Thoughts on how to get the mojo back? Or is it just time to take a break?
I think it's time to quit riding. There, I said it. It's scary looking at the words on the screen...
Remember my dead mouthed horse? He's done. Sustained several major injuries in what we think was a paddock accident and vets gave him a very poor prognosis of returning to full soundness.
Prior to getting this news, it was one bill after another with him. Several freak accidents that required emergency vet visits, as well as a series of vet visits to chase lameness issues, scoping and treating for ulcers, and then finally receiving the bad news that he will likely not be sound for a riding career. All in all I probably spent over 5k in 6 months. and rode for less than half that time.
I have since given the horse away to be a companion and have slowly begun shopping for a new partner. My budget is small (10-12k or less) and I have only 2 stipulations: Horse must be over 16.2 due to my height and it MUST be quiet and amateur friendly. I have found nothing that suits. Either it's a green broke young horse, or a much older horse needing some maintenance. I wanted something younger, maybe 7 or 8, so that if I need to sell it later on I will be able to.
I'm getting tired of chasing dead ends, of going to see misrepresented horses, and riding "quiet" and "schooled" horses that are quite honestly frightening to me. I have had a lot of changes in my personal life recently with my career and my family life, and I'm questioning if maybe it's time to just call it a day with the horses. I'm an amateur rider on a small budget with the time to ride maybe 4x per week, if I really push for it. I would love to show, but for the past several years life circumstances have always gotten in the way and the show budget is the first thing to be axed.
I miss riding, but the thought of continuing to horse shop is exhausting, and dealing with rude and pushy sellers is getting really tiresome. I just want a nice fun, quiet horse that I can enjoy schooling, and hack around on. I don't want to start another young horse, nor do I want to put my whole paycheque into the maintenance of an older horse.
None of my horse friends really understand, they think that I just need to buy something and get started, and unfortunately, I don't play in the same financial park as they do so it makes things a little difficult on both sides. I just needed to get this out and get some closure I think. Thanks for reading.
I think you might be putting yourself in a corner with that budget AND the 16.2 height stipulation...how tall are you? I am 5'11'' and ALL leg, and even though it isn't ideal, I can comfortably ride something that is 15.2, if it has well sprung ribs to take up my leg.
I think if you were willing to look at some smaller horses (esp little warmbloods, or baroque types), you might find something that would be what you want in your price range.
There is a sharp price increase when you go above 16 hands, and then another jump up when you go over 16.2...
I definitely empathize with the height thing, but it is worth looking a little shorter if they are biggish bodied horses because that inch or two difference may not be as big as you think and could really open up your budget range.
If you want to take a break, or stop riding, do it. If you then find that you miss it, you can always start back with lessons, perhaps in a new discipline to do something different.
There's no need to buy a new horse if you just aren't feeling it. I can't blame you for being a little burnt out after the rough time you've been through recently, both with your last horse and the current horse-shopping mess.
What you're looking for is truly difficult to find, as my trainer has had to shop for approximately the same horse 5 times over (bigger, amateur-friendly, at least decently capable of dressage), and *almost* every time the budget was nearly tripled in the end. That said, there ARE horses out there, but it's tough to find them. So I can imagine how tough of a time you're having in your search.
Whatever you do, I wish you the best. Do what makes you happy! Life is too short to not be happy.
Boy, we sound like twins. I went through something very, very similar last year.
Like you, I'm an amateur on a budget... last year I had to come to the realization that my gelding that I was working on 3rd level with was not going to make it any further, and needed to either be rehomed to a lower level home or retired. (which in itself is hard, because its very hard to afford two horses boarding!)
It was beyond depressing - vet bills, the stress of worrying about him (still do) and wondering what to do next... and realizing I couldn't afford anything to replace him (I actually had a budget of 5k so quite insignificant in the scheme of things). So I faced the issue of giving up riding...
Ultimately, I spent a few months whining to myself, when I realized how important having horses in my life was - they are my therapy, my hobby and I'm a better person with them in my life. So I knew, for me, it wasn't the best decision to let them go.
Like you, I'm also tall, and do not feel comfortable on anything less then around 16.1hh and bigger bodied, so that was paramount to me... and people can say all they want that you can comfortably ride a smaller horse, and you absolutely can, - but unless YOU are comfortable on the size, don't give in. You need to feel like the size is a good fit.
I knew I also wanted something that was friendly and kind, but also hopefully had the potential to move me up the levels again (a hard order to fill with 5k budget)
Anyways, I ultimately ended up getting a young 2 year old... because I wouldn't have had a prayer's chance of getting the same horse as a 4 year old...and it seemed that even mediocre horses were well over 10k at that point.
I found my guy by chance, and the breeder was fantastic and worked with me once I explained my situation, and I couldn't be any happier with my new guy. I would buy him again in an instant and I truthfully have very high hopes that he'll be all i want. He's young, and I'm sure we will have some bumps in the road, but the caliber of horse that he is would not have been even remotely affordable to me had he been a started 4 year old...
