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Breaking up is hard to do. Update Post #34

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  • #21
    I agree with every word of this post ^ [edit: NC rider's post], horses like this tend to bounce around from home to home. Though, otoh I agree with others too, I would be cautiously optimistic about finding a lease situation for her. If I were looking right now, yours would be very appealing to me. There are people out there - not always kids either, I'm far from a kid - that enjoy these kinds of challenges.

    Mainly wanted to chime in to say wow, 16 years is a long time. I admire your dedication to this animal and sticking with her this long... and I have even more admiration for you for having the self awareness to realize the situation is no longer working, and for having the bravery to do something about it even though it must feel like every fiber of your being is walking against the tide.


    Horse ownership is about the horse AND the owner. Both are entitled to happiness. Do not allow yourself to think its selfish to want to be happy too. Edited to add this thought, as its problem I grapple with too and its therapeutic to vent it.
    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


    • #22
      OP, I know you are attached, but if you're not enjoying it, make the decision to stop riding her, cut your expenses on her, retire her somewhere cheap, and start riding something else. There is no shame in that. If financially that's truly not an option, give her some super spoiled good retirement time, then put her down. You've put in a good 16 years of care for her. I'm not one of those people who thinks that you have an obligation to care for an unrideable horse for 20 years if that means that you can't ride any more. Horses are expensive. They're not dogs. But I do think you have an obligation to make sure she doesn't end up in pain. For a horse like this, a giveaway is just sticking your head in the sand about what really happens to her. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who take full ownership of the decision about what's going to happen to an aged unrideable horse rather than passing the buck to someone else to avoid being the one who made the hard decision.
      Good luck.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by buck22 View Post
        Mainly wanted to chime in to say wow, 16 years is a long time. I admire your dedication to this animal and sticking with her this long... and I have even more admiration for you for having the self awareness to realize the situation is no longer working, and for having the bravery to do something about it even though it must feel like every fiber of your being is walking against the tide.


        Thank you. It only took 10 years to admit this without feeling like a failure. I think I am going to look into a lease option over the winter and then if nothing, find a retirement pasture in the spring.

        I don't have to make any decisions quickly. I do have access to another horse, which is a blessing. When I told my trainer I was terrified to ride her horse because I felt like I had done such a royal job of screwing up my own, she replied, " I have no doubt you can ride my horse. I think you ride very well, your horse just makes you think you can't." So I'm really humbled to have the support I have been getting.

        Several friends have responded with a similar song of "I'm really sorry to hear this, but I know it's something that you have been struggling with for a long time and I know you will figure out what's best for you and Color."
        Dreaming in Color


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by NCRider View Post
          OP, I know you are attached, but if you're not enjoying it, make the decision to stop riding her, cut your expenses on her, retire her somewhere cheap, and start riding something else.
          Good luck.
          Thank you. The decision has pretty much already been made. I have no desire to ride her again. Maybe I might hop on to walk around the arena or something, but I am done otherwise.

          Luckily I don't have to make any quick decisions and I am hoping over time, I can lesson the detachment by not riding her and make it easier to lease out or retire her to a cheaper arrangement.
          Last edited by drmgncolor; Apr. 8, 2013, 05:54 PM.
          Dreaming in Color


          • #25
            Kenny Rogers sang it best: "There's someone for everyone . . ."
            "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run . . . "

            Your mare might make someone else very happy. You need to find the one who makes YOU happy.


            • #26
              OP, I'm so sorry you're in this position. I know how it feels to have a horse that you love with your whole being that you just can't make work.

