Thursday, November 12, 2009


I realize I've disappeared on you guys. Part of it is work, part is my current horse life. I am considering taking a huge step and it's simply locked me in place.

I am in the middle of talking to a private school with a large riding program about donating Pete and another of my horses, Loki.

I'm OK with the Pete donation. It's a great place for him to land and it's time for him to go on to his next home.

The program this school offers is an excellent one. The woman who runs it runs the English side of things and her assistant does the western side.

Both are accomplished, sensible trainers.

The program matches a horse to a child for an entire semester, so it's not like the horses will be being yanked and banged around by a bunch of beginners.
They have won national group championships, they are serious competitors and value their horses.

So it should be a good thing.

But, I think I might be nuts not putting Loki up for sale. She's a cracker jack horse and sound. She also has some emotional issues from being over-shown and over-trained (Another story coming....). While the tax write-off will help Pete's owner, I don't make enough $$ for it to help me.

I know if I sold her she would be back in the show pen. She would end up in training again. I owe this mare a lot and I can't help but think it would be a disaster for her if she's sold.

The school will give her back if she doesn't work out. They have had horses donated with the very same problems. Their policy is to keep them home to learn on if they can't handle show pressure. Right there they had me hooked.

So, here I am on the verge of giving away a pretty stinking valuable mare. I think I might be nuts.

I'm certainly going nuts. AHHHHHHH!

What do you think?

I will find a picture of Loki tonight and let you have a gander...


  1. I think you should go with your gut. The school sounds like a perfect fit for Loki, and that means so much more than any amount of money. Peace of mind is priceless. Good luck in your decision.

  2. Hi! I found your blog on "Life at the Rough String".
    I like what I read here and I will be back.
    Visiting from Sweden!


  3. The nice thing about this situation is that not only are you comfortable with the place but that can take her back if it doesn't work out. That should give you some peace of mind. having that arrangement helped me when I had to find a home for some of my goats :) Obviously not the same, but it was comforting to know that I had some control over their future situation if the new home didn't work out.

  4. This is a tough decision for Loki. For Pete it's a no sounds perfect for him and his owner too.

    I know that my heart gets in the way sometimes...since I still have the Kiger that I bought from my clients because I couldn't see them shipping him off to a "set up for failure" life.

    But, if Loki can help riders learn without her loosing her brain, it's a pretty tempting option. I know the pocket book can always use the cash flow, but at what expense of the guilt trip implied ;~)

    How long might it be until the "right" person comes along to buy her? It's such a crap shoot. I have to agree with lopinon4 to go with your gut. Sleep on it a few days too.

  5. Janet, I think you know what to do and just need us to reassure you it is the right thing :) Just think of it as a "free-lease" or even write it up that way. She won't cost you maintainence money, and she will be getting attention and some kid's love again.

    And that the Kiger on your website? I just love him! Keep checking to see if he's sold when I read your blog. Bet he has an interesting story.


  6. You need to think about this:

    Is it important that I get a nice chunk of change for this horse???

    Or is it more important that I sleep at night, satisfied that I have done the best for this horse that I can???

    I think you've already answered the question in your secret heart-of-hearts.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. The same reason I can't sell my mare, I have this feeling she will be over yanked and cranked and turn sour which she will... and her fate will be unknown.

    Sounds like a no brainer for Pete, but too bad Loki cant go live somewhere as a trail/buddy/spare mount.

  9. I agree with the earlier comments that the school sounds ideal for Loki. Simply because even with a buy-back/1st refusal clause in a regular sale contract there is no guarantee that she will come back to you if she doesn't work out in a new show home. Or that she would not be mal-treated to turn their initial purchase price outlay into a winner. People are CRAZY like that, as you know. And would you be able to afford to buy her back from hypothetical failed show home?

    There is also a principle of economics and behavioral called "sunk cost"; about how we as people often make bad decisions about things (stock market investments, cars, horses...) by not cutting our losses when we can, due to the already sizeable investment we have in them, and our unwillingness to "lose" money.

