After years of riding and competing with your horse, he may arrive at a point where it’s time for him to retire. With retirement facilities few and far between, many horse owners decide to retire their horses at home. If you’ve decided that retiring your horse at home is right for you, then carefully planning out your facilities can contribute to your senior horse’s safety, well-being, and health. Consider the following tips when planning out your barn and pastures.
With issues like arthritis affecting an older horse’s ability to lie down and get up again smoothly, stall size and design becomes even more important. When designing your stalls, bigger is always better for senior horses. A 12×12-foot stall should be the minimum size, but 14×14-foot and larger are ideal. Your horse may also benefit if you install anti-cast devices.
Your stall footing can help to keep your horse comfortable and support him in rising. Look for footing that helps to maximize traction, like textured rubber mats. Stall footing systems like the StableComfort system possibly can contribute to your horse’s comfort both when standing and when lying down. StableComfort also offers StableWall foam panels, an option for senior horses who may lean against walls for support or make contact with walls when rising.
Maximizing your horse’s time in his paddock can help to reduce joint inflammation and keep him more comfortable. With your horse spending large amounts of his time outside, you’ll need to pay plenty of attention to his paddock design.
Start by assessing your property for suitable paddock space. Senior horses will do best in a flat, even area with minimal hills. This is particularly important if you live in an area with harsh winter climates with lots of ice. You may need to clear land to create an ideal space; be sure to invest in tree root removal and property grading to create a safe space.
When choosing the right paddock fencing, think about visibility and safety. Many senior horses have decreased eyesight, so choose only products that are easily seen. Wire electric fencing and even smaller diameter rope electric fencing can be difficult for horses to see. Instead, a wide electric tape, wooden, PVC, or other highly visible fence type is ideal.
Moving your horse home from a busy boarding barn will be a significant lifestyle change, so be sure you can provide your horse with equine companionship to help him feel safe and to fulfill his social needs. Some horses do fine with mini horses or donkeys, while others do best with another full-sized horse.
If you don’t have another horse that you can bring home with your retiree, there are plenty of ways to find your horse a companion. Consider looking for a horse that’s being leased or sold to a companion home. Working with a rescue can be ideal; most rescues have horses who need to be retired or need to go to companion-only homes. When you work with a rescue, you can often test out the horse on your property to make sure that his personality clicks with your retiree’s.
Bringing home your retiree can be a rewarding experience, and you’ll get to enjoy your horse’s golden years with him right in your backyard. Putting the extra time and effort into building a safe facility can help to keep your horse safe. Contact us today – we’d be happy to help with the planning and construction process of your facility.