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What to do with pasture sound only?

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  • What to do with pasture sound only?

    Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts and suggestions. Actually the news wasnt as dismal as I originally thiught. I have a tendency to always expect the worse and freak out. Actually, the vet doesnt think she has any new recent injuries but that she just has lasting damage from whatever might have happened to her when she was younger before i bought her but his prognosis was ok. He doesnt think she will hold up to hard work but with shoes, he thinks she could do low level beginner lessons or be a trail horse for someone or a broodmare.
    Last edited by ActNatural; May. 7, 2013, 09:37 PM. Reason: update

  • #2
    Not so long ago, we were talking in general about the state of the horse industry with some professionals.
    The question you pose came up.
    All know those are the horses that were used once more thru slaughter by most that have horses, still are in most of the world that has horses.

    As you are finding out, it is a hard question, if someone in your situation can and think is right and even should provide what amounts to Social Security and Medicare for such horses, if they happen to be in your hands when they became disabled as using horses.

    While all of us in the horse world have had a few that we did keep as long as we could, until they died some of them, for many people, that is just not feasible, especially those that don't make a living with horses, like you, where keeping that horse now for many years to come will use important and scarce resources of money, time and energy.
    Most of our animals in our first world countries already have a better life under our care and in our service than many humans.
    How far to go in that care, you have to decide on your own where you stand in your ability to provide it.
    I don't think anyone can help you there.


    • #3
      If your mare has had a lot of health problems I question whether she should be a brood mare who might produce unhealthy offspring.

      It is expensive and a lot of work to keep retirees. I am fortunate that I am able to keep our 25 year old in our backyard barn. A friend has our 27 year old in her backyard barn. Once, I put a horse down because I could not care for him and did not think anyone else would want to deal with his health problems. It is not easy to figure out what to do. Good homes for companion horses are few and far between. I am fortunate that my friend and her husband always enjoyed our now 27 year old. After they bought their farm, they asked if Merlin could come and be a companion to their horse.


      • #4
        I wouldn't say she shouldn't be bred because she injured herself at 11 years old? Do you think her previous issues are caused by conformational or genetic issues?

        No, I don't think you can expect to SELL her as a broodmare. Not many breeders will pay for an 11 year old maiden mare because at this age she is starting to get to the point where extra management may be needed to get/keep her pregnant (or it may not, but an 11 yr old maiden is a very different thing from an 11 yr old broodie). If she is indeed a nice mare you may be able to find an event or sport pony breeder that would be willing to take her for free and provide her with a good home. I wouldn't worry about the free part because as I said, it is unlikely anyone will pay for her as a broodmare but if you get vet references, make up a good contract ect then you should be able to weed out the good homes from the bad.

        Good luck, it's a tough position to be in.

        "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.


        • #5
          As a breeder I would really question how the injury happened and is at least part of it conformation. Breeding numbers are still down, so fewer looking for mares. There would have to be something really exceptional (bloodline, preformance) to make her worth money. She is also unproven as a broodmare. My guess would be you would be lucky to find a breeder willing to take the risk.

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          • #6
            First off, let me say that I'm sorry you find yourself in this position. I found myself in a similar position when I was in my early twenties. I had to retire my 12 year old mare, and couldn't afford a 2nd horse. I found a mostly pasture board spot (the horses were brought in to stalls twice per day to eat, but were out otherwise) for her at a barn with a lot of trail riders. I was single back then, so I spent a lot of time out there grooming. Was it hard? Absolutely. It was painful to watch other people go out riding. It was painful to explain over and over again why I didn't ride. It was frustrating to explain why I didn't euthanize her. I did that for 7 years. After I got engaged to my husband, I didn't have as much time to spend with her. I started feeling guilty about not spending "enough" time with her and that it was money I "should" be saving for the wedding. About 6 months after getting engaged, I found a home for her with a family looking for a pet for their young daughters. They wanted a horse they could groom and love on. The girls were too young to really "ride." They did put the girls up on my mare and lead her around (which she seemed to enjoy). A few weeks after giving her away, my father died unexpectedly. During my fog of grief, I somehow lost their number. I regret every day that I gave her away and I worry that she ended up in a bad place. I would never do it again. I intend for my horses to be with me for life - i don't want to live with that regret and worry for anyone else. My husband understands this and fully supports that decision.

