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No time to ride, don't want to sell: putting horse on sabatical for a year or two

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  • No time to ride, don't want to sell: putting horse on sabatical for a year or two

    I have a horse that I consider a 'once it a lifetime' horse and think he's just about the greatest thing...(of course, I might be slightly biased). But because of my career/life choices (i've described my circumstances on another thread if you're interested), I may not be able to ride much for the next year or two.

    I'm trying to weigh the pros/cons of giving him a 1-2 year vacation vs. selling him. Anyone else put a horse on "sabatical" for this amount of time? How difficult was it to bring the horse back into work afterwards? Did you have to start from scratch (i'm sure this is slightly different depending on the horse)?

    My situation is complicated by the fact that I don't have a place of my own. Not sure if there are any reputable/trustworthy places that would want an absentee boarder.

    Another option I've been considering is leasing. But I feel there's less probability of horse getting hurt hanging out in the pasture than being worked/evented. Plus, there is the whole legal aspect of leasing. What happens if the horse becomes permanently injured while being leased? Or, if the horse is injured and requires 6 months stall rest...who's responsible? and how do you enforce this if it happens? Who decides what type of vet care is required (everyone has a different opinion on what's required and best for horse) and who pays for it? What happens if horse injures rider?

  • #2
    As someone who is semi-seriously looking for a schoolmaster-type horse to lease, I can tell you that there are people out there who are very committed and experienced horse owners that might be able to give your horse a very good home for a year or two.

    Yes, a horse is possibly more likely to be injured if it's out being worked than it is standing around, but it's also more likely to be kept fit, watched over carefully, keep learning, gain experience and keep a good work ethic if it has a job.

    The way through all of the particular questions you have is a good lease contract. All of those things you listed are negotiable and can be put into a lease to your satisfaction. If you make the lease too restrictive, you won't find anyone to lease him. But then you'll have your answer--only send a horse to a lease situation that's comfortable to you. If there is no such situation, then leasing won't work for you.
    Click here before you buy.

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    • #3
      Since my guy has always hurt himself in the pasture, I opted to put him in a full lease, and so far it's been awesome. The girl who has him is getting to go farther then she'd planned on (qualified for both PC Nationals and the AECs in their first season together), and he's being kept in work and being taken care of beautifully. We have a very detailed lease contract, and they have full insurance coverage for him. He is my once in a lifetime horse, and it took some getting used to for me to have him be "someone else's" for two years, but it's so much better then seeing him standing around without a job...
      -Jessica

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      • #4
        I'm with deltawave. Standing in a field is not necessarily the "safest" option for body, mind or spirit. There are good people out there who are looking for good horses. The rub is in finding one another.

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        • #5
          As a horseless rider I know that I would jump at the chance to ride and help keep him somewhat fit in a rough-board situation. That way it's less expensive than full board but he's still being ridden.
          Forward momentum!

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          • #6
            How old is the horse?

            I gave my horse a year off when I busted my leg up skiing. He's quirky with trailering and tieing at shows and doesn't need any more training to do what I want to do. He came right back like we'd never stopped. That being said, if it was a young horse that could benefit from more work I would look into a lease with someone you trust. Have the horse insured for medical, surgical and loss of use as a part of the lease. Have everything in writing.

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            • #7
              I'm having to do the same thing with 2 of my horses... One is a going Int horse who was supposed to move up to Adv. this spring that would be a tough sell, although he's a packer XC and goes in a snaffle, he's not the typical ami or pro ride, so I'm sending him to a friend who has been lookin for an UL horse for a couple years since she lost her 4 years ago. I called her and offered her the ride and her she thought I was kidding. I trust her with my horses and know she's make the best decision for him. His little brother is coming 5 and although I've had him for sale, it breaks my heart because he WILL be an ADV. horse, like his brother and is even more nice. I convinced my husband to let him chill in a pasture for the winter and in the early spring I'll bring him to a barn near me so I can atleast have some play time. There's nothing wrong with letting a horse be a horse for a while, even if they aren't injured. Mine love having a few months to play wild horses, so I think a year or two will be just fine. Best of luck to you!
              Keep your feet on the ground, but always look to the stars!

