Last month I had to make the really difficult decision of retiring Ben. Two years ago after a set of broken ribs and some very sudden quirky behaviour, the vets found out Ben had some blindness in his right eye from a cataract. It was only blocking a certain spot and we spent a few weeks doing a lot of work on that side to help desensitise him. I also made the decision at that point to stop jumping and hacking, as there were too many unknowns and triggers that would have made the situation unsafe for him and me. After a few weeks we were back in work and he was going really nicely. I have to be careful about getting too close to fences or people on that side, but dressage was perfect, as he had no issues with the low boards. We had the most amazing 2022, bringing home some great BD Novice scores, and qualifying for Area Festivals, Associate Champs and even the RoR league, all by March this year!
I took him for my normal weekly lesson with A Star Equestrian in April and in this session, I wanted to improve my halts. We set some poles as a square on the floor and as I came up to them, he did a huge 180 spin, throwing me quite an impressive distance! I tried to walk him up to them in hand (once I had peeled myself off the floor) and he just wouldn’t go near them. It was obvious there were more sight issues. We put the poles away and I got back on board, but now I couldn’t move him away from the middle of the arena without feeling tense, so we just abandoned the lesson. I gave him a few days off just to settle, as he can be very fiery! But when I tried to ride in our normal arena he was just as tense and again wouldn’t move out of the middle of the arena. I knew his eyesight had clearly deteriorated and the vets determined he has lost all sight in his right eye now. At nearly 20 years old, with a phenomenal 15-year race career and a wonderful three years off the track, it just felt nothing but selfish to try and get him back into work, but equally devastating for such a sound and capable horse with so many championships to look forward too. Retiring hit me really hard, I wasn’t expecting to feel so upset about the situation, as he is still very much here and ok, but packing away his tack was so emotional.
He is definitely enjoying retirement - I would say quieter life, but with the energy he has, he is very much terrorising the others and I suspect I will drag him out to a few inland shows, while he still looks and feels so well.
I know I have attached a lot of photos, but he is definitely an ROR to be celebrated! #lordben #LoveyouRoR