So, say you realize you’re over-horsed… what next?

Well, I made several miscalculations with a new horse purchase—both before, during, and in the days after bringing the horse home—and it’s catching up with me. First, I thought the horse was a lot less green than she is. Second, I thought I was a lot less green than I am. And third, I didn’t give the horse time to settle and re-establish the basics in her new living situation. I thought I had a responsibility to keep her performing at the level she was at when I tried her, and not miss a beat.

Also, fourth (maybe the worst miscalculation?) …I’m moving out of state. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but recently learned it’s happening in a matter of weeks. The good news is that it’s a part of the country where you can’t throw a rock in any direction without hitting a hunter/jumper farm. The bad news is that it’s a very high COL area, and it’s not clear to me that the affordably-priced barn I’d originally planned on moving to is set up to provide full-training. Training rides, yes, but I think I may be at least 3-6 months away from the point where a once-weekly training ride is going to cut it.

There is virtually no under $10k horse market in this area, which is why I thought I was being wise to buy before moving. At the time, however, I believed I had a solid 6 months to stay here and work with my trainer, who helped me find the horse. Now I’m facing the possibility of paying $1-1.5k to ship a horse I can’t safely ride outside of private lessons, to a part of the country where full training is going to cost an arm and a leg.

I have a few options, but I’m looking for input about what to do next. One knowledgeable friend recommended paying to ship her to the high COL area, then marketing her as a project, and selling her at a high enough price that I may break even on shipping and board. My trainer recommended sending her to a colt starter for 30 days and then seeing if I can transition to weekly pro rides (fwiw, she can ride the horse fine, she just sees there are some holes in her basics). She also said I could leave the horse with her—either to consign her, or sell her to her, but both would be at a loss. The knowledgeable friend also said that we aren’t hopelessly far from making it work (that she’s not too much horse per se, just too much project than I bargained for), and that if I commit to daily ground work, rack up as many training rides and private lessons as possible before moving, and address some underlying vet issues (teeth need floating), I may be surprised by how quickly the horse comes around—or, maybe not. It’s a gamble.

As for me, I’m conflicted. I’m paying for daily training rides to get her back to the level she was before she moved and I’m planning a private lesson this weekend. I’ve been doing groundwork daily. But I haven’t ridden in a week, and I hate that the move introduces so many variables. It could potentially be very good, if the average quality of horsemanship is just better. Or it could be bad, because I don’t have a preexisting relationship with a trainer I know and trust—just someone I spoke with on the phone a few times—and I may not be able to afford the high-quality training up there, even if there’s an abundance of it. She’s very marketable as a small hunter project, well-bred, very cute. But if I let her training deteriorate while I’m there, I might be in a big pickle.

Anyway, apologies in advance for being such a disaster. Of course I would love to be able to make it work out with this horse. I feel like with the right trainer, and the right supervision, she could be amazing, and I could learn to actually ride. But I also realize that I don’t know what I don’t know—that it’s actually what got me into this situation in the first place. So I’m wondering what others would do in my shoes.

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Given what you posted on your last thread, let your current trainer sell her for you. The market is hot and she should be able to get about what you paid since you got a good deal and, with your current trainer riding, the horse goes well and is marketable. I don’t know why you’d sell at a loss. A week or two of pro rides and she should be back where she was and it sounds like she was marketable and you bought her below value then.

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You don’t necessarily have to make the decision immediately. You could keep horse in training with your current trainer for a couple of months while you settle into the new location and check out the horsey scene there in person. That might give you a better idea of what you would actually be able to afford in the new area and whether potential new barn/trainer would be a good fit.

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I agree with vxf111. Keep her with the current trainer and let her get her sold.

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Moving yourself is going to be stressful, time consuming, and expensive enough - another vote for leave her with the trainer to be sold. Take some time to settle in, vet the barns in your new area, find a place you mesh well with, and maybe by then the market will have chilled a bit and you can find a new horse that’s better suited to you. Sometimes horses has to take a back seat to being a normal human being.

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May I ask where you’re moving to? Maybe one of us knows someone you can trust in the area. If it’s a place where horses command top dollar, it may be worth moving her.

But in general…I agree with other posters. Probably best to let existing trainer sell her. My only concern is that you might currently live in a non-horsey area where buyers won’t be willing to travel.