            Ultimately, no one will be able to help you with this decision, it's so personal. Best of luck to you and your mare.


            • #7
              I currently have a pasture sound only horse and certainly have had a few in the past as well. Given the state of the economy and how hard it's hit the horse industry, I won't ever let an unsound horse out of my possession--just waaaay too much risk that a "useless" horse will wind up in a bad spot.

              What that means for me is I keep them until either they become painful and are euthanised out of kindness or I keep them until it becomes a significant financial burden to do so, and then they're euthanised.

              I would much rather put one down (a so-called "convenience" euthanasia) than rehome it only to find out later than the horse was starved or abused or slaughtered. A quick kind end is better, IMO, than a long, miserable existence. Once you let a horse out of your possession, there are no guarantees.

              Were I in your shoes, I'd either come to terms with putting the horse down (especially if her soundness issue is causing her chronic pain), or I'd find a cheap but safe pasture spot for her and look for a free lease.


              • #8
                People will criticize you one way or the other. Do what you must. And then don't look back. And have faith in the fact that you made the best possible choice.


                • #9
                  I don't know where you are or what level rider you are, but if you look around, you may find other options. Like doing barn chores in exchange for riding time. Or someone in your area may have a horse sitting around not getting ridden and they may let you do so for free or nearly free. If your hubby is in med school, eventually you will probably be at the point where you can afford a pasture pet and a riding horse. It may seem like a long time in the future, but the time will go by fast.

                  No one but you can make the decisions you are faced with now. I have a 29 year old horse who has been retired for 4 years now. He is facing health issues and I just take it day by day. I have thought about euthanasia, but haven't reached the point where I could do that yet. I scrape together his board money every month. He took care of me for years, and now I feel I should do the same. I have an 8 year old horse who has health issues as well. If the time comes where he is definitely not going to be rideable, I would probably put him down. It is a different situation with that horse and I don't feel the same way about him.

                  You are right in your thought that you should not give her away. There are a lot of dealers out there right now preying on people in your situation. Good luck with your decision!


                  • #10
                    You have *some* options:

                    You see how much she heals and then if she is "trail ride once a week sound" you ride that and otherwise groom her and enjoy her from the ground.

                    You work hard to market her as a broodmare-- even if that means leasing her to people. I did this with a mare, albeit a younger one and one who had a foal for me and was approved by a warmblood society. I leased her to not one, but two people who bred her to their stallions to see if they liked what she produced. It was a whole lotta work and took three years. But the mare finally did get sold as a broodie. FWIW, I did not keep in contact with the woman I sold her to. Then and now, I think she is a good horsewoman, but I knew that the mare had no value to me, did have value to her and someday would have no value to anyone. I accepted that uncertainty about her long term future when I sold her, as does almost everyone who sells a horse.

                    Keep your eyes peeled for other horses to ride. Don't be picky about what you are offered. If it is free or something you can afford, take it. Anything you can do to "hand in the game" by letting folks know that you can ride and are horseless is good. It does work!

                    I haven't spoken about the euthanasia piece, but no judgment from me if you do it. Well... maybe a little bit of jealousy. I have a semi-retired horse who will eat up my horse budget for another decade and I'm not happy about it.

                    Best of luck to you.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat


                    • #11
                      Are there any veterinary schools or large vet clinics within a reasonable hauling distance? Vet schools will accept blood donor horses. Michigan State University does this and the horses are cared for and pasture boarded. Every six months they donate blood. This may be a good alternative to putting her down or keeping her yourself. Then perhaps save the money you would have previously been spending on the made to buy a new horse and take lessons in the meantime.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Skyis4ever View Post
                        Are there any veterinary schools or large vet clinics within a reasonable hauling distance? Vet schools will accept blood donor horses. Michigan State University does this and the horses are cared for and pasture boarded. Every six months they donate blood. This may be a good alternative to putting her down or keeping her yourself. Then perhaps save the money you would have previously been spending on the made to buy a new horse and take lessons in the meantime.
                        Some vet schools also sell their horses at local livestock sales (and not the "good" ones) when the horses are no longer useful for whatever reason.

                        Going to a vet school is not a guarantee that the horse won't wind up in a scary place.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Atlas Shrugged View Post
                          People will criticize you one way or the other. Do what you must. And then don't look back. And have faith in the fact that you made the best possible choice.


