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Retiring my "once in a lifetime" horse. Update #14 post-show! Adult Eq/Hunter worthy?

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  • Retiring my "once in a lifetime" horse. Update #14 post-show! Adult Eq/Hunter worthy?

    See post #14

    So I've come to the decision to bump my fantastic jumper mare down to the 3' divisions permanently. She's a beast, evented through Advanced and did $50-75k grand prixs back in the day, and has been everything I could've asked for (and more) bringing me up from just having barely moved up to the junior hunters on my last horse to doing through the Level 5 jumpers. She takes a joke like nothing else that I've ever ridden before and doesn't hold a grudge (aside from her assertion that she knows best, which usually takes over when I have a brain freeze on course.....she's literally the only horse that I'd ever be comfortable jumping around huge fences because she finds her own distances and digs herself out of any traps that I unintentionally put her in - worst case scenario: grab mane and hold on for dear life because she's jumping anyways, and it's going to be a huge and powerful jump) But lately, she's just not the same horse that she has been and has aged so much in the past 6 months that it's unreal to the point of being mildly depressing
    I know it's not the end for us, but it's the beginning of it and quite frankly, it sucks. A lot. But at the same time I'd rather have her at 3' for two more years, than at 3'6"+ for 6 more months. I'm thinking about leasing her out in the next year or two to someone at our farm who wants to do the puddle jumpers or something like that. She'd be a good fit. And ultimately she'll probably end up being a part-time lesson horse...she's so maternal, it's insane how different she is with little kids (so protective!).

    Just thought I'd vent to people who would understand where I'm coming from. And don't even get me started on the thoughts that I won't ever be able to replace her or even afford a comparable horse
    Last edited by Rio Blanco; May. 10, 2011, 08:55 PM.

  • #2
    I understand. She's your heart horse, your shieldmate. The best thing now is to allow her to be Kwai gon jin to another. It sounds like this is her calling.

    She's so lucky to have a partner like you. Think about all those horses that get the, "here's your hat what's your hurry" bum's rush when they get older.

    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


    • #3
      I had a gelding jumper like that!!! What a gift! Taught me everything I needed to know about doing the jumpers (after a life of hunters)!! In other words "just stay out of my way lady"! It is depressing, but I think you are making the right decision - less for longer. At least she is still alive and happy. Good luck to you both!
      Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


      • #4
        It's depressing, but it's the right thing to do... and it sounds like she could bring a smile to a child's face as a lease horse.
        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


        • #5
          Sounds like a super cool mare (and one that deserves to be in the breeding pool )!! I know it's hard , but I bet your will find the best situation for both of you. Bless you for thinking of letting her touch someone else's heart too. It's so hard to hand over the reins!


          • #6
            I'm so sorry and completely understand how you feel. I had to move my adult amateur horse down to 2'6" three years ago. I was told he would never jump again, so I'm thrilled to at least being doing that with him. He's family to me, and I love him dearly. Definitely my once in a lifetimer.

            I guess all I can say is be sad, but also grateful that you still get to partner with her at some level. There will come a day when she'll not be able to show at all.


            • #7
              I finally came to the realization this past year when my forever boy had a stifle injury that ended it all. If I had only realized that the last time I had ridden him before this would be the last jump I would ever do with him.....

              When the verdict was in and it had finally sunk in, I was just glad that I had him to spoil for the rest of his days. When the farrier pulled his shoes I cried. I had to literally go into his stall and ball my eyes out to get it out.

              It was hard for him too, but he is getting used to be a country squier and loves retirement. I take him out in the fields and he still crow hops and wants to gallop up hills, but I have to hold him back

              I feel your pain, but just remember it's not the end of your relationship - it's just another path that you're taking together.

              "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren


              • #8
                My 27 year old, who used to be the terror of the cross country course, is now giving leadline lessons to handicapped adults and going on walk-only strolls on the trail with me. I watched her today giving the leadline lessons and she still loves her job and is proud to do it well. She pushed open the door of her stall, she was so eager to go...


                • #9
                  I just recently had to do the same for my guy. After 14 years of 3'6 and up, it's finally starting to show on him. He now packs my students around 2'6 and 3' and occasionally gets to jump a little higher with mom
                  Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                  My equine soulmate
                  Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


                  • #10
                    I completely understand. I retired my horse of a lifetime this year. Sadly, I only got to ride him for a year....adopted him two years ago.

