Preparing a horse for retirement livery

daydreamer

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I've recently decided to retire my horse and wondered if anyone had any advice on how to prepare him (but maybe more me?!) for retirement livery. (Apologies for the long post, you can probably skip the middle bit and go straight to the end if you want!)

He is a 25yo TB who I've had on loan for 6 years. The past year or so has been very up or down, he struggles with tree pollen in the spring so coughs and work is cut back, he had a few 1/10 lameness niggle that when with rest, he had a virus which caused a cough, he's had a weird twitching shoulder but chromic and acute. He's seen a vet for each thing (apart from the virus) and has had multiple treatments from a chiropractor. In between this I have managed to bring him back into light work more than once. I have been trying to bring him back in to work since the start of May starting with 20 min walk and just hacking. He doesn't feel like there is anything really wrong as such he just feels lacklustre and fed up. I've decided to retire him but am struggling a bit to accept my decision I think.

The yard where I keep my youngster have kindly said they can take him for retirement grass livery. There are no official spaces but since they know me they said I could take him (plenty of grass, it isn't overstocked at all.) I'm trying to get my head around when I should move him and what I need to do beforehand. Any advice?
 

ester

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Does he get plenty of grass now? That is probably the only thing I can think of that might need managing.
 

daydreamer

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Does he get plenty of grass now? That is probably the only thing I can think of that might need managing.
No! Although the yard he is at is only 10 min away from the other one in contrast it has hardly any grass. Especially as we are in East Anglia and basically had no rain for the whole of May. In fact I am swapping him back around to day turnout so he is in longer overnight to eat his hay. At the current yard they are just allocated a field, no resting or rotation around so I can't think how I can get him used to more grass. I was worried about that too. New yard isn't lush grass at least but will certainly be a lot more than he is used to.
 

milliepops

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yes I would ask the yard if they can help you manage introduction to a mainly grass-based diet. Other than that, I would not overthink it, i think it's a very kind act for a loan horse,he must mean a lot to you.

My oldies went from a mostly-stabled routine to 24/7 turnout and have done very well for it. I tried to make sure that routine care was up to date before moving, as I don't have stables at that field and it was nice not having to think about logistics of that for a while.
 

lannerch

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My boy went ( a month ago ) from livery in at night , and turnout by himself to a retirement livery and he absolutely loves it. He’s now master of the herd and spends his whole day watching his favourite lady ( which is one of the 2yo the dirty old man ) . He had all 4 shoes taken off about a week before , he was a little sore and on bute for the first couple of days, but his feet adjusted very quickly and he was a lot better by the time he moved to the retirement livery.
I also bought him a Rambo summer series which he has worn continuously and amazingly not been too warm in it , but that was more to make me feel better as he was used to being pampered and it was a month ago when the temperature dropped particularly at night . I’m sure your boy will be fine to try not to worry but I know I did but I’m thrilled with how it’s turned out.
 

daydreamer

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He might be fine, are you able to fence the field at the new yard as you wish?
I will ask but I doubt they will be keen - it is quite a posh yard with lovely post and rail and they don't seem to like electric fencing (?!)

Other than that, I would not overthink it, i think it's a very kind act for a loan horse, he must mean a lot to you.
Yes, I probably am overthinking it! he does mean a lot to me, I have basically treated him as 100% mine for the past 6 years. Happily his owner has agreed to pay the livery but i will probably end up paying for feet trims, extra feed etc (I was so relieved she offered to pay for livery I forgot to ask and to be honest if she hadn't offered then yes I probably would have ended up paying for it all myself).

Take shoes off? At least hinds?
Yes, I need to speak to my farrier to work that one out. He doesn't have great feet so I'm worried about how much he will struggle without shoes.

My boy went ( a month ago ) from livery in at night , and turnout by himself to a retirement livery and he absolutely loves it. He’s now master of the herd and spends his whole day watching his favourite lady ( which is one of the 2yo the dirty old man ) . He had all 4 shoes taken off about a week before , he was a little sore and on bute for the first couple of days, but his feet adjusted very quickly and he was a lot better by the time he moved to the retirement livery.
I also bought him a Rambo summer series which he has worn continuously and amazingly not been too warm in it , but that was more to make me feel better as he was used to being pampered and it was a month ago when the temperature dropped particularly at night . I’m sure your boy will be fine to try not to worry but I know I did but I’m thrilled with how it’s turned out.
That's comforting to hear lannerch. Like you say it is hard not to worry! I suspect I will find the whole thing more stressful than him.
 

splashgirl45

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might be good to just take hinds off to lessen any kicking type injuries to others, and then play it by ear when the fronts can come off. if the field has plenty of grass he shouldnt be too footsore.. if you cannot have him on less grass in the new place could you buy some grass nuts and change him to them over a couple of weeks to get his system used to the change. there used to be a chaff type feed which was basically grass, i think it was called readigrass...
 

lannerch

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might be good to just take hinds off to lessen any kicking type injuries to others, and then play it by ear when the fronts can come off. if the field has plenty of grass he shouldnt be too footsore....
That’s what I thought I might have to do with my lad when he was so sore when we took his front shoes of he also has bad feet and navicular, I was thinking I would have to put the fronts back on, and wait until the ground was softer, happily after a couple of days his feet settled.
 

