When does retirement mean retirement?

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eventerbabe

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Dec 16, 2004
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My horse of a lifetime is now 27. Some of you might remember back in 2013/14 he ruptured a tendon and has never quite been right since. We had moved to hacking only after his recovery. He's always had a clean bill of health from vet, physio and dentist. Last winter I had his shoes taken off and moved him onto his own grazing with nobody chasing him about. He's the soundest he's looked in a few years. Infact my farrier says he's now pretty much 100%.

The last time I sat on him was June-October last year. Very gentle 10 minute wanders once a week. I didn't ride during my pregnancy. In my head, he's retired. But now I can ride again I wonder if I should resume our weekly wanders. But then my logical head kicks in and says he's retired.

Did you retire your oldies completely? Or be led by them? Last pony I had of Toby's age was my loan pony who was still going strong at 27, taking me round XC courses. And I'd think if Toby hadn't injured himself he'd be just the same!!
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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My first share was not so old but was a retired lesson horse and her eventual total retirement aged 23 was due to a field injury. My instruction from the owner ( I was myself convalescent from a bad operation) was to do as much or as little as I and the mare felt like on the day.
She was turned away in summers but not up to being out 24/7 in winter and earned her keep in the winters with me and doing RDA. Our hacks were limited to an hour and that meant the long canters were beyond our reach. But my hacking her was considered good for her.
That is why one cant answer your question on a forum. How and how far I rode was left to my feel and my judgement and I cant even really say how one knows such things.
 
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Bodshi

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Apr 23, 2009
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Our Jack is mid 20s and retired. He has navicular and arthritis and although field sound with a danilon a day he can't do much more than walk out on a short hack. His retirement was partly also triggered by OH having a bad back and frankly not being so bothered about riding that he wanted to deal with the discomfort.

I do take Jack for a short wander every now and then, I *think* he enjoys his little walks, although he's never been an enthusiastic hacker, so I couldn't say he'd be bothered if he didn't go. He likes the associated groom and fuss though.

In your position I'd do as Skib did and just be guided by how you and Toby are feeling.
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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It's a gut feeling I think. Ramsey retired in stages - shorter hacks, then bareback, then longish walks in hand. One day, he seemed done in by even a short walk, and that was the start of full retirement. He would have kept going as long as I asked him to, but it wouldn't have been fair.
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Chunky is 24 and is semi retired. He has back issues maybe even kissing spine. My vet said to me a couple of years ago keep him going or he will seize up and you will send him to an early grave. In my heart i knew that me riding him was causing him pain even though he never complained. But the swelling on his back said it all. He has danilon and the vet said i could use on days when i ride or ever day. So its really my call.
I was lucky that two seperate children came along about 4 years ago and were competent enough to ride him coupled with him slowing down, its has kept him going. Together we me still driving him. I just have the odd sit on now and then to feel how i think he really is. He definately cant do the miles like we use to. Four mile hacks are really the absolute limit with the kids and me even less riding him. I drive him about 3 miles. But that does also include steep hills.

Up till march he was still being ridden by one of the girls at the weekend and id drive the other day and a few lunges in the week. Then with covid he had nothing but clicker training, some in hand stuff. You could tell he was bored so i started driving him after a month and he seemed more content. I also started riding billy and leading chunky in hand. That is ok but as billy is such a twat it makes it hard on me leading chunky who i slower. The good thing is that as chunky is so chilled in certain places i can just let him go and he will just walk or trot maybe have a little canter behind us on our hacks. On a good day if i trot billy and then go back to walk and chunky trots past a few strides rather than stopping with us i consider that he is feeling well.
In the last year his stride has become shorter and he clearly struggles with walking out. But mentally he is much happier going out than being stuck in the field doing nothing. I always get the two boys in together and they are loose in my collecting area. If chunky has done nothing there is a kind of jealousy going on and he will lunge at billy to have a go. When he goes out for walks and drives. There is very little agro in the collecting area. So im sure that mentally he is a more content boy.

I would say try to ride and see what happens, dont expect it to be back to the old days of doing miles like you use to but if going out for a 2 mile hack is possible, go for it. Maybe consider ride and lead if you have sane sensible horses.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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But mentally he is much happier going out than being stuck in the field doing nothing.
This is the sadness of it. My old share mare was utterly miserable turned out in retirement. Visiting her was like visiting my aged Aunt who was miserable in her old people's home.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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I'd give it a go and see how he feels, you certainly know enough to tell if he's struggling or not enjoying it. If he seems up for it but a bit stiff coming back into work I'd consider asking the vet for some but for him to have after a hack just until his muscles are used to doing a bit again, one wouldn't mask any real problem but it would ease old unfit muscles.
 

eventerbabe

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Dec 16, 2004
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Now some of you have hit it bang on. Mentally, Toby still thinks he's a youngster and I'm a teenager and he gets upset when I take either of the other two out to do something. And I'm aware, especially now we are moving into autumn, that keeping him moving is so important.