    I myself have fallen into this trap, as evidenced by the blind mare I have so much vet $$$$ into on top of normal upkeep costs. She's a beautiful seven year-old lawn ornament. She's a great mom but I can't make a baby every year in this market, and I can't keep them all! I hope that if her yearling filly grows into a nice show horse I can breed her again and have a market for the foals, but until then there she sits, doing nothing, costing me money every blessed month...and she'll continue to do so for probably 20 more years! If I had a chance at a home for her where she could be productive and useful (even as a broodmare in a reputable breeding/show barn, and would come back to me for nothing if it didn't work out, I would jump at it.

  10. Hm. That is tough. But as everyone here has already pointed out, you've got to do right by the horse. It's easy for us to say, since it's not our pocketbooks that are affected by this!

    DarcC has a good point about sunk costs. You spent a lot of time and money to end up with a valuable show horse. Only she's not mentally suited to the show ring. So she's not really a show horse any more, is she? No matter what her history says. The problem is that the most likely buyers for her (and certainly the people who would pay the most) wouldn't respect that, and would put her right back into the show ring. You're right to protect her from them.

    Is there a halfway option? If Loki's a top notch horse, would she be valuable as a broodmare? Do you know a breeder you'd trust to take her as a broodmare with a clause that she won't be shown? That way she gets the quiet life she needs, you get at least some cash, and she's useful. Or maybe a low-level rider you know would be a good home, and would love to get a horse like Loki for a bargain price.

  11. Anon. brings up a point I've been toying with for months, which is giving her to a home where she wouldn't be shown.
    My biggest problem there is I have been the recipient (as a trainer) of a few too many horses who were given away to non-show homes.
    They got the show bug, specifically because of the horse they are now riding....
    I have been planning on keeping her. But I am still keeping 3 others.That's a lot of board $$.
    The reality of my situation is closing in.
    Trust me guys. I got over the thought of recovering money from horses I personally own years ago.
    But, I guess I worry about the ego involved in thinking I know what's best for my horse.
    Am I limiting her options by deciding I'm the end all in what's best for her?
    I need the best decision fairy to come whack me over the head with her wand.

  12. Oops, I forgot to add, Loki was a great show horse. She has solid Foundation breeding.
    In today's current economy I don't consider her brood mare quality (even if I did keep her son).

  13. HBFG- has a fun blog in the making. I love the pictures from other countries.

  14. Could you advertise her and see who is interested in her? How does that suggestion make you feel? If it feels OK, then give it a try and see who comes out of the woodwork. You always have the last say. If it makes you cringe... well then, that's telling isn't it?

    I only say this because I recently lost my job and decided to lease one of my two horses out. I advertised him, found a gal with her own place in the country, she rode him, I went to her place to check it out. And just couldn't do it. It was the wrong choice for me, so I scoured the internet until I found really cheap pasture board at a decent place for both of my boys. What it cost to keep one horse at a nice place was the same cost as it was to keep both horses in pasture board... but I wouldn't have known it was the right choice at first.

  15. Albigears - I like that thought. I guess I could throw it out there. Have I ever mentioned just how crappy I am at selling horses?

  16. Hmmn. At the top of your blog is your answer. "I STRIVE TO BE FAIR." (To the horse is implied.) So what is fair for the burnt out show mare? Can you reassess Loki after a year at the school, or is this a permanent placement? It doesn't sound like Loki wants to be a great show horse anymore, even if she is really good at it. And yes, there is that voice that whimpers "But all that money!!" Hush that voice by thinking what a pain and expense it would be to rehab her, if she bounced back after a moneyed but inappropriate placement.

  17. I hate to step out as the hard ass of the group but I think the responsibility of determining and providing for the best interest of a horse must always fall on the current owner. The best that any seller can do is vet out a buyer as thoroughly as possible and then hope for the best (and stay in touch)...I'd guess that someone who has seen the things you have might have trouble putting blind faith in the good will of a future owner (to not show her) but really, in the end, what choice do we have unless we retain ownership?

