Horse Retirement FAQs
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Below you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions we receive from horse owners and previous clients. Whether you’re wondering what a typical day for your horse is like during retirement or you’re curious how your horse will be introduced to the other horses, we are happy to address any questions and concerns you may have regarding your retired horse.
How does retirement work?
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What is required to board my horse at Orchard Equine Retirement?
One Month’s Board Paid in Advance
Negative Coggins Test
Statement of Vaccinations
What equipment does my horse require to retire to Orchard Equine Retirement?
Halters: We prefer nylon halters with breakaway crowns that are easy to wash versus your beautiful leather halter that requires cleaning to protect and preserve the leather.
Fly Mask : If your horse has a fly mask by all means send the fly mask. If not we will provide a fly mask. If there is a certain brand that fits your horse well or that your horse keeps on better than another brand please let us know so we can provide the best fly mask for your horse.
Blankets: Brands we prefer, but by no means required are HorseWare blankets, then Weatherbeeta. Weatherbeeta comes in second because of poor hardware that is difficult to fasten and unfasten. If your horse does not have a blanket, depending on your horse’s size we may be able to provide your horse with a blanket at no charge. We have a large supply of blankets that have been given to us by owners whose horses have passed away. We are happy to share these blankets with owners when they do not have a blanket for their horse or when their horse’s blanket has become unusable until repair.
Owners are required to cover the cost of washing and repair of the these blankets, many of which are better constructed than newer blankets. A few are still going strong after 20 years and several horses.
We prefer high neck blankets due to the extra coverage provided. In our experience neck covers are not necessary and tend to damage horses’ manes. We leave our retirees’ manes to grow out because that is nature’s way of protecting a horse against insect bites and the weather.
Blanket Weight - Owners are welcome to provide various weight blankets- owners know their horses best. Generally speaking for most horses a medium weight blanket will suffice. We allow horses to grow their winter hair coats before we start blanketing. We blanket for three reasons.
One to protect your horse against the wind - wind will blow the heat out of a horse’s “loft” (the air trapped within the hair that is standing up). The second reason is because horses love to roll. Rolling is how horses’ groom themselves. During winter when the ground is not frozen horses will roll and mat their hair coats down, then when the temperatures drop some horses will become cold.
Third reason is some horses, even though they have access to a shed, prefer to stand out in the rain or prefer to graze then remain in the sheds despite hay available in the shed. In thirty years boarding retirees I have seen very fat ponies with more than adequate hair coats shivering in fifty degree temperatures because they chose to stand outside rather than in their shed. There were no other horses turned out with them that may have prevented the pony from entering the shed. The pony’s feed was in the shed and their water immediately outside the shed. I have seen this more than once with horses.
Sheets : Sheets are very useful in mild temperatures during late Winter and early Spring during “mud season”. Horses begin shedding as the days begin to lengthen in January, thus it is more common to see a horse shiver at this time of year then in Fall and Winter even when then the temperatures are colder.
Fly Sheets : If your horse is bothered by insect bites, for example developing hives or becomes frantic when bitten, then a fly sheet is a good idea. It is recommended that your horse have two fly sheets because if the sheet is damaged to the point it is unwearable without repairs, your horse will not have a sheet until the fly sheet can be repaired which can be more than a month. The alternative is a stall during the months where your horse is bothered by insect bites. The cost of a fly sheet plus the cost of washing and repair is comparable to a month’s stall board. We prefer Kensington Textilene fly sheets due to the recommendation of our blanket repair service who has found this brand to be the most durable.
Medications Requiring Prescription : For a seamless transition from your current barn to our farm, all medications that your horse is on should be sent with your horse along with written instructions that include the name of the medication, the amount, and instructions for administering to your horse.
Owners must contact their vet and request the transfer of their horse’s health records to our equine vet so we can arrange refills of your horse’s prescription medications as needed. Owners are responsible for the cost of their horse’s medications.
Supplements: Supplements should be sent with your horse with instructions to administering to your horse. The farm can arrange the reordering of supplements. Owners will be billed for the cost of supplements.
