When To Make The Decision To Retire?

Thinking of rehoming? When to Decide?

Standardbreds are bred for a very specific purpose. They are destined to be successful athletes that can hopefully earn their keep.  As with any athlete there has to be a time in their career where the decision to retire from said sport is made.  For horses we are their owners, trainers and caretakers need to carefully help make this decision for them.  They are not able to speak and that is why it is ever so important to be aware of what these horses are telling us.

The most common reasons standardbreds are retired from racing include injury / lameness and not being fast enough to compete.  Often times a horse may be injured, allowed some time to recover and brought back to compete.  In many cases (depending on the injury) this is beneficial for the horse and they are able to carry on a safe and happy career.  Other times the injury tends to reoccur over and over.  This is the point where a decision needs to be made that this horse will not succeed in the sport.  Often times just one single race can determine the quality of their fate in retirement.  Efforts should be redirected toward finding another home and purpose for said horse.  It is not an easy decision as a lot of time money and emotions are put into each animal and owners do not want to give up on their investment.

From the perspective of a rehoming organization, it is much easier to find a great long term home for a horse that is better suited for more than just a companion or lawn ornament.  In our experience we have had many horses whose owners were thinking of rehoming as they were not fast enough or had a reoccurring injury.  By the time the owner made the decision the boundaries were pushed and it was too lame to be used for anything but a companion.  If the horse was initially sound when the owners state they are ready to rehome and then weeks later decide when the horse is completely exhausted as an athlete, it makes the rehoming process that much harder.  

We are bringing this topic up so horse owners can re-evaluate their decision to retire a horse when the time comes.  Many injuries can not be foreseen and can happen in the blink of an eye or the step of a hoof.  We are encouraging people to be more aware of what their horse is telling them so they can have a happy balance of a successful, healthy horse while racing while considering their well-being in the future outside of racing.