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Care Options For Older Horses
 By Winniefield Park   •   25th Feb 2018   •   757 views   •   0 comments


Not all of us are lucky enough to have the space to keep a retired horse. But there are more options for boarding and caring for older horses as they age.

Ensuring Best Care
In any boarding situation, you are still ultimately responsible for your horse. Many retirement boarding facility owners and managers can tell stories of people who drop their horse off and then donít check on them for months. Ideally, the e-transfers or checks for the board keep coming - or not. And the stable owner is left with greater responsibility and expense. Itís best for all concerned to get down on paper exactly what the expectations and responsibilities are. And, itís essential for horse owners to check any facility carefully, and not just judge from the photos and descriptions online. You would not want your beloved horse ending up partially neglected in too large a herd, or worse, a hoarding situation. Visiting often means youíll know if something isnít right.

Retirement Boarding
Two types of horses end up in retirement board situations: the old horse who cannot be ridden or driven any longer and horses that have sustained career-ending injuries that due to soundness problems make them unusable. The care of an older horse and unsound horses may not be the same. Older horses, in addition to the basic vet and farrier care, may require a special diet, and more care to keep them from severe weather. An unsound horse may need pain management, in addition to basic care.

Regardless, however, retirement boarding isnít just a matter of dropping your horse off, waving goodbye and sending a check every month. Your retired horse is still your responsibility, and how it is cared for is up to you. That means visiting once a week or so, and being around to make the major decisions that inevitably come with older horses.

The stable or farm you retire your horses to should offer a similar lifestyle to what your horse is used. For a show or racehorse, being turned out to pasture 24X7 with no grain, strict routine or stall may be very stressful. Some may adjust well, but for some, this is less than ideal. So, while looking for a retirement situation, keep this in mind. A retirement farm that offers less will be less expensive for you, but your horse might be miserable.

Hospice Movement
Retirement boarding may not be the final step as a horse ages. There are options for palliative and hospice-type care. These are new ideas and are aimed at pain management and end-of-life care for horses. End of life care can include changing the horseís management so that it isnít in with other horses, making sure it always has supplements, therapies including acupuncture, massage and other hands-on treatments to ease it into the final stages and death. This is another stage at which the owner needs to be very involved. Palliative and hospice care also consider the needs of the humans too. The end of a horseís life can be very difficult to process emotionally and isn't something to be faced alone.

--Ref
Animal Hospice and Palliative Care
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