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What to do with the horse who needs to step down

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  • What to do with the horse who needs to step down

    Looking for input....
    My heart horse is needing to step down... he had splint surgery last year that caused a lot of scar tissue which continues to aggravate his suspensory so it’s always slightly inflamed. He’s “serviceably sound” ... comes out stiff but works out of it and then looks pretty good! He gets iced daily, wrapped every night, lives on Previcox (I.e high maintenance).

    Hes not going to go back to his old job of doing the low AO jumpers, and I’m not sure he’d hold up even doing the 1.00... and this is where I’m stuck.

    What do I do with the horse who needs a low level job? The horse who can flat all day long but his jumping days are limited and need to likely be kept at under 3ft (ideally 2’6). Hes quiet but has to stay in a program... so he’s not an ideal lesson horse, but when kept in a program anyone can ride him!

    I cant possibly sell him, Maybe a cheap lease? But it’d have to be to such the perfect situation! I contemplated just retiring him, but he’s only 13! And vet has said if he doesn’t stay in work he’ll NEVER come back - the scar tissue will just build up worse.... so turning him out for 6mo-year isn’t going to help the issue. And he LOVES having a job and a person!

    Im so torn on what to do or where to turn to.

    He knows when you're happy, He knows when you're comfortable, He knows when you're confident, And he ALWAYS knows when you have carrots

  • #2
    Lots of adult returning riders would love a well broke horse to mostly flat and maybe get up their nerve to do crosspoles once in a while in a lesson.


    • #3
      I think he's a good prospect for a free lease to an adult or a kid who is moving up out of a lesson program. Because you need him in work right now, but light work, you might even consider offering him at a half lease rate or less to a rider who can be reliable but doesn't have a lot of money.

      At the end of a year, you'll know more about his soundness and what job he needs, and maybe can place him in a situation that's more financially self-sufficient.

      If your trainer doesn't have riders like this, I'd scout someone with a lesson program and see if they have any riders who are at the top end of their program who might be looking to try a lease.
      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


      • #4
        Look into leasing him to a college program with a dressage team. He wouldn't have to jump, he'd get consistent work, and he'd teach a ton of riders how to do correct flat work. Many schools also have programs that need lower level jump masters, so maybe somewhere with a good dressage program and a good hunt seat program.


        • #5
          I would echo those recommending a lease or part lease scenario. I myself would LOVE a scenario where I could do the 0.8-0.9 jumpers on a horse like him 2 or 3 times a year, with the majority of the time working on the flat and doing 2’-2’6 in lessons for a good deal. It is SO hard to find a nice well schooled horse who needs to step down but isn’t still at the 3’+ price tag! And, for the right fit, even a free lease sounds like it would benefit both parties - save you money on his board and maintenance, and give the right rider the deal of a lifetime in exchange for taking good care of (and having fun with!) your guy.

          You could also find a lease scenario for a child moving up or one who wants to try his or her hand at jumpers and isn’t quite ready for the low Child/adult. Many former 1.20 horses in my neck of the woods now do the 2’6 job for their kids in a good program with no expectation to ever need to do 3’. If you look around and shop for the right match, you could find him a great job with a kid (or adult!!!) who would love to have him and treat him well, and keep him in the work he needs!


          • Original Poster

            Thanks all! I’m going to talk with my trainer tomorrow, hopefully I can find something for him in my barn or with someone I know/can trust. My biggest fear is he won’t get the care he deserves or someone will take short cuts and not keep up with his routine, but hopefully a perfect situation like those mentioned comes up!
            He knows when you're happy, He knows when you're comfortable, He knows when you're confident, And he ALWAYS knows when you have carrots


            • #7
              Originally posted by hunterrider33 View Post
              Thanks all! I’m going to talk with my trainer tomorrow, hopefully I can find something for him in my barn or with someone I know/can trust. My biggest fear is he won’t get the care he deserves or someone will take short cuts and not keep up with his routine, but hopefully a perfect situation like those mentioned comes up!
              Consider posting him online on some facebook groups as well as any local classifieds page for an in barn lease!

              I say this because there are so many adult ammies out there who aren't currently riding, or who are doing an occasional lesson but aren't really tied to a specific barn or trainer. I was (am) one of those. If you limit yourself to someone only currently in your barn, you may not find someone or miss out on a really good situation.

              For example, I've been in my area for a few years but haven't had the money to really commit to riding. The closest barns to me are either just boarding barns or up down lesson barns which aren't a good fit. I did the big eq and even taught lessons, and rode training horses in college, so lesson barns just aren't my thing. I finally checked the local classifieds and found a partial lease, at a boarding barn, for a 23 year old, retired from showing, small junior hunter. I pay $300 a month for three rides a week, and am thrilled to be getting saddle time on a nice horse! I keep him fit for the owner, and I can have fun and it's within my means. If the owner hadn't posted online, we never would have found each other.

