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So back in 2020 I stopped riding my horse as he wasn't feeling 100% I had the vet out who did tests and everything came back fine. I was recommended to long rein and complete exercises to build up his muscle and put on some weight before I got back on. Unfortunately the yard owner was being very stubborn with the grass liveries and wouldn't allow us to move into a different field with more grass (as they wanted to make hay from the other ones) and was refusing to let us put hay out.
Then came covid and lockdowns and we only had hour slots to sort to our horses, poo pick the field and what ever else. As the field my horse was in was so far away I didn't have time to do his exercises and everything else and I was over staying my limit. Eventually lockdown ended and I began again on the exercises. We managed to win the fight to move fields and my horse eventually put on the much needed weight, to a point where I was getting on for short walks. Unfortunately we were hit with the second lock down and with other commitments, I wasn't able to stick to the time/same day limits and the yard owner was very funny about the times being the same every day! So I ended up moving yards.

The improvement my horse made within a couple of weeks from being at the new yard was incredible. I managed to get back on and we enjoyed a few gentle hacks with some of the other liveries. However due to work commitments the amount of time I got to spend at the yard was restricted and I ended up riding him less and less. Until I decided to give him the winter off. I've not been on since May 2021.

My question is this- Having not been on him properly other than the odd hack since 2020 is it too late to get back on now? He's 29 years old, with arthritis in his hocks.
I am considering mainly hacking with friends, but my current work commitments doesn't allow me to go up to the yard during the week, (he is on part livery and we'll looked after in my absence, a friend also looks out for him) so I will only be able to ride at weekends. I'm trying to alter my hours so I can go up more during the week, but this may not be easy. Ideally I'd like to be able to space the days out if I did ride. So I think this is my reluctant to getting back on just yet.

But recently I've started telling myself I've left it too late. He's not been riden for over a year and he is 29, does he not deserve to chill out and be a horse. I don't mind him being retired. At the end of the day I want what's best for him.
 

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Hi there:)

I would recommend based of his age that you let him retire. This doesn’t mean you can’t brush, walk, bath, etc. Have fun with him but be gentle. A fun way to keep any horse entertained is with a Paddock Paradise, especially retired horses. This may not be an option for you but i thought I’d mention it. Good luck with your boy!
 

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Motion is lotion for arthritic horses. If he doesn't act too sore after a short walk about (say 15 mins to start) then I'd just go out, hop on, walk around and hop off and do that for a while until you can see if he's either sore or building up some stamina. He'll tell you. Let him be the judge. If you have some bute or banamine or other anti-inflammatory you can give before you start to work him, that will help him get past any initial soreness. Give him a good hose and rub down when you're done and see how it goes. He may love it or he may let you know that he's finished. I had an old American Quarter Horse I rode in parades until he was 32 years old and then he said, "Enough. It's not fun anymore.".
 

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Totally seconding @Dreamcatcher Arabians here - and we both have arthritis ourselves... nothing worse than stopping and turning into a couch potato, and nothing better than low-impact exercise, lots and lots of movement, a bit of Tiger Balm, keeping warm (rug old horses in cold weather), a nice electric blanket etc. When you stop is when you become a cripple. I've worked all my old horses with trail riding until they tell me enough - and they will if necessary. Until then they enjoy it. Horses are like dogs, they don't want you to stop going walkies with them unless absolutely necessary. If you're the kind of rider who makes it fun etc.

ETA: 27-year-old Arabian mare having a fun walkies with over-30 rider! ;)


@george the mule's famous Banjo liked riding trails right into his 30s!
 

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If he's in otherwise decent health, I'd bring him back to light work.

I did that with a 28 year old mare for my kids to ride. They rode her for three years. Essentially trail rode on a ranch. I put her down at 32 because she had lost too many teeth, couldn't keep weight on, even without activity, and I wasn't going to have her face a winter in the northern Rockies like that.
 

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My question is this- Having not been on him properly other than the odd hack since 2020 is it too late to get back on now? He's 29 years old, with arthritis in his hocks.
I am considering mainly hacking with friends, but my current work commitments doesn't allow me to go up to the yard during the week, (he is on part livery and we'll looked after in my absence, a friend also looks out for him) so I will only be able to ride at weekends. I'm trying to alter my hours so I can go up more during the week, but this may not be easy. Ideally I'd like to be able to space the days out if I did ride. So I think this is my reluctant to getting back on just yet.
Well, what does your horse say about the matter?
Is he HAPPY and engaged to, for example, go out for a slow 1 mile ride at a leisure walk?

Give it a try. Movement is good for arthritis. Let him tell you if he is too old.

Plus, it's sometimes good for their mental state, to get out and about once in a while.
 

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Banjo. He was a most willing boy, and he just loved to go out for "walkies". Easy, flat, short stuff, obviously, but he liked to trot, and would offer a canter sometimes. And sometimes I would let him, but never for more than a few strides.
And we did get out regularly, right up 'til the end. Which came abruptly, most likely as a result of over-enthusiastic rolling exercises; he also loved to roll; preferrably in a nice aromatic poop-pile :) Banjo loved life.
Banj was just shy of 36yo when the colic got him, alas. I still miss his sunny personality.
Here is an over-the-ears foto from just a week or so before I had to have him put down, and another of him enjoying a comfortable spot in the sun on a sub-zero morning:
Sky Ecoregion Dog Horse Dog breed

Horse Ecoregion Plant Working animal Dog breed


Curious Willow, just ask your Equine friend. He will let you know if he is in the mood, and he will tell you when he has had enough.
 

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My 28 yr old TWH has some mild stifle issues but if I could still ride, I could carefully hack on groomed trails — his sliding down the river bank and swimming across days are done.

His new companion is a long 26 retired show jumper with some dressage experience. He is done and that’s too bad because he is a horse that wants to work.

He’s done working because:

1). He has a 2020 splint bone fracture that healed great for a pasture sound horse.

2). His right hock/stifle is one ugly mess from too many injections to keep him working.

3). He has mild kissing spine.

4). He has early signs of high Ringbone.

He is a horse that would tell you he’s fine, keep going BUT he’s lying to himself and to the human dumb enough to believe him. The lady who gave him to me, managed to convince the 2 times previous owner to give him up instead of setting him up to fail with a trainer that would have sent him to Central Mexico to become dog food because he was too “used up”.

My TWH, OTOH lies in the opposite direction - he is lazy and will say he can barely move if it means getting out of being ridden, lol

My advice is let your fella retire for the most part. Any riding should be “play riding“ with zero stress on him.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you for all of your replies. My boy has always been one that has loved his work, he loves to jump and loves to go out on hacks. Obviously the jumping is a no go these days with his arthritis, but I wouldn't put it past him having a good go if given the chance. (Which I may add, I'm not willing to do).. I'm also not thinking of tacking him up and going for miles of trekking every day for hours on end over uneven ground etc. I'm just thinking the odd quite hack for a change of scenery and to stretch his legs/joints.. During the summer he spends a lot of time out in the fields at a bottom of a hill. In theory he'd be semi-retired. :)
 
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