What is involved when determining the best place to retire your beloved horse? Is there a set fee or does it vary? Can I get special care for my retired horse?
While price is not the only (or even primary) concern when determining where to retire your horse, it’s certainly a significant part of the equation for many folks.
Horse retirement costs can range anywhere from $100 to $2000 per month. However, the median price is usually between $300-$600 per month. Horse retirement farms in this range will usually offer a basic set of services, such as individual stalling, pastures, fresh water, hay & grain, baths & grooming, and additional services to make the horse’s retirement years the best possible.
Table of Contents
- What is Horse Retirement
- What is involved?
- Comparing Horse Retirement Costs
- Breaking Down the Comparison of Costs
- Expenses not generally included in Horse Retirement Cost
- What farm should you choose?
- Additional Thoughts
What is horse retirement?
Horses retire for a variety of reasons. Some horses are retired because of soundness issues, injury, illness, or because the owners felt the horse worked hard and now deserves the chance to just be a horse.
What is involved in horse retirement costs?
That is a good question since horse retirement costs vary greatly from farm to farm.
Let’s break down horse retirement costs
As you can see with Farm A, it is The Basics. The basic plan for Farm A is Pasture Retirement for $300 per month. Horses on this plan will get all their nutrition from the pasture and grain and baled hay supplements in the winter months. This plan does not offer individualized attention per horse. They are checked on once a day and groomed and bathed as needed.
Farm A offers a second plan for $350-$400 per month. These horses get more individualized attention and have a dedicated stable for nights and harsh weather. For this horse retirement boarding plan, horses are brought into the barn for regular feedings and feed supplements. Blanketing, fly masking, leg wrapping, and other various medical duties are covered. However, on this plan Farm A covers only the first $50 of feed per month and you will get billed with the extra.
Farm B offers much of the same type of care as Farm A. With Farm B you get to choose your boarding style, Pasture Retirement or Stall Retirement. Pasture Retirement for your horse for $400 per month means your horse is in the pastures 24 hours a day with 4-10 other horses. Blanketing and fly masking are provided as needed. These horses get fed twice a day with customizable feeding options and hay in the winter. Worming up to 4x per year, annual dental (teeth floating) and annual vaccines as well as regular trimmings. Supplements and medications must be purchased by the horse owner, you, but are administered as part of the plan.
Stall retirement for $650 per month includes a lot of similarities to Pasture Retirement. Stall Retirement means your horse has a dedicated 12×12 stall, cleaned out daily. Your horse will be turned out to pasture to fit its needs.
Farm C offers much the same as these farms and would mostly be geared towards shows horses with incentives like on-site trainers and lessons in an indoor arena as well as going to shows. Stall and Pasture retirement plans offer similar horse care as Farm B, with a few farms offering much more individualized care.
What are some expenses not included in the basic horse retirement cost?
Horses needing shod will incur extra expenses. Most horse retirement farms will encourage you to remove any shoes from the horse prior to beginning its stay at their farm. However, for special circumstances requiring your horse to be shod contact your horse retirement farm for costs related to horseshoes. Shoeing will usually cost about $100 per month to the cost of horse retirement.
Annual Horse Physicals are provided at most retirement farms. Medical attention required beyond may result in extra fees. Your horse retirement farm will consult you before making decisions regarding extra medical attention. Many farms include annual teeth floating in the basic horse retirement cost.
Minor cuts and abrasions are part of normal herd life. Will you cover these expenses for your horse and provide for its dental care? Most farms have veterinarians on call who care for your horse on an annual plan including physical checkups, worming (usually 4x per year), and other health related duties, as well as being available for any emergency that may arise. If your horse’s well being is of concern to you, a plan for more detailed or individualized horse care is your best option.
Now that we know what Horse Retirement costs, why should you choose Farm A, Farm B, or Farm C.
If your primary focus was about cost, this would be an easy decision. But most of you love your horses and want to make sure it will be cared for and loved. Your horse may be getting worn out or you may just want to put it into retirement so it can enjoy its final years, just getting to be a horse. Either way, you want to make the best decision.
Decide what horse retirement plan fits what you expect
Horse retirement costs will vary depending what plan you select. Do you want the horse retirement farm to provide al the feed and nutrition to your horse? Will you want to visit your horse occasionally? Some horse retirement farms will send digital photographs of your horse as soon as it arrives on the farm for the first time, weekly photos while your horse is adjusting, and monthly photos after that. (Plus, most horse retirement farms post to their Facebook Page frequently, so you might see even more pictures of your horse enjoying its retirement.
What would you like to see in the horse retirement farm you choose?
A retiring horse may need attention and special care. Knowing that your horse is in the hands of a professional or at least experienced horseman will tell you they know what they are doing. Most, if not all, horse retirement farms are run by former or current horse owners.
Are you wanting to keep your horse nearby so you can visit frequently or are you okay with your horse being transported to another state? If the farm is nearby, most horse retirement farmers will encourage you to drive out to visit and look around before making your decisions as well as while your horse is staying there. Walking around the farm may help you feel more comfortable retiring your horse there. Additionally, being in person with the owners/operators gives you the opportunity to ask detailed questions about horse care and the attention that your horse will receive while retired on their farm.
Thoughts in addition to horse retirement costs
In addition to all we’ve discussed already, here are a few other things to think about.
As mentioned earlier there is more to choosing a boarding place for your horse than just the cost. There is peace of mind that comes from knowing your horse is taken care of. You have security knowing that in an emergency, the best possible solutions will be reached to take the upmost care of your horse.
Emergencies involving your horse
We encourage you to talk to the retirement farm you are considering. They will have detailed information on how they handle these types of situations.
How do I adjust my horse for retirement life?
Most farms will offer programs to enroll your horse into their farm. For example: what if your horse has been stabled rather than pasture fed, yet you are considering a pasture retirement. Your retirement farm will have methods of handling this. They might approach it like this: having the horse slowly tapered off hay/grain and allowing them to slowly adapt to pasture life in their own time. By having access to hay or grain at the same time as pasture they will learn on their own. Most horse retirement farms will allow each horse to acclimate at its own speed.
In the end the decision is yours. Which program you choose to enroll your retiring horse in is your call. Ask the horse retirement farmer any questions you may have. Write your questions out on paper a few days prior to meeting with the horse retirement farm. They will be able to answer all your questions and walk you through the process of retiring your horse at their farm. Choosing the right farm can be a hard decision, but by the time you select a farm you will have peace of mind knowing its the right call.