So, I'm in a bit of a pickle. Quick background...I sold this horse about 3 months ago on a payment plan, but honestly I didn't even really care if they paid as long as it was a good home, because I was going through a breakup of a long term relationship (so lost a second income) and really needed to downsize my herd. The home had great references, I checked it out thoroughly, they owned a couple of other horses who looked great, etc. I really thought he was going to a good place.
Well, this morning I come home to find that he was dropped off while I was working at other farms. I knew his buyers were having financial troubles as they've missed one payment and explained to me that the primary breadwinner of the family had lost his job. I told them at the time that as long as they could care for the horse, they could keep him and we'd just sort it out as they got on their feet, but asked them to let me know if they were struggling to feed him (which needless to say did not happen). I'd been by their place about a month ago and the horse looked fine, and was planning to stop by in the next week for another checkup (he was about 2 hours from me, but I'm in the area once a month or so working).
Well, my ranch hand was here to unload him and didn't realize I hadn't expected them to drop the horse off. And he's really skinny. I'd put him at a good 2/thin 3 on the Henneke scale (I'm not a vet and he's kind of in-between). I have a vet appointment for him on Friday, which is the soonest I can get in. I suspect that it's just a lack of groceries rather than any underlying issue, but I want to rule the latter out. Still, he's a hard-keeping OTTB so I suspect he just wasn't fed enough.
The big problem is that I really can't afford him. It's hard times here. My job is steady but I just lost the second income that was helping to support our critters. Hay has tripled in price from what I was paying last year, and I had contracted with a supplier only to have him back out (long story) so I'm stuck buying hay at premium prices for those of my herd not on winter pasture (which is full). I only sold this horse on payments because I couldn't afford him anymore and I felt sure it was a good home. I wouldn't have taken him back without the Livestock Board being involved had I been here, and as it is I have a call in to them about the almost-owners.
I just don't know what to do. I can probably feed him back up but it is going to be really hard on me. He's a really lovely horse, 5 years old, sound (though with an old bow), solid w/t/c in a frame and has done 2'6" courses well. So he is marketable when he's fit, but I'm not sure I can really responsibly get him back to a marketable shape. I can do it if all goes well, but if a horse requires a major vet bill or my truck needs a new transmission (it is 20 years old and my only vehicle at the moment) or whatever else I'm screwed.
What would you do in this situation? I'm willing to give him away but I'm not sure how to do it without getting all kinds of backlash. I'd have just listed him on Giveaways here but I'm not sure how to sort through the flames if people saw him without the background, and I'm not even sure he's in good enough shape to ship any kind of distance. Argh, I just feel backed into a corner here.
I probably should post this under an alter but what the hell... I know I should have just transferred ownership fully or whatever, please don't lecture me on that as I wouldn't have done this if I hadn't needed to rehome quickly, I just need to do the best I can with the situation I have.
I think I would probably just go ahead and list him on the Giveaways and deal with the mostly well-meaning, occasionally hateful, and sometimes overly enthusiastic "advice" from some of the dear readers on the bb.
But then I am a hardened old battle-axe and don't tend to give a crap what people say or think.
Do you perhaps have clients or friends, etc who could take him? I hesitate to offer TB rescues as I know most rescues are full to the brim right now.
Thanks CfG...I've already called anyone local I can think of, and they're all full. That's really the trouble, if it had been the middle of summer when hay was still reasonable, or in a few months after first cutting it would probably be okay and I could get him into a local home.
I guess the big thing for me isn't the backlash (though I admit that would bother me!) but that I worry he's not in shape to ship. Especially because we're a very warm climate and I fear he'd be shipping to a colder one. I even blanket him here (where most days are comfortably into the 60s) because he's so thin, and I even tend to prefer a thinner horse to a fatter one.
Where are you located? I'm half heartedly looking for another horse to add to my herd of 3. He'd have a great home, as all mine are spoiled often, and ridden lightly. But I'm a heavier rider.....built like a medium sized man...lol! PM me with more info. I'd like to know age, health status, name (just curious) and height/breed. Thanks!!! I'm in Northeastern NC.
Sometimes it seems it is easier to rehome the pathetic looking ones that someone feels they can "save". It might help if you have video or pictures from before, and maybe target advertising to close by states that have less issue with hay prices.
Jetsmom--Thanks for the kind words. I wouldn't feel comfortable saying he's okay for therapeutic purposes. He doesn't really spook in the arena that I've found (and my field is by a major highway and a railway), but he has a lot of energy and I think he'd be too much for most programs. He's not crazy but he could intimidate someone who doesn't know what they're riding, if that makes sense. He's really pretty steady in a fenced-in area but has a lot of "go."
He's about 16.2 (haven't officially sticked him, but that's the tape measurement) OTTB. His tattoo is illegible but he's under 8 years old according to several vets. He has been barefoot with me the entire time and sound jumping up to 2'6" so I'd say no special shoeing needs and in fact pretty good hooves for a Thoroughbred. He does fine with other horses so long as there is plenty of food, because he is very dominant and will run other horses off if forage is limited. I've kept him out with at leas 4-5 other horses though and they've done fine. No vices except spookiness/barn sourness on the trail, but nothing like cribbing/weaving/etc.
I went through a very similar situation recently. Basically just advertise advertise advertise. Show pictures of what he USED to look like, and be upfront about the situation and his condition and hopefully you will find somebody who will look past his weight. And I know it sounds kind of sneaky, but if desperate times call for desperate measures, throw a "if he doesn't sell this week I'm going to have to take him to the auction" kind of line in there and it might get somebody motivated.
As far as older pics, I'm hoping to recover them soon. They were on a laptop of mine that was run over by a car and the screen was cracked, so not easily accessible and stupid me didn't back them up. I've also got an email out to the person I got him from to see if she has any photos of him, since he was in good shape then just not really worked enough to sell.