May I visit my horse?
Of course! You may visit your horse at any time. If your visit is after 6PM at night and before 9AM in the morning or on Sundays and holidays we do appreciate a phone call before your visit.
If your horse has a history of being hard to catch - and you would know this better than anyone- we can keep the herd in the dry lot after feeding so when you visit you will be able to easily catch your horse if you want to spend time visiting away from the herd or grooming your horse.
How will my horse be introduced into the herd?
Upon arrival your horse has their photo taken which is then sent to you to alert you to their arrival and their condition at time of arrival.
Your horse is then turned out into "Pony Prison" which allows your horse to stretch their legs after their trailer ride, which depending on where they originated can be a few hours to several.
Moving around in a paddock is the best thing for your horse after a trailer ride. Weather is not an issue due to the 16' x 12' run in shed with 4' overhang.
Fresh water is available on demand in Nelson's stainless steel bowl.
The paddock is centrally located for much of the activity on the farm and is within 100 ' of the residence, allowing for constant surveillance of your horse 24/7.
Your horse adjusts to their new surroundings in this paddock before being allowed to meet potential herd mates over the fence. Eventually your horse is turned out in a larger dry lot to meet a herd mate one on one. Your horse is introduced to each herd member in this one on one manner before being turned out into their future pasture with their herd mates, one at a time.
Your horse is returned to Pony Prison at night until we feel comfortable that the pecking order and any squabbles have been settled. The introduction takes about two weeks.
What about shoes?
Front shoes are fine. If your horse requires front shoes then that is what your horse will have!
Our goal is to meet your horse’s needs. If a horse has or develops an issue that requires hind shoes then that horse will have to be turned out individually so as to protect the the other horses. We have the ability to provide private individual turnout in a pasture with a run in shed, and automatic waterer.
Our goal is meeting your retired horse’s needs. At this time we do not charge extra for individual turnout.
Do you accept lay-ups or short term boarders?
Orchard Equine Retirement is committed to retired horses, thus we do not accept any horses except retired horses.
Boarding retired horses is not just another way for us to board horses;, we specialize in retired horses because we believe in the concept of making a lifetime commitment to your horse and providing owners with a facility designed for retired horses, not a facility designed for boarding riding horses with the option of boarding a retired horse.
How many horses can you board at once?
We are willing to accept 15- 20 horses depending on the needs of the horses and the makeup of the herds. The most horses the farm has maintained at one time is nineteen.
The most important factor is our ability to provide shelter to each horse in a box stall environment in the event of a severe weather event.
While events such as this are not common, it is very important to us knowing that in an emergency we can safely provide each owner's horse with a box stall that will keep them safe, comfortable, and dry.
We have nine box stalls, one which in an emergency can be divided into two 12' x 8' stalls with its own doorway. Thus we can maintain 10 horses in box stalls in the two barns.
We have five run in sheds. The two free standing run in sheds 16' x 24' with 8' overhangs can be divided into two box stalls 16' x 12' providing confined shelter for a total of four horses in the two sheds. The 8' overhang, (unlike the 2' overhangs common on so many run in sheds) protects the interior of the shed in a manner similar to a shed row barn.
The 16' x 12' "Pony Prison" shed when converted to a box stall provides shelter for one horse.
The Upper Barn's 12' x 24' run in shed is incorporated into the barn and has a four foot overhang can be converted into two 12' x 12' box stalls providing two horses with confined shelter.
The Front Barn can be divided into four 12' x 12' box stall environments bringing the total number of horses we can confine to shelter is 21.
The second factor is the ability of three people to provide personalized care for owner's horses. The number of horses in box stalls and/or requiring daily medication influence the number of horses we will accept. Nine horses in box stalls plus six on 24/7 turnout all of who are on daily medication are much more labor intensive than 20 horses on 24/7 turnout with or without medications. Thus we may only take 15 horses if we have a very labor intensive herd.
Individual horses' management requirements and personalities influence our decision because those two issues determine a horse's turnout and the make up of our herds.
