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What would you do? (Sorry kind of long)

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  • What would you do? (Sorry kind of long)

    So I am in a predicament and am pretty upset and have no idea what to do. I moved for a job so I left my old trainer and moved to a new one that was closer to work/home. I was there for about 6 months when I decided to buy a horse (I had sold my other one before leaving old trainer). I really liked new trainer and thought she was really great and asked for her help in the search.

    She found an older (early teens) horse that had been doing the A circuit for a long time and his owner was selling him for financial reasons (what I was told). He has some maintenance issues including navicular changes but vet said he thought he would be okay as he wasn't lame and didn't have corrective shoes, etc. X-rays looked really good given his age and background....

    I tried the horse, who isn't an easy ride (very sensitive) but never does anything scary or bad. Well I have had some health issues and didn't show the horse all summer and he has not been jumping 3' regularly at all because I don't pound horses into the ground and there is no reason when he is schooling to do 3' all the time as he knows his job.

    So I had a couple of doubts about the horse but the trainer said they were very minor things we could work through and I loved the horse's personality and the vet said with maintenance the horse should be fine.

    After about a month the horse was totally different. He seemed to be uncomfortable and had some other issues. Trainer just goes ahead and gets the horse injected which I later find out he didn't need that. Vet just went along with what trainer said.

    So we start jumping three feet regularly and he is absolutely bat **** crazy. I had pros on him, very good ammy's, etc. with no difference. I think he is probably in pain when he lands. I could be wrong. I had the vet check him and he isn't lame or ouchy anywhere so maybe he was just drugged, I don't know. Either way, horse is out of control and I can't ride him.

    Even though my old trainer was over an hour away I moved him due to the issues not being solved and the new trainer stopping lessons, training even when he was really bad. New trainer's evaluation was basically that I got screwed. I decided I would try and sell him as a lower level horse.

    Fast forward to yesterday. I have showed the horse to a few people and he was way too much for them. I talked to 4 other trainers yesterday and all of them were like, we know the horse and trainer, we like the horse but there were issues before, I can't beleive nobody told you, etc.

    I am a very honest person who loves my animals. I feel like I can't sell him as he is serviceably sound but now that he is working harder I'm not totally convinced he will stay that way and I am not putting that on someone else. Also, he isn't able to do what I wanted to do with him. I know I could take him to auction or be shady and dump him on someone for cheap but I could never ever put a horse in that type of situation.

    What do I do? I would be willing to give the horse away to the right situation but I have no idea how to do it. I think he would be a good schoolie for some intermediate riders but I want to know he will be taken care of for life. I want to be able to ride and show but I can't. He is too much horse for me and I feel like he isn't going to stay sound at 3' even if I could ride him well at that height. I'm so mad at myself for trusting this trainer. I can't tell you how many people, including her own riders who have said to me that she is dishonest and only cares about the commission.

    How could I have been so stupid? I've put close to $20,000 (purchase, PPE, injections) into this horse and now I am stuck with nothing to ride and possibly a horse to retire. I'm so upset. I wish I had a big backyard for him but I don't and now I may not be able to buy another horse for years.

  • #2
    That really sucks. I'm sorry it happened to you.

    Did I understand right that the horse is safe and apparently comfortable on the flat and over lower jumps? Up to about what height? And have you had a full vet workup done, or just the injections and a basic exam?

    If you really think he would make a good lesson/schoolmaster horse the best way to find a spot for him is to talk to the trainers you know. Make his issues clear but also make his strengths clear. I know people who would kill for a free lesson horse with a lot of A circuit experience, even if he can't jump too high anymore.

    Kudos to you for wanting to make sure that he goes to a good home. If he really had these issues before and you can document them then you may have grounds for a lawsuit if you want to pursue that. I can't really advise much on that matter though.
    exploring the relationship between horse and human


    • Original Poster

      Prior to going back to my old trainer I had a complete vet workup done as I wanted to go into it knowing I wasn't hurting him. I had two seperate vets look at the x-rays and they agreed with the original vet that they aren't abnormal for a horse of his age and wear and tear and it should just be a matter of keeping him comfortable. The vet just said he seems uncomfortable but couldn't find anything that was actually hurt. That's how we came to the conclusion that he was probably sold because he wasn't consistently performing at 3' anymore without pain. That was of course not what I was told.

