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Retired horse dilemma- Please read and respond... Thank you!

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  • Retired horse dilemma- Please read and respond... Thank you!

    I am really looking for some input on this dilemma because i am really stumped.

    I've had this super hardy, small horse for about 8 years now. Nothing fancy, wild, pretty hardy. We kept her around because she became a pet more than anything useful. Had her at a show barn, a pleasure barn, and now she is currently retired at a pretty much turnout only farm.

    She is 22 and really smart and alpha. We never had a problem keeping her warm or weight or anything, but I'm just getting vibes that she isn't happy... I'm not sure why or where these are coming from, but I'm finding them hard to ignore because I've had her for so long and know her like the back of my hand. i don't get to see her that often as a result of showing/riding at another farm about an hour in the opposite direction, so she doesn't get a whole lot of human interaction (which she would probably enjoy). One lady in particular takes care of her and grooms her one or two times a week and sends me pictures. she looks fine I guess.

    She gets turned out everyday, usually 24 hours, sometimes 12 depending on the weather. I'm just worried she's not happy. If I had her at a barn where she got turned out all day and got put inside at night I'd feel a little better. They don't blanket there (shes fuzzy regardless), but there's just nobody there. She seems happy as far as I know, but I can't ignore this feeling.

    Do you think it's okay to move her from her farm at this age? She's been there for about 3 years now and has a herd of horses. Some people tell me to leave her, and that's best, but i don't know how to feel about the situation. Can someone pleaes give me input?

    Thanks so much

  • #2
    what are the signals she is sending to you that makes you feel uneasy? are you feeling guilty because someone else is grooming her? if she seems mopey and lethargic why not do some blood work to see if anything is brewing? if you think it is a good place - care, feed, med attention as needed, etc, then why move her? if you believe she is trying to tell you something, and you have a good place to move her, then i dont think it will harm her. sounds like she is a survivor and would adapt to a new place. good luck!

    Comment


    • #3
      Is she at all rideable? Some horses just like to have a job. Can you donate her to a therapeutic riding place? or get on her sometimes if you move her closer? just some thoughts. I don't discount the "feeling." I get those, too, about my horse but sometimes it hard to discern what you're feeling from them and what is really your own guilty or anxiety sounding off.

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      • #4
        22 isnt old for many horses. If you feel more comfortable having her somewhere where you see her more often, go for it. We recently had three geriatrics move to our place, youngest was 27 and they adjusted just fine.

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        • #5
          22 isn't "old" - I took on an emaciated mare at 27 years and she handled the move to a better life just fine. She's almost 33 now.

          I think the feeling you're getting shouldn't be ignored...find a better home for her and you'll both feel better .

          Comment


          • #6
            My mare is somewhere around 20-25yo. I just bought her (long story, known her for years). She moved to a new barn when I bought her a few months ago and now gives lessons to kids and is learning to jump. She's an ex polo pony, but she seems to have a blast jumping. Sure, why not? She enjoys having a job and was bratty and bored until they started using her in lessons. Now she's happily packing kids around crossrails and getting stuffed with cookies.

            Maybe the mare just wants a job?

            My old horse was playing polo at 20 and the club had several other 20somethings. Burro was 28 when we finally retired him to a trail home. He would have kept playing if we'd have let him though. My mare still likes to play and would be if I played anymore.

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            • #7
              If you actually don't see her all that often, it's not clear to me where your "feeling" that she's not happy is coming from.

              Maybe, instead of riding over the next 2 weeks, go out and visit her instead; groom her, handle her, hand-walk her, etc. After 2 weeks of really concentrated interaction with her, maybe then you'll have a better idea of how she's doing.

              Good luck.
              "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                thanks for everyone's input so far... i think it's really interesting about how old some of your horses have been that have adjusted completely normally to a move. the job thing is definitely something for me to consider... thanks so much, i look forward to hearing more thoughts

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re the lady who grooms her 1 or 2 times a week and sends you photos... Any chance she'd like to own her/free lease her and give her more attention, possibly even ride her? Maybe your mare would enjoy having her own person - if you don't have time yourself, it could be this woman who obviously enjoys her. It could be good for both of them and would make you feel better about her situation.

                  If you're worried about her future, you could have a contract - legal! - stating the horse comes back to you if the lady can't care for her anymore.
                  It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.

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                  • #10
                    Also, I wouldn't assume she'd like to be in at night. Most horses when given the option prefer to be outside. It is healthier for them. As long as she has shelter she can get in during inclement weather, I would not at all worry that she misses people. Most horses prefer horses and it sounds to me like she gets a lot more "people" attention than most retired horses -- twice a week grooming and all. My retirees get a pat and a cookie at feeding time and groomed if absolutely necessary, i.e. they get in a burr patch. They are very happy just being horses.

                    But do check in on her if you feel uneasy. If she's in good weight and seems content ruling her little herd, I'd leave her be.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm guessing that the "feeling" you're getting, that her demeanor has somehow changed though not physically, could very well be based on possible recent changes in the herd membership.

                      Any time any horse enters or leaves a group, the entire pecking order shifts. If your old girl is used to being an Alpha and has been deposed by a younger, incoming bad-ass or two, that could easily account for a change in the vibe you're reading. While physically well, she isn't the "self" you're used to because her status has changed.

                      Other signs of this are: weight loss, being excluded from shelter, dings and bangs, seeming nervous where she once was supremely confident.