                          • #14
                            I agree with Simkie and MVP. I also have a horse with soundness issues that would not be happy in a pasture so he is in a paddock close to me. It is what we do for our horses, we wait until we find a horse to ride for free or to care for that someone needs help with. I would let someone ride my young OTTB during the week, for free if they asked.

                            Sometimes doing the right thing pays off. Many riders have been in your position, it is not unique.


                            • #15
                              Could you find a cheap retirement boarding place for her? You might have to send her to another state depending on where you are.

                              I don't know where you are, but if you're near KY you could see if Blackburn Correctional Facility (yes, it's a prison) would take her. I think they only take retired OTTB's, but it couldn't hurt to ask.


                              • #16
                                Look on the horseless rider thread and see if anyone near you has a horse needing to be ridden. Or check local barns, as most have a horse or 2 whose owner works or can't ride often enough.


                                • #17
                                  I am so sorry you find yourself in this position. I have been in the same one for over 14 years now. My heart horse became lame and unrideable despite the best vet care I could muster. I was at a facility where, like Kodidog, I was grooming or handwalking my horse while friends went riding and it sucked. There was no shortage of horses for me to ride then, I just felt unbelievably guilty watching my horse whicker to me from his stall on a beautiful sunny day while I was grooming and tacking another. It broke my heart.

                                  I moved my horse to the opposite end of my state where the geography is entirely different and with entirely different care he actually came back riding sound for about 2 years which was a treat. An accident retired him from riding permanently however.

                                  Living where I was now I discovered the cost of living was half of what I was used to, so now I could afford two horses. Sounds great right?

                                  It was great, until I eventually ended up with another lame one So now I pay board and do self care on *two* very lovely manure machines.

                                  My second one is sound enough for driving if I'm cautious, so we've taken up that adventure and we are having fun, though I desperately miss riding.

                                  It has not been easy schlepping my pasture sound horse around with me for 14 years - it is rather like having a anchor tied to your ankle - but he is my heart horse and my heart just won't allow me to make any other decision, as long as he's happy and wants to be here, I'll do my very best for him.

                                  The silver lining is that keeping a lame horse for so many years forces a person to have a very different relationship with them, at least with me and my gregarious gelding. What do you do with a smart, bored, lame horse every day? You get creative and figure out how to have a good time regardless of the circumstances.

                                  My lame horse has taught me how to slow down and smell the roses, and how to turn a bad situation in a good time. Being an A-type personality, this was a very sharp pill to swallow, but we both had nothing but time on our hands.

                                  My horse has made me a better person, and while I've cried an ocean of tears, and felt the guilty jab in the gut from secretly knowing life would be so much easier if he was just *gone*, looking back I can say I made the right decision *for me* and for who I am.

                                  I love my second horse very much, and he's taught me a great deal as well, namely patience but in hindsight, having a second is a mistake for this very reason. Its easier than you think to end up with two lame horses. Where I live, there is NO shortage of horses who need riding. I am constantly being offered rides. Sadly, I've painted myself into a corner with a second horse who is on a new career as I've no time to ride as I'm training him for driving. Had I not had a second horse I could have eaten my cake and had it too. But this is the hand I was delt and I'm going to play it.

                                  This is a very individual decision, you have to make the one that is right for you.

                                  I too will never let my boys or any lame horse in my care ever go out into the world. There are too many shady people.
                                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                                  • #18
                                    I would network with breeders and see if there is any interest. If the home sounds like a good one, I would consider giving her away. I doubt you will be able to make any money, but the $$ you will save by not paying board and vet bills on the horse will allow you to take multiple lessons or maybe part lease another horse.
                                    Good luck.
                                    "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                                    • #19
                                      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 echo what everyone else has said about riding another horse -- there are LOTS of horses out there that need riding! You'll just have to really network to find them. Talk to trainers, vets, farriers, the local Pony Club etc etc etc.
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                                      • #20
                                        Sorry you are in that situation. It's happened to many of us. We feel responsible for the safe upkeep of a horse, and that prevents us from getting another. BTDT, and it's not fun. However, if you want your horse to have a forever home, you should plan on keeping her forever. Put yourself on a strict budget, with the goal of being able to afford another horse a few years from now. Meanwhile, find a good barn and take a weekly lesson. Keep your eyes open for any other riding opportunities that may come up.
                                        It's 2018. Do you know where your old horse is?

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