Horse Trading, Throw A Way vs Treasure

Rhythm, week 3

I remember reading a quote from some horse guru something along the lines of  'the horse of your dreams is the one you already own'.  Sometimes horse people get in the mindset that they need to trade in their current horse for a better one, like you would do in order to get a newer model car.  If you are competing there is some truth in that because you have to work within your horse's athletic abilities and temperament and if you've reached the max of your horse's capabilities you need to 'move up'.  For those of us not competing a person can find numerous reasons to want a different horse.  To name a few:

  • training levels:  A green horse and a beginner rider is usually not a good match.  There is a saying 'green on green equals black and blue'.  A beginner rider or timid rider usually does best with an experienced, older, quiet horse.  They are the best teachers.

  • athletic ability:  A strong, athletic horse needs the same in his rider. 

  • temperament: A high strung or insecure horse needs a calm, unflappable rider. Sometimes a person and horse just click due to good chemistry. 

  • body build:  Horse and rider need to be reasonably in proportion. Its always sad when a kid outgrows a much loved horse.

  • aesthetics or personal tastes:  This is probably the least valid but most common reason people start to get wanderlust or tired of their current horse.   This is when commitment comes into play. 

I've been watching by way of rescue groups on facebook good horse after good horse being brought to auction facing slaughter.  I know horses are expensive and God forbid if I were to suffer a big financial hit I would be faced with some hard decisions regarding my horses.  If it comes down to feeding your family vs feeding a horse there is no question.... but there are other options too. 

  • Look for different boarding options- pasture board vs full care.  As far as the horse is concerned, they don't need fancy facilities.  They need a dry shelter, food, water, companionship and good fences.  A pasture with a run in shed, plenty of grass hay and water is enough.   
  • Lease options- split costs with another person.  Don't wait until things get really bad.  Think creatively on how to cut costs. 
  • Donate a quiet, sound horse to a therapeutic riding program or lesson program. 
  • Look for a loving home in which to give the horse.  I did that this winter for a retired horse and it was a win win situation.  A little girl got to have a pony to love and my much loved and wise but not real mobile horse got to love and teach a timid rider.   

If you are faced with big bills due to medical needs of an older, sick, lame or injured horse be honest with your vet and see if you have other, less expensive options.  I believe it is much more humane to euthanize a sick or injured horse than it is to send them thru a sale barn.  The enormous stress these animals go thru is evident in their eyes and demeanor.  That is no way to thank an animal that has already given so much.  

I was going to try to relate this subject in a humorous, light way to trading in your spouse for a new model but decided the subject is too serious.  I've been floored by the sheer numbers of good, rideable, sound and YOUNG horses who wind up facing slaughter.  Don't breed unless you know the market is there for the horse you'll get. 

On a happy note my newest rescue, Rhythm has been enjoying going on walks with me and hand grazing as we wait for the pasture to come in and the ground to firm up.  I am thrilled with her temperament.  She has yet to spook at any of the new situations.  She likes to stop, look and think... a very nice quality in a horse!  I have 3 arabs which I dearly love .... who don't necessarily like to do this but that's been okay up to this point.  You work with what you've got and I am okay with their occasional spooks or shies but its made it harder to feel okay about putting friends up on my horses.  If you react to a 'spook' by clamping down things can escalate into a not very pretty scene.  I am very pleased to see Rhythm's calm acceptance to new situations because my arabs need that out on the trail.  She goes out away from the herd easily and without so much as a whinny.  My new girl has truly 'seen it all' in more ways that one.  What was someones throw a way is now becoming my treasure!   

Switching gears:  My son and I competed in a mural painting competition this weekend and won.  Stop by here to read and see our 4 x 5 ft. mural painted in 3 hours.  

Happy Trails!
Sue Steiner
equine and animal artist     



 
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