Retire or ride?
I have a 19 yr. Paso Fino that seems to be very sound. I really would like to trail ride her but I don't want to hurt her in any way. So, the question is give her a job to do on the weekends or just let her rest and wonder around the pasture.
Well if she is sound I don't see why you would retire her. If she likes to work then I would let her do just that.
I know of many horses trail riding late into their 20's as long as they are sound.
I know horses in their 20's that are still doing barrels (maybe not as good as they once did), so I don't don't think it would be too much for trail riding. I would think that she would enjoy a change of scenery!
My mare is 26 and she's perfectly happy working hard every single day. In fact, her favorite thing to do is to go out on the trail and canter out then walk home.
However, the most important thing about keeping an older horse fit and sound is that you don't just leave them be all week and ask them to handle a 4 hour ride on the weekend. Older horses lose fitness much more easily than younger horses so it's important to work them regularly (3-4 times a week) to maintain fitness.
It would be great for her to be ridden still, exercise helps arthritis feel better and it helps keep arthritis from developing but it must be the right kind of exercise (a long warm up, long cool down, regular work to maintain fitness).
As long as your horse is sound and healthy I don't see any problem continuing to ride him.
As a teenager I first saw a little palomino gelding and fell in love on the spot. Six months later that same gelding was dropped off at my parents farm to go for slaughter, he was so lame he could not walk ten feet. We took a chance and bought him for current meat price. Working with vets and a great farrier we got him sound again. At the time he was already in his teens. This little horse was rode all the time after that. I did open shows, gymkhana, worked cattle, taught children how to ride, you name it he did it.
About ten years later i thought I would do him a favor and retire him, he deserved it in my eyes. No longer having a job to do he actually went downhill and |I really believe it was depression. Old Goldie went back into full time work as my then son's horse and also in the feedlot. He became happy healthy and sound again. I have photos of him barrel racing at age 32. I competed in a ranch rodeo on him at 33.
Goldie was rode up until he died, not from age but from a tragic vehicle accident at 36 years of age. He never looked or acted his age as long as we kept riding him.
So just let your horse tell you when it is time to retire.
I second what Wallaby said completely. The longer you can comfortably keep an older horse in work, the longer they will stay sound and healthy. Arthritis is minimized and they are kept from getting too fat. It's a lot like older people. When they are still working, they keep busy and stay healthier. If they start laying around and spending a lot of time in the recliner after retirement, their health will begin to fail quickly.
I agree with Stillstandin - let your horse tell you when it is time to retire. I have known horses that give up if they are put out to pasture and others that just can't handle more than a nice slow walk/trot down the trail. Try it out and see what your horse thinks of it. Just don't push it too hard/fast too soon.
You've gotten a lot of good answers. I also vote ride! I have 3 "seniors" (not that they would admit it) Hondo, QH stallion, is our oldest at 29. I still ride him several times a week, use him to move friends cattle & give intermediate lessons with him. He's been ridden consistently since he was 2. I can't remember him ever being lame. I truly believe if he didn't get worked on a regular basis he wouldn't be the healthy, happy old man he is :)
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agreed! Just like with elderly people, you should always opt to keep an aging horse active for as long as possible. It not only gives them a purpose, but also a way to stay fit both mentally and physically. Even walking along the trails once or twice a week is better than sitting in a pasture all day every day. As long as she's not in pain, let her keep going! Heed everyone's warnings though, because they're right. If you do ride her into her twenties, make sure that you keep her well conditioned, or she'll pay for it!
My first real trail-sound horse was 29 when we bought her, (She was a gift because my show horse was too spooky for a little girl on the trails) and we would run around like madwomen for hours on the trail and she was just fine.
In fact, that was ten years ago. I gave her to my best friend's six year old brother. She's 39 now and can still do some riding with a light rider.
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