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Can I refuse to sell a horse to a friend?

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  • Can I refuse to sell a horse to a friend?

    Or, more accurately... HOW do I refuse to sell to her without ending the friendship. Friend has been free leasing a horse from me for the last couple months, with my assistance - including training rides and lessons when she requests them. We talked about two weeks ago about her buying the horse, although no money (or bill of sale) has changed hands yet.

    Horse has begun acting up in the last few weeks, bucking when asked to trot and canter and continuously tosses her head. The horse is broke, but she's ranch/western broke - not a dressage horse. Friend is a dressage person, and has only ridden finished horses for the last ten years. IMHO, the head tossing is 100% related to friend's riding. The horse does not act up with me, nor does she toss her head or race around.

    Just a few days ago, she mentioned to me how much fun she thought it would be to breed the mare and have a baby. Why, I ask? She says it would be fun to have a baby. I pointed out that she needed a horse to RIDE, not a preggo mare to sit around and cost money. I also pointed out that while yes, the mare is very cute - she doesn't have ideal conformation and has absolutely no performance record to speak of, outstanding or otherwise. If you want a baby, go buy one.

    Last night I got a call about trying new bits. She's been reading the Myler book and has a new snaffle on order. Ok, no problem - a different shaped mouthpiece and action might be good for her. Then she gets to the part where she's been reading about the combo bits and is going to try one of those, too. Whoa there, missy. You're wanting to take a horse that I had doing spins and sliding stops on the buckle in a plain snaffle, that you're now wanting to teach to accept contact and really come through into your hands - and put her in a myler combo bit?! Oy. I spent about twenty minutes outlining the reasons why that was not a good idea, but she just kept repeating "It's a training bit.". The only "training" she could explain that it was going to do was to "train her dressage", no 'it'll teach her to bend/balance/use her hind end/etc', just 'I want to use it to teach her dressage'. When I explained that the best way to do that was going to be in a snaffle, she said she just doesn't think that is going to work because horse keeps tossing her head. I finally just gave up and advised that if she WAS going to try it, to be very, very careful and to make sure someone was around for safety.

    I do not think this horse is a good fit for her, nor do I think she is capable of making sound training decisions. She was extremely defensive and passive agressive during our conversations about the bits and the breeding. I do not know how to break it to her that I think it is not a good fit, nor do I know how to refuse to sell the horse to her without upsetting her enough to end our (13-year-long) friendship. I also feel bad because she went out and bought a blanket, leather halter, cribbing collar, and now is buying new bits - all against my advice and of her own accord. When she first took the horse, I explained clearly that I would purchase a new blanket for her and anything else she needed. Within a week she had bought a blanket, new collar, and an expensive halter. All the purchases were made at a time when there had been NO discussion of her ever buying the mare, in fact the understanding was that it was a short term lease and she was going to be sold sometime in the next six months or so.

    As to the physical condition of the horse, she's been checked by the chiropractor and her teeth have been done. I don't believe she is sore or acting out because of pain. I've had ten year old 4H kids ride this horse, easily and quietly. She's been used to move cows, pony horses, and WAS the most reliable, git-er-done mount I've ever had. A real no-nonsense horse, although not a dead head.

    If you've made it all the way through to the end, I appreciate it. If anyone has any advice or insight, please share. I've offered for the last six months to help friend find a suitable horse and am essentially at her beck and call when she needs help with this one. She approached me about taking the horse, I did not solicit her. She's been riding for over fifteen years.

  • #2
    I'm afraid I don't see a problem at all. Seriously. Simply tell her the horse is not for sale. You do not have to give her an explanation. Just say, I've decided, and she's not for sale. Repeat as many times as you need.

    Or, if she is for sale, not just to your friend, say "I'm sorry, I can't sell her to you" If she asks why, tell her, "I do not think the two of you are a good fit" END. Do not add ANY more detail. If you need to say it more than once, fine, just do not add any more information.

    Problem over.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by SMF11 View Post

      Or, if she is for sale, not just to your friend, say "I'm sorry, I can't sell her to you" If she asks why, tell her, "I do not think the two of you are a good fit" END. Do not add ANY more detail. If you need to say it more than once, fine, just do not add any more information.

      Problem over.
      It's hard to say, "I won't sell her to you because I don't think you're a good fit," while she's free-leasing the horse, though.