      He seems comfortable enough on the flat, just a little stiff and a little more stiff in one direction. He does build as he goes along but I think that's just being a fit TB. He is pretty good at 2'/2'6" and over a couple of 3' jumps but once you start doing a full 3' course he loses it. He has an incredible show record so I know that's not just "him". I verified that with his old rider (who didn't own him and had nothing to do with the sale).

      I don't think I would have much ground for a law suit as I think it's more a matter of not revealing he wasn't going to fit the bill long term for what I wanted to do but he was doing it at that very moment I tried him. It's not like he is lame and they were hiding an issue.

      Just the legal bills alone would outweigh his value I think. I think it's just a hard lesson learned for me. I'm not trusting anyone again other than my current trainer (who I just should have never left) who I love and who has never had an unsatisfied customer.


      • #4
        What would *I* do?

        Given the information about the horse you've posted here ...

        1) Schedule an appointment with a good, trusted vet (talk to friends you trust, ask for recommendations, etc.) and see what a lameness eval turns up. Nevermind, saw that you did that already.

        2) Depending on the outcome of that eval, I would look for a good pasture board situation and plan on turning him out for a while. It sounds like not only does he have some physical issues, but quite possibly mental ones as well.

        3) Make sure horse was getting a really good nutrition program that met all his needs—protein, calories, joint supps, etc.

        4) Make sure his trim/shoeing isn't contributing to his issues.

        5) Find a good trainer (not necessarily in your current discipline ... just someone who can read a horse well) and when horse is ready, put him back into work slowly.

        6) Evaluate after a few months back in work and decide if horse is suitable for what you want or if another home should be found.

        I could not in good conscience sell a horse I knew had physical and/or mental issues without full disclosure and a signed contract outlining everything I knew about the horse.

        Finding him a truly good home would also be top priority, which means I'd probably end up keeping him and trying to sort him out myself.

        Good luck. I'm so sorry this happened to you, but you're not alone. Not by a long shot.
        Full-time bargain hunter.


        • #5
          If I read your OP correctly, you do not believe the horse was drugged when you purchased him, correct? But you do think he has some soundness issues at 3' which are causing some behavioral issues for you now.

          If that were my horse, I would move him back down to a lower level and see if I could get him comfortable and rideable at say, 2'6" or 2'3". Even better if you can show him at that lower level successfully and demonstrate that he is useful for someone wanting a nice horse for the lower divisions. This is the path that a LOT of show horses follow as they age and there are often people lined up to buy horses with good show records and experience who need to move down a step or two.

          I recognize that this doesn't necessarily meet your goals of showing at 3' but ... it is better than not being able to show or ride at all. And if you are successful, you have made the horse a LOT more attractive to a potential buyer, can rehome him to someone knowing you did right by him, and get yourself something else that is more suitable for the job you want to do.
          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


          • #6
            Probably won't make you feel better but...

            I can empathize with your situation. Basically nearly the same thing happened to me in August 2008...probably more like $13k on purchase/PPE/vet work/chiro after the first year (add another $7k for boarding, farrier, canceled clinic rides/shows etc.).

            I have resorted to onelaneroad's advice. Horse has been completely off work (pasture board) since August '09. I may try him again in March/April. This horse is such a "teaser" (which is how I got suckered and how he passed the PPE in the first place) - looks sound as long as he's not in work! LF fetlock is sore when horse goes back to work (sensitive to flexion) but x-rays look beautiful and injections weren't helping for more than 3mo. Mystery lameness.

            It's heartbreaking - this guy is my dream-date event prospect, but just can't stay sound to do the job. He's a 2003 TB w/ little consistent off-track training (see above), so not exactly a beginner's trail horse. Fortunately, he's a really beautiful (can't hurt!) and kind horse and I want to do right by him. I keep hanging on to him in the hopes that we'll buy a farm and I can bring him home.

            Lesson Learned: I don't talk to my former trainer or the horse's previous owner anymore. In the future, I plan to make all purchase decisions uninfluenced by anyone who could be receiving $$ from the deal.


            • #7
              WE had a similar situation with a mare that was given to us. mare was "sound" but had been in a crash and hurt her neck, she was rotten to ride ( and a VERY expensive warmblood jumper) she was given to us to use as a broodmare. She came late in the spring and never "caught" my mom hates late summer babies so we turned her out and planned to wait until early spring to try again. As the winter progressed she was looking VERY sound out in the pasture no issues no stiffness, nothing to indicate she could not work a bit. We started her off slowlllllyyyyy , she HAS never been off a day in her life since then. My sister is now competing her in the 3'6" A/O Hunters and she is KICKING butt LOL!!!
              Sometimes soreness in a neck or a back or hind quarters cannot be "found" by a vet and only a good LONG break with lots and lots of turnout will fix it.
              I agree with the idea of just finding a place to pasture board him at LEAST until spring. let him be a horse and run and stretch and be lazy. It might make all the difference in the world. heck we ended up with a $50,000 A/O horse for FREE!!! And she might even get to be a broodmare this spring who knows!
              If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.