                    My horse had previously shown in the A/O's and adult eq and eventually made his way to the rescue I adopted him from. We never jumped higher than 2'6 and he taught me more than any horse I've ever ridden. He made me smile cheek to cheek every ride. Think of all the smiles your mare will be making during this next phase of her career....

                    Hugs to you!


                    • #11
                      It is depressing, but very unselfish of you to realize her limitations as she ages. Many horses who have a competitive spirt don't like being retired, they enjoy their job. She will likely be much happier stepping down a bit, being "mama" to a little kid rather than nothing. Give her a big, sloppy kiss on the nose and tell her she's a good girl!!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Vesper Sparrow View Post
                        My 27 year old, who used to be the terror of the cross country course, is now giving leadline lessons to handicapped adults and going on walk-only strolls on the trail with me. I watched her today giving the leadline lessons and she still loves her job and is proud to do it well. She pushed open the door of her stall, she was so eager to go...
                        My now-25 yr old gelding, who did open jumpers & showed to mid-level dressage with an amateur (he had a great sense of humor), did his last beginner riding lesson last year. He's done enough; he doesn't owe anyone anything.

                        But I don't look forward to explaining to him why the little boy next door will be riding someone else this year . . .
                        Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.


                        • #13
                          I made the decision two years ago to retired my 3'6'' jumper from that height and that discipline-he just couldn't do the height competitively and without aches anymore. We are having a blast, though, in the 2'6'' and 3' hunters. In easing him into retirement (he doesn't take down time very well, mentally or physically), it's given us something new and fun to work towards, while having the opportunity to take it easier on him than the jumpers were.
                          There's coffee in that nebula.


                          • #14
                            Your post made me nostalgic about a horse I rode when I was a teenager, the horse that really taught me to ride and that I moved up through the levels on. Only being a silly teenager at the time I'm afraid I took him quite for granted. He was small and slightly swaybacked and not a fashionable breed, but could jump anything no matter what mistakes I made and pretty much never touched a rail. I assumed that horses like him were a dime a dozen and at shows I was always envious of the big gorgeous thoroughbreds. Did I mention I was a silly teenager?

                            Anyway, how wonderful that you really appreciate what this special mare gave you. Having had her in your life sounds like a real gift. Some people spend lifetimes stuck with a series of one wrong horse after another. There will be another one for you out there...it might not be for a while, but it will happen! In the meantime, enjoy your mare in other ways--trail ride her, take her swimming, just have fun. And when you are ready leasing her out to a deserving young person is a great idea.


                            • Original Poster

                              Okay, so I'm not going to lie, I was really bummed out when I took her to a show with my trainer and the rest of the barn last weekend knowing that we weren't walking in the ring for anything over 3' from then on out. But my trainer being the amazing person that she is, entered us in the Adult Equitation and the C/A Hunter Classic (money class) just for grins and the chance at winning back some of our entries, and the level 2 jumpers. Long story short, we ended up scratching the level 2 classes because it was a ridiculously long day, in addition to the fact that my mare was a rockstar and I didn't see any point in asking anything else of her that day.

                              Our equitation class was......interesting. My mare thinks it's absolutely hilarious to balk and stare at the flowers and fill in the jumps in Hunter/Eq land - me on the other hand? Not so much. Equitation round went more like a jumper round, so that one was a wash. Then as we were at the ingate for the hunter classic all I could do was laugh. I'm sitting there on my exGP horse that can move decently when she wants to, but typically much prefers the pogostick style, who jumps the snot out of jumps but not always in the most conventional style...all the while thinking we couldn't be further from the ideal hunters and that this was going to be hilarious, so why not get it on video? I ended up scoring a 79 in my first round and I believe the same in my second round, which was good enough for 2nd place and enough money back to pay my show bill and have $10 credit transferred to a barnmate's tab.

                              The pictures of me are horrendous...I was pinching with my knee the whole day. And so much for retiring her to 3' and below...the mare jumps the same height no matter how big/small the jumps are, the only thing that changes is how tight she is with her knees. Small fences? Not quite worth the effort to fold them quite so neatly.

