The latest news to hit the eventing scene is the retirement of Anthony Patch, her veteran 4* horse and the subject of the hashtag #GoAlGo.
At 18, Al had nothing left to prove with multiple top 10 placings under his belt, back-to-back wins at the Advanced level at the AEC’s, and even a couple international events to boot. He’s no spring chicken, and a familiar face on cross country and social media alike. Without knowing the full backstory of what went into the decision to retire him, I am going to assume it was made in an effort to spare him any eventual breakdown that is inevitable to any athlete, horse or human, who is pushed past their prime.
It is a relief to see top-riders make good decisions for their mounts, even if their adoring public clamors for more. Specifically, I am thinking of Valegro, who left the top of the dressage scene on a high note, even though we all could imagine him eeking out a couple more wins at least. The honor that Charlotte and team showed him in allowing him to age gracefully and without the pressure of GP competition was a fitting conclusion to a team that has been role models for the entire equestrian world.
But for those of us who cannot afford to turn our winningest (or only) mount out to field to live the high life, what do we do? With Foster, his wonderful brain allowed me to find him a home that afforded him a slower-paced life that kept him comfortable. But what if your champion that can no longer compete doesn’t have a personality that can be trusted with your average retirement scenario, such as therapy or trail riding homes?
It’s not a favorite thing to think about, and yet we all hope that we will see the day that we are able to retire our beloved horses to the good life. What is your plan for your horse, or what have you done to retire your horse in the past? What retirement situations at the highest levels did you particularly appreciate, or are there retirements that you felt happened a little too late?