    The school sounds wonderful and Loki very well might work out there till the end of her days. If that is what makes you feel comfortable, great! But personally I dont think that giving her away to a school as oppose to selling her to a private party will do much more to ensure that she wont be shown in the future. What happens if you are not around (die, accident, move away etc.) and she doesnt work out at the school? Where does she go then? What if she goes permanently lame? What if she becomes unusable in some other way? Sure in the first year or so you might take her back but what after that? Are you going to want to take her back ten years down the road? And then feed and care for an unusable horse till the end of her days? What if the school changes direction or is no longer in business in another five-ten years? There is a good chance that in the future she'll end up some place other than that school or with you (I could easily be wrong but I'll go ahead an assume for the sake of the argument that's true.) There is no end to the "what if" when looking at a horses future, we can only do the best we can today or keep her for the rest of her days, (forever and ever, amen).

    IMHO There is no use in deluding ourselves into believing that we can control what happens to a horse we no longer own...there are just to many variables at stake and too little we can do to control the future. We horse people have trouble with letting go of control, dont we?:)

    I'd sell her to the best home I can find. Hard ass, right? Not because I dont care but because I dont have faith that either option ensures her a good life. So why sell? Because those $$ would help me provide for my family- horses and dogs included. Or if you want to get really conscientious, I could donate that money to a school for the disabled, rescue group or give it away to one of the very needy families this economy has created.

  18. I wonder Mugs if Loki did go to the school and that perfect young rider did get matched up with her, would the school let the family purchase her? Then maybe that could be a forever home for her. Could Loki do local fun shows? Or is she completely burnt out of all show scenes. There are plenty of young riders that would love a safe and well-trained horse, yet only want to do the local fun show circuit. Like my kids :0)

  19. Hey - I just saw this...I think I know the school you are thinking of. If I am right, you might want to think again.

    Honestly - email me.

  20. Adventures- I appreciate your honesty, but you make assumptions about me, a person you don't know.

    The reason I would retain the right to get her back, be it five years, ten years or 20 years from now is because I could then reassess if she was still healthy, and if she was crippled, old or otherwise unusable I could put her down.I want her back so she can be humanely euthed and not sent to a sale.

    If I am injured or move I can still see that these things are taken care of. If I am dead than my daughter will take over,she has been well trained and would do what needed to be done.

    I don't feel I owe the money I would make off her to anyone, if I want to donate to a needy family or a charity than I will do so. Again, you presume a lot.

    I am trying to find a use for my good horse and the solid training she has. I didn't just stumble upon this place and make a snap decision.

    I researched the school, the trainers and their history of the use of their horses. I'm a reporter now, I have pretty decent resources.

    If she hadn't had her brain fried I would sell her and wish her well. Since her problems came to her in my care I feel I have to find the best solution for her.

    You call it control, I call it accepting responsibility for the situation I created for her.

    I am frozen over a decision, wondering if I'm being emotional instead of practical, but I'm not worried about control or the lack of it. Or lecturing somebody else about providing for their family.

  21. veryone thinks- I can't email I don't have an address. Just write me at

  22. Mugs, you have to trust yourself. You know your horses better than anyone else does, and if you can't make the best choices for them than who can? Unfortunately they cannot tell us what they would rather do. :)

  23. Wow Mugs, obviously I wrote that comment in such a way as to completely loose my sentiment, I'm sorry. That is the problem with carelessly using "you" instead of "I" and not making sure it was clear I was speaking hypothetically about the issue in general (one I think many of us horse people face) and not about you personally.

    I would NEVER imply that you are a control freak (I dont know you and even if I did, that would be rude.) I said it tongue and cheek about horse people and in reference to how often we try to control the crazy world of horses, seemingly to no avail and despite our best efforts. I can understand, looking back how it might seem that I was inferring that of you. Sorry:)

    My sentiments with respect to the difficulty in buy back clauses and the potential for things to go awry came across as overly cynical because I've personally sold a horse with a buy back that ended up being useless in practicality. I've also seen firsthand the number of people who have acted overly concerned about selling a horse to a good home but that never follow up or seem to care about that horse after a year (or less) ...once the sentiment attached to that horse has faded. Again my comment was in reference to the people I have seen around me (and in truth, my own behaviour) and not an attack on your good intentions, as it came across.