For example, horses who are on restricted pasture turnout due to metabolic issues do not impact our pastures the same as a horse who is on turnout at night in summer, or a horse who is on pasture 24/7/365. Younger sounder horses impact pastures differently than arthritic horses.
If we have four or five horses on very limited turnout they do not impact our pastures as much so we may be able to take a higher number than fifteen.
Personalities play a role in the makeup of the herds which can influence the total number of horses we are able to properly maintain.
Does my horse require a stall?
Generally speaking horses that are healthy, acclimated to their location, provided with shelter that keeps them dry and allows them to maintain their body heat, has access to fresh water that does not freeze, and is fed properly to maintain their weight, are healthier living outside 24/7.
This is because horses are meant to graze 12-14 hours a day, thus their digestive system is healthier when the horse is moving.
Secondly many barns do not provide adequate ventilation and/or are dusty.
Having said that there are horses who no matter how long they are retired like their stall and prefer their stall.
If you are more comfortable with your horse in a stall and your horse is ok with being in a stall then the only way you will have Peace of Mind is knowing your horse is in a stall.
There is no doubt that some horses like stalls with fans in hot weather when the flies are bad.
In my experience the months that are the most important for stall use is in late Winter and Early Spring when horses are shedding out their winter hair coats which begins as soon as the days lengthen.
Temperatures often change dramatically in late Winter and early Spring. Spring is often the time of late season snow storms. Combined with the shedding of winter hair coats this is the time of year that horses are more likely to be cold.
We offer box stalls on a daily basis in bad weather or by the month, whether it be the entire winter or a few months in extreme weather.
Can you accommodate custom diets or specialized dietary needs?
We believe that each retired horse’s diet is customized for their needs. An integral part of boarding retired horses is meeting the dietary needs of horses with dentition issues and metabolic disorders.
Our standard feed is Blue Seal’s premium feed line, Sentinel which is, a low starch and low sugar extruded feed line. We discuss with each owner what their horse’s needs are and then discuss those needs with our vets and Blue Seal’s nutrition experts to determine how to best meet each horse’s particular needs.
Since our standard feed is a premium line of feed which is designed to meet several different types of horses’ needs, we have yet to encounter a situation where a horse has required a type of feed that required us to charge a surcharge.
Can you arrange transportation?
We can assist you in the selection of a transportation company to transport your horse to Orchard Equine Retirement.
We can provide owners with names of companies that have extensive experience transporting horses and who have always done a nice job transporting owners' horses to Orchard Equine Retirement.
What types of horses do you accept?
We accept all breeds of horses. There is no age requirement. We accept horses with stable “vices”. In over thirty years boarding retirees we have never seen another horse learn or copy a stable vice from another horse.
We accept lame horses and horses requiring daily medication.
Our contract does allow us to request within fourteen days of arrival the removal of a horse that is dangerous to other horses and/or staff. We have never had to enforce that clause.
The one common trait that all the horses boarded with us have,is that their owners’ love them.
Do you accept stallions?
Our facilities can accommodate stallions and our staff has experience handling stallions.
Reserve Your Horse's Retirement Today
Peace of Mind is Priceless.
At Orchard Equine Retirement we have been providing Full Care Horse Retirement since 1988. We know that retiring horses is so much more than turning a horse out in a pasture.
Much more. We understand and respect the special relationship owners have with their horses. We understand how difficult it is to separate from your partner and friend.
We've been there. Lying awake at night wondering if they are being fed properly. If they are standing out in the weather, or are they comfortable inside their box stall or run in shed with their buddies.
It is that very relationship with a horse named Prince and the failed search for a horse retirement farm where he could safely retire, that inspires us to this day.
We look forward to discussing the retirement you want for your horse. Please include your horse's name in your message!
We offer flat rate and itemized billing. Clients choose which method best suits their horse's needs and their preferences. Call or send a message to reserve your horse's retirement at the farm that continues to set the standard in horse retirement.
Christine, Jack, and Sarah
Orchard Equine Retirement