Decidedly Dressage: The Hardest Choice
In every rider’s life, there comes a time when a decision has to be made. It may only happen once. It may happen dozens of times. Each situation is unique, but it always comes – that moment when it is clear that your horse’s quality of life has reduced. When you realize that it’s no longer fair to the horse to expect them to continue as they have.
They might be race horses, dressage horses, broodmares, show jumpers, ropers, or trail horses. They can have any job. They can be any size, color, age, breed or temperament. Injury, illness and age will take its toll on all horses at some point, some earlier than we would like.
It is up to us to make the right decision, to be responsible and to weigh the options. We have to decide what is best for the horse, for ourselves and for other horses we own or might own in the future. Financial situations have a large impact on our decision and so does exhausting possible options for solving or easing our horses’ pain and discomfort.
Is it fair to retire a horse to a life of pain every day, just to satisfy our own happiness? Will the horse be perfectly happy in a pasture with significantly reduced human contact? Do they regularly become ill? Do they need shoes to stay sound? Do they need special care to remain in good health? These are just some of the many questions that need to be asked when you reach this point. Is it best to retire, or is the final retirement our only fair option?
Our horses’ lives are ours. When the decision comes, the best we can do is to try and ask as many questions as we can until the answer becomes clear. We cannot let emotion override our ability to make the right choice for our dearest friends. It is the last great gift we can give them. It’s only right we do it with as much thought and kindness as we possibly can.
In memory of Titan (Road To Gold) – 1996 – 2014. Thank you for all of the gifts you showered upon us each day. We love you and think about you every day.