I have had this OTTB for three years, and every time I feel like we are turning a corner and going in the right direction.. we seem to detract or he has a total mental breakdown.
He is a freakishly talented jumper and is very beautiful and personable on the ground, but the moment we take one step forward it seems like ten steps back. My trainer keeps telling me to just give him away, but I bought him to 'bring up and sell', and I feel like just giving him away would be a total failure to the both of us.
I adore him and I rode him bareback yesterday, and I really shouldn't have since he is supposed to be going to a cowboy on Saturday as my 'giveaway'. I feel like I have totally failed him, because for the past three years I have been the only one to believe in him. He came so far, but he has totally hit a wall it seems.
I just want other peoples opinions or stories on maybe 'giving up' on a horse. I think he just needs a new job, which could totally be the case. But it is heartbreaking and hard for my pride to swallow that I am just quitting on him after three years.
I could quote your first two paragraphs about an OTTB I took on a decade ago. One of the most frustrating summers of my life, as I was in my prime & throwing everything I had into making this horse. He had so much talent - yet would suddenly forget everything at the most arbitrary moments.
I put an ad out, times were good & he was snapped up quickly as he was so handsome. I downplayed the amount of work I'd put into him, saying he was still very green, with the intent of preparing them for a challenge. Hope they had more luck with him...
It was the last time I'd take on a horse with small, piggy eyes, even though I've read some upper level horses have had eyes like that & been great. He was the third small, pig-eyed horse that thoroughly disappointed me, so now I look for good eyes on a horse before anything else!
Btw in spite of the struggle I felt a huge wave of relief once he was gone. Do your best to place him with a shot at success, take a deep breath, & move on.
Well, no one can say you didn't TRY helping him. Gracious, THREE YEARS is a long time of trying. I will say horse would not have stayed here for that long and very little progress.
It isn't easy, but I agree that getting rid of him is the best way to go at this time. If you can find a taker, let the horse go. Talented or not, he is making no progress and taking up your time, money, not giving back any rewards. Some times it is better to "give up" on those ones you can't fix. You have YEARS into him, have to cut him off at some point because one horse is NOT SUPPOSED to be a life-long project!!
There are reasons that some of the most talented never make it. No brains, can't take the steps needed to turn into a working partner. Not your fault, you tried. Now let him go, just say "It wasn't meant to be" for you and this horse. Don't kick yourself on the situation, you have learned from it, move forward positively. Your next horse WILL be a bunch more fun to have around, after all the "issues" with the last one. DO REWARD yourself with a NICE new horse, not a "project" animal. You deserve a nice horse after this. Horse owning SHOULD be fun!!
I gave away my first (and only as it was a disaster) homebred after 5 years and several thousand dollars in vet bills, finally realizing I had zero interest in dealing with her or the potential to get hurt on a green, reactive horse with no self preservation skills. Driving to the barn was a challenge in itself feeling a heavier and heavier weight on my shoulders the closer I got. So I tried her on a broodmare lease which didn't work out (she lost the foal at Month 9). So I had the choice to take her back or find her a home.
She is now with a new owner and went to her first show a few weeks ago-and it doesn't bother me a bit. She had a fresh start and I'm done supporting her financially (thank God). I have moments where I think I gave up but in the end we were just not a good match. She's ended up in a good place which is all I can ask for. I think it's totally OK to have had enough and call it a day. It was the best decision I've made horse wise in a while. Good luck with whatever you decide. It is not easy.
"Those who know the least often know it the loudest."
By finding him a new situation, you're not giving up on him. You're giving him the best that you can. I think that part of being a horseman(er...woman) means that there are occassions that you have to swallow your pride and determine when enough is enough.
The fact that you can recognize that, and deal with the situation in the way that is best for the horse, regardless of your personal feelings, should be commended.
I've had plenty of horses come around that I've had to pass on, because it just wasn't working. We weren't getting anywhere. I was frustrated, they were frustrated, and things were starting to back peddle very quickly.
Now that this guy is in a better situation for him, it opens the door up for you to be able to take on something that will be good for you, and you never know where the next horse might take you! It's all part of the fun.
Originally Posted by MistyBlue
I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
I dunno. It sounds like you might want to keep him, in your heart of hearts, despite his issues. Though you did say he was always intended as a sale project, so perhaps I'm wrong. My horse is also a challenge - knows a ton, has a lot of pro training (and I'm not a half bad rider myself), but he still also forgets it all sometimes. That's just him. It is limiting, plus he has soundness issues, but he's my bud and I'm keeping him.
Anyway, it's up to you. I don't think you are giving up if you move him along. But don't let yourself be pressured into it if that isn't what you really want. If you move him along, I really suggest trying to sell him rather than give him away.