              • #8
                I agree that perhaps while you sort things out, turning the horse out for a few months could help. Even maybe 6-12 months. In some cases time can help what vets are unable to find. Is there anywhere you could board him cheaply where he'll be getting lots of turnout? You wouldn't need riding facilites or any of the other extras.
                "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


                • #9
                  I would follow Lucassb's advice - move down the fence heights and see if he's not better at his job - he would also be much more marketable. Many a fine horse has changed careers - some colleges/schools might be interested in taking a solid citizen horse as a donation. We have a couple of horses at my barn that have made their 2nd, 3rd careers teaching lessons. Fortunately for them our barn is quite small - so it's not like they are in several lessons a day. HOpefully you will be able to find a similar situation for your horse; and at the same time you might make new contacts to help you locate another more suitable horse for you. Sadly you are not the first person, and won't be the last that this type of thing happens to. Sometimes trainers can be at fault but other times they can be just as dupped as the client/purchaser. Sometimes it might be just as simple as making a career change. One of the girls at my barn had a green OTTB. She wanted to equit/hunters. The horse was a nutcase sometimes - runaway and an absolutely horrible jumper. They sold the horse to an older woman as a dressage prospect... (they let her take him for a month's trial +) and the horse has absolutely thrived! What was a disaster as a hunter or eq horse has turned into a wonderful dressage partner for this woman.

                  Hopefully all will work out for you , keep us posted. Best to you


                  • #10
                    If I were you, I would market the horse as a dressage horse. Most h/j trained horses can move right into doing training level/first level dressage and with some schooling, may be able to do more. Also, by elliminating the jumping he will have less pain and possibly a longer career then just moving him down the h/j ranks. Its also possible that he now associates all jumping with discomfort.
                    Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA


                    • Original Poster

                      I guess I left this part out....

                      So this horse's show record stops in the Fall of 2007. I was told the owner due to financial reasons could not keep showing on the A circuit and so she leased the horse to a kid up until I bought him and she was learning to move up to 3' with him. Well part of my discovery yesterday was that what he is doing now with me....going pretty good around 2'-2'6" and not lame but going insane over 3' and seeming more uncomfortable is actually what was happening in 2007 and the owner did exactly what you suggested. She turned him out for a year and the so called "lease" had actually occurred at the end of 2008 in which he turned out to be too much for her and she ended the lease.

                      He has never taken a lame step, he's just a little arthritic and needs supplements/adequan to stay comfortable. He has a big huntery jump and is very sensitive so it would take a very very good rider that only wanted to do 2'-2'6" to actually buy him and I think that would be a very difficult sell.

                      I think he would be a great teacher for an intermediate rider and remain content with his job at that level and be sound with his continued maintenence routine. Basically he isn't right for me and my trainer doesn't really keep school horses and I don't think it's time at all for him to be a pasture puff.

                      I guess finding someone who wants a sound with maintenance horse who is a great mover and jumper that should be held at a lower level at this point in his life that isn't the easiest ride but has a heart of gold and isn't dangerous at all is really really hard to find.

                      I really appreciate the suggestions. It's a very sad situation to be in.


                      • #12
                        Have you had a really good accupuncturist/chiropractor to take a look at him? While nothing may be showing up via x-rays, something may still be a little out of whack causing him to be fussy over fences beyond what is normal for him.

                        Sorry your going through all this. It sure is no fun.


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by jmvwiv View Post
                          Have you had a really good accupuncturist/chiropractor to take a look at him? While nothing may be showing up via x-rays, something may still be a little out of whack causing him to be fussy over fences beyond what is normal for him.

                          Sorry your going through all this. It sure is no fun.
                          He has been adjusted and had acupuncture. He's not as stiff as he was and nowhere near as tight as he was at the old place but his action over fences isn't at all different. He's such a sweet horse too which makes it even harder. I wish they could just live in our houses with us!