    I also pointed out that I was making an assumption (for the sake of the argument and with respect to the issue in general) about looking further down the road and how few people I know that would take a horse back after so many years. I very much respect that you would take a horse back after that amount of time and in stating that you would, I guess I must take a harder look at my own conscience because I dont think i could say the same.

    Lastly, my comment about donating the money from a sale to charity was merely to point out that to make money off of the sale of a horse need not be about financial could be turned into a greater good, if one were adverse to the idea of the dollars gained in a sale.

    Having now, hopefully, succeeded in removing my foot from my mouth I hope my poor writing will allow this sentiment to come across clearly....

    In commenting I had hoped to share that, in my experience, a buy back does not always ensure a seller's ability to direct the future of that horse (for both legal, financial and logistical reasons) and that I have been short sighted in the past when putting together such a clause. Also that no matter how diligently we may try to ensure the future care of a horse we are selling, once we had over the ownership papers that control is (largely) taken out of our hands...which is why I feel that when I sell a horse I have to be willing to hand off the responsiblity of that horse to it's new owner. I respect that you may not agree.

    It sounds like you've taken every precaution in ensuring Loki's future... I wish I could say the same of my past horses.

    Either way, I hope that Loki finds a great home ...I am sure that with you in her corner, she will.

    You know what they say about assumptions... when you assume you make and ass-out-of-u-and me (ass/u/me)

  24. I wrestled with this type of decision with my last horse, and went with my gut. I gave him away to that "right owner" when I spotted her, rather than take the chance on selling him to the wrong one and having him end up in that downward spiral because someone couldn't handle his quirks.

    It worked for me. He is in a forever home (as far as one can tell). New owner and horse are happy.

    Did I miss getting money to recoup some of what I'd invested over four years? Yep.

    Was it the right decision for me? Yep.

    Did everyone else agree with my decision? Nope.

    Sometimes it's not completely logical. You'll know what feels right. Trust your gut.

  25. Wow there has been quite the discussion going on here, most of the points I was going to make have already been made, so I'll be brief.

    From what I understand, you need someone who wants a high quality mare, but doesn't want to show, and wouldn't be tempted to show once they figure out what a great mare Loki is. I want to let you know that those people do exist, I'm one of them.

    When you find the right home, be it this school, or a private owner (I agree that you should advertise, just to see who comes a knocking) you will know, because you will be comfortable with the idea of letting Loki go. As the situation stands right now, you are not comfortable.

    So ask yourself, with this school, what would it take to get comfortable? An infallable buyback clause? A one year donation and then reassess her mental condition at that point? Do whatever you need to be comfortable with the sitation. If that's not possible, look somewhere else.

    Based on all I've read about you, you've got good instincts, don't second guess them now. Guess I wasn't that brief after all.

  26. I would free lease the horses to them for an undetermined amount of time that each party has the right to back out of. That way you are ultimately in control.

    I am just now coming out of an ideal situation like that with the B&W horse in my avatar. He has had top of the line care for the last 4 years and now I am getting him back.

    Somehow if feels better to actually own the horse, than to have a first right of refusal (to get the horse back) contract since those seem often forgotten.

    Just my two cents. I agree, it does sound like a good potential situation for the horses.

  27. What is best for the horse is always what if best.

  28. Gosh I hate it when I realize after I post I spelled something wrong sorry.

    What I meant to say is;

    What will be best for the Horse "is" the answer.

  29. Anyway, good luck with the placement. I understand how having less horses would make it so much easier to spend time with the one(s) that you have left.

    Oh, and you are hardly a disappointment, and always worth the wait!

  30. Mugs, go with your gut. Your first instinct is more often than not the correct one. It sounds like a great situation for your mare.

