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throwing in the towel.....wwyd?(long, sorry)

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  • throwing in the towel.....wwyd?(long, sorry)

    we own a horse that i am beginning to think is beyond help. we bought her 2 years ago as an eventing prospect for my daughter. i did not think she was a good match for dd but dd's trainer(who was the mare's owner) really pushed for the sale. in the mare's defense, she is cute as a button and very athletic. my non-horsey but supportive husband was as always trying to perserve the bottom line and saw a nice-looking horse landing in our lap, daughter was happy and there was no traveling , vetting, shippping....you know, all the expenses that come with shopping for a horse. because i am stupid, i just gave up arguing with everyone about why this mare was not right(7 yo, very green) and wrote the check. mare was very nervous and resistant on the flat. very very strong over fences.
    in the beginning, i honestly thought there was progress being made, albeit very slowly. kind of a 2 steps forward, one step back kind of thing. dd is a very good rider(in know i am her mom) but is beginning to get frustrated. trainer starts over-bitting the horse which makes horse more resistant. horse starts rearing. trainer is totally unwilling to address issue and tells me to send mare to a cowboy. instead i send the mare to a friend's farm for some time off and start looking for another horse for child bc franky, dd was over the mare. she had almost a year off, turned out 24/7. she was fat, shiney and happy. i should also add that she is very well-behaved on the ground. all of her issues are u/s.
    in january of this year, i put her back in training with another trainer who i really have a great deal of respect for. she has been ridden 4 or 5 days a week by a pro since january and is not making any progress. new trainer agrees with this. she is a nice=looking mare but does not have enough quaility to make a pro want to go thru the hassle of getting her to behave. we are running out of options and for the first time in my life i am thinking that there is no saviour for this horse. i cannot afford to keep her in training forever. i am afraid to sell her bc she might hurt someone. passing her off as broodmare potential seems immoral. altho i do not think she is mentally ill, just a victim of bad training. (i have learned that she was bought as a first horse as a 3yo by a middle-aged woman)
    . maybe she would do better on regumate but i cannot afford it. we are giving her mare magic but i do not think there is enough herbs in the world to make this mare behave. she has been completely vetted, teeth, t-4 test lameness eval and there is nothing physically wrong with her.
    so all this is to say i am seriously considering putting her down. it makes me so so very sad and so very angry at myself, dd's trainer and others who have failed this mare. i have done all i know to do. if i were rich, she could stand around and be a lawnmower until her last day(i already ahve one).
    i just do not see who would want this mare.

  • #2
    I don't know what I would do.. What a tough decision... :-\ Do what you think is right... I don't know the details.. But there might be a match out there somewhere that she'd click with and do well for..?


    • #3
      i don't understand what is bad about her behavior? the only thing you said is that when she is overbitted she rears. what does she do otherwise that's so terrible? if you are doing hunters, maybe she would like dressage. if you are doing dressage, maybe she would like trail riding, etc. maybe you could sell her to someone who can afford regumate instead of just killing her?


      • #4
        Does the new trainer thinks he/she can fix the mare given X # of months? Or is it not fixable AFAUK?

        If shes not horrible on the ground you can have the trainer tell people what she does and then its buyer beware. Its not like shes a man eating tiger(ess) just waiting to kill someone. Sometimes horses need another job. Not just lawmmower but something else. Has she been tried doing something else--trail, dressage, on the flat, whatever?

        I feel your pain. Although Ive not been in thi s situation myself I know people who have. I dont think its quite time to dig a hole, though its as always your call.
        “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker


        • #5
          Originally posted by class View Post
          i don't understand what is bad about her behavior? the only thing you said is that when she is overbitted she rears. what does she do otherwise that's so terrible? if you are doing hunters, maybe she would like dressage. if you are doing dressage, maybe she would like trail riding, etc. maybe you could sell her to someone who can afford regumate instead of just killing her?
          I agree, it sounds like you're having more problems with the trainer than the horse. If this horse is being overbitted by the trainer and is frustrated and angry, she isn't going to make any progress of course. The solution isn't to put her down! At least put in the effort to try and sell her instead of assuming nobody wants her. Just because she doesn't show potential over jumps doesn't mean that she won't be great at some other aspect of riding.


          • #6
            I am a little confused, too. In what way is she resistant? Perhaps there is another discipline where she might work out better? Sorry you are going through this, but there are certainly other options to euthanasia. At least that is my opinion based on the information thus far.


            • #7
              i just do not see who would want this mare.
              Maybe someone who would want to see the horse get a fair shake instead of seeing her put to death???

              My mare was a mental wreck when I got her (at eight years old)! But I persevered, got her help and fifteen years later I still have her--she's a good girl. People thought I was crazy for keeping her, but I knew better.... She's a good little horse but had six owners in eight years! Her breeder had her for five years of those years and after that she just got passed from person to person. No wonder she was a mess--she barely had time to bond with anyone before she was on her way--again....

