The glory days are over. This is the moment you realize your performance horse can no longer do what he loves best. He’s just too old, and the time has come for retirement.
What are you going to do? You’re watching a friend who thrived on fun—a friend who lived for the feeling of speed and perfection—lose their livelihood. Their gate’s not as crisp and springy anymore. Their head’s not as high above the saddle. You dread the thought of your companion ending up bored and restless. And you don’t want to see him in the wrong hands if he changes owners. That, by far, is the worst thing that could happen.
You now have to decide whether to keep your horse or usher it into a trailer and out of your life. You’re uncertain. If you keep your horse the veterinary expense could be high—there could be unforeseen illness, Equine Gastric Ulcers Syndrome, colic, Cushing’s disease, or just plain old pain and stress.
There’s help for you
Thankfully, there are plenty of people who’ve been through what you’re going through. The first thing is to assess your horse’s condition. Your horse may need to stop competing, but that doesn’t mean he has to stop being active. And, a retired performance horse can serve a valuable role in an equine-assisted therapy program, which benefits not only the patient but the horse as well.
Performance horses Retirement plan
It’s important to think ahead about where you want to see your performance horse in her retirement years. A horse whose physical condition has deteriorated due to the stress of performing and poor management will be of little to no use, and will accrue a good deal of veterinary debt for the owner.
Plan your horse’s retirement years before the day comes. That way, you’ll be sure you and your horse get the most out of the post-performance years.