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  1. #1
    alternatefuture Guest

    Default selling/keeping: sentimental saps wanted

    OK. I am a typical adult ammie. My horses are pets. I adore them, spend all my discretionary budget on them, would do absolutely anything I could to make sure they are happy/healthy.

    I've never sold a horse -- only owned 3, one died in a pasture accident, still have the other 2.

    I want to hear from people like me -- I know the arguments from the less sentimental side, and I respect them, but this is an emotional issue for me.

    I have 2 horses. 1 is 15, a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful horse. I hope to continue with him until he tells me he needs to step down, and then he can be someone's schoolmaster (under my watchful eye!), and eventually the world's nicest trail horse . I will never, ever, ever sell this horse.

    The other is 8. He was coming along beautifully, and in my head I thought he could be my "main" horse once the other one started to slow down. I can't afford the time or money to properly take care of three horses.

    We recently had a fairly serious incident, the younger horse and I. An incident which threw into some question whether I could really trust him to be my eventer, and whether, perhaps, he was really suited to event. His issue is in SJ. He's a rock XC, always has been, rarely puts a foot wrong. But he showed some real lack of self preservation/panic in The Incident. It's not the first time, although the last time was a long long time ago when he was very green.

    I have wonderful trainers/help. We are all very cautious and conservative.

    This horse would make a spectacular foxhunter.

    I think a really sensible, hard-headed person would get him hunting and sell him on as a foxhunter to a good home.

    I am trying to work through our issue and I dearly love this sweet-tempered, charming horse. But The Incident was pretty scary stuff.

    I am terrified of selling a horse and having him end up in trouble somehow.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2001
    Ft Worth, TX, USA


    What about leasing the 8 yr old? What kind of mover is he? If his only issue is jumping maybe he could be a dressage horse. I've done that with one who wasn't brave enough to be an event horse, but was a decent mover and had impeccable ground manners.
    "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 22, 2008


    He *will* be in trouble if you don't trust him but keep trying to make him into what you want him to be. If you really can't bear to part with him, why not try your own hand at foxhunting with him? You might find you really love it, and if he's good at it, you get to keep your baby and have a great time. Hunting will make you a better event rider anyway!! Then when your older horse is ready to move on, you can find a 2nd horse to event with.
    It's a tough thing to come to grips with. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 17, 2009


    I am in your boat with a dear mare who is 17 whom I have had since she was coming 4. She is my "once in a lifetime hose." Not that she is the most amazing horse in the world, but she and I have a very special bond and she has been with me through thick and thin. She is certainly a pet.

    It is hard to sell that very special horse, but from what you wrote above, the 8 year old is not that horse. Not only will you be happier with a horse that suits you needs, but he will likely be happier doing something more suited to his strengths.

    I think that the most generous thing that you could do for the 8 year old is to take the time to transition him to another discipline (foxhunting might be it) before you sell him. I know that this is more costly, but if you give him the tools that he needs and then find him a well-suited owner I think that you will sleep really well at night. Rather than sending him to your trainer, perhaps you can find a good foxhunting trainer who could work with him, hunt him (if you are not up to it) and then put the word out. You can be picky about who you sell him to by telling the trainer that you will only sell to a high-quality home with references (even if just unofficial), etc. Being discriminating will be easier if he is marketed by word of mouth: "You know, the owner of this horse is considering selling him since he clearly loves to hunt and that's not really her thing..."

    I just want to add, however, that if he is dangerous over fences/has little self preservation (which it sounds like he might not be if not made to do SJ) you really need to think about whether you want to sell him as a jumper. I would also be really up front about his SJ issues so that you don't inadvertently sell him to a foxhunter who loves to do jumper shows in the summer...

    Good luck with your decision. I know how hard it can be, but think of how happy he will be if he finds a great mom like you who also loves to do what he's good at!
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr. 4, 2007
    North Carolina


    I agree it's worse for him to stay with someone who can't completely trust him. His fear/issue whatever you want to call it will most likely just get worse if you continue to try to "work through them". There is a difference between a horse who is afraid and a horse who loses his mind over something. Sounds to me like he did the later of the two. He needs to do something he's confident doing. As much as it may break your heart to sell him it's probably the best thing for him at this point. There's nothing wrong with screening prospective buyers, or doing a lease to buy situation. That way if the person ends up being someone you don't feel is adequate to care for him, you take him back. Ask for their trainer's information, vet & farrier references. If someone doesn't want to provide you with those things, then they're obviously hiding something and they aren't the type of person you don't want to sell to anyway.

