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To retire or lease....WWYD?

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    To retire or lease....WWYD?

    Hi gang.

    My big Holsteiner ex-jumper gelding is getting closer to returning to full work (fingers crossed). We've been rehabbing very slowly from a suspensory strain. He'll probably get to start jumping small jumps in about 3 weeks. Yay!

    He is 15 years old. I want to protect him as best I can. For that reason, I think it is best that his future "job" is limited to 2'6" and under. Luckily, he is the kindest of all horses, and he will be fantastic at that job. He moves like an egg beater, but he jumps great, canters like a metronome, and takes ALL the jokes. Big and beautiful, auto changes, great manners. He's just a gem.

    Any sensible person would lease him out. However, this is my heart horse. There's nobody in the barn looking for a lease, and I'm terrified to send him out. There are VERY few people I would trust to take care of him the way I do.

    My question is....should I just retire him? I have no desire to ride and show at 2'6" myself. I only have time/money to keep one horse in work at the show barn. So my choices are to lease him out (hurts my soul to think about), keep him in work with me (and basically quit showing), or retire him. I've thought about therapeutic riding programs, but I've been told he's too big. WWYD?
    Last edited by DawgLady; Jul. 27, 2020, 08:30 AM.

    #2
    I'm a big believer in they should keep doing a job as long as they can do a job for. The longer they stay moving the longer they live for. I retired my old pony from me and big shows when she was 19 and she stepped down to the school pony job but was still jumping up to 2'6. She loved to jump, I retired her fully when she had a lameness episode and we felt she probably should not jump anymore (and that was perhaps overly cautious at the time, she likely could have made a return to work at smaller fences). She did not enjoy teaching w/t and w/t/c beginner lessons, not her preferred job. She's been happily retired with some trail riding since and still chugging along at 27 (and I'm funding that, I can tell you it is not cheap, having them pay their own way for as long as they can function in a job helps a lot when they reach the point they cannot).

    Can he do a school horse like job at your current barn and pay his own way that but still be under your eye? Otherwise, I would work within your network and try and find a good lease situation. Old school masters are invaluable teachers. He may either find an individual person that is perfect for him or you may know a barn who needs a horse like him in a lesson program. Of course if you lease him out after a year he may come back to you and you find yourself with two. I am paying for two but I do not keep my show horse at a super expensive show barn. You could consider a barn move somewhere less expensive that will let you keep two also.

    My retiree is also my heart horse, I get that completely. Deciding when to retire her from me and then what to do with her was hard, I was not ready to give up showing at that point. She was a great school pony (in the barn I was already boarding at) for a few years and by the time she needed to be retired, I had the money to pay for it. She's only gotten more expensive as she's gotten older (hooray, cushings) but my career has continued to advance enabling me to cover it. These are tough choices to make, but I do think going from show horse to sitting in a field is not ideal when they're still capable of a job.

    Comment


      #3
      There are lots of fantastic lease situations for horses like this. Even if you stipulate it must be in-barn you will probably get lots of interest. I am sure there is an adult ammy nearby who would love to do the puddle jumpers and spoil him rotten.

      Comment


        #4
        I retired my old man (who was leased to a really awesome kid) when we decided he should step down a level, but his maintenance was going to have to increase to keep him jumping comfortably. There was another kid in my barn who would have leased him, and then probably another at the next lower level after that, but it just didn't seem like he needed to become a glorified school horse. I think he would have been happy doing that, and I had zero qualms about his care or training, obviously, since this is the barn where I keep my jumper. On the other hand, he'd spent his life competing and didn't owe anyone anything more.

        My best friend and her husband have an amazing farm so he went there and is blissfully happy. We pulled his hind shoes and then gradually moved to barefoot all around. He had no one on his back for about a year and a half, and was totally fine with that. He has now turned into a husband horse and spends his days being fat and happy with his friends, trekking through the fields and woods on the buckle once or twice a week (he LOVES hacking out), getting a tune up ride from my friend every few weeks, which allows him to show off his dressage skills, and slowly turning greyer in his beautiful face and more sway backed.

        If you have a good place for your horse to go and you can't find an ideal lease situation, there is no harm in retiring him! You can always pull him out of it if something comes up; when my friend's husband decided he wanted to try riding so she wouldn't have to ride alone my gentle guy turned out to be the perfect choice. I definitely heard the "keep them going while they can still do it" thing, and I don't necessarily disagree with it, but my boy was extremely easy to transition, surprisingly. And, if my options were lease him out to another farm or retire him, I would have never even considered the first one for my horse. Certainly some horses cannot handle retirement, but they don't owe us anything, and I think most would be fine in any good situation where their needs are met and they can just be a horse.
        You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil

        Comment


          #5
          There is much encouraging information above. That said, if you don’t/can’t find someone you trust, I’d keep him w you until you can. Unfortunately, I am aware of lease situations which ended poorly for the horse.

