I'm going off to college in the fall and am in the process of figuring out what to do with my mare.
My trainer has brough up the idea of having her move to trainer's new barn to be in the show team's lesson program. The barn would cover all board/farrier/basic vet costs in exchange for using her in lessons 4-5x per week once per day not jumping over 2'3-2'6 OR showing one weekend day and always supervised by my current trainer who I trust highly and have been riding with for over 4 years. I bought this mare with her about 3 years ago and have been riding with ever since, so she knows the horse and I am sure she would be in fine hands. However, said horse has never been in a lesson program before and has always had just 1-2 regular riders. She is a very sweet horse, but I have a few fears about this situation. First, is it reasonable to ask a horse to lesson 5 days per week? I've never lessoned her more than 2-3 days per week and right now it's just once a week. Secondly, they will not insure them so I would have to continue paying the insurance and any maintainance she will need in the future. (nothing right now, but she's 9).
They have kindly offered to let me take her back in the summers and over breaks which is very generous of them and would love to be able to have something to ride when I come home.
What do you all think? Am I better off just selling? She is a high quality show horse that I am sure would make a great addition to their show team.
So, basically this is a free lease to your trainer. IMO, 5 lessons a week (where I assume at least 3 of those lessons are jumping lessons) seems like a lot of workload, particularly when it is with different riders. So the lessons are not for the horse, it's for the rider, which usually means they are longer, they jump more, etc. Additionally, you are running the risk of so many riders creating bad habits in your horse-stopping or otherwise, depending on the ability of these riders.
This is a significant increase in her workload and while I can appreciate them taking over the bills, I would expect anyone taking my horse on free lease to insure them, especially given the nature of the workload you are describing. 2'-3" to 2'-6" is not high fences, however there was a thread not too long ago on here talking about what is too much jumping per week. And if you are looking at 3-5 jumping lessons a week, it doesn't matter how low the jumps are, that is still a good amount of pounding on your mare.
In my opinion you are better off selling your mare. And by better off I mean less inherent risk on you, and probably less stress on the animal.
Id probably sell her and I totally understand how crappy that sounds to you because my parents sold my horse right before I left for school but, honestly, you will most likely be in a completely different place in 4 years and may not be interested/able to have a horse. You never know what will happen. There will be other awesome horses in the future. I know, in hindsight of course, that selling my horse was the best decision.
I agree with silanac. If you don't want to sell, can you think of any younger rider you like that you would feel comfortable free leasing her to? I know of a few of these leases that run specifically for the school year and others that go year round. They have worked out well for these college students who did not want to sell.
I don't know about the workload. However, I was struck that they'd "let" you use your own horse on your breaks. It is your horse and your contract should be very clear about that. They are getting a fantastic deal here, I think they should be paying insurance.
Actually I think *both* the trainer and the OP are getting good deals under this scenario. How many other free leases would want you to take the horse back in the summer -- prime riding and showing time? The OP gets to keep the horse, and not have any expenses during the school year. Sounds like win-win to me.
However, if you plan on selling the horse one day anyway, might as well sell now. If you really don't want to sell then I think this is a nice solution. Only the OP knows how she feels about selling.
My gut says don't do it. They aren't going to pay for insurance or any necessary maintenance in the future (such as injections), and he's likely going to jump 5-6 days/week. That's a lot of wear & tear and corresponding risk for you with the only reward being the ability to ride over the summer when you're home. Also, as another poster mentioned, you don't know where you'll be in life when you graduate and whether you'll have the time and money to supports horse after graduation. Your mare is most likely worth more now, as a 9 year old, then she'll be worth 4 years down the road with several different riders potentially allowing her to learn bad habits.
So my advice is to sell now or do as others have suggested and look for a leasee to take over the horse's expenses who will have more vested interest in keeping your mare going well than a string of (even good) lesson kids.
I know it is a hard decision to make, but based on what you've written, I'd seriously consider selling your mare. As someone else pointed out, right now she's at a sweet spot, age wise. Nine year old quality show horses sell for a LOT more than 13 year old school horses... especially when you consider the type of mileage she is going to get in the program you describe, where it sounds to me like she is going to be dealing with a lot of people who are just learning to jump around a 2'6" course. Those folks (very understandably) make a lot of mistakes. Some horses don't care and others won't take that many jokes, but even if your mare *can* deal with it, it seems very unlikely to me that she'd benefit from the experience.
I had to sell my horse when I went to college, so I know firsthand that it is a difficult thing to do. However, in hindsight it was absolutely the correct decision for me, and when I graduated, I was very pleased to have that money set aside to get another horse to ride and enjoy... kind of a graduation present to myself!
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
To me the situation has a hint of you being taken advantage of. Your mare is prime age to sell for top of what she is worth. Her value could decrease with that kind of wear in a lesson program and a multitude of riders who could potentially teach your mare bad habits. Also, with the amount of lessons and showing they are subjecting her to, I would be insulted that they wouldn't insure her-they have no responsibility whatsoever of the condition of your horse that way. It could open a up a whole can of worms if an injury occurs on their watch. And essentially it means you are paying for them to use your horse and risk injury to her. Seems ludicrous to me.