So keep your eyes open, and be willing to look at something that you may not have before. Good horses for reasonable prices are out there. Also, don't be afraid to give yourself some breathing room. The right horse WILL come along. It just may not be tomorrow
Best of luck
In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.
Don't give up. I almost did, but I knew if I did, I wouldn't get back into horses. I had heartbreaking horror happen to me and didn't want to ride. Horses do so much for your life.
I agree with the height thing. I have very long legs and am tallish and always end up with smaller horses. Some smaller horses have bigger barrels, so fit fine. Also, you're looking in the wrong way. I know a LOT of people don't train horses properly, as in you can't hit the trails, open a gate, or do anything with them. You SHOULD be able to do that on any "trained" horse. Look in new areas where you may find more what you're looking for. Eventers are great people for this. They tend to DO things with their horses and train them. Look for a horse that may not be advertised for what you think you want to do, but has this basic training and set up to be sound--in pasture, barefoot, treated like a horse instead of a wallflower so he/she will be strong.
Also, 7 or 8 doesn't mean better. A younger horse with soundness issues is a lifetime of bills. A mid teens horse who's been sound his whole life should give you another ten years of soundness.
Keep looking. I don't sell horses hardly ever, but I sold this one last year. He was a great bargain because no one was buying horses for years. There are still lots of horses out there like this. I would think for $5-10 K, you can get something super.
Take a break from horse ownership, at least. When my horse died, I had a two year break from horse ownership. I also considered quitting. My horse's death, and the situation surrounding it, was disturbing, and really made me bitter about horses/the horse world.
I still took lessons in that two years, and I loved the financial freedom! When I was ready for another horse, I was really ready and approached the task with a good outlook. I'm glad I didn't buy right away--I wasn't in a good place and would have made a poor choice, I think.
You can take a break from owning a horse and still ride.
It's okay to take a vacation from horse ownership. I did that - I went all the way to GP competition and at 26 decided I was done. I was fed up with the politics, the bump and grind, the $$ required, and mentally I wasn't into all the travel and showing any more, the $$ required, the endless hours of training at the gym or running or in the saddle... and oh, did I mention the $$ required? By that time, I'd been seriously training and competing already since the age of 12 and had done my first GP at 19. I had enough years into it. And I. Was. Done. So, I sold the GP horse, gave away my old horse (my very first horse) to a family for a pet. Packed up the saddle and bridle, gear, grooming stuff, bits and accessories in a large trunk, threw my ribbons and medals in a box, and put it all into storage. And walked away from horses and the horse world. And I stayed done for 6 years. Didn't get on a horse, didn't ride a horse, didn't own a horse. Didn't watch anything with horses on TV or attend shows as a spectator. Literally walked away. I did other things and had a life and ... whats the word... oh yea... FREEDOM. This coming from someone who had 4 generations of horse riders and breeders in the family both here and the "old country". Horses were literally flowing in my veins. But I was finished. At that time anyway.
Then there was a stirring. I bought a young Hanoverian stallion who was going to be a project, but by that time, I felt fresh enough to take him on. I wasn't even looking for a horse to buy. He just sorta fell into my lap. He was a good minded horse with a pleasant personality who had a lot of talent for hunter/jumper, fair enough for dressage. After a while, decided I would prefer him as a gelding so we did that. Then we settled into a 1-horse life. Then, the life circumstances changed for the family I gave my old horse to and I got him back - he remembered me when I came to pick him up and put his head on my shoulder, which made me cry because it was then I realized how much I had missed him! So, we had a few more years together and I finally put him down at age 34 when the last of his teeth fell out. It was a really good long friendship and the kind of thing I needed. When I had to put my Hanoverian "The Boy" down 3 years ago, I hung up my stirrups again for a while - thought maybe I had a replacement in a colt but then he broke his leg so I'm still waiting for The Boy's replacement. That being said, I currently have 7 mares out my back door here, 4 of whom are in foal. I have health issues now, am not nearly fit enough to ride like I had in the past. Things have changed, both with my body (severe spine and hip arthritis) and in other areas. I've discovered I really like training the newborn babies! It's a joy I've never had with anything else with horses before. It's really my forte and I Love It (and them). I may or may not ever get in the saddle again and it just might be what the doctor ordered (for me).
So, long and short. It's okay to be done. Whether permanently or temporarily.
If you're not fully convinced you're done - have you considered a lease? Or a partial lease?
I agree on the height thing, my trainer is 6' and all leg and fits my 15.3H chunky gelding just fine. I wish people would consider smaller horses, mine is for sale and I've had virtually no interest, even though he's a cute, fun, quiet lower level horse and is cheap!
It sounds like maybe you should just ride other horses or half lease for a while and take a break from ownership until the emotional and financial trauma wears off a bit. Hugs!