              Put the horse up for sale! You may not get what you want for her but she deserves a chance to redeem herself. It seems a shame to euthanize a horse for the sins of humans.... Sell her to someone who will love her and work with her.....
              Have we learned nothing from the Romans???


              • #8
                Give her away or donate her for the tax break to a college riding program. Honestly, she doesn't sound dangerous, just not a pleasure to ride right now. She'd probably make a great project for someone looking to invest the time, or a college program. I would investigate all your options before putting her to sleep. I realize the economy is bad right now, but there will always be options for a mare that's just green and confused it sounds like.


                • Original Poster

                  she is now in a snaffle but still tries to rear whenever she does not want to do something( go into the arena), she will refuse to turn, back up. new trainer is able to handle all of these issues. but an hour ride is still 30 minutes of getting her to go forward.
                  who is going to want a horse like this especially when there are plenty of nice ones out there?
                  before anyone thinks i am cavalier about the final decision i broke down and sobbed when we were out to eat the other night when the subject was brought up.
                  i am worried about liability. i am worried that someone overestimates their abilities and underestimates her resolve and she ends up on a truck to mexico.


                  • Original Poster

                    also, i wanted to add that i think the trainer is beginning to give up on her. she is the last hope around here. she is great and i do not mean to disparage her at all. it is just the pickin's are slim here.


                    • #11
                      Very sorry to hear it. I don't know specifically what her issues are but I do believe that some sensitive horses become damages beyond repair by even short periods of bad training. Before you go to extremes and put her down try researching other trainers. Not every horse likes every trainer even if they are good with other horses. I have found that for horses with bad training issues similar to what you have described are often well understood by trainers/riders with extensive experience with race horses as well as show horses. I don't mean trainers that have just retrained race horses after they have finished racing either, I mean the ones that have trained and ridden at the track. The experience that these people can have with awkward horses is mind boggling. The show training ensures that they are not just yahoos. I don't know where you are or what your limits are financially but I'd send you to someone I know if I can. I have friends here who have done both race horses and show horses and they are well beyond the average horse trainer when it comes to difficult types. Often they aren't as stylish or trendy because of their track work so they aren't given enough credit. Just a thought anyway.
                      Shop online at


                      • Original Poster

                        also, i wanted to add that i think the trainer is beginning to give up on her. she is the last hope around here. she is great and i do not mean to disparage her at all. it is just the pickin's are slim here and there is no one else to use.


                        • #13
                          Last edited by vbunny; Apr. 2, 2008, 09:53 PM. Reason: repeat
                          Shop online at


                          • #14
                            These suggestions are based only on the information given by the OP....(I think there may be more to the story, but the gist is there, and that's what's relevant).

                            Get rid of the horse - horses are a dime a dozen, realistically, and you've only got one daughter (I'm guessing!), and her safety and happiness are your priority.

                            If you want to do the right thing by the horse, try rehoming her. However I don't dismiss being responsible and having her put down: if she's dangerous, that's an astute although heart-breaking option. Years ago, a friend had a horse like yours - turned out post-mortem that she had a brain tumour that she was reacting to....DANGEROUSLY reacting to...

                            What about sellling the horse back to the trainer - if I read you right, she was the original owner? Try offering her back for half-price (ie half what you paid for her) - judging from what you've said, you have some dissatisfaction with the trainer, therefore half-price eases you out of a sticky situation without breaking the bank (hopefully) and they've at least made some $$$ on the deal, so hopefully they'll be content with that, if not you, and hopefully leave you alone, and you've got shot of the horse, which is your priority, right?

                            If that doesn't work, or skip that step altogether, you could think about "bequeathing" the horse back to the previous owner, your daughter's (ex?) trainer. I know you're going to lose that money, but in the long run, consider it a bit of a financial loss (not all investments turn to gold!), and a painful learning experience. And thenceforth the mare is not your responsibility, and you and your daughter will be free to move forward.

                            Life is too short for revolting and dangerous horses!

                            JMHO - you don't need to agree with me!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 3horsemom View Post
                              she is now in a snaffle but still tries to rear whenever she does not want to do something( go into the arena), she will refuse to turn, back up. new trainer is able to handle all of these issues. but an hour ride is still 30 minutes of getting her to go forward.
                              who is going to want a horse like this especially when there are plenty of nice ones out there?
                              before anyone thinks i am cavalier about the final decision i broke down and sobbed when we were out to eat the other night when the subject was brought up.
                              i am worried about liability. i am worried that someone overestimates their abilities and underestimates her resolve and she ends up on a truck to mexico.
                              Your mare needs a "go button." I don't think she's a lost cause. She sounds like she might be a combo of being spoiled, and afraid, much like my guy. He went through quite a few people before me, he was green at 6 when I got him, what training he did have was questionable, he was severely overbitted... he'd run backwards when I mounted, reared, went sideways, you name it.