      I do think you need to rein in (er, so to speak) the riding thing. I know of someone who had a horse that they rode in what they thought was dressage (crank and yank, and sitting too far back on the horse) end up with an unhappy horse who needed a lot of layup time and may never be as sound as the horse used to be. The horse may not be in pain right now but obviously something the rider is doing is wrong or it wouldn't be reacting so strongly to her. And a new bit will definitely not fix that.
      The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
      Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

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      • #4
        I find some people have a hard time saying "no". As long as I am clear about what I want, I have no problems (can you tell??!) saying no.

        The OP is crystal clear in what she wants. Therefore, all she has to do is say it.

        I assume the free lease, which hasn't been going on for that long, is not going to continue indefinitely.

        Also, I did not address the blanket etc issue -- which is to say -- it is not the OP's problem. If you have been clear about it, and it sounds like you have, don't let her make her problems yours -- they are not. So, she has an extra blanket and halter, not your problem.
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        • #5
          Sorry, I wasn't disagreeing with you, SMF11. If the OP doesn't want to sell to this person, they shouldn't feel obligated to (nor do they have to explain themselves, though if they want they could say they don't want to mix friendship and business...which would be true and doesn't imply judgment of the friend or the friend's horsemanship).

          I was just saying that telling the person, "I don't think you're a good fit" to sell to is directly contradicted by the OP thinking she was a good enough fit to lease to (even if she doesn't think that now). Mostly I think she should end the free lease and sell the horse. To someone else.
          The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
          Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

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          • #6
            It sounds like your friend is trying to fit your "round peg" horse into a "square hole." It doesn't seem like she wants to be ridden on contact or like a dressage horse. Not every western/ranch broke horse will make a basic pleasure mount in English tack, much less a dressage mount.

            As pointed out, your big issue isn't so much that she wants to buy her, but what she may be doing to her in the meanwhile, just free leasing.
            As an aside, I knew a woman once who had a lovely little QH/Perch X. he hunted, jumped anything you pointed him at and could be handled by a small child, evn when the horse was young. Owner decided she wanted him to "go all dressagey" and started fiddling with bits and big spurs. Within 6 mos he was bucking her off and 2 mos. later he was for sale. Even nice quiet hacks on a loose rein in a soft snaffle couldn't unfry his mind. Your story reminded me of this woman, except that she did it to her own horse. Good luck.
            F O.B
            Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
            Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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            • #7
              "Friend, I love you, and I love this horse. I've been watching the two of you together during this lease and I just don't think you're made for each other. I think you'll be happier with a horse that is already going and doing dressage and loves dressage, and I think she'll be happier with a rider who just wants to go out on the trail and hang out."
              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

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              • #8
                This person clearly doesn't respect your limits. She is overstepping already in the lease agreement. It's one thing to ask, but she shouldn't be arguing and trying to convince you of making changes to your already well trained horse. If she doesn't like that the horse is not a dressage horse, then she needs to go lease a dressage horse.

                And I agree that you need to just say, point blank, that you don't think it's a good fit and/or you won't sell her the mare. Honestly, I think you'd better rethink leasing her the mare. Sounds like it's on the way to causing your horse some problems.

                I don't think you can save this friendship. She already is showing that she doesn't respect your wishes about your horse. She sure isn't going to respect your decision.
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                • #9
                  You may as well test the friendship now and save the horse a lot of grief. Because if you sell her the horse, it will kill you to watch - and the friendship will end up over anyway.

                  SCFarm
                  The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LLDM View Post
                    You may as well test the friendship now and save the horse a lot of grief. Because if you sell her the horse, it will kill you to watch - and the friendship will end up over anyway.

                    SCFarm
                    Exactly so. And, I don't know how you could watch your friend ride this mare in a Myler training snaffle. If she has caused the horse to become a head tosser in a plain snaffle, there are likely to be lots more unpleasant consequences of your friend's riding style to come.
                    Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                    www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                      "Friend, I love you, and I love this horse. I've been watching the two of you together during this lease and I just don't think you're made for each other. I think you'll be happier with a horse that is already going and doing dressage and loves dressage, and I think she'll be happier with a rider who just wants to go out on the trail and hang out."
                      Got it in one!

                      I've never understood people who wanted to take a horse well trained in, well suited to and loving one discipline and force them into another!

                      LBR
                      I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

                      R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed

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                      • #12
                        I'd just tell her that the horse is not for sale. Tell her that you are concerned about the behavioral issues (such as head tossing), you do not want to sell her a horse with an "issue", and that you need to resolve it in the early stages so the horse should not be ridden until you understand the problem. Offer to help her find another, more "available" horse to lease or buy.

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                        • #13
                          Why are you continuing to let her lease a horse that she is essentially ruining?

                          I would have put my foot down with the bit.

