If you wanted to donate a horse to a University dressage team...
I know there are both pro's and con's and people who have had both good and bad experiences with this. If I decide to look into this further where do you all recommend. If you were going to pick a college/university (preferable east coast) to donate a horse to a dressage program, which one would you choose and why? Are there some schools who have a better reputation than others? Better riders? etc...
If you care about the horse, make sure you get in writing what will happen to the horse when it becomes unsound or no longer suitable for the program. Even then, the horse may come to an end that you did not foresee. Sure, people can't be expected to keep horses forever but if it were a horse I cared about, I'd like to know it would be put down humanely when no longer suitable rather than sent down the road again.
Definitely do what Crockpot said and get it in writing about what will happen when the horse is no longer suitable for the program.
Idk about East Coast, but the University of Findlay's dressage program has been skyrocketing lately. The quality of both horses and riders are excellent, and the instruction is second to none. They really do a great job of matching horses and riders capabilities. If you want to PM me about more details I'd be happy to give them, I attended for 4 years and doubled-up both H/J and Dressage for 2.
I am currently at UMass and will say not to donate to this school for many reasons. Mt Holyoke places extremely well, Dee Loveless is the current coach for the dressage team there. The horses are well taken care of but only get half day turnout. UConn horses were okay, they were not very fit when we showed there so I'm not sure how their current situation is. UVM has a team but I don't remember what that was like either. Post University teamed up with UConn to host the show, they might be worth looking into as well. Also coming to mind are Virginia Intermont (BEAUTIFUL barn, happy horses), Centenary, William Woods.. Maybe see the IDA website and check who is doing well.
It's a hard life to be a college lesson horse, though, so I think quality of life is the most important thing for you to look for. Call a bunch of schools and go visit as many as possible. I rode on the IDA team here my freshman year, and the most important questions I would ask are: How often the horses are worked, who does the barn care, who is ultimately responsible for their health and well being, who the coaches are, how often they are turned out, what tack is used, how often they will have to jump, and what happens when it's time to retire.
Having been privy to a conversation about this between two team coaches, I would say-just don't do it. The one coach was kind and thoughtful, the second would sell his first born for a buck. You may be dealing with a #1, they might leave, and be replaced by a #2.
Last edited by merrygoround; Mar. 4, 2013 at 09:38 AM.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.
I would say to steer clear of the UVM team. I've ridden a few 'cast offs' from them and they all end up lame and/or very, VERY sour. They rode one mare leased to them with bowed tendons (unsure how it happened) but when they FINALLY got the vet out at the insistence of other boarders and he confirmed that the mare was unsound, they chucked her back in her stall with no care because she was useless to them. I got the ride on her a year or so later, and her poor brain was so fried it was sad.
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If the dressage horses are housed/ridden in the on campus facilities we saw when my DSS toured UConn, I would not personally send a horse there. (Almost no bedding in the stalls, crummy footing, etc. I thought the horses there looked pretty rough.) Interestingly enough, I would send a COW there in a heartbeat - they looked MUCH better than the horses, had tons of nice turnout, and seemed to get great care.
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I went to Averett University in VA. I graduated in 2006 and they've done quite a bit in revamping the program with new staff. But when I was looking to lease one of my horses after I had my daughter, I offered him to them first.
The horses there, all things considered, live a pretty great life. I have only good things to say about the current director of the program and a couple of the others on the faculty staff. (A couple of them are new and I don't know them.)
The program has changed a bit since I was there, so it would be wise to visit and see for yourself. Course you'd want to do that for anywhere you want to send him.
I have my horse leased out to someone about two hours from me, and while I can check on him, I've still had issues. I don't know that I can say I'd prefer local to a school or school to local. It depends on the horse and the people involved.
If you do send him to a school, I think the best things you can do are to send him with a well fitting saddle to be used ONLY for him or go and 'assign' him a school saddle and be honest about his capabilities. Get any use, or non-use agreements in writing.
I don't know if it's the same now, but when I was there most of the horses were donated to the school. When they were no longer working for the program - lameness, sickness, age, etc., they were first offered to a student or teacher who wanted them. There was almost always a student who was in love with that horse for sentimental reasons and took it. I've seen lots of happy ex-lesson horses with former classmates.
