Moving and Adjusting to Retirement
|Photo by StitzPics|
In the end, I thought I was settled on riding him lightly through the end of the year. When I had enough saved, I would ship him off to one of the field board locations I had researched. While he'd be too far away to see regularly, at least he'd be well taken care of and close enough to visit a few times a year. Still, I worried that his arthritis would rapidly deteriorate if he wasn't kept moving with regular riding.
|I knew I'd miss hacking him, too.|
To my delight I saw they preferred horses to be leased to the program, rather than requiring ownership to be relinquished. Perfect, as I will not consider selling him. They use their horses lightly, and have a reputation for being very conscientious with horse care. Plus, they don't use bits while the horses are working, so Pig's need for good hands is mitigated. On top of everything, they are literally right across the street, and I can visit and ride him every day.
I filled out a horse donation form, and settled down to wait, not expecting to hear back for a long while.
|Can't believe this is the same horse who used to rear when he knew he was somewhere near a creek.|
Suddenly, Pig's retirement was moving very fast.
|Photo by StitzPics|
I needn't have worried. Pig was a star, and the therapy ladies were lovely. I babbled constantly during the meeting, seeming to only be able to tell them about his faults and problems. Part of my brain kept saying "stop talking, Austen. They can see what he's like, and he's fine."
The two program leaders were very nice, and just smiled at my babbling. They watched me ride Pig, and were very complimentary of him. Then asked if they could try him and do some leading afterwards to ensure he would be worth their time.
|Photo by StitzPics|
"How does he do with external stimulus? Like sudden loud noises? Or children yelling or suddenly screaming?"
"Um..." I looked around the indoor, noticing a friend and Pig's elderly pasture-mate were the only ones left in the ring. "Hold on to Ted! I'm going to do some stuff!" I yelled to her.
"AHHHHHH!" I screamed out of nowhere, jumping up and down next to Pig and flinging my arms and legs in the air wildly. I poked him in the side, and jumped away. I did jumping jacks in front of his face. I threw my gloves at the wall.
Pig just blinked and looked at me.
|"My owner is legitimately crazy. I learned to deal." -- Pig, probably|
Photo by StitzPics
We gave it a week before the trial started. I had planned a trip to visit Liz and do another endurance ride, plus I wanted to get Pig's things in order. I picked up more Equioxx for him, and did his feet. I also watched him play with his pasture mates, knowing he'd miss them terribly.
|Especially his old-man mentor, Ted.|
|"Where are we? Why are we?"|
When we got to the new farm, we immediately turned him out in his new field. He seemed to settle, but then started running the fence lines trying to get back home. He'd take a break and run to me, asking plainly "What the hell is going on?" I was pretty sure my presence was not making things easier for him, so I headed home.
|He has the best view in the county now. Hands down.|
In the weeks that followed, the therapy program let me know he seemed to be settling in well. They are taking things slowly with him, trying to get to know him before throwing him deeply into the program. His trial period is about halfway over, and I hope things continue to work out. I couldn't think of a better retirement situation for him, and I want him to stay. I think he'll really enjoy the work and benefit from the gentle movement.
While I'm still able to visit him, ride him, dote on him, and own him, moving him to the therapy barn brought home the reality of his retirement. His career is done, and our partnership is different from now on. I'm enjoying watching his eyes light up when he sees me, knowing I am the bringer of apples and scratches. However, I miss the joy of working toward our goals. It is strange not to drive to the barn every day and hop on him.
This is the new normal, and we're both trying to come to terms with it.
|Photo by Liz Stout|