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Rehoming the lame horse

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  • Rehoming the lame horse

    My 8 yr old TB is likely permanently lame. He's had a year and a half off, been to 3 different vets including Rood and Riddle with no definitive conclusions as to what exactly is wrong. Xrays of the hip don't look quite right. Xrays of the spine show something not quite right as well. But no real diagnosis or prognosis. It's been incredibly frustrating and expensive. We've done injections and rest and even tried light work all to the end result of no change. He's a super sweet horse and would be a great companion for someone and Rood and Riddle said he should be fine for light riding. I would like to try and rehome him, but I want to be sure he doesn't end up at an auction. What are some precautions I can take to help reduce that likelihood? I will require a right of first refusal contract, recommendations from vet and farrier, an anytime return policy if they can't or no longer want to care for him. Is there something else I can do to keep the dealers away and ensure my Max finds the right home?

  • #2
    no... because people lie.. google Fallon Blackwood . retire hm if you want to ensure his fate, Heck, even then that can blow up in your face if you don't see him every few days...


    • #3
      There really is no guarantee after he leaves your care. Peoples circumstances can change. Rather quickly in my experience. The best thing to do is to find a retirement board situation that you pay for or to euthanize. I do not believe homes for companion horses that are permanently lame exist. Horses cost too much to maintain, and a lame one costs just as much as a sound one.


      • #4
        I'd never let a lame horse out of my care. Way too much risk of a bad ending. And, don't want him, why do you think others will?

        Retire or euthanise. A kind end is not a bad thing in a case like this.


        • #5
          I was in your position, lovely gelding injured as a seven year old. After a year of rehab and treatment he was never going to improve. I explored various options but ultimately decided the safest course of action was to put to sleep. It is much better that I be sad than that he end up in some horrible situation. I will never in my life rehome an unsound horse. If I can't keep them, I will euthanize.
          Let me apologize in advance.


          • Original Poster

            To respond. I myself, had a companion horse years ago. She was never ridden. Our neighbors have a horse they never,ever ride. Max would also be great in a therapy program, calm, chill walking around with kids on his back. He'd love the attention

            I can think of many meaningful jobs for Max, but not for me as a working parent with limited time and a desire to compete.

            Honestly, he can keep standing in my pasture, but that seems like wasted time when there are useful things for him to do. Just as I would have no use for a cutting horse or a western pleasure horse or a saddlebred, it doesn't mean that those horses aren't useful at all.

            Would a long term, free lease be safer? It could renewed yearly. Has anyone done that?


            • #7
              If you don't love the horse enough to adjust your riding style to fill his unfortunately limited needs, then at least love him enough to put him to sleep.

              There is no shame in that. There is one hell of a lot of shame in re-homing a horse, losing track of it and finding out it met a fate worse than death.
              Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.


              • #8
                A free lease with a proper contract can work. I did it myself when I found my first horse to be unsuitable for dressage and suitable for jumping which I have no desire to do. But, he was useful, I kept my eye on him, and we had a solid contract.

                Possibly your best bet would be to try leasing him to a therapy program. But, be forewarned, horses that we think might be perfect therapy horses often don't see themselves fitting that job, but don't show that side until they are installed in the program. So, you might end up with your horse back a lot faster than a year.
                Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.


                • #9
                  Yes, it sounds like he still has some useful skills. I'd free lease him out within driving distance. Make a point of checking up on him once a month for the first few months to make sure it's going well. Then every few months.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you for sharing your experience Sascha. I was hoping someone had tried a long term lease. I have no problem with him being returned and would fully expect it once he's up in his teens. Anymore experiences positive or cautionary are appreciated.


                    • #11
                      I have my two on long term leases with friends but they are both sound.

                      Fwiw many therapy programs don't take unsound horses, old horses, and others still won't take tall horses (presuming he is over 16h). It really isn't a dumping ground for horses people don't want anymore, even if they are in many ways nice horses.
                      Let me apologize in advance.


                      • #12
                        Therapy programs are incredibly particular and turn away a lot of horses. It's unlikely that they would take your horse. You can always try.

