A great many people will start thinking about the future of their older show horses as the current season starts to wind down and their old friend is showing some strong signs of needing a change of ‘occupation’. Higher level show horses, no matter the discipline, will have the opportunity to retire down the competition levels that they progressed up during their development. Our own Turtle started life as a German Grand Prix jumper, injured a tendon and moved on to the high hunter class and lower jumpers and eventually ended her showing career in the low adult rings doing 2’6ft and 2’9ft.
Senior and injured horses are usually able to tell us when it is time to leave the show ring. Injuries become more pronounced and often no longer respond to treatment as they once did. New injuries may also start to occur at a greater rate. It’s never a happy moment, but all horses eventually reach the point where they aren’t going to be going back into the competition ring. Exactly when and how well they adjust to their new lives is as varied as the horses themselves.
We have several geldings at MarBill Hill that were retired to pasture when they became injured and never missed a beat. Running around and eating grass all day suits Mickey and Mac to a ’T’. Both horses remained happy, calm and immediately began enjoying the longer turnout and larger paddock that came with retirement. But horse owners know that the prefect result is not always going to occur. Show jumpers and other high performance horses, are so used to the regimented life of training & competing that removing them from that environment can be very unsettling for them.
The decrease in work load and increase in turn out that comes with retirement can leave some horses depressed, uneasy and may even cause some to act out. Newly retired horses need to be monitored in the first few weeks to make sure they are coping well with the changes.
Retirement of a beloved and valued companion should be the icing on a great partnership. Research and a little bit of investigation will help owners find the best situations or their retiree.