          Comment


            #6
            I have leased out two different horses over the years. One went to another barn but under the eye of my trainer. She was returned after a year due to lessee relocation. The second went to a nearby barn to a middle aged woman who wanted to dabble at lower level dressage and otherwise just play around with some natural horsemanship stuff. She LOVED him. I knew the trainer at that barn quite well. I received a call after about 15 months when he seemed NQR - turned out cervical arthritis had caught up with him, and I brought him home. Both cases were free leases, month to month, I could take back any time.
            Network, put out feelers, make sure there is a connection - trainer, friend, etc. Look at the barn where the horse would go. Keep in touch regularly. It can work.

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by NaturallyHappy View Post
              There is much encouraging information above. That said, if you don’t/can’t find someone you trust, I’d keep him w you until you can. Unfortunately, I am aware of lease situations which ended poorly for the horse.
              Yup, me too. This horse has given me everything he has. I'm not going to take any risks with him.

              Comment


                #8
                To add to the lease topic, my retiree has actually had leasers in retirement as a trail pony. Similar to the other one that was retired and is now a husband horse. She's a great trail pony and there were people who wanted to be able to trail ride regularly who were interested. Their leases were deals, I rounded up to a dollar amount she cost monthly (which was always low, it was mostly board + meds no vet and no farrier included) and then they paid either a third or a half depending on how many rides a week they wanted to do. It worked out great, she was at a facility of my choosing, I still saw her regularly and could ride if I wanted, and I had someone helping pay for some of her upkeep and keeping her moving. The contract allowed easy outs as well.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I can understand your situation. I wanted to move up but My heart horse was happy at the 2'6". I also could only afford one horse and would never consider selling her. My trainer put out an ad and we found an amazing lessor. keep in mind that you can always say NO to any potential lessors. I love the people that currently are leasing her and have open communication with them and she is less than an hour away. I go and watch them show her in the long stirrup and it makes my heart happy to see her happy and also helping another little girls dreams come true! There are times I miss her terribly but I know they love her as much as I do and my horse is happy having a job and I get to bring along another horse in the mean time. I think it can be a win win! Just remember you can vet the potential lessor and make the lease terms what ever you want them to be.
                  The Love for a Horse is just as Complicated as the Love for another Human being, If you have never Loved a Horse you will Never Understand!!!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    There is no reason that he has to show, if you want to be the one who rides him and don't show that seems the perfect outcome.
                    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
                      There is no reason that he has to show, if you want to be the one who rides him and don't show that seems the perfect outcome.
                      Thanks, Suzie. It's not the showing that's the issue. It's the fence height. I can't see myself happily jumping 2'6" on a schoolmaster for the next few years. It's not enough of a challenge. Maybe I should try it sidesaddle (LOL)!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by DawgLady View Post

                        Thanks, Suzie. It's not the showing that's the issue. It's the fence height. I can't see myself happily jumping 2'6" on a schoolmaster for the next few years. It's not enough of a challenge. Maybe I should try it sidesaddle (LOL)!
                        LOL, Make the courses harder. Make gymnastic grids. Trail ride. Go up the levels of dressage. Practice obstacles. Start vaulting. Go on beach rides. Enjoy every second with him. The next second maybe the last.
                        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          There's no wrong answer here. If you want some money and a free stall for another horse, lease him into a good situation with someone you trust. If you want to retire him, he is not going to feel sad for one second about the horse shows he is missing.

                          It might be enjoyable to see him teach someone else some of what he's taught you. But, if you're going to lease, you do have to be willing to give up some control. That can be especially hard with a horse that is coming back from an injury. Only you know how much you can let go and how anxious it will make you to put your beloved animal in someone else's hands.

                          My main advice is that, if you do lease him out, set aside some of the money you make to help finance his retirement when he does come back.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by DawgLady View Post

                            Thanks, Suzie. It's not the showing that's the issue. It's the fence height. I can't see myself happily jumping 2'6" on a schoolmaster for the next few years. It's not enough of a challenge. Maybe I should try it sidesaddle (LOL)!
                            You may have already considered this and ruled it out due to circumstances, but have you considered trying the lower levels of eventing with him? There's plenty to do at the Beginner Novice and below level (BN is the lowest recognized level and fences top out at 2'7"), so while the fences would stay low you'd still have the challenge of riding XC, perfecting dressage, etc. The conditioning required at that level is pretty minimal and older horses are out there competing pretty regularly. It might be a good way for you guys to try a new challenge while still staying in his comfort zone (while possibly catapulting you out of yours!). Again, he may not be suitable and you may not find it desirable, but it was the first thing I thought of as the challenge is quite different from that of the hunter and jumper rings even though the skill set obviously crosses over to some extent.

                            SuzieQNutter also pointed out going up the levels of dressage - even if your horse moves like an egg beater (lol), you get a numerical score so you can work to compete against yourself and achieve the highest scores you can with the horse you've got.

                            This of course ignores the entire world of things you can do with horses outside of a show ring! Hunter paces, competitive trail/long distance rides, and so much more. It can broaden your experience as a horsewoman even if you aren't jumping higher fences.