                        I agree with others that there is nothing you can do to keep an at risk horse safe after it leaves your care. Even a lease is not secure. I know of a situation just recently where a leased horse ended up at auction very shortly after being leased. Contract or not, it's really easy for someone to lie and say they are keeping the horse with someone else, or that it died, when in fact they sent it to an auction to get a couple hundred bucks out of it. How on earth would you figure out what really happened? Go snooping around their husband's cousin's farm three counties over to prove that it isn't there? The auction/ slaughter pipeline is very anonymous, there won't be a searchable online trail or likely even any kind of paper trail. Contract or not, because these horses have low value ($0-500) there really isn't much recourse even if you can prove that someone took the horse to auction. What are you going to do, sue the person for the value of the horse?

                        A trained riding horse that can be used for lessons, trail riding, dressage or low level jumping has value and is a much safer bet for a lease or give away situation. There are very few legitimate pasture companion homes. And "should be fine for light riding" but unproven to be so, and probably not having a ton of training since he's 8, and being a TB which isn't a popular breed for "light riding" to begin with, well, all those factors work against him finding a good home. Frankly, there aren't a ton of "light riding" homes either because most people who are willing to make the financial commitment to own a horse picture themselves riding more frequently.

                        I agree with others that you should either keep the horse or euthanize.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by osurider View Post
                          I would like to try and rehome him, but I want to be sure he doesn't end up at an auction. What are some precautions I can take to help reduce that likelihood? I will require a right of first refusal contract, recommendations from vet and farrier, an anytime return policy if they can't or no longer want to care for him. Is there something else I can do to keep the dealers away and ensure my Max finds the right home?
                          Just know that such a contact is non-enforceable, because the seller can ask for whatever price they want .... even a ridiculous one. If you can't afford it, you've just declined to buy him back and they can now go sell him to whoever they want for whatever price.

                          If you do decide to sell him, know you have no control once he leaves your hands.

                          There are only two ways you can ensure that he won't end up at auction
                          1) Don't sell him. Keep him yourself .... or possibly lease him if the right person comes along.
                          2) Put him down.

                          There would be no shame in putting him down, if you are not in a position to keep him. You can then guarantee he will never be mis-used or mis-treated. There's no shame in that.

                          It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.


                          • #14
                            IIWM, & I had the ability to keep him at home, I would.

                            I am presently the owner of a decorative Hackney Pony - trained to drive, had a crash, which is how he came to me as a companion.
                            I have ground-driven him & believe he could be retrained, but he is Fast, I am Old & there is no way I will ever have the capability of hitching him w/o considerable help.
                            He has decorated my pasture since 2010 - now 1 of 3 < w/riding horse & Driving mini.

                            There is just no way to guarantee a soft landing, especially with a soundness issue that could deteriorate.
                            He might have some use left, but honestly any horse could care less if they never do more than laze around a familiar pasture.

                            You mention being a parent - does your kid(s?) have no interest in horses?
                            Max could be the Perfect Babysitter.
                            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by sascha View Post
                              If you don't love the horse enough to adjust your riding style to fill his unfortunately limited needs, then at least love him enough to put him to sleep.
                              I agree with everyone that OP needs to be super careful if she tries to rehome this horse, but I think this is unnecessarily judgmental. Also it sounds like OP is able and willing to keep him in her pasture, so why would she euthanize him at this point?

                              OP, does it seem like Max even cares whether he has a "meaningful job"? Most horses are happy as long as they have food, friends, and room to roam (as well as basic vet/farrier care obviously). If he seems happy where he is and you can afford to keep him as well as another riding horse for yourself, do that. You can keep an ear out for the exact right situation for him but I wouldn't count on it appearing. Companion homes do exist but they're few and far between, and you'd have to worry about him for the next 20+ years.
                              Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                              • #16
                                Everything posted above is consistent with my experience as well. Although there are no statistical data on how contracts with 'right of first refusal' or 'return home any time' clauses work out, the anecdotal data is that those clauses are seldom used. Owners who want to sell just ignore them; they also collect the sales money with little information on who bought. There is really nothing the previous owner can do about it.

