Your horse has been your partner and your friend for many years. But now, for whatever reason, you have to find a new home for him. You may have outgrown him. Or it may be for financial reasons. Or his age is catching up to him. But don’t despair. There are a lot of great homes and options out there for your equine friend. Here are a few you can consider.
- If your horse is still sound, you may want to consider leasing him, especially to someone at your barn. They will take care of the expenses and care, but you still retain ownership and are the ultimate decision maker. If you think you’ve found a good home for your horse, you can lease him out for six months or so to make sure that it’s a good fit all the way around.
- Of course you can sell him to another rider. It may be a pony you’ve outgrown who’ll make the perfect first horse for a child. Or you may be switching disciplines and your hunter/jumper doesn’t share your interest in dressage. He’ll be much happier with an owner who jumps.
- You can donate him to a therapeutic riding program. These programs help at risk kids or children with disabilities by introducing them to horses and riding. Your horse must be sound and totally calm. But if he makes it as a therapy horse, you can be assured that he will have lots of brushing and tons of carrots.
- You can move him to a lower rent section of your barn. Many stables have stalls and pasture board. If you’ve had your horse in a stall, consider moving him to one of the pastures for board. This will cost you less and will let him walk around and hang out with his horse friends. Or if your barn has daily turnout and if you can afford it, you can leave him right where he is. As long as he gets out on a regular basis, many horses are happy in stalls.
- You may want to consider boarding at a retirement facility. As horses are living longer lives, many boarding stables are seeing the benefit of offering boarding of retired horses – no matter what their age. Most often, they will offer a pasture with shelters where several horses live. In this case, the barn manager assumes the majority of the responsibility for the care of your horse. They will make sure that they are groomed and that they are up-to-date on shots, dewormed and have their feet done. All of this, of course, will be billed to you in addition to your monthly board and feed. They can also provide additional services such as blanketing, bathing and giving supplements. Be sure to check with the barn manager on the cost of everything.
Also discuss with the barn manager how involved you want to be in the care of your horse. Do you plan come out weekly? Are you comfortable with the barn’s vet and farrier or do you prefer someone you've had as a vet care for your horse.? These are all things that should be negotiated before moving your horse.
If it’s an older horse you are retiring, be sure that the retirement barn is prepared to take care of senior horses. Often, barns buy hay and feed in bulk and they are usually geared towards younger or active horses. Older horses can require special senior feed and hay may need to be soaked before feeding to help older horses chew.
Older horses may have special medical need such as joint medicine or may need extra blanketing in the winter. Be sure anyone taking care of your retired horse is aware of any special needs.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners has a great publication, “AAEP Care Guidelines for Equine Rescue and Retirement Facilities.” This will help you know what questions to ask and what services you should expect. Click HERE to download a copy.