With the indoor season over and the winter series beginning I've noticed a lot of riders taking this time to retire their mounts. Knowing when enough is enough for your horse is what horsemanship is all about. Keeping your horse's well being top of mind is a major factor of what makes you a true horseman. It's not just about riding, showing and winning. It's about the health and well being of the animal that has gotten you to where you are today - whether that be trail riding, local shows, the Ariat National Adult Medal Finals, or grand prixs.
Knowing when to retire your horse is based solely upon your horse, how they feel and the conversations you have with your trainer and veterinarian.
A friend of mine recently retired her horse, so I asked her how she knew it was time and the feelings involved in making that decision. Here's what she said..
February 2, 2016 will be the anniversary of 5 years of partnership for Hunter and I. I am now 40 and Hunter was my first horse. I rode as a junior and took about 15 years off. He is such a great horse and was so fun to return back to riding with. In our time together a lot has changed. As Hunter is now reaching 20 his body has physically changed. We recently discovered bone spurs on both hocks. His left hock fused but his right has not. My lanky fun loving adventurous TB was not sound. We have over the years kept up with regular maintenance but this I knew was the end of his show jumping career. We have traveled the Southeast competing in the Adult Hunters in our beginning years.
Then I was pregnant and due to unforeseen circumstances had to take a year off. Once I was back he took such great care of me. We started back slowly and gained confidence again. Having a baby takes a lot out of you and changes your body. Thank you Hunter for putting up with me!
Hunter was retired to our family farm early September of 2015. His last horse show he carried our 2 year old son for the first time in Leadline. A moment of such emotion I cannot begin to explain. He took care of my child as I knew he would.
Hunter is now our pasture pet that occasionally gets to bareback me around the fields or go for a trail ride. I am pretty sure he loves his new job as he can enjoy just being a horse. I wouldn't change my decision to retire him. I miss competing with him but I know I made the best decision for him. And I enjoy the fact that I spend every single day with him!
Have you made the decision to retire your mount? If so, what factors played a roll in that decision?