                              We started by establishing forward on the ground. A dressage whip and a lead line is all you need. Some sharp taps behind the girth and a big GOOD BOY when he went forward. The tap wasn't a punishment-- it was the cue. The praise was the motivator and let him know he did the right thing. We did that for a few sessions, practiced forward on the longe, and when I got on him again, and he got sticky, a tap behind the leg and it was like a light bulb when on in his head... he said "Oh my gosh I am supposed to go forward! And I can! Because no one is hitting me in the mouth!"

                              That's not to say he never got sticky again, and that we didn't have moments of resistance. It was a long road and about 6 months of just working on walk trot and halt. But he became so light to the leg that he was a joy to ride. 18 months later he is a completely different horse undersaddle, though he is quirky on the ground.

                              I'm not saying all rearing is fixable, or that joe schmo down the street should try to fix their rearing horse. But your mare DOES NOT KNOW GO and is probably afraid too of being hit in the face when she does go forward.

                              A good trainer who understands this issue may be able to address it and fix it. A good rider might be willing to take her on and fix it themselves.... euthanizing sounds a bit harsh at this point when clearly she sounds green, afraid, and maybe a bit spoiled but not inherently nasty.
                              We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                              • #16
                                Or you just haven't come across the right person. Who might not be an actual "trainer" in that s/he makes her living training horses. S/he might be a gutsy, talented, intuitive advanced pony clubber. Or an ammie with eons of experience and a knack for getting through to troubled horses. Or a former exercise rider known for getting speed and focus out of quirky young racehorses. I knew a couple of folks back up in VA who were well-known among the horsey communities in the area for taking "ruined" horses and making them into reliable mounts. But they weren't exactly easy to find. Most people with the tough nuts found them via word of mouth when they began, in desperation, asking everyone they came across what to do. I tell you, I've seen at least one horse deemed incorrigible by several very good trainers, turn around, given a lot of time, with the right person.

                                And that's nothing against the trainer you feel is giving up the fight. Sometimes a "specialist" is needed.

                                If you share your location, the COTH network could be useful in helping you locate someone, if your desire is to have the mare worked with to become either saleable or a reasonable mount for your daughter. Or, since you have reached the point of considering euthanasia, I assume you would be open to giving the mare to someone you felt might work well with her.

                                I feel for you. You're in a tough spot. I hope you resolve things in whatever way yields the best outcome for you, your daughter, and your mare.
                                Equinox Equine Massage

                                In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                                -Albert Camus


                                • Original Poster

                                  all of your posts are helpful and much appreciated.
                                  i think i have revealed all that i know.
                                  the trainer the mare is with now is a gp dressage rider. she has the mare on consignment but would never sell her to just make a buck. we really are trying to do what is right for the mare but we need to be careful, very careful about where she goes. i cannot stress that enough. i am rapidly running out of money. i bought the mare for 4k and have that much in her in training plus board and upkeep. i wpuld love to giveher away to the right person but how do i ascertain who that is?
                                  and.........my sweet, sweet husband still thinks we can get some money by selling her. but he has never grasped the concept that she might never sell. as far as he knows, they all get sold. i would rather give her to the right person than sell her to the wrong person.
                                  i know very little about hunters but she certainly does not fit the prototype.
                                  daughter's trainer would be the wrong person.


                                  • #18
                                    I obviously don't know your horse, but from what you have said, I know a horse that had similar issues. (That is, if her issues are just an unwillingness to go forward.) She balks big time if she is not on the same brain length as you and will.not.move. Forcing the issue causes her to rear and buck or as a last resort back up violently. She got that way through several owners who gave up when she pulled that crap and was pretty much destined for the sale barn. She wound up in the right hands and my friend (after some trial and error) found a trainer who had the patience to deal with her. She is now working well enough that she is for sale as a low level event horse and has not had a balking episode in well over a year. As others have said, you might try a different kind of trainer. Maybe someone who does hunter/jumper or western. You never know who might click with this horse. Good luck to her and you!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      we have no more money to put into training. she would have to be sold "as is" and that is a scary proposition.
                                      i guess that it is not all horses can't be saved but rather can all horses be saved in time. this poor mare is just running out of time bc i am running out of money.


                                      • #20
                                        I don't have any suggestions for resolving the behavior issues I just wanted to commend you for being HONEST about this horse. SO many people just "forget" to disclose any problems a horse may have and place it up for sale cheap so they can unload it fast. I understand your point about the horse ending up in the wrong hands, I myself have a horse with a unique personality that if I were to sell may end up in a abusive situation due to his behavior. Do what you feel is best for YOU & the horse.