I don't see it as giving up. You tried, he wouldn't/couldn't get with the program. He's a HORSE.
Sometimes others can do with a horse that you can't. That's why I'm constantly harping on 'if you can get on with every horse that comes down the pike, you haven't been around enough horses'. If you've dealt with horses enough (or it might be the first one you ever worked with) and it's not working out for both of you, then that's the way it is. Some 'partnerships' just don't work.
In years past, I noticed some horses would do better when their discipline was totally changed and they went on to be be, maybe not exactly, model citizens but at least paid their way. Like the jumper who went on to be a whopping good barrel racing horse. Or the steer roping horse who went on to be a fairly good jumper.
So, it's possible your guy just wasn't in his niche...or was a total stonehead. You just don't know these things and will have to wait for things to play out while you're watching from the sidelines.
i gave away my mare two weeks ago.
i've had her since she was five months old, this month she'll be thirteen.
i had her started late and well, ridden by a few people but i just never felt comrotable on her.
i found someone who gets her and they are so far doing very well together.
it's both sad and a huge relief.
Agree with what everyone said, especially Superminion.
Sometimes quitting isn't the weakest thing, it's actually the hardest. You've admitted to yourself it just isn't working, so now follow through on that.
One of my boarders has a horse that she really should have given away about 2-3 years ago. A supposedly well bred, nice jumper mare. Horse has been sent away and come back so many times it makes your head spin. Last year they "gave" it away, only to decide to bring it home and try again. Now it's being lovely and the kid has fallen so in love she wants to sell the steady-eddy nice boy. Problem is the horse is a known rearer. Even that I'd be willing to overlook if she wasn't too small for the kid (by a noticeable amount, not just my hunter-aesthetics here). It's making me so crazy I've resorted to literally biting my tongue whenever they start talking about it.
Just move on and open yourself up for a better situation, don't be like my boarders and always leave it as a possible question mark. It'll only get you physically or emotionally hurt when you ultimately come to the exact same decision.
It took me six long years to accept that I ought to find a better home for my Arab mare....it got to the point that I no longer had fun playing with horses nor relating with them. It did feel good knowing that Abby is now with an owner who is so willing to work with her quirkiness.
I am taking an hiatus and will purchase a horse that will take care of me when my youngest goes to college in four years. In the mean time, I am starting to remember why I love horses in the first place. I hope you will get the joy back of playing with horses after you find a home for your horse.
Will get a dream horse!
More riding, swimming, and rowing, less posting
I actually wound up giving him back to the rancher I got him from. It was an emotional day (seriously, I cried all day anytime someone mentioned his name). I was a wreck, but I also felt stupid because it's not like he died. It think it was more disheartening than anything, because I had so much promise for him. We were supposed to do great things together, and he taught me a lot about patience, hot horses, greenies, and starting OTTBs.
Like I said, I was overly dramatic and cried my heart out, but I know he is in a better place. She said she would keep me updated on everything, and I truly know this is what he needs.
Horses are so attractive that some people keep multiple horses and never ride them, or even have them trained. Other people patiently work with horses that aren't a good match for years, and it breaks their heart to move that horse on down the line like the OP. But I think you have done the exact right thing.
I hope you find your heart horse soon. (((HUGS)))).
Some horses just have issues that prevent them from doing what we want them to do. Do not beat yourself up over your horse. Sometimes they need a drastically different situation than what you can provide. Sometimes there is just something "wrong" with a horse beyond the scope of current veterinary medicine.
I used to retrain/resell OTTBs regularly when I was younger and did quite well for myself. One horse ended it all for me, though. Cute horse, gorgeous mover, great personality... but I could not get him "right" to save my life. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears when into him-- not to mention money! I was completely overextended on his vet bills. But I felt an obligation to the horse to keep trying and really thought I could fix him.
I gave him away at the 11th hour (for me) to a trainer I barely knew who thought he could make the horse right-- he couldn't. The horse, luckily, ended up in a good situation with a mom and teenage daughter who loved him. Unfortunately, a year or two later he contracted a disease of unknown etiology, went downhill quickly, and had to be euthanized. I think he was only 9 or 10 at the time. Very sad, but I took it as proof for myself that there was something systemically NQR with that horse all along.
Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO
Thanks for all your support you guys. It was a good decision, but I will still miss his big, funny face out in the pasture and his little antics.
I got an update, she got shoes put on him and he is fat and happy. They are thinking about just keeping him, because Demar loves him and thinks he is a fancy enough to be his parade and ranch horse. LOL I love it! I'm very blessed to have a working relationship with wonderful people.