                          I think if you don't say something now, its going to get worse. You obviously care about the horse, I would step in before she messes her up completely.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Just for clarification, the bit conversation JUST occurred last night (the breeding one, a few days ago). And she is trying two different bits - a myler snaffle, and the combination bit. The snaffle I'm OK with. The combo, not in a million.

                            She texted me about picking up the (snaffle) bit today. We have a ride scheduled this Saturday - I let her know that after the ride we should talk more about whether or not this is a suitable horse for her at this time.

                            I think she is definitely playing out the round peg/square hole thing - in part because she's just happy to have a rideable horse again. About a month ago I even found an older, giveaway horse that I was going to take myself and let her lease for a year instead of this mare - would've been perfect. He was quiet enough to teach kids to jump, had good lateral work and was in good health, not even considering his age - 22. She flat out refused because she said he was too old and too tall. When I mentioned that I was going to start advertising the horse she currently has, she got rather upset and essentially threw a tantrum about how she never would've spent so much money on her if she'd known that I was going to sell her so soon. Then she came up with a grand scheme about part-owning the mare, "helping" me tune her up and then splitting the profits. No go, says I. Either you can buy her outright now, at a lower price, and then pay me to put rides on and give lessons - or you can give her back, let me put some solid time on her, and then buy her for a higher price (essentially, she's spending the same amount either way).

                            Let it be known that she is worth next to nothing as an english horse, unless she shows some unnatural disposition as a jumper/eventer. The money is in the cowpony.

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                            • #15
                              I agree that I would remove this horse from that rider. You might offer to buy the stupid stuff she bought for the horse as a peace offering, or help her sell it on, but sheesh.

                              Say you sell her the horse at full price. My guess is she will never be happy with it after she owns it, because she doesn't ride it well, and she will somehow blame you for the problems, and let you know she doesn't think she should have paid so much for it, all the while ruining it so she can never get her money back.

                              Maybe I'm being pessimistic, but the situation seems to be set up for failure, either way, so you might as well save the horse!
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by spacytracy View Post
                                Why are you continuing to let her lease a horse that she is essentially ruining?

                                I would have put my foot down with the bit.

                                I think if you don't say something now, its going to get worse. You obviously care about the horse, I would step in before she messes her up completely.
                                I agree here. I would also never sell a mare to ANYONE who wanted to breed the mare because "It would be fun to have a baby."
                                Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                                  "Friend, I love you, and I love this horse. I've been watching the two of you together during this lease and I just don't think you're made for each other. I think you'll be happier with a horse that is already going and doing dressage and loves dressage, and I think she'll be happier with a rider who just wants to go out on the trail and hang out."
                                  I would go with this, and calmly stand your ground, don't get sucked into the arguements that your "friend" is going to come back at with you with.

                                  Keep it simple and to the point, and repeat as often as necessary.

                                  You could also offer to help find a suitable horse for her, lord knows there are plenty of decent horses out there for free, or cheap.
                                  There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

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                                  • #18
                                    You need to protect your horse from further damage. This person has already created a head-tosser, & you didn't even bring up the subject over the phone, but just allowed her to carry on about a further wrong move (the bit).

                                    I don't care about the possibility of her taking offense, etc.. That human ego stuff needs to be left out of the world of horses. You need to directly tell her that she's created a head-tosser of your horse, & you must take immediate remedial action, for your horse's sake.

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                                    • #19
                                      I'm going to turn this around on you.

                                      I don't know why your so worried about losing the friendship with her when it's obvious to me she's not being a friend to you. She's going against your wishes and advice in regards to YOUR horse. The fact that she has so much disposable income that she freely spends for stuff for YOUR horse is not your problem.

                                      Be a friend to YOUR horse and a friend to her second. Your horse only has you to be her voice and the friend is not listening. As long as you keep letting her bully both you and the horse nobody is going to be happy. End the lease and put the horse where she'll be happy. If she gets upset, cries, stamps her feet, oh well.

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by MunchkinsMom View Post
                                        You could also offer to help find a suitable horse for her, lord knows there are plenty of decent horses out there for free, or cheap.
                                        I had been trying to do this, however... its a catch 22.

                                        Anything that is truly suitable has something wrong with it. Not 'fancy' enough, not 'capable' of the dressage she wants to do, too tall, too big, too old, too slow, too ugly.

                                        Anything that is not suitable is, well... not suitable. It's like the kid that is taking lessons on the good ol' schoolie, begrudgingly dragging her toes down the aisleway past the stall of the big, fancy, flashy advanced lesson horse. What you need is not always what you want.

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