We have lots of "extras": massage pad, magnetic wraps and pads, arc equine unit etc so he gets thoroughly pampered. My hubby jokes I should open an equine spa! He's looked after in a more veterinary context by a wonderful sports massage therapist who says the same- let him guide me. I just don't want to be perceived as cruel.
 

carthorse

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I cannot believe anyone would think seeing if he wants to do some light ridden exercise is cruel, but if comments are made tell them to mind their own business.
 

Frances144

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I got back on Haakon (aged 26) this summer and he loves it. He had been retired last year due to illness/injury and general deterioration. Riding had stopped being fun for him and the minute he says he doesnt want to, we will stop again, no question.

Nothing is written in stone. You and your horse communicate and you know each other well. Go with what he is saying and how he is feeling and certainly not what others say/think unless they can see something you can't, which I very much doubt.

I took Haakon for a beach ride last weekend. Everyone else (another 9 on their Icelandics) were zipping up and down the beach at huge speeds and I dropped the reins and told Haakon to do whatever he wanted. We drove to the beach so he didn't have the 3 mile ride there and back and we pottered up and down and stood in the sea for a while.

Then they all galloped up the hill track, Haakon sighed, so I turned him and got off and we walked up the hill track together, side by side because that's what he asked me to do.

Listen to your horse and he will tell you.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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Buddy is 26 and usually ridden 4-5 times a week, 30-60 minutes. He may do a short sponsored ride at the end of the month. We only walk, keeps him supple and toned, and he looks very well. If we do over an hour i may get off and walk a bit if he says so. On the 5 mile sponsored ride we may do 3 and a bit. I have a cunning plan that if i miss out the first couple of fields - where he is an eejit and too bouncy - and take him along the road to the third one where he can canter, and then he settles, we might be able to do a bit more of the route! I would give it a go, see what he is like.
 
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chunky monkey

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Honestly in the last year ive asked myself so many times if i should retire chunky. It breaks my heart with me worrying if its all too much for him. I really dont know what the right thing is. Im taking it day by day. I know the day will come fairly soon. Im glad you have asked this question.
 
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Ale

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Feb 8, 2012
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Ale was retired young. His ligament healed with a fair amount of scar tissue and the vet warned me it would likely just go again one day. I don't wish to be onboard if or when that happens as I would always blame myself. He was injected in his sacro, I got on and rode, he did feel better but the vet told me to ride through any pain. Well when Ale started telling me it was hurting again I just didn't want to ride anymore. That coupled with his stifle issues and arthritis I just don't think it's worth it, putting more strain on the ligament too. So many people tell me I'm wasting him, he looks sound now in walk and trot most days. Thing is my boy has flourished since not being in work so it doesn't matter what anyone tells me. He's had a complete character change for the better. Also they don't see him dragging his legs round if he's turned on a circle, or his awful awful canter. We have moved in the right direction since I stopped working him, he isn't noticeably lame in walk and trot now and has stopped dragging his back legs. I don't really think there is any right or wrong answer. Retire them if you want, ride them if you want, so long as you listen to them then it's fine either way.
 

Huggy

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Oh the dragging legs looks awful. Ramsey did that with his stifle problem, and although the vet told me it wasn't painful, it was horrible to watch him. It was when it became so bad that he couldn't lie down, or get away from his field mate hassling him, I knew he'd had enough.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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Ale was retired young. His ligament healed with a fair amount of scar tissue and the vet warned me it would likely just go again one day. I don't wish to be onboard if or when that happens as I would always blame myself. He was injected in his sacro, I got on and rode, he did feel better but the vet told me to ride through any pain. Well when Ale started telling me it was hurting again I just didn't want to ride anymore. That coupled with his stifle issues and arthritis I just don't think it's worth it, putting more strain on the ligament too. So many people tell me I'm wasting him, he looks sound now in walk and trot most days. Thing is my boy has flourished since not being in work so it doesn't matter what anyone tells me. He's had a complete character change for the better. Also they don't see him dragging his legs round if he's turned on a circle, or his awful awful canter. We have moved in the right direction since I stopped working him, he isn't noticeably lame in walk and trot now and has stopped dragging his back legs. I don't really think there is any right or wrong answer. Retire them if you want, ride them if you want, so long as you listen to them then it's fine either way.
exactly, listen to them.
 
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