Hello everyone! My computer ate my first post so I apologize if this one is a bit scatterbrained. I’ve done some searching on the familiar topic of when to retire your horse and retirement board but I figured I’d ask my own question to get some opinions.
Back story - I own a 16 year old gelding who does best on field board, both mentally and physically because he seems to be getting a bit of allergies in his older age if he’s stalled regularly. We live in the northeast and had a brutally cold winter. The past few winters weren’t too fun either but they weren’t nearly as hard on him. He came out of winter very thin this year and is NOT putting weight back on. (Just in case someone is worried - I’m working with the vet, he was not body clipped and he hates clothing but was blanketed appropriately for the cold weather, no indoor so was not in work, only 15hh so not a big guy, eats 8 lbs of TC Senior plus flax, always has grass hay in front of him when I show up at the barn even at random non feeding hours so I consider it free choice, has been dewormed with an Equimax and a Powerpac since the fall, had teeth done again in March just to be 100% sure it’s not that, had blood pulled and results came back fine, currently treating for ulcers just in case even though he doesn’t show any symptoms besides weight/muscle loss and I’m adding in oil and potentially alfalfa cubes.) He had on and off lameness issues for several years but hasn’t in a while. I live in an expensive area and field board is scarce. Like a lot of us, I don’t have even close to unlimited funds so I am careful about my budget and what I can and cannot afford.
As I mentioned, he has some lameness issues in the past and needs Adequan/special shoeing to be in work but is fine barefoot and maintenance free if he’s not in work, is prone to “thin skinned” skin issues (scratches!! ugh!), does best on field board, only a hard keeper in the winter months. He’s not what I’d call old and I would very much miss riding and seeing him regularly. At the same time, the past few winters have been getting progressively hard on him and I’m at a loss. It could just be due to the super cold winters we’ve been having or it could be him getting older. I’m not sure. Other than the weight issues, he’s 100% - seems happy, shiny and comfortable! My budget is stretched currently between board, buying my own grain at $22 a bag/oil/ulcer treatment, and the vet bills. I know that’s part of owning a horse and I do accept eating Ramen regularly so he can get what he needs. There aren’t many options in my area for field board and most of them are very expensive dry lots/mud pits. I can’t help but think it’s time to send him somewhere warm. I’m in no rush to ship him off somewhere since winter is over now and he SHOULD start putting weight back on for sure now that the pastures have grass but… Am I wrong for thinking about pulling his shoes and letting him be a horse in a big herd on lots of acres at a retirement place down south with warmer weather and hopefully less mud? Is this crazy? What was everyone’s “final shove” into retiring their own horses? Did anyone retire theirs in a far away state? Other thoughts?