Horses have been used for both work and recreation for thousands of years. In the modern age, they’re used for everything from racing to working with the police. But like any other animal, they can only work for so long before they’re too old.
Older horses can no longer work, which means they’re not of any use to the people they’ve been working with. A number of things can happen to them when they’re no longer young enough to continue working. Some might retire to a quiet farm; others stay where they are but live an easier life. When retiring from racing, horses tend to have plenty of life left and often go to new owners. However, it’s not all good news. Euthanasia and slaughtering are also common practice, especially when it comes to race horses.
Rehoming and Retraining Horses
Many “old” horses still have a lot of life left to live. For example, ex-racing horses have often finished their career by the time they’re 12. But horses can live into their 30s, meaning they’re not even halfway through their life. Racing horses often start young, before their bones are fully developed. This can lead to joint problems later in life, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still be active. Horse owners have a few options for retraining and rehoming their horses. They could become horses that are ridden on a more casual basis, and even go to a riding school or therapy center. Some owners choose to keep their horse in a horse shelter, while others lease them out.
Horse Meat Market
Unfortunately, many race horse owners can’t afford to keep their horses once they retire. Some charities try to rehome some of these horses, but they can only take so many. One of the options is to have the horse slaughtered. In Europe, in particular, the market for horsemeat is relatively active. Although it may be controversial, using the meat is arguably more ethical than just slaughtering the animal. Some experts argue that it’s one of the most sensible options, as long as everything is done humanely.
Reducing Horse Care Costs
Some owners decide to keep their older horses. When they’re too old to be retrained or rehomed, not much can be done with them. They need somewhere comfortable to live out the rest of their days. Because this is an expensive option that drains an owner’s finances, it isn’t that popular. But those that do choose it can find ways to reduce the costs. They can put their horse in cheaper facilities, for example. Making sure they look into horse insurance specialists can help too. They can find policies designed for older horses that will help to cover veterinary costs. Make sure as well to look for a veterinary clinic that covers regular checkups and veterinary services.
Horse Retirement Homes
Retirement homes are another option that horse owners sometimes use. These facilities will take in elderly or abused horses, sometimes charging a fee for admittance. For example, Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines is the oldest in the US.
Although there are several options, slaughtering retired horses is very common. However, animal welfare charities would like to change this.