              While I haven't had mine for 16, I've had him for 5 (our anniversary was October 25th) and I bought him during what may have been the single most emotionally traumatic week of my life (literally signed the check the day after I told my parents that a relative had molested me for my entire childhood) and he was more or less my lifeline during the fallout. Unfortunately for me, however, I wanted a jumper and he was more interested in breaking my neck. He's a darling horse on the ground and thankfully will walk on the trails like a gentleman, but beyond that he can be downright dangerous under tack. And like you, I've exhausted every option. I've probably poured a quarter million dollars into him between his purchase and trying to fix/rehabilitate/train (and that included more vet work than I could shake a stick at; MRIs, a nuclear scan, x-rays, injections, Meso therapy...you name it, he's had it) him and it's ended up with him sitting - 1000% sound - in one of my fields. He's probably the loveliest horse to watch galloping around his paddock, but that's about all he's "good for" so to speak.

              I'm very lucky to have my own farm because otherwise I simply couldn't justify keeping him. It just simply wouldn't make sense. I've given great thought to what I would do with him should that situation ever arise because - unlike your mare - he's a liar. He'll go like a gentleman for an undisclosed period of time (which is how I ended up buying him) and then he'll completely lose it. Bolting, crashing through jumps, stopping *dirty*, spooking violently...he does it all. And I would never want to take the risk of someone else getting their hands on him and thinking that they could make him work. So I've decided that if the situation were to arise (which I sincerely hope it never will because I do love him so deeply), I would put him down. It would be the kindest thing I could ever do for him and the safest thing for everyone involved. I'm not saying that this is what you should do with your mare in the least, but just the conclusion I've come to for my situation.

              It sounds like, for the moment, you have a good situation with your trainer's horse while you sort things out with Color. I wish you all the best.
              Nine out of ten times, you'll get it wrong...but it's that tenth time that you get it right that makes all the difference.


              • #27
                It is so hard to say that we are not the right rider for a horse that we so want to be the right rider for.

                On the finding someone to lease her front, have you looked into people in the saddle seat world, since she did that before?


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Lady Eboshi View Post
                  Kenny Rogers sang it best: "There's someone for everyone . . ."
                  There sure is "someone for everyone". I was thinking about this and doing a mental inventory of all the horses who no longer live here. Some of them I miss, other's not so much. Here's my inventory of successful departures (all with full disclosure):
                  Confirmed Barn Sour Rearer
                  Unhinged Rogue with a nasty buck
                  IR, laminitis, and arthritis in left shoulder
                  Laminitis and came unglued at the sight of snow

                  All those horses were loved by their next owners.


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                    have you looked into people in the saddle seat world, since she did that before?
                    If she had a little more motion, and a longer neck she would have never left the ASB world, but I don't think she would have made it big there either. I do have some ASB peeps to contact over the winter, but I am so far removed from that world now. There might be a market for her there, because there is very little market for her here.

                    The biggest problem (and one that no one can really help me with) is letting her go. That is breaking my heart.
                    Dreaming in Color


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by drmgncolor View Post
                      ..The biggest problem (and one that no one can really help me with) is letting her go. That is breaking my heart.
                      I am really sorry you are going through this! For some reason when we (general we here) don't get along with a horse, we seem to think it is some kind of personal failure. It isn't. There are people in life I have met that we just rub each other the wrong way for no particular reason (I generally get along with everyone); there other people's dogs I am so glad are not my dogs as I do not like them at all (I really like dogs too!); why do I seem to think that I should get along with every horse (many people get stuck in this train of thought too)?!?

                      FWIW, I finally was able to sell my horse that I just did not get along with, was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. In my situation, we both grew to strongly dislike each other, but I have seen her in her new home and if horses could smile.... she would be smiling. I should have sold her sooner, and we would not have grown to dislike each other so much. That was a life lesson for me, one I hope to never forget.

                      Best luck to you, and I hope you are able to find a situation that works for you and your horse!


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by NCRider View Post
                        No flames, but a word of caution-a 16-year old difficult to ride horse with medical issues who isn't super talented in some sport but can't be trailridden isn't going to end up in a good situation unless you, who have known and cared for her for her entire life, make sure of it. You could get lucky and some kid could fall in love with her and keep her and care for her so much that the kid and/or her parents fund the horse's retirement, but the reality is that you've kept this mare long enough that she's aged to the point that the likelyhood that she's going to find another "forever" home is highly improbable.