I know of one who went with an instructor and showed at Prix St. George with her. Another, went and continued eventing at Novice/Training Level with a former student. I know others continued working well after being sold to students as well.
There were a handful of other horses who were leased to the school for a specified period of time. I can recall one really awesome horse we had for 3 years, who then went back to his owner.
As a third alternative, you could donate him, then require that he be offered back to you first when he was no longer suitable for the program. If you can take him, do it. If you are not in a place to do that, you can opt out.
Yes, there are beginner riders, and then there are some really good riders. Generally, the beginner riders are not allowed to ride without supervision. But they are all there with the intent to learn and get better. Also, keep in mind that yes, they may work 5-6 days a week when school is in. But they often get winter and summer breaks off, or with very light riding by a handful of students that stay on campus. Course, you want to ask lots of questions and judge for yourself, wherever you go.
Contact Peggy McEvelen at St. Andrews. It's located in Laurinburg NC. Wonderful program. Good kids that take care of the horses. Plus the facility is out of this world! You also retain owner rights as a donor, and have say in health matters. Good people, good school.
I was a student at Mt. Holyoke from 2001-2005 and kept my horse in their stables during the entirety of my studies. There were 60 stables and about half were schoolhorses, the other half boarders. Mostly students, but now and then staff horses -- either the barn manager's or a uni lecturer's. The horses were extremely well cared for and the riders on the dressage team (one of which was *not* me; even if I'd tried out, I was far too shight to get on the team, compared to the people who did) were extremely good. The downside is that the horses only get about two hours of turn-out per day due to lack of space and the barn is very busy. It's an intense barn. Lots of activity. The facilities, however, are top notch. Two indoors, a huge outdoor arena, a dressage arena, trails, and an XC course. Don't see myself ever getting facilities like that again. My horse thought (and probably still thinks to this day and wishes I'd never graduated) that this was the most amazing barn she had ever lived in, but others found it very stressful.
They had donor school horses come and go. As with anywhere, some horses loved being schoolies and did beautifully in the program while others became pretty stressed and neurotic by the whole different riders everyday thing. The college was pretty good about finding new homes/sending them back to donors if the horse wasn't happy in the program. As one of the above posters has said, students will be keen to rehome a schoolie they've fallen in love with. Several friend of mine acquired horses this way.
If you think your horse could handle the school horse lifestyle and the busyness of the barn, I'd recommend them.
Reading kmmoran's post, I guess Becky Schurink is no longer the coach/trainer there. She was very very good. Hope the new one is just as good.
As a current UMass IDA rider I would just like to say that our current Dressage coach is WONDERFUL. A very competent, knowledgeable horsewoman, as well as an excellent trainer. We are very lucky to be riding with Molly. She has a strong Pony Club background and teaches according to PC values. We are working very hard on building a strong team under her guidance. This past weekend we hosted a very successful IDA show. The horses all behaved beautifully and all the teams rode very well!
Currently the UMass equine program is going through a bit of a rough period. But hopefully a new system will be worked out and brighter things ahead.
Best of luck placing your horse! As an IDA rider I just wanted to say that we definitely love and appreciate every one! Without donations it would be very difficult to have enough suitable mounts!
Virginia Tech has a dressage program. Riders are good and coaches are excellent. Good care and LOTS of turnout. The horses are out overnight and over the weekends and out all summer too. Lots of land. Great farrier and vet work provided by the school too.
I would not do it. I taught riding at one of the elite women's colleges in New England and one of the reasons I left was the overuse of the horses. You may be donating a dressage horse but he/she will be worked in many many other classes with many many different riders. It was not unusually for our "dressage " horses to work 3 hours a day, 6 days a week for the entire semester.
I had a bad experience sending my horse to a school. It was a school I'd gone to on numerous occasions, ridden the horses, seen the care, etc. So I felt good about it.
Maybe 5 or 6 months later they called me and said that he wasn't working out, he was rearing and nobody could work with him. They gave me first right of refusal before they went looking for another home (which was nice of them). I took him back, he was skinny, and when I got back on him he had no issues whatsoever.
Either way, it wasn't the best experience. I don't know what went on down there, but obviously when they couldn't ride my horse, they stopped caring for him like they cared for the others.