    I'm having the same sort of dilemma w/my barrel horse. He's a very competitive horse, extremely easy to ride, very laid back. That being said, he's a nut job, lol. He hates being kept in a stall, or even a very small pen. If he's kept up too long, he becomes the worst cribber you've ever seen! Kicks at the stall walls, will kick in the trailer as well if he's shut up in a slant load trailer. He hauls fine in a stock trailer, but I honestly think he gets claustrophobic. I've had more than once opportunity to sell him, but I balked at the chance, I just couldn't do it. I didn't want him to turn back into the big ball of nerves he was when I first got him. I've had him just shy of 2 years, and he's 100% night and day different from the horse I first brought home. No cribbing, no kicking in the lot ( lol no stalls at our place ) and no kicking what so ever in the trailer. I'm at a loss as well...I could sell him and make lots of $$$ on him, but my ability to sleep at night would suffer horribly.

  31. Adventures- No problem, and to your credit it did get me to think. I don't have to decide anything now. I might throw out a few lines to different trainers. I already emailed the Big K.
    Of course he'll say, "What are you thinking? Sell her!" But it's still good to get different perspectives.

  32. Wow! She's gorgeous!

    Tell us her story some day, please.

  33. Glad you posted Loki's pics...she's something else! Gorgeous and athletic!

  34. Havent read through all the comments yet, so forgive me if this has been suggested. Would she make a good beginner childs mount? You could advertise her as a "first horse" for a small child and just take it from there. Definatley state in your ad that her showing days are over and would be best suited for trails or?
    I sold my daughters horse who had become super sour on barrels (reared at the gate). I disclosed that and stated I did not want her sold for barrels. TO make a long story short, a young girl and her mom have her and they have been practicing JUMPING! she LOVES it. They also did do a gymkanna and had no issues. Younger girl, so no pressure. So, you CAN sell your horse into a career change, but of course, you have no control once the deal is done.
    I think I would advertise and just see what happens. Reality is, most of us could use the $$ and would rather sell then donate IF we can find a good home.

  35. oh, one more thing..... How about a free lease to some child? that way, you still retain ownership!

  36. LOVE the photos!! What a stop! :)

    I had to chuckle at my vision of the Big K sitting down to check email. Is that evil of me?

    Good luck in your decision. I am (even if you're not) very confident that you will do what is right for your mare AND for you.

  37. Hi Mugs. Man, what a tough decision. I was in a similar spot, not too long ago. I even left a comment on your blog a while back about my Filly pony and was going to send you her story for a Mouthy Monday, but never got around to it. I stressed and stressed and STRESSED over what to do with her, and my hang up was that she had to go to THE perfect person, or she could just sit in the pasture and continue being a pasture ornament. This horse wasn't going to be misused again, as she was before I got her. But, I had finally come to the realization I was never going to be able to train her, but she had too much potential to just sit around. I didn't want to advertise her because I didn't want just anyone coming to get her. I just decided to put it all in God's hands. Well, it worked. I was looking at photos of a friend's friend on facebook and I really liked the girl's horse. I ended up sending the girl a message and I asked if we could be FB friends since we had horse friends in common. She friended me and was going through my photos and ended up asking me what I did with my little pony named Filly. At the same time, I was going through her photos and admiring how healthy and well cared for they were. Plus, the shots of her riding were impressive. She is a great rider and her horses go around correctly. We got to talking about my pony and all the issues she had and the girl ended up wanting to come look at Filly anyway. I had such a good feeling about the entire thing, I said sure. I knew I could back out of selling Filly if I didn't feel right about it. The girl came and rode Filly, I cried, we talked, I cried some more. I felt great about this girl and decided I could let her take Filly home. It was THE perfect person I was looking for. We know people in common, so of course I did some checking before I even said she could come out to meet Filly. But all the pieces fell into place and I am thrilled with where Filly is now. The girl loves her and we have an agreement that if Filly doesn't work out or if she can't keep her, she will come back to me.
    You will know what is right for you when you find the right situation. It is so hard when we love our animals as much as we do. They are our family. I wanted to share my story with you; the decision to let Filly go was really hard for me, until I found the right situation. Loki is a gorgeous animal...and as several of your followers stated, "peace of mind is priceless." I wish you the very best and look forward to hearing about your decision.

  38. I'm kinda agreeing on what Adventures has to say. Selling, but putting all issues upfront and finding the right owner isn't a bad thing. Giving away doesn't MAKE it a good thing. So many of us would be denied great horses if owners didn't think they would ever find the right home, or if no one could care for that horse like they did. Could she be someone's outstanding ranch horse, would that suit her? How does the "showing" effect her that being in a busy school program would not? Guess you'll have to fill us in on Loki's story someday!