                        Assuming you are concerned about her future, if I were you, I'd ask your trainer if there's anyone in your barn who would be willing to free lease her, or even partially lease her, and then you should start riding the school horses or a leased horse of your own.

                        if you can't free lease her out to another rider, I'd find the cheapest quality retirement board you can find that will take her medical needs into consideration, even if it's not close enough to visit very regularly, and then I'd start riding another horse.

                        I wouldn't flame you if you said you were going to give her some nice retirement time and then put her down.

                        What I wouldn't do is give her away to a "good home". The good homes for horses like yours are so rare as to be mythological. From what you've said about her, your mare is unlikely to be someone else's perfect horse.
                        This is exactly what I was going to write.

                        Honestly, if you can't find a situation where you DO have oversight of her care (i.e. a lease by a barn-mate, friend, etc) then I would retire her for as long as you can afford to pay the board and her care, and then I would put her down.

                        I did this with a QH gelding I had with pretty bad navicular. He was 18, and when I decided he just wasn't happy and comfortable with life, I put him down. No "okay for light trail riding" home, no "free to good home as a companion" because I had no way of making sure my buddy had a good end to life. I took the decision to heart, and made sure of it myself.

                        His last day was beautiful
                        "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by TheHotSensitiveType View Post
                          I am really sorry you are going through this! For some reason when we (general we here) don't get along with a horse, we seem to think it is some kind of personal failure. It isn't. There are people in life I have met that we just rub each other the wrong way for no particular reason (I generally get along with everyone); there other people's dogs I am so glad are not my dogs as I do not like them at all (I really like dogs too!); why do I seem to think that I should get along with every horse (many people get stuck in this train of thought too)?!?
                          I struggled with that exact same thought for a very long time. I am a mare lover, the more opinionated, the better. I owned 3 very alpha mares and each relationship was worse than the one prior. Then one day after just another shitty ride, it occured to me: I just plain CAN'T ride that type of horse. It was a real wake up call for me because that is the type of horse that I am always drawn to. The relationship will go great for a while, but before I know it, they get the upper hand and it all goes downhill from there. Once an alpha mare gets it into her head that she's in charge, there's not much you can do to change her mind!!

                          Finally, I went out and bought myself a nice, young gelding. He's forward and sensitive (so still my type), but he also has a huge sense of humor and does not hold a grudge. Best decision I've ever made and the complete opposite of what I thought I wanted.

                          The first mare I owned, I stuck it out with for 6 years. She was terrible for me, but is a doll for her new (beginner) owner and never puts a foot wrong. There were times I would have referred to her as dangerous, but her and I just rubbed each other the wrong way.

                          OP, please give your mare a chance to be that horse for someone else. Just because she is not a match for you, does not mean she won't be for another person. In fact, a lot of those quirks that you dislike or find difficult, may completely disappear with another rider that she is more compatible with. If I had known my first mare would be 100% happier in a new home, I wouldn't have agonized over the decision for 5 years. Both of you deserve to be happy.


                          • #33
                            Youve had her for a long time so its going to be hard until it happens. I recently rehomed a horse for a different reason, but I cried every day until she actually loaded up and left. I still miss her terribly, but it is such a relief knowing shes safe and happy, and ultimately one less to worry about. Im not in the horse selling business, so this is something I rarely have to do and I too was heartbroken- but you will feel better once the decision has been made and shes headed for a safe landing.


                            • Original Poster

                              I'm back with an update.

                              It's now been 84 days since I rode my mare. OK, I hopped on her twice. Once with a halter to just walk her around the arena.

                              I got zero hits for a free lease on Craigslist. There is just no market for her. I am now looking for retirement options, which look like they will cost about 300/month for pasture board.

                              And to add icing to the cake... DH and I just got our first paychecks of the year and we now make a collective $200 less a month with tax increases and increased medical insurance costs. I know what this means... leasing something else is now completely out and lessons are on shaky ground.