                      If you have a place closer to home where she can have the same 24/7 turnout arrangement but you can keep closer tabs on her, go for it! I've had horses come in here pushing 30 and there were no problems with adaptation AS LONG AS the group is reasonably compatible--"birds of a feather." At this point in her life a smaller group 5-6 vs. 10+ might be less stress for her since she DOES believe she should rule!

                      We just buried the Grand Old Man here this month; boss of the big herd for 18 solid years, and he was 13 when he GOT here! When he got deposed back in July (by a mare!) that's how we knew he was short-listed for Valhalla. Do not discount these subtle signals!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I can't tell from your post whether

                        (1) you are picking up subtle hints from your horse that all is not well. I once got a "something's just not right feeling about a horse here, I couldn't put my finger on it. Called out the vet, it turned out to be Lyme. Upon reflection the thing that changed was the horse didn't rub his head on me as usual after his twice daily dose of medicine (he is a retired pushing-30 year old TB). If this is what is going on, I'd first look to medical reasons for unhappiness.

                        or

                        (2) You are projecting your own feelings onto the horse. The horse certainly seems well cared for.

                        You could ask the BO/caregiver what she thinks, if she's hands on she could pick up subtle hints that something's wrong too.

                        Also, as others have said, going into a stall at night is usually more for the owner's peace of mind than the horse's actual comfort. (I know there are exceptions!!). But free movement with buddies is probably a horse's first choice.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by insideturn12 View Post
                          I am really looking for some input on this dilemma because i am really stumped.

                          I've had this super hardy, small horse for about 8 years now. Nothing fancy, wild, pretty hardy. We kept her around because she became a pet more than anything useful. Had her at a show barn, a pleasure barn, and now she is currently retired at a pretty much turnout only farm.

                          She is 22 and really smart and alpha. We never had a problem keeping her warm or weight or anything, but I'm just getting vibes that she isn't happy... I'm not sure why or where these are coming from, but I'm finding them hard to ignore because I've had her for so long and know her like the back of my hand. i don't get to see her that often as a result of showing/riding at another farm about an hour in the opposite direction, so she doesn't get a whole lot of human interaction (which she would probably enjoy). One lady in particular takes care of her and grooms her one or two times a week and sends me pictures. she looks fine I guess.

                          She gets turned out everyday, usually 24 hours, sometimes 12 depending on the weather. I'm just worried she's not happy. If I had her at a barn where she got turned out all day and got put inside at night I'd feel a little better. They don't blanket there (shes fuzzy regardless), but there's just nobody there. She seems happy as far as I know, but I can't ignore this feeling.

                          Do you think it's okay to move her from her farm at this age? She's been there for about 3 years now and has a herd of horses. Some people tell me to leave her, and that's best, but i don't know how to feel about the situation. Can someone pleaes give me input?

                          Thanks so much
                          I would like to know more of the story of you two together. You say "we" have kept her around--who else besides you?
                          When you had her at the other barns, were you riding at those too, so that you got to see her (and she got to see you) whenever you rode?
                          If that is the case (and since you know her so well I'm assuming it is the case), I would say she is missing you. If you know an animal that well, then the animal knows you that well too, and misses you. I am not going to go all mystical on you (although I think this is certainly valid) but have you considered that these feelings you are getting come from her?
                          As far as knowing "how to feel" about this, what you feel is what you feel. It is not a question of "how to feel" but of "how to act" on the feeling.
                          Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
                          People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
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                          • #14
                            I would ask YOU what is going on in your life that your horse might be concern about that is related to you and your world. If you can sense her so well, I suspect, your horses can do the same about your world and is acting or projecting her concern about you by getting your attention.

                            Quiet and listen, but now listen and be open for a different answer or advise. I little more visits might be what you both need for a short while, too

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My horses always preferred half-day in. In during day in summer away from the flies; in during the night enjoying their hay. If they is how she was kept when she was useful, that is how I would keep her now. Just my opinion.
                              Free bar.ka and tidy rabbit.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by chemteach View Post
                                My horses always preferred half-day in. In during day in summer away from the flies; in during the night enjoying their hay. If they is how she was kept when she was useful, that is how I would keep her now. Just my opinion.
                                Same here.

                                OP trust your instincts.
                                "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                                Courtesy my cousin Tim

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Some horses really like a lot of human contact. My mare would be fine never seeing a saddle again but she thrives when she gets groomed and loved on 5+ days a week. I am not anthropomorphizing. When I see her every day she stands in the crossties ears pricked, nickers, leans into scratches, and walks along brightly when I take her outside. She cleans up her hay and is a total ham when visitors stop by. When I'm around less she doesn't nicker, stands with her ears flicked back, and stands in the back of her stall and ignores visitors.


                                  You know your horse better than anyone else. If you feel like she isn't thriving in this situation then I would move her closer or finding someone who can love on her every day. She might miss the hustle and bustle of a riding barn where she got a hello and a pat from a couple of people every day.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Your basic question was, Is it OK to move her at her age?

                                    The consensus seems to be, Yes, it is OK. Then that answers your question.

                                    I don't know enough to reply to that question, but other people here seem to. I know only enough to say what I said earlier. I do think that she would be happier at the same barn as you. Maybe her other caregiver could come to that barn too?
                                    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
                                    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
                                    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique

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