If he is sane and reasonably sound, it should be fine to use him for light work. As far as doing it for his sake, he would just as soon loaf like the rest of us would.

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post #3 of 4 Old 10-20-2012, 03:08 PM
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I have an older guy who needs some activity, but not a lot....I free leased him to a therapeutic riding center. It is a perfect situation all the way around. They pay for his keep, and he gets groomed, loved, cookies and gives a few rides a week mostly at a walk-occassionally at the trot. But he LOVES having a job, and they are thrilled to have him. It is working out great, and I hope it continues for a long time. It is wonderful to go on their website and see the good he is doing for kids with cancer, vets with PTSD (my guy is a clyde cross, so can carry some weight), etc.

Other than that-I personally would stick with the husband in your case......that way perhaps the 2 of you can ride some nice trails occassionally.
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post #4 of 4 Old 10-22-2012, 01:29 AM
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I don't think the four-year gap matters as far as his training. From what I've seen and read (though I'm far from being an expert) horses really don't forget. It's like humans being able to ride a bike. Before this spring, my horse Ellie (19 now) had been ridden only twice, for short distances, in the 2 1/2 years since I got her (hoof problems and then injury), and probably not ridden for several years before that with her previous owner. Yet she was able to start out with a total beginner, and handle mountain trails & such.

I think the exercise has done wonders for her general condition, even though we're only up to maybe 5-10 miles once or twice a week. In the spring, she'd just amble around her pasture, now she'll trot & canter up the hills (without being ridden, that is), and when I'm riding her wants to go more than I'm really prepared to handle.
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