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What do people in cities do to retire their horses. One acquaintance had her old dressage horse PTS instead of paying for years of retirement. Another co-boarder's horse was injured and would never be sound to ride, also PTS. Could be understandable in some cases where board ranges from $800 to $1400+ per month.

We don't see the oldies in barns around here... where are they all going? Is there some unwritten thing that makes it okay to euthanize rather than send to a pasture somewhere?
 

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Is that a rhetorical question or a real question?

If it's a real question, and you want the answer, you can search for horse retirement boarding near you. Sometimes there are facilities just for this purpose. Some people just find a private home to board at. Retirement facilities can be cheaper than regular boarding facilities because they usually don't have much in the way of riding infrastructure.
 

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I don't know where you are in the world, but here in Arizona we have lots of older horses. I've pretty much always kept mine until they died (luckily I was able to afford two so I would have at least one ride-able horse at any given time). I did have one I re-homed because she went to live with her son and I gave them away together. I'm in a rural area currently, but when I boarded in the Phoenix area, it was the same.

Most people I know seem to keep them but if they can't or won't they tend to re-home them to someone who only needs a light riding horse or companion (often for free or very little). I'm trying to think.......I don't think I've met anyone who put a horse down "just because" and not because the horse was unsound or living in pain. But of course that is a real possibility.

So I don't know where all the old horses go........they retire to Arizona I guess! Really, other than the foal that came when I bought a pregnant mare, I've never owned a horse younger than 11 myself. Wish I did, but they tend to be at the top end of the horse market and I always end up with something middle aged or older. My current riding horse is 18.


Boarding, back when I boarded, was in the $200 a month range including feed, so it's not like big-city boarding. I would suspect high-ended boarding situations would mean that the horses would be sold or given to lighter-workload, more rural homes. I hope.
 

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As someone currently looking for a horse I’m seeing old horses listed for sale quite a bit.
Some are nearly free but most are still several thousand even if unsound.

Some are clearly trying to pass as younger healthier horses for uneducated buyers.


Nearly all people I know through 4-H and farrier work Have their horses home and keep them till the end.

My mom does have a horse living at his second home as a companion. He was/is loved at both places and if the horse he is company for passes we will find a new place he is needed or bring him to my house.

I think it completely depends on the person.
 

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Some are put into retirement board (pasture). Some are euthanized. There are also plenty of old horses slowly starving to death in back yard stables because they aren't being cared for any more. And you will see plenty of old horses at the kill auctions. And yeah, a lot of people try to sell their old horses to soft-hearted or naive buyers.

Mine will be here until the end, I hope.
 

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I have always kept mine until the end. I believe old horses should be honored.
 

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What @Avna said in many cases.

I have two elders laid to rest on this farm.

My avatar picture was taken this summer. Those fellas are 25 & 26 and will be laid to rest next to their pasture mates when their times come.
 

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There are also horse rescues that take in older horses. Though there's only so many of them, and they only have so much space, so they can't save all of them.


When I have a horse, I will be keeping it until it passes (hopefully of old age). I do hope I'll be able to afford a second horse at that time, so I have one to ride, too, but if not, my first responsibility is the creature I've promised to protect. I don't get rid of my friends just because they aren't useful to me anymore. My animals are part of my family, and I take care of my family.
 

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The kindest thing is either to keep them/find a LEGIT retirement facility, or have them PTS. I've seen so many people keep their thin, sickly, broken down horses till they fell over and died and it was honestly heartbreaking. I don't think it's kind to have an 18yo horse who's kid/pasture sound PTS, but it's kinder than having them shipped off to slaughter. The horse in my avvie is about 25 and will stay with me till the end of his days. He's earned it. He has his stiff days but he's sound for light riding most of the time and still teaches kiddos the ropes. I hope he'll just lie down and go to sleep one day, but that's sadly a lot to ask.

There's something special about old horses. They've given us their all and deserve to live out their days as happy as possible.
 

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I live near a big city. Board here is very expensive. I don't personally know ONE person who put there elder horse to sleep, out of convenience to themselves.



Every person I know with a retired hrose made provisions for them to live out their last years in less expensive boarding, but not starving or forgotten.



I have to ask , where is this place where people PTS their old horses, after they've given all that they had to give?
 

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I have had many ponies that for one reason or another I have never sold but have ensured that they went from one home to another until they were unable to do their job and then had them euthanised.

As for horses if I had owned a horse for several years and had a lot of fun with it, when it could no longer do its job or I could no longer afford to keep, I would rather have them euthanised than send them off to who knows what sort of life.
 

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What Avna said is so heart breakingly true. Especially here in the midwest. People will keep their old horses and throw them out in a pasture with little to no care - many will slowly starve to death. I would rather humanely euthanize than send my old or unsound horse off to who knows where and to an undecided fate. It is a hard decision but ultimately sounds very humane.

