If you are close to KY we are looking for a pony as companion to the old guy. He's terrifically herdbound to one chosen companion but we can wean him off of one onto another, he just has to have his "pet".
I feel for you. I have a newly "retired" pasture puff myself; a nearly 18 year old TB mare who is an ex-broodmare, and was never 100% sound but has now shown she really can't be ridden more than at the walk, so we are retiring her.
However, don't discount the "free to good home" option so long as you don't give your horse away without checking references, etc. I have taken two "free" ponies from Craigslist that are definitely in better shape now than they were. There are good homes out there that might need a companion horse.
If I had the room (which I don't at the moment but other people might) I would consider a companion mare for my own retiree - one reason is that she could go out on pasture 24/7 but my other fatties cannot. As a result I will have to come up with a turnout schedule that will work for them in the summer, and I suspect it will be a big pain in the rear!
If you offered a long-term free lease that included vet/farrier you might get someone like me who would be happy to have another horse on the property but not sure I'm up for another true retiree. Either that, or you might find someone like met that would "board" your horse at a very low cost (essentially enough to cover vet & farrier, etc.)
I realize it's a gamble so I would not advertise via CL - but ask your vet and farrier and maybe consider listing your horse on a local Facebook site for horses if there is one for your area. You might be surprised what comes up.
That said, if you can't find a suitable, safe place - especially if the horse will need special care due to an injury - I would consider euthanasia an acceptable solution.
If you were to retire her as a broodmare you would want to get your vets opinion on weather she was likely to stand up as a broodmare. You would want to find a breader you knew would take excellent care of her.
My pasture pet is outside eating my lawn, he is one big gorgeous expensive happy pet.
You could try to find a companion home, if you offer to pay vet and farrier for her. My trainer retired a school horse with me under these terms -- it was win-win for everyone. You'd have these fees if you continue to board her, but you wouldn't have to pay board. This is a free lease situation, and you would have to keep an eye on her.
I have a friend who found just such a home for her retired broodmare. The couple who have her just wanted a couple of horses to care for and to have in the pasture. My friend pays all the mare's vet and farrier bills. It's turned out to be a win-win, but it took a lot of time and two other not-so-great situations to find the right one. And it's close enough that she can check in on her several times a year.
Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts, ideas, and encouragements.
I have the vet appointment at the university clinic this week and will know then. Like someone suggested, I shouldnt give up hope yet. I suppose there is always a chance that it will not be what we think or as bad. I just really hope we get some answers this time because this will be vet visit number 5 and Im really tired of not knowing one way or another.
If she is sound for walking around on trails, then Ill keep her for sure. I can probably find a place that doesnt have a ring, etc that will be cheaper than some of the nicer places around here. Trail riding a few times a week will give me my fix and I can take lessons at another barn and catch ride other horses. I spent about 7 years in college and after without "owning" a horse so I dont know why the idea seems so upsetting to me. I always had something to ride around on. People are generous and I used to be really resourceful so Ill manage.
I agree with those that say that no choice is an easy one and you have to make a choice you can live with.
If it were me, I would probably keep the pasture sound horse for as long as financially possible and find other horses to hack for free. The horseless riders thread is a great resource as are friends that own horses and trainers you ride with. I always know owners that are looking for responsible, reliable and trustworthy adult riders to exercise their horses. Seek and you shall find.