Many horse owners have to face up to the fact they need to retire their horses from work. It could be because of an injury, old age and/or the onset of arthritis but for whatever reason, it is pretty obvious that your trusted mount cannot be ridden any more. The problem that many people have to face is the lack of space to keep a retired horse at home. The option of keeping a horse out of work at a livery yard can be an expensive business that many people just cannot afford. The idea of selling is out of the question and the thought of having your trusted friend put down is definitely not an option. After all they took care of you over the years so it is time for you as their owner, to make sure their retirement years are the best possible.
One very good option and a perfect solution for both the horse and their owner, is to give them a new role or 'job' in life which is to be the valued companion to another horse. There are people out there who have a horse that gets turned out with other animals like cows and sheep because they don't have a companion horse. Some people opt to get a goat or even a donkey to keep their horse company because horses are herd animals, they are never happy when they are left on their own. By far the best companion for any horse is another horse because they can relate to them, play around with them and basically form a bond that only another horse can provide. If you are thinking about or have to retire your horse and are at a loss at what to do, then you might like to consider sending your horse as a companion to make another horse happy. However, there are a few things you have to consider before you do anything. The first thing you need to establish is whether or not your retired horse would make a good companion for another horse. You then have to make sure the place they are going to is a suitable environment for your horse to go to. Knowing your horse and how they behave with other horses is of the utmost importance but then so is checking out the nature of the horse they will be companion to. It can take a little time to find the perfect place as well as the perfect horse for yours to be companion to. Then of course, then there are the people who are looking for a companion horse to consider too.
Another thing to consider is how much involvement you would have when your horse has gone to a new home as a companion horse. The ideal is that your horse would not have gone too far away so that you could get to visit as often as you could. But then there are the vet bills to think about, who will pay to trim hooves and if there is an emergency – who gets to make any crucial and quick decisions? There are other things you might want your horse to have which includes being stabled at night during the colder winter months. If your horse suffers from any ailments like arthritis, then you might need to organise a supplement or even a medication for them to take on a regular basis. These are all things that need to be agreed with the new keeper before you actually take your horse over to them. You would also need to meet the horse that needs the companion. After all you would not want your retired horse to be the companion to a dominant animal that beats your horse up or vice versa. However, with this said if a horse has been on it's own for any length of time, they are usually so pleased to finally have a companion that they try their very best to get along. Stallions should not be put together at all and are harder to find companions for because they do tend to be overly boisterous. There are a few older horses however, who do make great companions for younger horses who have just come into training but you have to be careful the youngster isn't too boisterous for the older horse. These are all questions you need to consider and then discuss with the people who are willing to take your horse on as a companion to a horse of their own. You need to get some sort of formal written agreement on this, even if your horse is going to someone that you know.
It goes without saying you need total peace of mind that you are sending your horse to a place where they will be taken care of and that the quality of their lives would be the best you would want to offer them. With this said you need to write yourself a check list of things you think are important and then tick off the points when you talk to a person you are considering sending your horse to. Remember to take your list with you when you visit the property too and tick off everything as you go around the place. The fencing at the property has to be horse proof and the paddocks well maintained. The stabling has to be up to scratch too so that horses standing in for any reason have a nice safe place to do so. You will soon see from the horse your horse will be companion to, whether or not they are being well looked after. You will be able to judge the level of stable management from the state of the yard and stables. If you are not happy with what you see when you visit a place then it is best to walk away and start looking for somewhere else to send your horse to.
Even though your horse may have gone to be the companion for another horse, you are still their owner. You have not relinquished your horse to someone else and as such you will still be able to be involved in the care of your horse in one way or another, and that is something for you to decide.
Finally, to make sure there are no problems further down the line, it is always better to get everything in writing and this includes any financial responsibilities you want to maintain and decisions you may want to make about the welfare of your horse. It is also a good idea to have a trial period with a written agreement in place to make sure things are going to work out for your horse as well as the people they have gone to.
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