                            That said, if you really strongly want to improve your riding specific to jumping higher fences than your horse is capable of, that's fine too! As I've gotten older and my priorities change, I'm at the point where the partnership means more to me than anything and I'd rather try something else that the horse is comfortable with. Probably due in no small part to the fact that I'm not a particularly accomplished rider and I'm not competitive when I do show!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              If he still has a lot he could teach someone, would an in-barn lease under your trainer at the show barn be an option? That would allow you to watch over him and also keep him in work? You could still retire him later. Or, he could be a star with people lining up for a schoolmaster to show them the ropes (or adults looking for something safeand reliable!).

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by touchstone- View Post
                                There's no wrong answer here. If you want some money and a free stall for another horse, lease him into a good situation with someone you trust. If you want to retire him, he is not going to feel sad for one second about the horse shows he is missing.

                                It might be enjoyable to see him teach someone else some of what he's taught you. But, if you're going to lease, you do have to be willing to give up some control. That can be especially hard with a horse that is coming back from an injury. Only you know how much you can let go and how anxious it will make you to put your beloved animal in someone else's hands.

                                My main advice is that, if you do lease him out, set aside some of the money you make to help finance his retirement when he does come back.
                                ^^^^. This

                                Comment

                                  Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by noreins View Post

                                  You may have already considered this and ruled it out due to circumstances, but have you considered trying the lower levels of eventing with him? There's plenty to do at the Beginner Novice and below level (BN is the lowest recognized level and fences top out at 2'7"), so while the fences would stay low you'd still have the challenge of riding XC, perfecting dressage, etc. The conditioning required at that level is pretty minimal and older horses are out there competing pretty regularly. It might be a good way for you guys to try a new challenge while still staying in his comfort zone (while possibly catapulting you out of yours!). Again, he may not be suitable and you may not find it desirable, but it was the first thing I thought of as the challenge is quite different from that of the hunter and jumper rings even though the skill set obviously crosses over to some extent.

                                  SuzieQNutter also pointed out going up the levels of dressage - even if your horse moves like an egg beater (lol), you get a numerical score so you can work to compete against yourself and achieve the highest scores you can with the horse you've got.

                                  This of course ignores the entire world of things you can do with horses outside of a show ring! Hunter paces, competitive trail/long distance rides, and so much more. It can broaden your experience as a horsewoman even if you aren't jumping higher fences.

                                  That said, if you really strongly want to improve your riding specific to jumping higher fences than your horse is capable of, that's fine too! As I've gotten older and my priorities change, I'm at the point where the partnership means more to me than anything and I'd rather try something else that the horse is comfortable with. Probably due in no small part to the fact that I'm not a particularly accomplished rider and I'm not competitive when I do show!
                                  You know, I actually have considered it. At the BN level, the pace is so slow and jumps are so small, I don't think it'd really tax him. He's super brave and loves to be outside the ring, so I think he'd do that job happily. Kinda hates water, but I think we can get past that with practice.

                                  I'd have to move barns, but I guess it's not out of the question.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I have been incredibly lucky to find PERFECT lease homes for the 2 of mine that I similarly was no longer a match for. I was not planning to sell either horse, but both now belong to their leasees because they were incredible matches for each kid.

                                    I'd start by reaching out to trainers I trust in the area, but you can also put a BigEq ad up to see what comes in!

                                    I am an insane control freak, so I initially did not think it would work for me to relinquish care to someone else, especially off site. Both horses were mares, so I also questioned if other people out there would grow to love their quirks the way I did. For my pony, I put an ad up half out of curiousity, I wasn't fully expecting to find the perfect situation but they ended up finding us through a post on Facebook.

                                    If you're careful, ask a lot of questions, and stay patient to find the right match, you can find that "unicorn family" looking to step up from leasing/lessons or a pony.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      I dunno, suspensory recoveries seem to be a bit fragile, in my opinion, especially for a big horse. While the smaller fences will help, there's a cumulative effect to consider and I worry a junior rider may lack the experience to know how much is too much for one session, one week, etc. I'd want to be sure they were in a high quality program. But ultimately, I think I'd want it to be a no-jumping home. He sounds like a really great horse.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        IMO it's a little early in his recovery to fret too much if he is not even started back with low jumps after a suspensory lay up. Like the above poster, my observation and experience with suspensory recoveries would not have me assuming anything, plus at 15, he's at an age where they dont bounce back so easily.

                                        It will be months before you know for sure if he can return to a regular program including jumping and lessons and stay sound. I would not lease him before then. If at all. Problem with leasing one out like this is they dont own them and know if they break him, they just give him back. His advancing age wont worry them at all either.

                                        You can think keeping him with a trusted trainer will protect him if you want. No matter how ethical, there is still a conflict of interest as trainer will be depending on income from lessons and trainer services and might make decisions based in their financial need. Especially in cases where the horse is not head bobbing lame , just vaguely NQR presenting a choice between conservative management or doing, and billing for it, anyway hoping they can get away with just a few more courses. Seen it a million times.And, no, I would not turn him into a school horse. YMMV.

                                        If you can afford to, just retire him from jumping and putter at something else. Properly managed retirees live long and stay healthy too, they don't need to be in any program.

                                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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