                              I know there are people much worse off and that having a horse period is a luxury. But gosh darnit, I would still like some cheese with my whine.
                              Last edited by drmgncolor; Apr. 8, 2013, 05:56 PM.
                              Dreaming in Color


                              • #35
                                It might be worth contacting other trainers to see if they know anyone interested in a free lease. Not everyone reads CL.


                                • #36
                                  I have a similar creature that I bred (my first and only) and love more than I can describe. She is well behaved most of the time but when she gets scared and panics, it is pretty spectacular. Fortunately I stick very well because I don't bounce off the ground as well as I did 20 years ago. If there ever came a day where I felt like you do and no longer enjoyed riding her, she would be incredibly hard to give away to a good home.

                                  A rider who is competent enough to keep her focus and attention every single step would likely never experience anything unpleasant. But that sort of rider would have their pick of horses and wouldnt want mine. The odds of my horse having a good outcome with an average rider is slim to none. Not that I am a great rider but I dont fall off easily so I can live with the occasional flaming red head meltdown. I would retire her if it came to it rather than risk a bad outcome.

                                  Unfortunately I dont have much helpful advice but do understand completely that it would break your heart to give her away. If you do find her a home, get a properly drafted free lease, so you can monitor and take her back if necessary.


                                  • #37
                                    I think a lot of other posters have given you good advice, so I just offer up my sympathy. Good luck with your decision!


                                    • #38
                                      Have you considered putting her down? Before everyone flames me, hear me out.

                                      1) Medical issues = expensive and many people don't want to take on an older horse with medical issues that is not rideable or talented.

                                      2) You can ensure that she will never go to a bad home/slaughter/resold.

                                      3) You can keep her with you forever and know where she ended.

                                      4) You have had her for quite some time and could you see her in another home if you did not agree with what they were doing with her?

                                      She is a tough older horse and you obviously care for her and have put a lot of effort into her. She could be laid to rest and you would never have to worry about her wellbeing if you sold her and she would no longer be an expense.

                                      I am not advocating this because she is just "older". I have had horses that were 20 bring me to my first event and I love an older horse. They just don't land as softly especially in this economy.

                                      I also hate suggesting this, but it is an option. I hope you find a solution that works for both of you. It is a tough decision and I am sorry that you have to make it. Good luck.
                                      I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by islgrl View Post
                                        Just because she's not the right horse for you does not mean she won't be the right horse for someone. I think there is no reason to try and make this work any longer. Sometimes having a horse is like a marriage, it doesn't work, you get a divorce and everyone is happier.
                                        exactly what i was going to say- i feel that a horse relationship has to be right. There might be a PERFECT person for her out there. Don't despair! Try putting her on this website for free. look into ASB magazines or clubs and pass the word.


                                        • #40
                                          I agree with contacting local trainers/instructors directly, as they may have students looking for a free lease or be looking for a lesson horse (and some will take a hotter horse for lessons; it's a step for some riders). You should also contact any local 4-H or Pony Club chapters as they often have riders needing a horse. Think about what she can do and market her-is she a saddleseat horse? Good on trails? Does she jump? Find some recent, good photos of her doing the things she's best at to show around-preferably taken in summer when she looks her best. Many feed stores allow people to post sale ads as well-again, use a good picture, be honest about her abilities. Put flyers in places where horse people frequent: feed stores, tack stores, local shows in the mare's discipline (posting an ad for a dressage horse at a Western pleasure show might not be productive). Just get the word out to your local horse community in any and every possible way

                                          I won't sugar-coat things, though: a hot, spooky older horse with soundness issues, especially one that is not in consistent work isn't going to be an easy one to place, even for free.

                                          That said, she might have more value to someone if she were being ridden or at least lunged more than once every couple of months. Depending on the cause of her stifle issue, light work may actually help her keep strength and stay sounder. I know you don't enjoy riding her, but don't you think you owe her the best chance to find a good place to land?

                                          I do know where you're coming from-outgrowing a horse is frustrating because what once was fun isn't, but you still have an emotional attachment.