The Ugly Truth

It’s been pretty quiet here for the past couple weeks. Other than joining in on the evening activities when Emma came to San Diego, I haven’t done much worth reporting horse-wise. Emma was awesome and great to meet; I hope it’s not a singular event. It was also nice to see the local girls again. I’m really glad they included me in their plans and hopefully we get together more often!

I’ve been spending a lot of time doctoring horses which is nothing to write home about. Ben with his weird bed sore, Aria with these awful hock sores that are on top of her hocks (not even sure how that happens), and Catalina with physitis. I’ve weaned Catalina, which should help reduce the inflammation in her knees but baby moose is just so big that there’s no way to avoid the growing pains she’s going through other than to slow her progress as much as possible.

Valeria seems to be pretty happy about not having a parasitic terrorist at her side anymore. She’s dried up a lot quicker than I thought she would but I guess it’s to be expected since she never had a large udder anyway. That does mean that work will be starting very soon for her. Especially since my end goal is to sell her.

As I’ve spent a lot of time on trail rides rather than arena work, because that’s where my head space is, I’ve been contemplating my horsey goals. I only have so much spare time in a day to focus on my horses and with four, inevitably someone gets the short stick. I’ve mentioned many times, though perhaps not on this blog, that I need to get down to two horses. While it’s very easy for me to put Valeria on the chopping block because I purchased her with the intent of not keeping her the second selection has been difficult.

Not because I don’t know which horse to rehome but because I feel like the decision is a failure in some way. I haven’t ridden Ben but a handful of times in a decade out of fear. Once when I was chatting with L she said “green + green = black & blue”. That pretty much sums up my history with Ben. While I’m a much better rider now and I have successfully ridden him a few times in the last year, to include tackling my fear of cantering on him, I don’t enjoy riding him. I don’t relax when I’m on him.

Additionally, he’s an older boy. Twenty-one isn’t a death sentence to a horse and he hasn’t slowed down by any means (possibly part of the reason I still don’t feel comfortable on him). I feel confident, barring any serious injury or health issues, he should have several more years of quality riding in him. I’m not going to give that to him, but he deserves it. Much more than he deserves to sit in a stall day after day.

There is associated guilt with the idea of rehoming an older horse though. Even though in my current horse ‘career’ I know that I want to show and I want a very specific type of horse that Ben will never be, that doesn’t remove the sting or concern that I have for where his path may lead once he leaves my hands. I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ dumping an older horse because he no longer serves a purpose.

I did a disservice to him when I didn’t sell him ten years ago. I held on to him for sentimental reasons. The more time I spend riding, the more I realize and come to terms with the unescapable truth that Ben and I were never a good fit and never will be a good fit. It’s a tough pill to swallow.

I will come to terms with my decision in time but I have to be decisive in my actions or the chance of another decade passing is very real. What’s your opinion on this? Should a horse be a lifetime commitment ‘till death do we part’ or is it kinder to move along and let them have a shot with someone else?

13 thoughts on “The Ugly Truth

  1. ugh what a difficult position to be in 😦 i’m definitely not one of those who believes that to have a horse means to have a horse for life. but at the same time, i’m also pretty susceptible to some of the same sentiments and attachments and whatnot that make letting go hard. also your concerns about rehoming an older horse are totally valid. there are very few easy answers.

    but if i’ve learned anything in the last year or two, it’s that good homes exist for all types of horses (older, lame, neurotic, or all three!) and can be found with just a little bit of searching and due diligence! good luck!

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  2. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer for everyone, it’s much more of a case by case basis.

    Like for me, my retired OTTB is a lifer — I made a commitment to him a long time ago that he would live out his days with me, and I set my life up to make that work. He is perfectly content to stuff his face and go on a few trail rides a year. If I was still boarding, I’m not sure I could swing retirement for him, plus board on a riding horse, so I don’t expect people who do board to make the same kind of choices as I do.

    When I found myself with too many riding horses a few years ago (4 between the ages of 3 and 12), I made the excruciating (for me) decision to sell 2 so that I could focus on the other 2. It was the best decision for everyone and the 2 I sold are in a perfect home, but it was still hard for me mentally and emotionally.

    Hopefully you find a scenario that works for both you and Ben!

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    • It’s tough! I’m so sentimentally attached to Ben but I don’t feel connected to him the way I do with Aria. Ben and I are like battle buddies. Our connection is from mutually shared traumatic experiences. Not exactly a healthy relationship. Haha.

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  3. It is a hard decision. So very hard. I am a till death person, but that is because I have been blessed to have those horses. I have had one horse that turned out to not be a good fit and I did sell him. It was hard but keeping him would be harder. I knew it was the right thing to do. For my other horses. For him. For me. Doing what is best for the horse is what is important. Sometimes that means finding them a better situation in a new home. That is one of the most difficult and most important parts of being a good horseman.

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  4. I don’t have my own place- I board- so circumstances aren’t the same, but if a horse wasn’t working for me, I would personally sell. I’m not heartless, and I understand the “til death” position when it comes to animals like dogs or cats, ya know, animals that are financially reasonable to keep, but horses are much different. 21 is not too old to rehome as a riding horse, particularly if he has less wear on him than other horses his age. Good luck in your decision! That’s a tough place to be.

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    • If I was boarding he probably would have been gone years ago. I’m lucky enough to have the property that lets me make bad decisions (haha). Coming to terms with what is best for him (and in turn for me) has been a slow process of denial. But I think I’m ready.

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  5. I am sure that you can find a good solution for Ben. Including a ‘if you can’t keep him let me know’ clause. Or possibly a free lease for someone. Either way you are not a horrible person for re-homing him. Truly.

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  6. We do the best we can with what we have. I agree with Emma, there are all kinds of homes out there, and you should be able to find a home for Ben. It might take a bit of work. There are a lot of people looking for older buddy type horses for themselves on Facebook too.

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    • You’ve been horse shopping more recently than I have so I will take your word on it! Also, sorry for not linking to you when I mentioned you. I wrote this in frantic spurts between actual work and didn’t even proof read before posting. XD

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