    (In Loving Memory of 'My Escort' 3/25/1985 - 3/17/2007)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2007


    I had to come to terms of my own this year. Had a herd that I really no longer could keep up- for different reasons. Needed to downsize but I had bred/imported them and felt solely responsible for their place on Earth.

    I gaveaway the ones that I could, selling the few that I can, and keeping the retirees here with me. It was a heartbreaking decision and I won't lie- I still lay awake some nights hoping they are doing well in their new homes. I rarely talk to the new owners (schedules, etc) so I don't know for sure how they are. Plus- a few of them are over 3 hours away and I can't make the trip to see them until spring.

    I did find out in the process though- even if it takes a year to place a horse- if you place it with 100% of the issues revealed to the new owner- it will greatly increase the chance of success for that horse down the road. I had a few that I thought we unplaceable and through networking/word of mouth- they found wonderful permanent homes with owners that spoil them rotten!

    I'm down to placing my last 3 and it really sucks. But... in your heart of hearts you know it's the right thing to do for you and the horse. I agree with pp- how about dabbing in hunting yourself? If not- sell him as a hunt prospect with all his issues on the table. You may not get as much money- but you'll help secure a great home for him.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 2001
    Washington, DC


    Thanks, guys, keep 'em coming.

    OF COURSE I would be up front about his issue. The only reason I would sell him is if I felt he couldn't be a safe SJ horse -- not for me, or anyone else. In his mind, the SJ and the XC are very different things. Always have been.

    He's quite nice on the flat. Gets high 20s, low 30s through Training with a very regular rider on board. He's knees to the nose jumping. He taught himself to self load. He is a doll in every single way. He was started by a foxhunter, so is already hounds-broke and group-broke.

    I would get a good friend to hunt him. No sending him to anyone I don't know or disrupting his routine at the farm.

    I would be ridiculously picky about where he went.

    I don't think I want just a dressage horse -- that leaves me with nothing to event when horse #1 retires. I can't have three.

    ah. This is hard.
    The big man -- no longer an only child

    His new little brother

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 11, 2004


    Giving up on the alter, or was that a mis-post as yourself? (even though lots of us probably knew who was the OP anyway )

    I think you are very smart for thinking about this. Even though the consensus is that he's such a great horse in so many ways, I think several of us are concerned for you and your safety.

    Perhaps there is just something missing in his base foundation of training? If he stays, perhaps truly go back to the beginning to see what/where the hole may be?

    Sorry that's not much help b/c he seemed to come along pretty well, but other than sending you lots of hugs!!! I have nothing else to add.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 29, 2004
    Laytonsville, MD


    Ah ... I've been there as well. Sold the horse that I thought was the love of my life because what he wanted to do with his life and what I wanted to do weren't the same. To be honest, it took me a year to finally do it, and it involved a lot of tears and frustration. But now he's off doing a job that comes much easier to him and is blissfully happy. And I'm happy too. Every time I sit on a horse that LOVES it's job ... best feeling in the world.
    Take Your Equestrian Business to the Next Level:
    Follow me at or

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2004


    I've done both. I sold 3 that were not likely to event (for me anyway). All 3 were very difficult decisions, as I'd bought them, viewed them, treated them as lifetime horses. I think it was worse than a break-up. I kept 1 other, which has not been so fun either. So I can only share, not advise.

    The first was far too careful/timid to event, I hoped it was just ammy me. I had him 5 yrs, got him to prelim, then things fell apart. I tried having my trainer compete him, didn't work. I free leased him to a horseless ULR to see if she'd have better luck, he injured her and he came back to me in terrible shape. I spent a lot of money training/showing him in jumpers, getting him very competitive, got the big offer, he had a serious injury just before the vetting, rehabbed 100% 1 yr later, did another year of showing L4, then failed the vet, gave him away to what seemed like great people, never heard from them again. It still bothers me. And I guess it goes without saying that I spent >15K to give him away.

    The next one I got from the track, my trainer predicted he'd be a 3-star horse for someone, but he just didn't want to play. At anything. At all. I worried about selling him (to a very talented ULR, even) but it was for the best.

    3rd one was also heart-wrenching. He was just the sweetest, nicest on the ground and under saddle. Such a fun guy, so easy to be around. Drop dead gorgeous. Won the dressage, had all the scope in the world. Everywhere I went I had people asking about him, he attracted the interest of several VERY well known ULRs early on (why did I not sell then?!?!?), he was just amazing. But he didn't really like to jump. He might have done better with a better rider, one that was better with WBx types (he was my only non-OTTB), but there were days when getting over x-rails was an endeavor. In a way, by the time my trainer said sell, it was actually a relief. I was not having that much fun. He is a dressage horse.

