Tuesdays with Tony
Time keeps on ticking no matter how you humans feel about it. Your horses get older, and, gasp! so do you! There are some things you should consider about older horses and some things you should definitely be thinking about for adult you. Not all of it is fun or easy to talk about, but it’s necessary, and as your great cat guide to life, I’m here for you.
Retirement (the horse kind)
Enjoying horse sport is great! You feel the wind whipping, you spend hours practicing timing, balance, and all the horse things. Your horse learns your language and you learn theirs. In my extensive cat experience this goes great as long as that horse is doing some level of horse activity. Maybe they go from running barrels every weekend to trail riding lightly, or they drop down from a more competitive version of a sport to something easier.
What happens when none of that is possible any more? Often a lot of the care for these horses stops as well. I get it. It’s not on purpose, it just sort of happens. When the humans don’t open the door for me when I’m asking, I start asking a lot louder until they can’t ignore me. This isn’t how horses operate, though. They continue grazing and doing horse things, even though their feet haven’t been trimmed or their vaccinations haven’t been given, or their teeth haven’t been checked, until one day they can’t do it anymore.
Retirement for these guys should mean less work, but not less care. My docs will often discuss what care may no longer be necessary now that your horse isn’t traveling or working. However, the basics like good hoof care, and routine health care are still incredibly important! In fact, these things will allow your retired horse to live a longer, healthier life AND cost you less while doing it. Regular dental care allows older horses to keep their teeth functioning, which means they can eat normal hay and grain longer, which means lower feed bills. Regular foot care means helping them move around better, and catching problems like laminitis early so they can be managed before they’re a big deal.
Speaking of retirement: Plan on retiring that horse of yours. Don’t look for the free to a good home option as a way for you to get rid of them. Provide a happy, safe place for your older horses. They worked for you for a long time. They deserve it. My Docs could tell you about numerous horses who have been given away to people who didn’t know enough about senior care. These horses ended up skinny, and in horrible circumstances. And don’t get me started on the cheap auction side of things. You’ll see this cat on a soap box real quick.
Wills, trusts, and paperwork in general
Alright, we covered the horse, now let’s talk about you humans. No one is getting out of here alive. Having a plan to take care of your animals should something really bad happen to you is pretty important. I get it. No one wants to think about, deal with, blah, blah, blah. You have to! There’s some important stuff to think about.
First, get an attorney to help you with the paperwork. There are some do-it-yourself options available, but the advice of a lawyer who specializes in wills and trusts will help you avoid some common pitfalls. Remember, they do this all the time, and they’ve seen many of the ways it can go very, very wrong, and the ways it can go right.
Second, it may be necessary to have different plans for different critters. You know you have more than just a horse. There’s usually a dog or cat or chicken or all of the above in the mix. This likely means you have a plan for the smaller critters, and a different plan for the bigger critters.
Third, make sure there is money to help your plan stay in place. You know horses are expensive. Also, cats like me prefer a high standard of living. I’m not one to settle for any old cat bed. I will also require a butler to open the door, then close it, then open it again. Anyway, funds. This is where a lawyer can prove their value. Setting up trusts so that your animals have a funding source will ensure they continue to live the life to which they have become accustomed thanks to your excellent care. Lawyers can also help set this up so that money goes to the animals and not the humans involved in the care.
It’s not fun to think about one’s own demise, but the wise cat plans for it. It makes life much easier for those left behind, both animal and human.
It’s also no fun to think about growing older in general. Spend some time basking in the sun on a warm day, and think about how you would like the plan to look. Then write down an outline of a plan for you, and your horses, and all your other critters you know you have. Think about a long term plan for your current horses when they’re no longer performance horses. Where will they live? Do you have space? A little thinking time goes a long way. And if you need some guidance, ask my Docs. Their mission is to make the world a better place for horses, after all.
Until next week,
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!