                                My guess is that the question of how much the horse would be sold back for is part of the problem. I suspect that when the next owner wants to sell, they don't want to open the conversation with the previous owner and end up with all sorts of difficulties about the price. It's easier to just post an ad and move on.

                                Since it has been estimated that the average horse has about 7 owners in their lifetime, it has to be expected that any buyer will eventually want to sell the horse on.

                                Donation horses, to therapy programs, schools, university ag departments, lesson programs ... those are working homes, and what become of the horses when they can no longer work? Due to either age, or soundness at any age? These programs do not retire horses. Traditionally those horses go to auction, or even directly to a killbuyer, to help fund the next working horse to take their place. Those programs do not expect to be able to post an ad for a horse that is past work and find a buyer, and many of them make no effort along those lines. Few are the programs that have a pipeline to retirement homes.

                                There may be a perfect next lifetime home for your horse, where he won't end up a statistic. Someone nearby so you can check on him regularly. Someone you know well enough that at a future point you could go to them and say "It doesn't look as if Joey is doing well, please let me help or even take him back." Just put the word out and take as many years as it takes to let that home find him.

                                Since you can keep him comfortably until then, or for his life span, that is what I'd recommend. Don't worry about his life purpose, because he's not worrying about it. Decorating your pasture is purpose enough for any horse.

                                We humans have cracked ideas about our horses' purpose and destiny. That's in our heads, and the world isn't expecting anything at all. If they are grazing and living safely in a herd and pooping grass seeds coated in fertilizer, they are fulfilling the only destiny nature ever had in mind for them.

                                Horses are born into a terribly uncertain world, from their point of view. Very few have an owner who has a lifetime plan for them. I'm glad that people generally are more aware of this than maybe they were once.


                                • #17
                                  I just retired a 10 yr old gelding in Feb... tried finding him a companion home I could long term lease to, but being unrideable that didn't pan out... So I found a place I could afford with a friend to retire him to, where I can still afford to board a second when I find another riding horse. He will be 13 hrs away, but with someone I can trust.

                                  I move him this weekend... it is really hard regardless of what you chose. I have set stricter limits on what I would spend on him in case of emergency, but at least I know he is happy and healthy until it is time for things to change.
                                  RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


                                  • #18
                                    If the vet has cleared him for light work then by all means look into a lease option. I think since the market has so many sound horses out there people are trying to get rid of you will be hard pressed to find him an appropriate home. I say this because I am in the same position. pasture/ light riding homes are unicorns and even if they can take him now what about in 5 years if the person loses their farm? If you can keep him in your pasture that's what I would do. I do not have my own place and am having to say goodbye to my best friend granted he has much more definitive issues but it would be a very expensive retirement with stall board and daily hands on care.

                                    Keep him if you can but no one will ever judge you for euthanasia if that is the route you wish to pursue for his safety.
                                    when the world turns on you your horse will be there.


                                    • #19
                                      There is at least one therapy program in my area that takes unsound horses, and some of these do go into the regular working rotation. It depends on what the particular issue is and what he is allowed to do. These horses do not tend to be owned by the program, however. They are generally free leases to low cost boarding type scenarios, with appropriate contracts in place. But it all depends on the particular program. And in the one I am thinking of, the owners of these horses tend to be involved as well in some way. They go see the horses, perhaps they are responsible for vet care or special supplements or whatever (I'm not totally sure on these specifics).

                                      Keep in mind, however, that it's not exactly easy work being a therapy horse. I would not look to rehome as in transfer of ownership of a lame horse. I'm not sure all of them care about being useful. Some need something to do to stimulate their minds at least. But then, those are also probably not therapy horse candidates. The nice laid back types might really enjoy just hanging in your pasture....moreso than if they had a therapy job.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                                        We humans have cracked ideas about our horses' purpose and destiny. That's in our heads, and the world isn't expecting anything at all. If they are grazing and living safely in a herd and pooping grass seeds coated in fertilizer, they are fulfilling the only destiny nature ever had in mind for them.

                                        Horses are born into a terribly uncertain world, from their point of view. Very few have an owner who has a lifetime plan for them. I'm glad that people generally are more aware of this than maybe they were once.
                                        Beautifully put.