                          • #14
                            You know, it occurs to me that it might be worth your time to get this horse to be a little easier to ride, particularly if he is not lame and just needs what sounds like normal maintenance. And the work that it will take to do that is super useful for ANY rider to do - but it takes a very well educated trainer and a lot of dedication to accomplish. The good news is that it will set you up beautifully for your next (3') horse.

                            I don't know exactly what you mean by the horse being a sensitive ride, but whatever he does (particularly as you say he does nothing really bad or dangerous) ... there is a correction you can apply.

                            Without knowing more specifically what this horse does, it is impossible to offer exercises or suggestions that might help, but you can pretty much rest assured that any horse that built the kind of successful record it sounds like this horse has can be improved. It's not like you are trying to cure a dangerous habit like rearing or bolting; you just need him to be better broke and more accepting, it sounds like.

                            And winter is a great time to work on basics - response to the aids, making the horse immediately and extremely adjustable, more supple etc - so you are at the optimum time to do this work (just think, you aren't missing fun summer shows!)

                            If you care to post details on what makes this horse a more challenging ride, there are quite a few people on this board who can likely offer suggestions to get him more broke and suitable for a 2'6" career. In my area, there is a very good market for a fancy pre-adult hunter, and the riders tend to be better than you might expect at that height. For whatever reason they have no desire to jump higher, but they are competitive and would be good candidates for a horse like yours, particularly if you can make him more rideable.
                            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                            • #15
                              I agree with Lucassb. It sounds like if he just won't be comfortable doing 3', you might want to make a point of riding him regularly or putting him in training to get him reliable, then sell him. That way you'll be able to get more out of the purchase than just giving him away. You might not be able to get as much as you paid for him but I've seen nice 2'6" horses go for a decent sum, even if they have something preventing them from ever going higher. That's probably the route I'd go if you're sure this is an incurable physical issue.
                              exploring the relationship between horse and human


                              • #16
                                Adequan doesn't help all issues. I would add Legend as well. Map 5 is the generic that works just as well at 1/2 the price.

                                If he was on the A circuit I wouldn't doubt that he was on monthly depo. It does help in some cases and might be worth trying for a month.

                                My vet has been having great success with an injection call RVI. It helps the chronically muscle sore horse. Worth a shot so to speak.

                                Good luck.


                                • #17
                                  I am so sorry for your situation!!! I was in a very similar one as well. I tried everything to help the horse and in the end cut my losses. Adequan, Legend,Estrone, Robaxin, Depo, massages, chiro, Marquis,Lyme test, injections, shoeing, turnout, incredibly expensive snooty trainer giving show rides, psychic and banging of head against wall. This is a tough market. Any decision you make is the right decision. I feel awful for you and the horse.
                                  Unfortunately, you quickly learn who your friends are or not.
                                  Goodluck and know that everything you have done is good karma.


                                  • #18
                                    Lemons, Lemonaide and dressage

                                    I agree with Lucassb, gottagray and others. Spend the winter getting him rideable and correct on the flat. When you market him, you'll either have a more user-friendly 2'6" horse or one that could be useful to a dressage rider.

                                    If your really think it's that he's a good citizen but that it just hurts to much to land, a dressage home could be perfect for him! He'll get to use what he knows and not be asked to do what hurts.

                                    You're riding will improve, too.
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat


                                    • #19
                                      Have you done a Lyme test? Its amazing how much Lyme can affect one. . .

                                      If you have, I would do one of two things. Tell current trainer, to whom you paid a commission, "Unfortunately, this horse is not a match for me - please sell it", and work out the details OR take the horse back to the factory, so to speak. Drop horse off at sellers trainer - pay some board and say - sorry, not working out, please sell. You got me into it and now get me out. Your trainer, as part of the commission should be helping you out on this.

                                      It doesnt sound like a bad horse - just needs some maintenance and the right ride. Clearly, it was a winner at one point. It also may be a depo candidate - or a lunge, or an allnight turnout.
                                      http://www.facebook.com/olddominionsaddlery Like us on Facebook!!


                                      • #20
                                        PS I wanted to add that if you are done you are done. Do not feel guilty if you want to move on and have something to ride. You don't need to put more money into the horse if you don't want to. There are no rules. It is an awful feeling to continually pay bills on a horse that is miserable and you are as well. No one will hold it against you if you want to move on. Especially, if you are tapped out of wallet and emotions. I am not saying to dump the animal curbside which it sounds very clear that you would never do. But, if you are ready to move on then you have my ok and a lot of other cothers ok as well.