The longer you hold onto a horse that’s a bad match, the lower the value of the horse and the lower the resale value of the horse. It’s a sad and bitter pill. But don’t apologize, because it’s such a common story!

From what I remember about what you posted in another thread, it sounds like perhaps your trainer didn’t do due diligence in making sure the horse was a good match for her client (versus herself, who can ride the horse well).

I agree that a move can be stressful, and moving to a more expensive area even more so. Having the horse remain with your previous trainer under your name in another state doesn’t seem like the best idea, since I’m not sure she would put your interests first and foremost, versus making a profit for herself, especially since you’re no longer riding with her.

I’d personally see if I could find a consignment barn to sell the horse not at a loss, second best to sell her to the trainer and move on. At minimum, ask yourself–in your new life, will you have the time and the resources to help this horse, and do you feel enough of an emotional commitment (and have the resources for a financial commitment) to take the risk?

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I’m moving to an NYC suburb, and I’m moving from an area that I wouldn’t exactly describe as a total dead-zone, but it’s primarily backyard horses, self-taught pros, etc. I can’t be super objective about it, because it’s all I know. But I know there’s not a lot of quality control in training and instruction, and so the horses and riders produced in our local circuit, we all tend to have holes. When I told a friend I was moving, she said it might actually be a good thing. But that was before I started to give serious thought to selling before moving.

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This. The horse market is so hot right now that finding a replacement might take a long time. And you bought this horse for a reason, right? Move, get settled, send for your horse and start again on the right foot.

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If you decide to keep your horse when you move and need some advice on trainers I might be able to help. I live in a suburb of NYC and have tried a number of H/J barns in the area. Send a PM if so. Otherwise, best of luck to you!

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It’s really hard for me to give advice because I don’t know how well or poorly you ride, what your courage and commitment level is, and what the horse is really like. You don’t know what you don’t know, clearly. But you also don’t know what you do know. You are the person worrying about leasing the pony you outgrew to the trainer in question because one of your barn friends had a conflict over horse care, right?

So one of the things is I assume you’ve been riding the pony and maybe lesson horses, you are still quite young, this is your first “real” horse, and you expected a seamless transition. And you had no intelligent adult support through the settling in process, so horse got hot and confused.

Quite honestly I have never seen anyone have a truly smooth transition to a new horse. Especially when they have traded up to a quality horse. Our lesson program kids almost have to learn to ride all over agsin when they transition to a privately owned lease horse.

Your friend who says the problems aren’t that big and you can work through them is likely correct. However, this will require a huge learning curve for you and a huge commitment to working the horse in new ways. Can you do this while and after you move? Do you even want to commit this much time to new skills in the middle of a move? Do you even want to ride at that level?

How much barn time will you have? That depends on if you are moving for a job or school or other time consuming life thing.

On the other hand it’s possible you were sold a screaming banshee that was drugged for the trial ride, or has very low tolerance for rider error. Or it’s possible you can’t really ride at all, or your comfort level really is an old pony.

I can’t really say. Only you in your deepest heart can decide if you are able and willing to step up to the plate. If not for any reason, sell ASAP before horse is seen as an unsellable problem.

BTW don’t knock self taught pros for this kind of problem solving.

A self taught pro in this kind of lower budget horse area very often excels at starting colts, retraining OTTB, dealing with lower end problem horses, and riding out bucks. Often they’ve started out in Western as a kid and have had ranch or farm experience.

What they tend to lack is knowledge, skills, and contacts to get themselves or their students up past the middling levels of local shows. They may also allow a kind of riding by the seat of your pants so to speak that worked well for them (because they were talented and had lots of horse exposure) but leaves lesson kids with holes in their skill set.

But for sorting out a hot horse and putting it back in a program, you could do far worse than a good self taught pro with a sticky seat and courage.

Of course there are self taught frauds everywhere, including in fancy barns. There are deluded teens who have been “riding ten years” (counting the country fair pony ride at age 5) who put out a FB notice that they are now professional horse whisperers.

But someone who has managed to put together a successful lower level lesson program without having high level mentors in their orbit is probably pretty competent.

Also finally. The big thing to remember is that everyone of us riders are really “self taught.” If we are lucky we get some good coaching along the way. But we learn how to ride by ourselves and we learn how to problem solve, feel a horse, and know our own horses ourselves despite the coaching.

