How to Throw a Retirement Party for Your Horse

When 28-year-old Scotty retired from his long-held position as a saintly lesson horse, his owner threw a celebration. Here’s how to honor the special horses in your life when it’s time for them to retire.
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how to throw a retirement party for your horse
Liftoff Equestrian owner Ashley Watts decided still-spry 28-year-old Scotty had more than earned his retirement, so she threw a celebration in his honor. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse

Few horses are as special as the saintly lesson horse. The one that happily carts kids and adults over their first cross-rails and instills in them a love for riding. The one who never takes a wrong step, who always shows up to work with his ears pricked.

Scotty is one such horse. In his seven years in Liftoff Equestrian’s lesson program, in Versailles, Kentucky, the dark bay Thoroughbred with the kind eyes taught countless riders their diagonals, leads, and basic horsemanship. But at the ripe old age of 28, barn owner Ashley Watts decided he’d earned his retirement. His joints had gotten stiffer and his coat a little grayer. As Ashley watched him lope around a little course one afternoon, swap his leads without prompting, and do his exuberant “big trot” around the ring upon completion, she thought, “That’s it. He can be done.”

She wanted him to retire on a happy and healthy note, and his owner agreed. A fellow boarder at Liftoff needed a companion for her 24-year-old blind retiree, Magic, so all parties decided that Scotty would move to her farm a few miles down the road

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Written by:

Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

One Response

  1. Yes! My barn friends threw a shower when I adopted a horse from a local rescue organization. Complete with “it’s a boy” and “welcome home” banners, treats, blue pencils, horse earrings, and a “big brother” ribbon for my other guy! It was wonderful!

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