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Signs a horse is ready to be retired?? help!

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  • Signs a horse is ready to be retired?? help!

    I have had my 22 going on 23 year old TB for about 6 years now. He has always been a relatively hot horse but recently he has gotten much worse. If I lunge him before I ride he tends to eventually quiet down on the lunge line, but as soon as I get on he is tense, short strided, and acts like he would like to buck me off. I have had his back checked out and it is fine, I have also even sold my saddle to get a better fitting one. I have even gone as far as to cut his grain and I have tried a "calming" supplement with him. So far not much seems to be helping him. My main concern is that I cant tell if he is sour because he is ready to retire and be done with riding, or if he is just sour because he doesnt want to work. For an older horse he is in very good condition the only thing that is wrong is that we recently found out he does have a slight heart murmur. I need opinions and help, Im not sure when a good time to retire a horse is or what certain signs are... help!

  • #2
    What do you usually do with him? What about a change of pace for a little while? Take him out for a long hack for a few rides?

    I know you said you had his back checked out and saddle fit, but what about other areas? Older horses tend to get a bit stiff with the colder weather, could be he is uncomfortable somewhere other than his back.

    I tend to think horses do better health-wise if they are kept in some sort of work for as long as possible, providing they are sound enough to be comfortable. They just seem to age better.
    "There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse." - Robert Smith Surtees

    Comment


    • #3
      I'd say it's time for a lameness exam. At his age, he could certainly have some sort of easily treatable or manageable problem that's causing him pain and anxiety when he's ridden.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Simkie View Post
        I'd say it's time for a lameness exam. At his age, he could certainly have some sort of easily treatable or manageable problem that's causing him pain and anxiety when he's ridden.
        I agree. Your vet can help you narrow things down - It's hard for horses to express how they feel except by acting out. It could be pain or stiffness that is very manageable so long as you pinpoint it and treat it/manage it appropriately.

        You could try giving bute a few hours before riding and see if it changes anything.

        Comment


        • #5
          When my old guy became resistant and cranky under saddle, I had the vet out for an exam and found some soreness in his hocks. We had his hocks injected, changed supplements around, and bingo, he was back to himself. It is certainly worth a visit from your vet.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by tcc5121 View Post
            I have had my 22 going on 23 year old TB for about 6 years now. He has always been a relatively hot horse but recently he has gotten much worse. If I lunge him before I ride he tends to eventually quiet down on the lunge line, but as soon as I get on he is tense, short strided, and acts like he would like to buck me off.
            OMG. Is he a bay with a star and a hind sock, about 16.1? :LOL: You and I have the same horse. Except I've had mine longer.

            I have "retired" him several times over the years. He acts like he hates to be ridden, but then when he's jobless he's a total PITA, running the other horses ragged, calling to them when I ride.

            I've also been over him with a fine toothed comb as far as back, feet, ulcers, diet, teeth, saddle fit, bits, etc. Vet, chiro, voodoo shaman all consulted. He's just one of those nutbag TBs that gives TBs their bad rep. Mine is also in near mint condition despite his age, and the place where I board him during winters didn't believe his age until I showed them his Jockey Club papers.

            What is your guy like 35-40 minutes into the ride? My guy can be an absolute turd for anywhere from 10 to 30 or so minutes. I was convinced it was kissing spine, a bone spur somewhere, arthritis, etc. but I kept coming back to how absolutely sound he was in the pasture as he runs my other horses ragged. I think my guy puts on a big show at the start of many rides because it has worked so well over the years to get me (and many trainers) to leave him alone. However, when I'm able to keep my wits about me and ride through it, I usually find a very willing, forward, evenly tracking horse who has no trouble lifting and using his back. I'm sure at 22 years of age there are plenty of aches and pains, but I have a 21 year old paint who has way more baggage as far as soundness and yet is way more willing to work. I think some are just very hard headed when it comes to work and very persistent in their evasions. Does your guy have Northern Dancer up close in the sire line?

            I suggest riding him for a good 35-45 minutes (with a patient warm-up to both let him get his sillies out but also to help him stretch and relax...I've found sometimes I have to let my guy really trot out or even canter before we try to do any stretching walk work). If he deteriorates over that time, I'd say you've got a definite body soundness issue that you need to explore and consider retirement. If he improves, then unfortunately like me you probably just have a mental soundness issue. I haven't found the cure for that yet!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by eventingVOL View Post
              What do you usually do with him? What about a change of pace for a little while? Take him out for a long hack for a few rides?

              I know you said you had his back checked out and saddle fit, but what about other areas? Older horses tend to get a bit stiff with the colder weather, could be he is uncomfortable somewhere other than his back.