                              But what do you think about our hunter/eq potential? I really had forgotten how much fun the eq and hunters are after 5+ years of nothing but jumpers - plus, it'd save her hocks and shoulders a bit not having all the combinations and tight turns. And those of you that have successfully semi-retired jumpers..........do they ever give up and go around somewhat quietly in the hunters and eq at baby fences?

                              Hunter Classic Pics:
                              http://i1217.photobucket.com/albums/...rprize89/s.jpg (I'm buying this pic, takes 1-2 weeks to get it tho)


                              • #16
                                I'm going to come from the side of the person who might one day lease your mare...

                                I leased an amazing jumper mare. She was doing the big stuff but they retired her down to 3ft with a little 3'6''. She taught me so much and I loved her a lot. I doted on her and pampered her. After my lease my trainers bought her and now she's doing the 2'6'' with another girl. After her, she's being leased by a man who wants to do the little jumpers. She's living a great, comfortable, (sound) life and is spoiled rotten. So I know its hard (I miss her like no other and I only had her for a year) but I might be the girl who learns a ton from your amazing mare


                                • #17
                                  I think you look like 3' champions in the making! She is your horse and I think it is wonderful if you and she can find a way to enjoy your time together.

                                  Have a wonderful time in hunter land!

                                  Edited to add: I am sure that people could learn to ride on her, but, selfishly I hate to see a real quality horse carting around intermediate riders. There are packers and schoolies for that; GP horses do not need to be lied to by a 2'6" rider.

                                  Why not eventually breed her and hopefully get another horse of your dreams? I bet a lot of people would adore to free lease her to get a foal who can jump well, if you are not in a position to breed her when she cannot do 3' anymore.
                                  "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                                  Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                                  • #18
                                    jumper turned hunter

                                    My situation is not exactly the same as yours - my "jumper" is having to pretend he's a hunter because of MY physical limitations. He was an upper level jumper when I bought him, I wanted a safe, scopey experienced horse for moving up the levels on.
                                    Found out I have some bone density issues that is keeping me from jumping higher than 3' - 3'-3" and decided that rather than do the low jumpers we'd go play in the hunter ring for a while. I really love him and decided I'd rather keep him and enjoy the heck out of riding than sell him and buy a (real) hunter.

                                    My guy is not a "hunter type" naturally. He tends to be .....bold and forward.
                                    Like your mare, he also overjumped everything by about a foot - and was/is super careful.
                                    It's taken some time for both of us to get the hang of the looooong ride around the ring, and the "polished" performance that it takes to do well in the hunters - but we're both actually enjoying it! It's been good for my riding and it's been good training for my horse.
                                    He has stopped overjumping (unless I miss - then all bets are off - he jumps HUGE if I miss a distance), has developed a nice hunter-y canter, will square up nicely in front if I keep him balanced, and has generally accepted that at the end of our rounds we are NOT going to start up again for the jump off!!!

                                    He does still think the flat classes are a bit strange.

                                    While we'll pin lower than a really fancy hunter if the trips are equal, we generally do ok as my goal is to be the precise, correct ride - nailing all the distances and creating a pleasant overall picture. Many times in the adults that will get you far.

                                    Sometimes I feel a bit bad about taking a fabulously talented jumper and making him a hunter...but he doesn't seem to mind. He's a "forever" horse, so I don't have to worry about what it is doing to his market value.


                                    • #19
                                      Congrats on going out and having fun! Sounds like you two are lucky to have each other.

                                      I think the once in a lifetime horse is the horse who will give you joy whatever you do with him/her, and it's great to see you doing well!

                                      Since other people were mentioning it - if you would love to breed her, except don't want her to have to go through that, there are probably quite a few options out there where you could lease a mare to do embryo transfer. These days there are plenty of physically talented horses around, but fewer with a mind like yours!
                                      Originally posted by Silverbridge
                                      If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


                                      • #20
                                        I'm surprised no one picked up on "she's aged so much in the past six months" part. It sounds like a sudden decline . . . which may have a "fixable" reason. have you had her checked by a good vet? Mares don't always show their pain, especially if they love their job. A few thoughts -- ulcers, hocks, feet, saddle/back, mild lyme's . . .