Where Will Your Horse Spend Retirement?

As horses live longer and longer, the issue of retirement comes up more frequently. When thinking about where your horse will retire, there is a lot to consider.

First what are your stabling options?

  • Can I retire my horse on my property?
  • Can I afford to retire my horse at my current boarding stable?
  • Do I need a smaller, less expensive facility as my horse’s retirement home?
  • Is there a retirement facility I want to consider? How far from my home is it?
  • How often do I want to see my horse (daily, weekly, monthly)?
  • How much can I afford in both gas and time, traveling to visit my retiree?

Consider all the normal things you would consider when choosing a stable: the quality of the barn and turnout facilities, fencing, feed and bedding. Look at the overall cleanliness of the facility. Is there proper ventilation in the barn? Is the staff knowledgeable? Are the horses currently boarded at the facility happy and in good condition?

Next, figure out what your retiree’s special needs are.

What does your horse need at feed time?

  • Would my horse do well if fed in a group, or does she need to be separated at feed time?
  • How many times a day does my horse need to be fed?
  • If my horse needs medication or supplements added to his daily feed, can that be done regularly?
  • Can special feeding arrangements be made when necessary?
  • My horse needs his hay soaked; is that service offered?
  • How is hay fed, on the ground or in a feeder?
  • What water sources are available? Is warmed water available in cold weather?
  • Will extra hay be fed during cold weather?
  • Is free-choice salt readily available at all times of the year?

What are your horses stabling needs?

  • Can my horse live outside year-round or do I need to rent a stall?
  • My horse is used to being in on hot summer days and cold winter nights; is that an option?
  • If I choose pasture board, will there be a stall available should it be needed?
  • How many horses are kept in each field? What is the quality of the grass?
  • Is there a run-in shed in the field, and will it accommodate all the horses in the field?
  • If needed, is there a dry lot available?
  • My horse needs to wear shoes year-round; how will this affect his turnout opportunities?
  • My horse is kind of a wimp; if he is being bullied can he be moved to another field?

How does the facility you are considering handle horse care?

  • Are the horses checked and handled daily by an experienced horse person?
  • Review the vaccination and de-worming programs; are all the horses on the same program?
  • Can I use my own vet, dentist and farrier, or do I have to change?
  • Do I have to make arrangements to meet the vet, dentist or farrier, or is an experienced horse person available to handle appointments?
  • My horse needs to be blanketed in the winter; is that an option?
  • What is the protocol when an emergency occurs? What if I am out of town?
  • What if my horse’s condition changes as he gets older; can I easily change the way he is managed?
  • How does the facility handle an end-of-life situation?

Retiring your best friend is never easy, but with some consideration and thoughtful planning you should be able to find the right place for your horse to happily live out his or her retirement years.

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