Had to make some hard decisions. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 03:42 AM Thread Starter
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Had to make some hard decisions.

Well I have had to make some hard decisions in the last week or so. I had the option of pursuing keeping my 23 year old gelding as a riding horse, or retiring him.

Now before anyone goes crazy (kidding), I was (and am) keeping him regardless of my decision. Really it was just deciding if his riding career should end or not.

The last month has been really rough for us. He has been acting out in a pretty severe (for him) manner. Being extremely hard to handle under saddle, pent up and anxious during almost every ride, bucked twice at a show, bolting, refusing to do simple tasks, etc. All things that aren't extreme, but things that are very odd behavior for him. I always said that he would tell me when he didn't want to be ridden anymore, and after sitting back and thinking about the last month I am convinced that time has come.

He is not suitable to carry the weight of a rider anymore and I think mentally he is just done being a working horse. He enjoys his time being brushed and loved on. Comes up to me and sticks his head against my chest whenever he sees me.

So I made the decision to retire him completely a couple of days ago. This was a hard blow because it meant that I was out a riding horse (my only horse). But I have decided that I am going to lease a horse that I can ride. I am choosing to lease so that if anything were to happen to my gelding that required extra money I could send the lease horse back and focus my time, energy and resources on him. He is, and always will be, my sole responsibility.

Currently I am keeping him boarded for the next month or so. After that he will be moved to a friend's property. She has a large pasture that he will be able to run around and play in, which will be good for him. The boarding facility isn't set up for retired horses, so he doesn't have much room to exercise himself. I think sending him to pasture until I am able to purchase my own property will be better for him.

So anyway, I found a mare to try out and we are going to pick her up next weekend for a week trial. After that week, if I like her, I will lease her from there.

Without further ado, here she is.

Warmblood Mare
15 years old
Tons of eventing experience

(I will get more pictures once I have her. These are just from her owner's web page)

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post #2 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 03:53 AM
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Why at only 23 is he not able to be ridden anymore?
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 04:25 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by OutOfTheLoop View Post
Why at only 23 is he not able to be ridden anymore?
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Well he is a Thoroughbred, registered with the Jockey Club, track trained. That means by Thoroughbred standard he was broke and started racing at the age of "2" which for him was really only 1 year and 8 months because he was born in May. According to the JC he is 24 right now.

After running a couple of races he was pulled from racing and sold to become an eventer. The rest of his life consisted of him being evented up to five feet (not sure what level that is).

When he was about seventeen or so, he was pretty severely abused and neglected. He was starved, left in a stall with two feet of his own manure, had no hoof wall, a four inch coat that was matted, a chunk of metal stuck in his eye, and we believe he had been beaten as well.

He was rescued but has had lasting issues from his abuse. He is partially blind in the eye that had the metal in it, there was nothing we could do to save him from sight issues. He has matching, round scars on his hind legs (one on each leg) that lead me to believe he had something done with his tendons or something of the sort. He also has arthritis in one hind leg. It took me a year and a half of owning him to be able to fix a quarter crack in his rear hoof that was all the way to the coronet band. This created a ton of lameness issues during the healing process.

The past month he has been pulling up lame under saddle. Tried lunging him, walking him around, etc. to see why he is lame. He is perfectly sound without a rider. Gave him time off, massages, chiropractor. He seemed better. Tried riding him, instantly came up lame and back sore again. Saddle fits.

He is not happy being ridden. Yes for one because he gets sore, but I also believe that mentally he just isn't happy with it anymore. He was never an anxious horse before and now when you go to ride him he is like a coiled spring.

I whole heart-idly believe that he is done being a riding horse. It just isn't far to continue to push him when riding him does nothing but make him sore and miserable. Had him vet checked, they said I could try hock injections if I want to make him a sound riding horse, or I could just retire him since he is sound without a rider. I decided to retire.

I feel that his rough life of being ridden young and hard and then being abused and neglected really did wear down his body. Rest assured that he has a forever home with me. He just gets to be a pasture puff and keep some others horses company instead of having to be a riding horse (:

One of our last rides together:
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Last edited by NordicJuniper; 02-04-2013 at 04:29 AM.
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post #4 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
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I think its for the best that you retire him and take him to pasture, he will be happy there, especially when you visit and maybe he would have a friend there? You and your friend could even just keep another old horse there or a pony or something, so he is not all alone? (you havent mentioned anything about that so im just saying)

From what you told in the last post its the best you can do to let him enjoy his retirement. 23 is a very good age to retire at, especially after such a life.
Back at home in Latvia, many horses are considered old when they are 15...... everyone wants a 4-6 yr old horse that can go high dressage, jump well, be sound for any type of rider etc. when they are 10 everyone says, ooh, retirement age is coming... most sports horses from dressage and show jumping retire around 17-19 years old. Then again, the average age estimated in europe for horses is just about 25. I know a few 20 yr olds that still do everything, fun rides, jump 2-3 feet, run dressage schemes etc.. they arent in the best situation, but with good care a horse can still live happy..
And im sure that every now and then your old retired horse wont mind carrying you around his pasture when you visit... just walking around together will be therapeutic for the both of you :)
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post #5 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 04:00 PM
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I'm glad you've been able to come to the conclusion you have, and that you've been able to find a new prospect. I hope she works out for you. I think you've made the right choice, and I think it's very respectable that you are offering your boy a nice retirement. I'm sure he will be very happy, and hope you are too. :)
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post #6 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 05:32 PM
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I've read your stories with him and you've both been through a lot. It's a hard choice to make, but I'm glad he has such a caring owner that knows when enough is enough for him.
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post #7 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 07:06 PM
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I think its a great new chapter for both of you. He may be ideal for a just hang out once in a blue moon we go for a walk kinda of ride. He is lucky to have you in his life. Its hard decision but it sounds like the right one. I hope the new lease works out.
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 07:21 PM
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Bless your heart for giving so much love to this sweet boy! :)
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 08:01 PM
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Have you had him checked by a vet/chiro? I'd probably have him adjusted before turning him out to pasture, just to make sure he's comfortable.

Good luck with the mare! She looks like fun.
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-04-2013, 10:30 PM
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Well after all that I think he deserves to be a pasture puff. I can't imagine when I have to fully retire my guy. He doesn't run barrels anymore, but he is still perfectly able to be a using horse at 20. I hope the new one works out for you and good luck!
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