daydreamer

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might be good to just take hinds off to lessen any kicking type injuries to others, and then play it by ear when the fronts can come off. if the field has plenty of grass he shouldnt be too footsore.. if you cannot have him on less grass in the new place could you buy some grass nuts and change him to them over a couple of weeks to get his system used to the change. there used to be a chaff type feed which was basically grass, i think it was called readigrass...
Yes that sounds a good plan. He is already on grass nuts and grass chaff as part of his feed so hopefully that will help.
 

splashgirl45

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maybe worth cutting his feed down and just giving more of the grass substitute type feed, i assume he wont be getting a feed (or needing it) in the retirement livery place.
 

mavandkaz

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My boy got turned away back in January. He went from being on nearly complete box rest (not quite what I had planned but he had an awful abscess so was box rested for a month, then went out for a couple of hours a day for a couple of weeks) and individual turn out, to living out in herd, pretty much unrugged except in the storms.
He absolutely loves it, and looks amazing. He's on no hard feed or supplements, which had been quite a mix of various things. He's barefoot and his feet look amazing. He's a very sociable horse and loves having friends to play with.
He has done so well that he has just been given the go ahead by the vet to try rehab, after being turned away with ridden career ending issues.
Try not to over think it, you might well find he thrives.
 

Horsekaren

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I think the best way to terms with things is to be at peace with the fact he is so lucky to get to retire, he will thrive I’m sure. After all horses arnt meant to be in boxes, they are born to roam. When i Moved my boy to live out 24/7 it was the happiest I’ve ever seen him, he was still in work and the change was incredible, no breathing issues, no moodiness, he was just so calm after a week or so of realising i wasn’t going to stable him. He is now retired and I’m at peace with him living out and enjoying his days. So for you I think you should give yourself a big pat on the back for letting your boy have a happy old age. As for grass, try not to worry too much if he isn’t prone to lami he will most likely be fine.
 

MiniMilton

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Your horse is going to love it. Take off the hind shoes and don't over think it. Unless he has a history of colicking easily, he should manage the grass change just fine. He won't miss his bucket feeds if he has nice grass. He won't miss his rugs until winter. He's going to love it and you should be proud that you have a horse that is allowed to enjoy retirement. Many don't x
 

Leandy

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Don't overthink it. Take a week to reduce any hard feed to nothing whilst increasing his grass intake if you can eg hand grazing/cut long grass for him (fed fresh only obviously). Take his shoes off, take any rugs off, worm, teeth if due. Discuss with new yard whether he can be turned out next to but not with the new horses for a period ideally. Turn out to a lovely retirement. He will love it.
 

daydreamer

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Thanks for all the advice everyone. I think I was just really overthinking it and maybe not quite mentally ready to accept that it was a good time. But like you say he should have a great time and won't miss being ridden. I'll talk to the farrier tomorrow and see when we can get the hind shoes off (he is due to be shod next Thursday) and then I might as well just crack on and get him moved.
 

sport horse

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Just check where he is going that they are happy to have him with front shoes on? If he is out with youngsters and not coming in daily the risk of him losing a shoe and it being lost in large field is quite high and the one thing that will find and tread on the lost shoe is the treasured youngster! I will not have a horse with shoes on in my young horses field for that reason - not even my own horse!

I have taken shoes off many retiring sport horses and they are a bit footy for a few days but then settle down. If he is on grass he should be fine.
 

daydreamer

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Just check where he is going that they are happy to have him with front shoes on? If he is out with youngsters and not coming in daily the risk of him losing a shoe and it being lost in large field is quite high and the one thing that will find and tread on the lost shoe is the treasured youngster! I will not have a horse with shoes on in my young horses field for that reason - not even my own horse!

I have taken shoes off many retiring sport horses and they are a bit footy for a few days but then settle down. If he is on grass he should be fine.
Good point. He will be out with a couple of retirees, the youngster is in the field next door. I'll ask the farrrier if he thinks he will cope with both fronts and backs off at the same time. Where he is now involves a walk in and out so he might struggle without any shoes. Otherwise we might have to have backs off, move him and then get fronts off asap when he is only walking on grass.
 

daydreamer

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Update:

I spoke to Barney's owner the weekend before last and she said she had found a different place that might suit him. It is a private yard with a lot of grass so they sometimes take a few grass liveries in. We went to look at it last Monday and it was just lovely - lots of grass, hedges, trees and field shelters in each of the fields. The lady that runs it is very experienced and lovely.
He isn't at the same place as my youngster now but I think where he is will suit him better and it is only a 25 min drive from me so I will try and pop in regularly to see him.

So he had his back shoes off on Thursday and we moved him Saturday morning!

The 3 others in the field were curious about him so there was a little running around but mainly in trot and it was all quite civilised and relaxed. I went to see him on Sunday and he seemed very settled. He was grazing with one of the others, I saw him have a drink, nibble on the hedge, mooch about. His digestive system seemed to be coping well at that point - I had hand grazed him in the week before we moved him so hopefully that helped. It was just lovely to see him being a horse and I hope he enjoys a long and happy retirement.



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