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Ageing horse, ageing mum, handhold? Sorry - v long.

(11 Posts)
geeup Tue 02-Aug-16 15:33:06

I have a beautiful 20 year old horse who I've owned since the day she was born (owned her dam too who's sadly not with us any more). She's in good health - not 100% sound but a very happy, slightly overweight hacker. She's kept at my mum and dad's where my mum looks after her, along with her own horse (healthy 20 year old TB but he is loaned and we've had him for years). For the past few years, we've hacked out together once a week and my mum rides both the horses once or twice on her own during the week. However, things are changing. My mum is getting more forgetful (her father had dementia so we're scared she's going the same way) and frailer (she's in her early 70s) and recently injured herself and is still not 100% up to full health but is managing the horses at the moment. My dad wants to make plans to move both horses into livery near them from this winter as he's worried my mum won't be able to cope. I suggested putting them into livery near me (i'm about an hour away) but he doesn't want to do that as she'll want to visit them regularly and to keep active. I worry its too much responsibility on them though.
My dad and I have wondered if we should give the TB back to its owner. I would hate to split our two horses - the TB has major separation issues and is very reliant on my horse - we can't ride my horse on her own as he jumps out the field/box and practically fits. There are no other horses in the yard (although he can see other horses). BUT if my mum is going to deteriorate over time, shouldn't we plan for it before its a problem? Then again, my mum loves her horse so much - she's had him for years and he's a part of our family. We've had horses for 30 years and never given back/sold one - they've only ever died of old age with us. She'd be distraught if she knew we were considering taking him away (obviously we would never do this without discussing with her!).
I don't know what I'm asking but I'm struggling. What do other people do when their parents age? My horse's dam was about 26 when she died so there could be a few happy healthy years in my horse yet. Even though I can't see my horse as often as I like, I adore her and I struggle with the idea of a stranger looking after her when you hear such awful stories.

frostyfingers Wed 03-Aug-16 22:11:04

That's a horrible dilemma - it broke my heart when we had to take my mother's 2 horses away after she'd had a major stroke - there's no easy solution.

The only thing I can think of would a sharer work at all? I'm not sure how but you might find someone who could help out which would mean they could stay where they are.

geeup Thu 04-Aug-16 07:53:55

We've tried looking for sharers before when I went to uni but it's a miracle anyone finds anyone good and reliable. We had no luck. Plus I don't think it would be appropriate for the horse on loan (I guess we could ask the owner) but I'll certainly give it some thought - thank you! It's such a tough time. The guilt is unbearable.

Missgraeme Thu 04-Aug-16 07:56:59

What about a teen helper for after school /weekends in exchange for your mother giving some free lessons?

frostyfingers Thu 04-Aug-16 09:15:44

I know finding sharers is almost impossible - perhaps make a few enquiries and see if anything turns up, could the TB owner help in anyway by spreading the word?

Part of me agrees that forward planning is a good idea, but the other part says wait - if she's anything like my mum was horses were her reason for getting up in the morning and if they'd gone before she was properly incapacitated then I think it would have really got her down. Even now, 9 years later she misses them terribly and whenever she stays with me has to have an inspection of mine and is always asking about them on the phone - it's her main point of conversation.

Are you/they in a position to pay to have someone come and help out - they might be more reliable than a sharer. Good luck.

thinkingaboutfostering Thu 04-Aug-16 17:42:50

Would there be room for another horse on the yard? Could you offer cheap/free livery to someone in exchange for looking after your horses. Keeps the horses close but without your mum having full responsibility?

tattychicken Thu 04-Aug-16 17:49:51

A freelance groom would be cheaper than livery, could you get one in eg Mon-Fri then you cover weekends? If you asked around you might find a good local recommendation. I used a girl for years who was wonderful with the horses and very reasonable for eg an hour a day, to muck out and prepare stables so your Mum just had to bring them in.

geeup Fri 05-Aug-16 16:59:17

Thanks so much everyone - some really helpful suggestions and kind words.
Frosty fingers you're right my mum would be so upset.
Based you what you've said, my dads looking into seeing if a girl from a nearby livery yard could be paid to help at our place or if we'd need to move them to her yard (which is walking distance away).
A problem shared is a problem halved so thank you all so much.

Floralnomad Fri 05-Aug-16 17:14:00

I'd find someone local who you could pay to help out , there are lots of freelance grooms about - we have also never sold / loaned out anything and have had horses for 38 yrs .Our remaining elderly pony is on full livery at a very small private yard and the owner has a woman who comes in about twice a week to ride /help out and when the owner goes on holiday this woman comes twice a day to do it all . Saying you'll find livery might be harder than you think , I've had to change yards a couple times in the past and it's always been very difficult to find someone who will do things to my standards even if you offer to pay more !

JontyDoggle37 Fri 05-Aug-16 17:19:59

Geeup sorry to hear you're in this situation. The one thing I would say is, you don't have to commit to a final action now. Your mum is still relatively ok, so for now some help at home might be fine. In a year or so you might need to reevaluate, and by then your mums situation and her appreciation of what she is capable of May have changed and livery near you may be the best option. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and like you must fix it all straight away, but step by step is just as valid.flowers

geeup Fri 05-Aug-16 17:26:33

Thank you. Feeling a bit calmer after your comments. Going for a ride now with my lovely mum!

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