In my experience when i was in college, at first it sounded like a perfect situation to have a horse to come home to ride and show. In reality, breaks got spent either taking summer classses or vacationing with friends-showing and horses took a bit of a back seat until i graduated. Just something to think about. Really look realistically at your school load, travel distance from college to home, etc. everyone's situation is different but for me at school out of state and in a tough academic program, riding consistently on breaks didn't happen.
I totally agree with Lucassb and silanac. It is, of course, very hard to sell a cherished horse. But she would go to a home with her "own" person. You would not have the risk, have a little money in the bank, and you could continue to watch her show career.
I sold my mare when it was time to go to college and kept all my tack. Afterall a bridle is really still a bridle. I did the college bit. Got married to a wonderful man and 10 years after college bought another horse. Now-it is seveal years beyond that! But when its in our blood it stays there.
@silanac - everyone is different, while some people might enjoy a break from riding and get involved in other things, others enjoy continuing to ride however they can. My DD has had no horse of her own since she left for school but has been lucky enough to have found steady rides over summer and breaks, as it is still very important to her. This will be the first summer we have nothing set up and believe me - she is very anxious about it - LOL!
When DD went to college the mare just ended up with a vacation. When my daughter was home for a weekend she would ride otherwise I went out a couple times a week to groom and spoil her. The mare didn't mind at all. LOL
Not a hunter rider but to me this sounds like a great deal. You still get to keep the mare, she stays in shape, you can ride her when you come home on breaks and you don't have to pay her expenses. And as far as too much work- 5 lessons is what like an hour a day? That's hardly anything.
I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time -Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine If I were your appendages, I'd hold open your eyes so you would see- Incubus
@ponymom-i said 'everyone is different'. simply shared my experience, and what many of my friends found to be the experience. all i suggested was she look realistically at her schedule and what is feasible.
I wouldn't do it. It is just too much out of your control. Too many different riders with different cues going every day. You most likely will not get the exact same horse back. You never know how often she will get ridden. Lesson programs always have times when horse "a" can't be ridden, so yours may get double duty. I just wouldn't trust it even with everyone's best intentions. I think if you don't want to sell it will be much easier to find a free lease situation where you can carefully "vet" out the potential leasee. Find someone who will love the horse like you do. Good luck!
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
¯ Oscar Wilde
I understand you trust your trainer to the moon and back and thats great but things have a way of happening and 4 years from now, your mare might not even be sound so Id sell her now while she is in her prime and someone else can enjoy her and have her as their own.
I would say a lot of it depends on how you feel about selling. If you don't really want to sell and feel like you will want to show on breaks and during the summer then I would say you potentially have a decent solution.
I have read through other responses and I think I took what you were saying a little differently. My understanding if it is a competition team that these people already know how to ride is this correct? Also, her workload would be ridden on the flat 5 days a week with 4 of those days spent jumping? If so I wouldn't think this would be too much for her. Now, as far as her getting "messed up" or "learning bad habits" I would think as a trainer you trust she wouldn't allow that to happen to your mare but that is all about your trust in her. Also, having to pay for her insurance doesn't bother me at all.
I don't think it is a horrible solution if the above is how it would work. It would also be interesting to know if on the competition team if she wouldn't end up being ridden consistently by just a few individuals. Good luck!
I would consider a free lease to a trusted rider (who will insure) or selling. I don't think the lesson horse route a BAD deal for your horse, but the lack of insurance, wear and tear, and multiple riders creates so many undue risks. Some horses just are not cut out for a lesson program and it can really leave them fried.
Another option... Does your school have an equestrian team? Sometimes students get good deals on board. And you could probably half-lease her to another student. Worth looking into, if you are interested at all.
First off, I feel your pain. We started marketing my mare for sale when I left for college, and when she finally sold in Feb my freshman year I think I cried in my dorm for a solid 24hours. That said, it was the best decision. For the first semester of school I was commuting two hours home three times a week to ride and paying for "trainer rides" (turns out none were actually happening) three days a week. On days when I couldn't go home for either school or social reasons I felt horribly guilty. When she sold, it was sad but I felt a huge weight lift off of me. College is hard and scary and fun and crazy. Constantly worrying about my horse and what care she was getting was not adding positively to my college experience.
Now that I've told you my story, where are you going to school? Some schools have school owned barns where students get SIGNIFICANTLY discounted board, and even more of a discount if you allow your horse to occasionally be used by the IHSA team for lessons and shows. I guarantee there are several competent horseless riders at your school who could help share the riding commitment. Joining IHSA (if your school has it) is a great option whether you sell your horse or not. If you do sell or leave her at home, its a great way to stay involved with horses and showing, and to meet other horsey friends. If you take her with you, you can continue to ride her and possibly donate her for IHSA shows (in which case you have a chance of drawing your own horse, score!). There might even be barns in the area willing to offer you a similar situation as your trainer, but with the ability for you to be a little more involved.
I guess the point of all this is that you need to examine all your options honestly, specifically keeping in mind that there are other options than what your trainer has suggested. Selling may end up being the best way to go, but a wise fellow COTHer always tells me, "horses come to you when you need them," and I've found this to be absolutely true.