    The one I kept I saw no way to rehome. There is something very wrong with him. He's had all the physical work-ups out there, with very minimal, treatable results, but didn't respond to treatments. His bone scan was completely clean. He was always sound, the majority of vets I saw thought he was just crazy, which is possible too. He evented, and showed in decent sized jumpers (L5), but always looked NQR (weird canter) and nutty. I toyed with the idea of selling him as a jumper, but he was so bad with unfamiliar riders, I worried about liability. And feared that his chances for an ok outcome were zero. So, I still have him. I ride him on the trail a bit, but mostly he just hangs out. And at 16, he has a while. I don't know, I really believed I would get him through his issues, he was so talented, I think I'm still accepting things. At the same time, he is a huge cost, opportunity cost, and he is hard to afford. But guilt prevented me from passing him on.

    So, I completely know where you're coming from, above are the choices I made. I do think that given your horse's description, it is very possible to find him a good home where you will be able to sleep at night. If you can afford to lease and not sell, that would give you a bit more protection. I guess in the end I am glad that I did sell the ones that weren't working out, as I'm not sure what I would have done with them had I kept them, and they freed up the space for my current guys that do event.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2010
    on COTH right now, duh!


    Ask the foxhunters in your area if they know of anyone who'd like to lease him. This way he is still yours and he has a job, plus he gets mileage.
    My guy is going out to boot camp and if his issues don't get resolved he will be a lawn mower or a teaser (he was just gelded and the girls still get hot for him). I recognized my limitations with him and am employing a trainer to help us but first he needs help that I can't give right now. We also have bonded and I would die before I gave him up so even if I go broke with 2 horses, he will always be here with me.
    As far as your situation, leasing sounds like the best option maybe for a junior rider who may start liking boys more than horses in a year or 2. By then he'll have a rep and you can lease him out again.
    There are options that don't require you to sell him.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 5, 2007


    What probably makes it a hard decision is that you understand "the other non-sentimental" side. After all, there would be NO decision required if you were completely of the mind that you should keep your horse forever.

    Decisions to be made that are difficult are because each outcome has equal plusses or minuses. And a wise person once said to me, "if the outcomes are equal, it really doesn't matter which one is made...they'll be an up and down to either."

    Personally, it sounds like your beating yourself up for wanting to sell the horse. There are times in our lives where acting in a slightly selfish way (and I'm only saying selfish as I imagine that's your interpretation - it's not mine) is OK and you need to give yourself that space to make the decision.

    All you can do is to try to find the best possible fit for him with his next person.

    (I blame Black Beauty for putting all of this guilt on anyone who should sell their horse).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2007
    Olympia, WA


    I am going through the same thing right now..I have to sell my very talented DutchxTb mare because our personalities don't mesh at all...I thought she was going to be the one. She will make somebody an awesome event horse just not me. I need and want a nice gelding that is kind and straight forward. I want a confident horse that loves his job and loves to hang out with me. My mare is a thinker and a workaholic where I am a mom and a person that enjoys eventing to compete and have fun with my friends. I just lost my horse of a lifetime 2 mos ago and that is when I realized at my age (38) personality and love is better for me then all the talent in the world...Good Luck!! I hope it all works out...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010


    I know what you mean. I have 12 horses. Most are lesson horses that pay their way, but I have three that are pretty much useless. If I could get rid of those three, I would have some budget for a show horse...but I can't bring myself to do it. So, baring a miracle, I guess I have to accept that there HAS to be a trade off for me to have a show horse, and for me, right now, I am not willing to sacrifice my three money eaters. Meanwhile I keep working client horses and such and hope something comes up.

    If you absolutely do not want to part with 8 year old, then don't. Your older horse is still keeping you happy right? Why worry about when he needs to retire from showing until that time comes? At that precise time you may hear of someone who is travelling to Australia and needs someone (you) to show their horse for them on their dime. Or maybe you find someone you adore to lease one of them and you are freed up to buy/lease another horse. Or who knows!

    I would not judge you for selling the 8 year old though, as he is far from useless by the sounds of it, and may make someone else very happy...and you may be relieved to not have to worry about him anymore.

    Good luck with whatever you decide, but take your time either way.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2007


    Don't forget though...that there are TONS of us out there...who... just might consider him their next heart horse!

    I mean... just because you sell him, doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to get sold and resold. MAYBE... he'll end up with someone like us saps who love him and adore him and would do anything for him and keep him until he dies! You could end up selling him into that type of home too! Especially if you are picky.

