Is semi-retirement right for Moe?

For the last few months, I’ve been focusing solely on riding Gina. Moe has been relegated to semi-retirement, toting around (and occasionally bucking off) his lesson kids, letting more advanced riders get cheap thrills jumping him over stuff, and wandering around his pasture with his turnout buddy Roscoe. I’ve ridden him maybe five times in the last seven months.

I’m pretty okay with this- after all, it’s not like I couldn’t ride him if I wanted to. I don’t have big career aspirations for him, because he’s 20 years old. I’m happy he’s still being ridden, because he obviously loves the attention and the exercise is good for him.

After a string of frustrating rides on Gina, I decided to take a break from riding her and hop back on Moe.


Seven months of consistent dressage work under a relatively competent teenager has been good for him. He’s softer, rounder, and more willing to accept contact. You know, once he’s had a chance to giraffe around the arena for a good fifteen minutes.

He’s also feeling totally awesome and not creaky or stiff at all. He tracks up beautifully and has lots of spring in his step. 
“I am best horse, yes?”
Moe is so eager to work and so happy under saddle that it makes me wonder if I should switch my competitive goals for the year to him. Gina is great, and I’d still like to do the schooling dressage show circuit on her. But I often feel like jumps are losing battle with her- for every step forward, it seems like we take two steps back. Is it fair to keep pushing her to jump when it seems to stress her out half the time? 
Moe’s also kind of a known quantity. I’ve had him a long time. I know how he goes on cross country. I know what kind of work we need to do in stadium. When we were younger, I was stupider and less responsible, and didn’t want to put in the effort required to be successful. I know Moe won’t live forever, and I know 20 puts him solidly in the “senior” horse camp. But he’s happy, he’s very healthy, and he obviously enjoys having a job. 
For the time being, I’m going to keep riding my favorite horse and enjoying the skills we’ve both improved upon in the last few years.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

8 thoughts on “Is semi-retirement right for Moe?”

  1. I agree with everyone!! Keep riding him until he tells you it's time to stop. There's a 26 year old tb going strong at our barn, and he still dumps a kid every once in a while. I love those seniors!

  2. Dillon, the horse I rode when I first came to this barn, went through the same thing. Red Chestnut Thoroughbred age 22 in retirement after a long eventing career, and he just didn't do well with it at first, so they brought him back into a partial workload of 2 or 3 lessons a week, with special care taken to warm him up slowly, and he thrived on that routine. A few years later, at 25, he told everyone that he really was ready for retirement, and they did, and he's happily being a complete pasture puff now. Do what he tells you to do!

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