              I tend to think horses do better health-wise if they are kept in some sort of work for as long as possible, providing they are sound enough to be comfortable. They just seem to age better.
              We were jumping and doing the hunters about a year ago but have since changed pace and are just doing flat work, ive been interested in doing some very low level dressage type stuff and clinics. A few hunter paces as well since those are his appsolutly FAVORITE! I agree that horses do age better with some work, Hacks by around the farm tend to not be as relaxing as they should be, he gets a bit over excited and becomes a bit prancy; but he does love them so perhaps he just needs a change of scenery. Maybe I should have the vet come out too.. I just hesistate to push him too much because I dont want to wear him down

              Comment


              • #8
                I would start with the vet. A full lameness exam like has been mentioned. Do not forget to include checking for ulcers.

                Originally posted by tcc5121 View Post
                I just hesistate to push him too much because I dont want to wear him down
                This might be your other problem. No, clearly he should not be doing huge jumps and endless lessons but maybe he is bored.

                What does he do if you take him out for a walk (not riding, leading) on the trails?

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post
                  OMG. Is he a bay with a star and a hind sock, about 16.1? :LOL: You and I have the same horse. Except I've had mine longer.

                  I have "retired" him several times over the years. He acts like he hates to be ridden, but then when he's jobless he's a total PITA, running the other horses ragged, calling to them when I ride.

                  I've also been over him with a fine toothed comb as far as back, feet, ulcers, diet, teeth, saddle fit, bits, etc. Vet, chiro, voodoo shaman all consulted. He's just one of those nutbag TBs that gives TBs their bad rep. Mine is also in near mint condition despite his age, and the place where I board him during winters didn't believe his age until I showed them his Jockey Club papers.

                  What is your guy like 35-40 minutes into the ride? My guy can be an absolute turd for anywhere from 10 to 30 or so minutes. I was convinced it was kissing spine, a bone spur somewhere, arthritis, etc. but I kept coming back to how absolutely sound he was in the pasture as he runs my other horses ragged. I think my guy puts on a big show at the start of many rides because it has worked so well over the years to get me (and many trainers) to leave him alone. However, when I'm able to keep my wits about me and ride through it, I usually find a very willing, forward, evenly tracking horse who has no trouble lifting and using his back. I'm sure at 22 years of age there are plenty of aches and pains, but I have a 21 year old paint who has way more baggage as far as soundness and yet is way more willing to work. I think some are just very hard headed when it comes to work and very persistent in their evasions. Does your guy have Northern Dancer up close in the sire line?

                  I suggest riding him for a good 35-45 minutes (with a patient warm-up to both let him get his sillies out but also to help him stretch and relax...I've found sometimes I have to let my guy really trot out or even canter before we try to do any stretching walk work). If he deteriorates over that time, I'd say you've got a definite body soundness issue that you need to explore and consider retirement. If he improves, then unfortunately like me you probably just have a mental soundness issue. I haven't found the cure for that yet!
                  haha I agree with the soundness of mind issue! he's one of the smartest horses Ive ever had but also one of the naughtiest! He is actually black with a white blaze, and no socks, just bleaches out a bit in the winter. He doesnt have any native dancer in his sire line but he does have Bold Ruler very close to his sire. Heres his pedigree. http://www.pedigreequery.com/libertys+charge

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    He has Polynesian in his sire line, who was Native Dancer's sire. FWIW.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                      He has Polynesian in his sire line, who was Native Dancer's sire. FWIW.
                      I didnt know that, thanks1 (:

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                        I would start with the vet. A full lameness exam like has been mentioned. Do not forget to include checking for ulcers.


                        This might be your other problem. No, clearly he should not be doing huge jumps and endless lessons but maybe he is bored.

                        What does he do if you take him out for a walk (not riding, leading) on the trails?
                        We only jump a cross rail here and there and a few small I mean very small like 2ft cross country jumps every now and then because he loves it. I do agree that he may be bored I have been considering take him on walks in hand around the farm, he could use some practice with his ground manners lately to :/ The old man has more spunk than half of the youngsters in our barn!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ITA about having the vet do a thorough exam.

                          FWIW - my 3rd level mare got to where she HATED the ring. This was a horse who NEVER EVER NEVER did a wrong thing in her life - always amenable to whatever was asked of her. Even when she started hating the ring, she would do as asked w/o offering to be nasty. Her facial expression just told the whole story, though.

                          She was 21 when I said no more and just starting using her to hack around on. We even hunted for a season. She LOVED watching the hounds work. Her whole attitude changed. She hunted that one season and we hacked around the farm another year. Then she developed COPD and we retired her completely. That gave way to a giant bladder stone and that to quiet & final resting place in the back pasture about a year and a half ago. She let us know when it was time to hang up her bridle for good, as well as when it was time to go to horse heaven.

                          Get the vet out to give your boy a good lameness exam & check up. Regardless of the diagnosis, if he's sound enough to ride, I highly recommend time outta the ring. It does a brain good.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thank you everyone! (:

                            Comment

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