    Part of the reason I got my horse and a little bit cheaper than I should have... is that she realized he would stay with me forever, and if not... she gets first dibs. But... no way in heck is he going anywhere!

    Also, you can also have a buyback clause, though I realize that the buyer doesn't always follow through on that.

    It sucks though..... I have a hard enough time thinking about rehoming the mechanically lame 14 hand good for nothing but keeping my mare company when my gelding leaves that got dumped on me mare... And I don't even particularly like her

    Good luck!!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by FLeckenAwesome View Post
    Don't forget though...that there are TONS of us out there...who... just might consider him their next heart horse!

    I mean... just because you sell him, doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to get sold and resold. MAYBE... he'll end up with someone like us saps who love him and adore him and would do anything for him and keep him until he dies! You could end up selling him into that type of home too! Especially if you are picky.

    Part of the reason I got my horse and a little bit cheaper than I should have... is that she realized he would stay with me forever, and if not... she gets first dibs. But... no way in heck is he going anywhere!

    Also, you can also have a buyback clause, though I realize that the buyer doesn't always follow through on that.

    It's one thing if you have an unsound horse you're trying to dump on an unsuspecting soul. But when you have a sound and capable horse who is showing that he doesn't have the same goals as you - finding someone who has goals he matches up with can be great!

    My horse is my 6th horse, and he's my once in a lifetime horse. His previous owner had never sold a horse and didn't have to sell him, but the two of them weren't a match and she realized he was too young and talented - and too fond of working - to just be a barn ornament the rest of his life. She took over a year selling him, he made it very clear he wasn't interested in some of the riders who tried him out, and for whatever reason he picked me. She had him underpriced in the first place, and I got him for quite a bit less than what she was asking. We were just a great match, she knew my top limit, and offered him to me for that. She still smiles when she sees me with him - but she smiles even more when she goes out to ride her horse she bought in her place who is the perfect match for her!
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr. 11, 2001


    Quote Originally Posted by alternatefuture View Post
    OK. I am a typical adult ammie. My horses are pets. I adore them, spend all my discretionary budget on them, would do absolutely anything I could to make sure they are happy/healthy.
    I probably shouldn't respond here because I'm to pragmatic to be a "sentimental sap" but you might want to quantify "absolutely anything."

    I have my own place and do my own labor so my costs per horse are pretty rock bottom for quality care--$100-$150 a month for feed, hay, bedding and minimum farrier and vet. To keep a horse as nothing more than a pasture pet for the rest of his life--say 20 years--is going to cost me in out of pocket dollars $25,000-$35,000. :wow: You can change a human being's life with that much money--make a major dent in sending a kid to college, or invest it and send a future-grand kid to college, you can pull someone out of poverty and teach them a skill. Make a donation to a non-profit that will have a real effect... So who's the sap now?

    I think we need to be very careful giving in to the temptation to believe that we ourselves are the only ones out there qualified to own a horse--and do it "right." It's a little self-absorbed to me. Training a sound horse to have a skill set is the single best thing you can do to insure him of a quality life--even more so in a lot of cases than just assuming you'll have 20 years of your life left so you can see to his.

    I'd suggest you get him fox hunting, find someone who wants him who's horsemanship you have confidence in, turn him over and feel good about it. Keeping that 25-35k in mind, if you want to be a "sap" you can make the financial end of it work so you can pick his buyer. I think most horses want a job. Giving him a job he loves is a better choice for HIM than letting him languish because he's not lucky enough to be a match for you.

    And of course, all of it is much, much easier said than done...

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 15, 2008
    Nashville, TN


    I am a total sentimental sap and also own my horses for life. Because I know that I get too emotionally attached to sell them, I am resigned to the fact that if my 4 year old does not enjoy eventing, I will switch disciplines and learn the sport he enjoys. I am also resigned to the fact that I may never travel and compete as much as I would like because I am still paying for the care of my 19 year old retiree. And I am well aware that he may be around for a very long time. But this works for me, and I stick my tongue out at anyone that calls me stupid for keeping my old guy (and there have been plenty)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2006


    If he lacks "self presevation" skills...he might not be a good foxhunter prospect. My kind of foxhunter has to think on his feet and make life or death (for both of us) decisions without a blink!! JMO
    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2001
    up the hill from the little river (that floods alarmingly often)


    Life is too short to keep a horse you don't/can't trust. Be insanely picky about where he goes and see if he can't, like Flecken Awesome said, become someone else's heart horse.

    My trainer has had to remind me a few times that not everyone has the same expectations for a horse that I have, and the things I don't like about a horse may well be the very things that the right person for her adores.
    Full-time bargain hunter.

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