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  • Haley Wright

To Keep or To Sell

So you bought a horse. Your childhood dreams finally came true! You rode a handful of times. Some rides were great but after leaving your horse off for weeks at a time due to a busy work and home schedule, it seemed that your horse was fighting you a bit, maybe bucked or took off at one point during your ride. Or... maybe your horse was a total gem but you got bored riding in circles. You dabbed in a riding event and you went on a trail ride with some friends but then... it got hotter outside, making it less than desirable to go sweat it out to get one 15 minute ride in. Then life happened causing time to get away from you.


Fast forward to a year later. You see your horse from time to time, ensuring that they have water and a round bale. You quit buying grain a few months back because you weren't really riding much and didn't figure your horse needed it. You quit blanketing your horses after the first snow of the year because it was a pain to catch the horse to take blankets off. Lately, the only times your horse is up is when they hurt themselves and it can't be ignored. However, contrary to how you felt when you first got this horse- their care officially signifies money spent. And that does not feel right when you are not receiving any benefit from this money-eater.


So what should you do?


As an animal owner, it is your responsibility to take the best care of your animal. You accept this as soon as you claim ownership. Sometimes, we are unrealistic on the costs that are associated with this undertaking. In other cases, life happens; changing a person's financial situation/area of interest. This leaves you with some big decisions, specifically with an animal that requires more care than some other animals.

Should you just let that horse live out in the pasture? They have some hay and water. Isn't that enough?

Such depends on the horse. If that horse needs constant riding for them to maintain how broke they are, it is not beneficial to its future to let them sit- whether for your own safety or for the next owner. Also, how does your horse look? If your horse looks poor, (dull coat, low weight, limping, etc.) you may not be able to leave said horse out to fend for itself.

In any case, horses require basic maintenance such as worming at the appropriate times, shots/current Coggins, farrier work, floating of the teeth. All of which help your horse to remain healthy.

If you find yourself forgetting or forgoing such things, you need to consider letting your horse go to someone who will ensure that the horse is best taken care of.


After careful consideration, you decide to re-home your horse. You paid $4500 for this horse a year ago. So you should expect to get $4500 back, right? Even that is a loss considering you paid to have the vet out once and had to buy all the tack.

Realistically, you must consider the horse's current state. If the photos from the original sale ad that you found so many months ago looks like an "After" version of what your horse looks like today, you may be disappointed to find that your asking price is not met.


I liken a horse to a car in some ways.


If you purchase a horse in "mint condition"; riding like a champ, slicked out, no soundness issues, etc. but then list your horse who magically came up with a limp, (probably from kicking at another horse and missing to find a fence post- horses will be horses). The same horse that started pulling back when tied the few times you pulled them up and has protruding ribs and hips.

You can expect the horse to "depreciate" just like a car that you try to trade in that has new dings and dents, along with a knocking engine and 100k more miles on it than the day you drove it off the lot. The likelihood that you are going to get what you paid is pretty slim.


That is where taking a loss comes in.


Yes, you may not walk away with what you initially paid. However, if you pay board- how many months of board at $100-$300 does your loss just continue to grow? Also, with vet bills that almost always range from $150-$1000 depending on your horse's ailment- would being even a thousand ahead be better than being hundreds behind?


On the flip-side, if you suspect that you are about to amble into a season where your riding may be able to take off- the costs may be worth it all. If you already have a horse that you know fits your style and can carry you towards your riding goals, the benefit may outweigh the cost. In some cases, the horse may actually profit you down the road if you were to compete for money, (this of course depends on your horse's capabilities and your skill level).


As an owner, you must weigh out your pros and cons in horse ownership. With whatever you decide, please always put the best interest of your horse ahead of all else. They depend on us to take care of them.




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