  39. ok - time for the silly questions from me.
    You said that the school does both english and western - would it be worth seeing if Loki enjoyed the english side? A horse that can collect to shift a cow like she can should be able to put together a basic dressage test, and jump 2'6 to 3 ft. I know it's training, but it's a different type, and with the western training she shouldn't need more than a soft handed rider in a mild snaffle - would that be enough of a mental break for her?

    Another feeling I geot was that you think she may come back to being able to show at low presure events - is that correct?

  40. I Hung up my Bridle Today

    by Kris Garrett


    Yesterday, for the first time, I was too tired to ride

    Yesterday, for the first time, I was afraid I would be hurt if I was thrown

    Yesterday, for the first time, I heard someone say my barn was too shabby

    Yesterday, for the first time, I let someone tell me I was too pudgy to ride

    Yesterday, for the first time, I realized I was old

    Yesterday, for the first time, I had to face that I could no longer keep up

    Yesterday, for the first time, I had to let go of my dreams

    Yesterday, for the first time, I felt my heart break

    Yesterday, for the first time, I turned my back on my friend

    Yesterday, for the first time, I knew I was done

    Today, for the last time, I felt warm, braided leather in my hands.

    Today, for the last time, I ran my stirrups up so they wouldn't bang my
    mare's sides

    Today, for the last time, I released the buckles on the girth and watched my
    girl sigh

    Today, for the last time, I slowly dropped the bit so it wouldn't hit her

    Today, for the last time, I gave my mare a cookie to thank her for the ride

    Today, for the last time, I buried my head in her soft, warm neck

    Today, for the last time, I inhaled the sun and the dust in her long winter

    Today, for the last time, I closed the gate and trudged to the muddy porch

    Today, for the last time, I tracked hay and horse hair into my house

    Today, for the last time, I pulled off my boots and felt the sting of warm
    blood returning to my cold toes

    Today, for the first time, I cried after my ride

    Today, for the first time, I felt my hands shake as I set the saddle on its

    Today, for the first time, I hugged my young trainer a final goodbye

    Today, for the first time, I waited for the new owner's trailer to arrive

    Today, for the first time, I set my boots in a box to go to the Goodwill

    Today, for the first time, I sighed at the wear on my riding gloves

    Today, for the first time, I had no hay in my hair

    Today, for the first time, I did not hear nickering when I opened my back

    Today, for the first time, I felt worse leaving the barn that I did when I

    Today, for the first time, I had no one to check on before going to bed

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I won't have to buy hay

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I can stay in bed longer

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I won't see the poop pile grow

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I won't be able to fly on four legs

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I will be sorry I listened

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I will regret letting her go

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I will be angry at God

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I will be angry at myself

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I will cry the day away

    Tomorrow, for the first time, I will be glad to die

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will awaken in tears

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will know I was wrong

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will defy all the judgement

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will ignore my old bones

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will return the buyer's check

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will bring my friend home

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will take my boots out of the box

    Day after tomorrow, for the first time, I will be reborn

    For the rest of my life, I will have a horse in my yard

    For the rest of my life, I will ignore the cruel judging

    For the rest of my life, I will watch the poop pile grow

    For the rest of my life, I will have hay in my hair

    For the rest of my life, I will track mud in my house

    For the rest of my life, I will bury my face in her soft neck

    For the rest of my life, I will let my soul fly

    For the rest of my life, I will never be alone

  41. Nancy C,

    Good think you posted that on a Saturday so you didn't have to be responsible for runny mascara at the office. I didn't even make it half way through without tearing up.

    I put another ride on my 3 year old today. I wore the helmet and the protective vest and we flew =)

  42. You and I and everyone else knows that with Loki it isn't about the money. Follow your heart!

  43. Follow your gut! Everytime I have ever made a decision based on money, I was sorry afterwards. Of course, I'm a softy and never could make a living on horses because I'm too sentimental!