As the owner of an equine retirement farms, Twilight Farms, I was asked to write an article about when and where to retire your horse. The when I don’t really know, that to me, is a decision that only you and your horse can make. There are others you may want to include in helping you make that decision but in the end your horse will be the one to let you know when he is ready to retire. What I can weigh in on is where to retire your horse. And I’m not just going to say my facility, Twilight Farms, because it isn’t right for everyone. There are a lot of factors that should go into this decision, after all this is where your equine friend will spend his golden years.
Do Your Research
Take as much time as you can and research different facilities. Decide what is really important to you; for example, do you want them on grass pasture, in a corral, in a stall etc. Full care or are you wanting to come visit daily, turnout with friends or alone, how much experience do the owners and employees have with these types of horses, etc. This is the place you are taking your best friend to enjoy the years of life they have left, so you want to have a high standard. I mean you wouldn't want to retire in a dump with subpar meals.
Call the Facilities and Ask A Lot of Questions
Reading things online and seeing photos is great but you really need to be able to get the owners on the phone to pick their brains on the retirement farm of your liking. Here are a few things to consider when you speak to them on the phone:
- how many times a day do they feed?
- what do they feed?
- are they a full care facility or will you be visiting often?
- if you won’t be close by do they make arrangements for the veterinarian and farrier?
- how much is board and what does it include?
- turn out time is very important for retired equines, will your horse get turned out during the day?
Make arrangements to visit the facility at least once. Is the facility safe and clean? When you speak to the facility owner/manager are you comfortable with them? Watch the day to day routine, is it to your standards? Do they have experience with older horses? When the time comes do you trust them to help you make the right decision about your horse’s quality of life?
Times Have Changed
When I first opened my retirement home, Twilight Farms, about 18 years ago there weren’t many places that catered to older horses, making the pickings slim. But now more people understand the importance of facilities for retired or older horses. With that there are now an abundance of retirement facilities, which means you can find the one that is perfect for you and your horse!