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              • #8
                I actually think it depends on the horse.

                I had to do this with one horse while I focused my finances on another upper level guy that only had a certain amount of time left to run. It was the BEST thing for the younger horse, both mentally and physically. I don't feel like I lost anything by it, and he is SO much healthier now (but his body and mind needed that time off I think... not for every horse).

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                • #9
                  Well...I was once in close to your situation. I managed to easily ride through law school....even get my horse up through a CCI* and ready for Intermediate. It was when school was done and life hit me working in a large law firm that things got really hard. I didn't have time to keep him fit...and keep me fit....to compete at the higher levels. I sold him as a jumper.


                  I do regret it....but logically...it was the right decision at that time in my life. So just be careful...if you are thinking that you will just have no time for a year or two because of medical school. It may be longer than that....school ends and the real work begins. You may need to dial back your competitive riding for more than one or two years. I never stopped riding...but did change my focus to young horses. It has taken 10 years for me to progress in my career (made partner) enough for me to change my goals and aim once again to try and ride at the higher levles.

                  So think hard...you may be looking at more than just a year or two. Just something else to think about.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

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                  • #10
                    I am also in Professional School and have chosen to put my 16 y.o. mare out to pasture. I have had her since she was coming four and I have the good fortune to have parents with retired horses. Adding one more to the pasture was not a problem.

                    When I first went away to college we tried leasing her to a friend who rode with my trainer and it ended up being a headache. The "friend" tried to get out of the lease early and, even with the supervision of my trainer, rode the mare poorly and hardened her. We insisted that they pay for insurance as part of the lease fee to avoid the issues that you mentioned above regarding injuries. While nothing catastrophic took place, there were enough problems that the friendship didn't survive.

                    She got kicked out for a year or two and came back into work like she had never stopped. I have had many more fabulous years on MY once in a lifetime horse. At times I have toyed with selling her, leasing her, etc. but, after 12 years she is like a member of the family.

                    Turning her out recently has been great for me but I spent most of this past weekend getting her blankets, etc. in order for the winter so there are still time commitments. It is hard to know what kind of care a horse is getting when you aren't around so I suggest that you find someone that you already respect and trust and who has your same standards of care.

                    Those are my two cents. I think that no matter what you have to find a situation that allows you to sleep soundly and feel good about what your pal is up to. Neither option is categorically a bad idea but think all of the angles through before you jump in.

                    Best of luck.
                    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant

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                    • #11
                      I'm with everyone else in that it totally depends on the horse AND the age of the horse. I bought a second OTTB (5 year old) a couple of years ago and pretty much gave him the better part of 9 months off which in his case he desperately needed. He was then in steady work for a year, then I got pregnant. While I rode my other more seasoned horse until I was about 22 weeks along, I'm not doing it this time (younger, much taller horse, older me, and problems staying pregnant), so he's been out to pasture since the beginning of September. He is FURIOUS! He's been hell on wheels to handle, tries to bite, etc. He will be back in work soon (popped a giant splint which bought him some more time off, then my trainer was getting her own horse ready for a show) and I keep promising him to bide his time. Just FYI from what I've seen from my own two horses and time off.... For the first couple of weeks or so, they are happy and think that vacation is grand, then they start "asking questions". They get in your face and give you this look like, "WHY aren't you riding me?!!!!" Next comes the f*#k you stage where they pin their ears at you/ try to bite/ are generally obnoxious. After that, they get over it and just go on about being a horse. Good luck whatever your decision may be!

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                      • #12
                        I'm in the same boat more or less. My 15 yo TB got most of last winter and spring off, pastured. He was bored and a real PITA: he was never violently pushy but he was a nuisance to his pasture-mates and pushy on the ground. Once he went back to work, he was a good boy. He doesn't feel ready to retire but I don't have the time to really get him going to where he is really happy.

                        I feel for you because of time constraints and real world careers coming between you and the perfect horse. I REALLY don't want to sell but decisions I made as a working student have caught up with me, and I've got to pay up (darn Event Entries.com and paying entries with a credit card...). Hard decisions to make, and not looking forward to really making them. Good luck.
                        Leap, and the net will appear

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