I am lucky that I own my own property and can keep an animal until its time to go. For those not in the same boat I would support them in their decision to humanely euthanize rather then sell or try to rehome.
 

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I've never had the money to keep horses I can't ride. I only have two horses right now because one of them belongs to my partner, who covers most of his costs.

So when my heart horse had to retire, I lifetime leased him back to the lady I bought him off, who needed a companion. Took his expenses off my hands, and I knew he was going to be taken care of with her. It turned out he was retired for less than 6 months, before quietly passing away in the night, but he had a good final 6 months.

My partner is happy to have a paddock pet. Riding isn't majorly important to him, he just loves the horses. His horse is with us forever, rideable or not. Me, I need to ride. I think what I'd do with my mare if she suffered a career ending injury is offer her to my farm owner (who is very fond of her, and who breeds TBs) as a broodmare, but if she has a long ridden career and is old when she retires, well, hopefully I'll be in a financial position to keep her AND have a horse I can ride... but if not, she's extremely soft with other horses, and would make a fabulous weanling nanny, so I'm sure there'd be someone who'd have a use for a sweet-natured, friendly old mare.

We have these horses that we ask so much of, and we owe them dignity when our use for them is over.

And I do not have a problem with "dignity" meaning euthanasia if the alternative is starving in a paddock somewhere.
 

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Gee guys, I'm glad starving them isn't common in my area! I've honestly never seen that form of "retirement." But we don't have pasture and feed hay all year long, so nobody is putting them out on pasture. We just simply don't have it. If anything you would think pasture would make horses cheaper to keep and people have more money to take care of them. We are always feeding hay. :shrug:
 

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Some will disagree with me, but I don't think there's anything wrong with putting down a horse at the end of their career if it's done humanely. If they've lived a good life along the way, with lots of attention, excellent care, and been loved, I don't see it as a betrayal to send them off before their bodies start to fail them. Horses live in the moment, and euthanasia is far better than an uncertain future with a high possibility of pain and neglect.

The reality is, lots of people can't afford more than one horse, and don't have the facilities to keep a horse in retirement. Owning a horse should not automatically equal an obligation to pay board for that horse for the rest of its pasture-sound life, which could go on indefinitely, excluding the possibility during that entire time of owning a sound, healthy horse. And the reality is, actually GOOD companion homes are next to impossible to find. And there are no guarantees. If I ever own a horse again, no matter how much I love it, I would be having to make a very difficult decision if it went permanently lame and I had no good place who could take it on. Maybe I would decide to board it somewhere for years to come. But I don't think I would be an awful person if I didn't.
 

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A highly trained horse that is just not able to compete at high levels should be easy to place in a home. I would gladly accept a horse like that if it were one that could get along with mine.

I guess it depends on how you look at them. Some people look at them like a hammer or a screw driver. Just a tool.

My horses are my friends.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you to all who have offered opinions! The question was sparked by the fact that I just don't see many old horses in barns in my area and am wondering where they are all living out their last days... I'm in the Pacific Northwest if that matters at all, there are no pastures that are open all year long due to heavy rain and mud.

My mare is a very hard keeper in the fact that she needs dental work every 6 months, has leaky gut syndrome and requires meds periodically, has to wear shoes because her feet abscess without. On top of that she has chronic hind suspensory inflammation and is dangerous for all but myself and coach to ride. Very forward and reactive. She's 17 so no spring chicken.

Without careful management and $$$ a horse like that would go downhill fast.

It is not a comfortable situation to be in knowing that I'm possibly going to support this animal for another 5-10 years without the joy of riding... she's not friendly, scowls at everyone but tolerates my affection at least. The only time she's happy is doing the harder tricks like half passes and flying changes. Now she doesn't have that anymore due to the suspensory problem so what now?

I would never sell, rehome, or donate her. Keeping the $1400/month pet is going to wear thin.
 

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I would never sell, rehome, or donate her. Keeping the $1400/month pet is going to wear thin.
If you are currently boarding at a high-end show barn, consider "downgrading" to a less expensive place that doesn't have all the bells and whistles. If you're not going to ride, you don't need them.

Where in the PNW are you? There's a retirement boarding facility not too far from where we will be moving, across the Puget Sound from Seattle. I could point you to them. I don't know anything about them except that they exist.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
If you are currently boarding at a high-end show barn, consider "downgrading" to a less expensive place that doesn't have all the bells and whistles. If you're not going to ride, you don't need them.

Where in the PNW are you? There's a retirement boarding facility not too far from where we will be moving, across the Puget Sound from Seattle. I could point you to them. I don't know anything about them except that they exist.
I'm in Canada but appreciate the offer. There are a couple of places that are 3-4 hour drives away but that's too far. She needs daily attention still. Maybe I'm just too worried that no one will take care of her as well as I do...
 
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