PSJ, agreed...I think that little window between 16 and 16.2 has lots of nice horses in it. Cheaper too...looking outside the box is a good idea, I was just on Sport Horse Nation and there's a nice looking 16.1h 10 year old TB gelding that has done straight dressage and events, advertised as a "packer" mentality for $5K! Might be worth a look...
Take six months off from riding. Add the 4000 you will save NOT owning a horse and add it to your budget. Remember, buying the horse is probably the smallest expense - better to save up and have more to look at.
I agree with taking a vacation from horses for a while, at least maybe the shopping part. Either a cold turkey hiatus, or a lessons-only break, or maybe a 1/2 or 1/4 lease? If you go cold turkey and perhaps catchride friends' horses from time to time, you can save lots more dough for the new beast. Or a downpayment on a farmette, sailboat, whatever you desire.
You could try taking a break for a while. You could also try taking lessons in a drastically different discipline to rediscover your love of horses. Sometimes when I just CANNOT with dressage anymore, I go take some jumping lessons, but there are lots of other disciplines to try. Or like go trail riding or just let yourself focus on the joy of being around horses, sans-pressure.
Personally, I regret the times I got frustrated and quit and wish I'd found it in me to just keep a toe in via lessons or something, while still getting some emotional distance. But everyone is different and there is no rule with riding saying you can't back away for a while and then come back when you're ready. Fortunately it's not like gymnastics where the window closes at a certain age!!
Anyone near you with extra horses that would be happy to let you come ride? I have too many and am always looking for people who can ride but are horseless. There's a thread here somewhere that serves just that purpose. The answer isn't always ownership. Find a way to ride without the hassles and see how you feel after some time has gone by.
My biggest worry in all of this is that I will just never have the time to do the riding thing again... I'm still pretty young, and I have the time to put in, as opposed to my friends that are married or have children and can barely find time to shower, let alone ride. I'm also afraid that for one reason or another I will just never get back into it. Most of my friends are in pretty heavy competitive programs or ride different disciplines so being able to ride their horses isn't really an option, and if I have nothing to ride, it's just so easy to let time slip by and forget about it. I haven't sat on a horse since mine went lame in early February, and the weeks have gone by so fast...Before I knew it, a month had gone by and I hadn't been at the barn longer than 10 minutes to slap a brush over him, change blankets, or drop off cheques.
I'm also pretty tall at 6' and a bit, and have super long legs. I tend to dwarf most horses unless they're a super thick build. My last 2 were 16.2 and a big 16.3, and I still looked large on both for some odd reason. I'm a "thicker" build myself, not a lovely willowy tall person so I think I look best on a larger horse.
I wish there was a magic solution, or a crystal ball that could tell me what to do. I'm at such a precarious point as a rider because I'm still newer to dressage and learning the fundamentals - it's all slipping away the longer I'm off the horse. I feel like time off will kill the progress I've made, but then again, buying now may just be a band aid solution.
Sigh. Thanks for the input everyone, it's appreciated
I'm not as tall as you are, however, I've had good luck negotiating price on big horses, like 17 hands and taller. Those shorter, willowly ladies look great on horses around 16 hands, but in my age group, few are interested and able to ride a really big horse.
The first big boy I bought was 17.2. He'd been for sale for awhile and many smaller and shorter ladies had tried him, but just didn't want to deal with the size. We were a perfect fit.
Look for a lease; date, don't marry :-) while you look for the right horse. Or spend time with a trainer riding lesson horses. You might be able to try a variety of types of horses which will help you narrow down what you really want when you're ready to buy. You can also save money during this time to make the search a little easier, though your stated budget isn't too bad now IMO.
I feel for you OP. Shopping for horses is exhausting emotionally and physically. I think it's normal to feel like quitting the search, but please don't. Keep your eyes and heart open and you never know what horse will find you
I'm not sure where you are, but if you are west of the Mississippi, I'd try looking at ranch horses.
Granted, you won't find many over 16.2, but they tend to be built BIG. My husband's horse is 15.3 minus, and takes every bit of my leggy 6'3" husband's legs beautifully.
Many ranch horses sell at 6 or so as 'finished', and have been there and roped that by then. You may have to start some things over (like, go back to a snaffle and get a nice bend back) but these horses tend to have good, quiet temperaments and have done plenty of outside work.
With a budget of 10 to 12K you will be looking at a lot of really NICE ranch horses.
A 16 hand ranch horse will probably be more than enough for your legs, if you 'take a size 16.3 in a TB/Warmblood cross'
OP, Maybe you need a break... Nothing wrong with that. It could give you some perspective and help you decide if you really want another horse. You also might quickly decide you do want another horse... In which case, be patient and I bet you will find what you are looking for - it just might take a bit of time. I found a lovely warmblood gelding on CL of all places that meets all of your criteria but is a bit older (with no soundness or maintenance issues though) and he was half of what your budget is. He and I will be making our PSG debut in June. Looking can be extremely frustrating when you have a limited budget but there are definitely deals out there. If you decide you do want to continue riding just give it time, the right one will come along.