              There are plenty of adult ammies out there, not connected to a barn, who would love to casually ride your horse and chip in on expenses. Just have to put it out there!


              • #8
                I would start by advertising him as an "in-barn" lease. There's plenty of horses who are advertised this way, and there's plenty of riders open to a barn change (if there isn't an interested rider already in-barn) for the perfect horse situation.

                There's enough riding on his specific routine that I would really try for an in-barn lease before looking out. And if you needed him to go out of your barn, I'd talk with some reputable professionals I or my trainer knows personally and whom you trust to truly oversee his routine.

                I would not send him to an unknown barn with an unknown rider. It's not that that there aren't great independent amateurs out there (and you very well could find one), but this is one of the few cases where I think it's important to have a program and trainer oversight as some insurance that his system will truly be followed. If his program and consistent work is what will keep him sound (and he's only 13), it's imperative that you can guarantee someone is going to follow that. I'd even write in some scary language to that lease to make sure it's taken seriously.

                Frequently, buyers or potential lessees are a whole lot like people on first dates , with lots of empty promises or assurances given in hopes of landing the deal.

                But he sounds like an incredibly useful and desirable horse. I know of many kids moving up or adults who want a horse just like this - a schoolmaster type that's only available to them because he's stepping down. They get the real horse feel over small jumps and learn the flatwork side. Honestly, from a teaching perspective, he is the ideal horse to have in a barn...and if you have a very trusted pro contact, could be incredibly useful in the *right* lesson program. I had a few like this in my lesson string, and they were more than worth their maintenance. The flatwork was so beneficial to the riders that with smart scheduling, you could always plug them into a lesson. What rider doesn't need a flatwork or pole day? And for those 1-2 lessons a week for small jumping, those riders got a lot of great experience on a nice horse. (Note this has to be the *right* lesson program - IE, not a program where each horse has to go twice a day to earn their keep).
                Jennifer Baas
                It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)


                • #9
                  Take up dressage, you might both enjoy it!
                  "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


                  • #10
                    I second a dressage career Find a lessee who is interested in dressage. You might not be able to insist on an "inbarn " lease though since most H/J barns insist on cluttering their arenas with all that lumber. Not conducive to dressage.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                    • #11
                      Try your local Pony Club. A fair number of the mounts used by our kids (all ages up to 25 I think?) fit your horse's description. The PC members are supervised and there is as much emphasis on husbandry and horsemanship as riding.

                      Plus he'll have his own kid to love on him as opposed to a rotation of riders. You may find a good fit there.
                      One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                      William Shakespeare


                      • #12
                        He will be a valuable lease. I lease just such a horse and pay a decent amount to have a safe, serviceable low adult horse.


                        • #13
                          where are you located?


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by KingRocker4Life View Post
                            where are you located?
                            He knows when you're happy, He knows when you're comfortable, He knows when you're confident, And he ALWAYS knows when you have carrots


                            • #15
                              Would you be willing to ship to a barn in nh for a lease? Also, can you post a video and photos of the horse you are referring to?


                              • #16
                                There are several people in my current barn who would fight over such a horse, and I doubt we're unique, though we do have a high percentage of amateurs. A friend not in my current barn is on the hunt for a horse to ride on the flat, do some county-level shows, and maybe hop over the occasional cross rail. So there are definitely people out there.
                                The Evil Chem Prof


                                • #17
                                  I bought one in June! Louie Louie is absolutely sound but, at 18, deserved a new life that no longer included jumping. I have known him since he was 11, and always wanted him. Perfect soft landing. He absolutely earned it.


                                  • #18
                                    I am in the same boat right now with my favorite mare needing to step down due to stifle issues. I’m lucky that my mother also rides but learned late in life so she is one of those mostly flats and jumps a few small jumps adult riders. She has started to transition well into this new job with my mom and will be mostly a Training Level dressage and 2’ hunter horse for the foreseeable future.

                                    I agree that there are other adult riders who learned late or are coming back to it that would love access to a been-there, done-that stepping down type.


                                    • #19
                                      He sounds like an ammy's dream horse. I'd go with the inexpensive or even care lease scenario, especially if it means keeping him in a barn/program where you can keep an eye on things.
                                      "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


                                      • #20
                                        I care lease my old dude in the barn. Everybody wins. The rider has a horse she couldn't otherwise afford, the horse is adored to no end, I'm unburdened of the regular financial responsibility, and I get to see him on a daily basis.