You are now at the point where you need to become self taught. You have discovered that you didn’t know the basic common sense steps of how to settle in a new horse. That’s fine. Now you know. Now you need to go back to square one and start over as if horse was new, assuming it will take 3 times as long as if you’d done it right the first time. That’s OK. That’s how you learn.

This isn’t something that your East Coast pro trainers in the 3 foot 6 will necessarily be better at than your local self taught trainer who can ride the horse with no trouble.

On the other hand, if the horses big problems really do relate to moving to a new barn and routine, and you want to sell, I’d suggest leaving her at this barn with this trainer who rides her just fine. If you ship her out of state without being confident working her you are going to end up in a new barn as the unknown quantity with the problem horse that you can’t handle, and I doubt you will sell that horse for a markup.

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I think you might be thinking of a different poster

Nope, I double checked.

Was my trainer in the wrong here? Thread from a couple weeks back.

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Oh sorry, my bad. You are right. Same person. But that’s not the thread about the horse at issue here, I don’t think. THIS thread is about the horse at issue here…

It provides some context that might be helpful in giving advice about whether to sell/keep this horse.

Yes, that Struggling post really covered everything. It’s not clear if OP has started working the horse or seen any changes yet.

So. Much. Going. On. Here. Brief perusing of this and past threads (which I had read but had not pieced together that this was the same poster…) reveals that (unless I am wrong) OP:

  • is a first time horse owner (other than pony?),
  • is fairly green him/herself,
  • considered (I believe), a hotter/tricker horse over Steady Eddie because made OP “look like a better rider”,
  • ended up with a 7 year old,
  • went from 0-60 upon bringing said first horse home without giving it (and herself) time to get used to new setting/program/partnership,
  • jumped outside of lessons almost immediately upon first bringing horse home,
  • couldn’t sit said horse’s spook and fell off repeatedly,
  • does not fully trust trainer, who may or may not have been honest in disclosing veterinarian’s recommendations to a friend (who was young and inexperienced)…

I know that you’ve admitted much of the above and that’s great! While I would normally agree to leave horse with current trainer as a sales horse, if you don’t fully trust trainer (not sure I would, but hard to tell…) that doesn’t sound like a good option.

As someone who has a horse who can be tricky and has, at times, intimidated me, I can sympathize. And I do agree that I have not ever had a seamless transition to a new horse (this is my 8th horse), nor have I seen anyone else not hit a stumbling block or two (or ten!). That said, I have always:

  • had trainers I can explicitly trust,
  • been confident that I can ride through the rough times once I get my head on straight,
  • had my horses in a solid and consistent program,
  • taken things slowly (and stepped back when needed!).

Do I have bad days? Sure! But I trust my trainer to push me when I need pushing and to reel me back when I need to refocus on the basics. And I trust her to do right by my horse and not let me screw her up.

Are you overhorsed? Sounds like it… but maybe not. With a competent trainer and a solid program, you may be able to work through it.

I don’t have good advice because of how much seems to be going on here. That said, being in the NYC area, I can say there are plenty of good pros here to put the horse into a program with if you decide not to leave with current trainer. Some in NJ are more reasonable budget-wise than those on Long Island or in Westchester, etc.

ETA: I also returned after a break and initially found I wanted to get back to former level immediately. I now realize I may never be able to ride like I used to… but I am fine with that. Which is why I take things SLOW.

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I have not read any of the OP’s prior threads about her trainer, FWIW. I only read her other thread about THIS horse and her problems with the horse. If she doesn’t trust the trainer then this horse should go to a reputable sale barn to sell. OP if you’re on the East Coast I have 2 recommendations.

She does not seem equipped to deal with this horse. She hasn’t had it long and keeps exercising poor judgment in handling it. Her natural horsemanship app is not likely to cut it. She either needs something easier/more trained or a more serious program. Unless she’s got a really good program that has already seen her and the horse and agreed to work with them, this seems like compounding the current problem to move the horse across the country. I suspect any good program is going to see her and a green horse and think that SHE needs to go back to basics because there seem to be a lot of gaps in her education. Plus, she’s already kind of all over the place. And I suspect doesn’t realize what a competitive program in the NYC metro area REALLY entails (price and committment-wise). Too much is going on here and adding the move couldn’t do much to help.

I am a proponent of sell, move, take lessons, get into a program you really like, let them find you a suitable horse to buy or lease down the line.

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I agree, sell the horse. If at a loss you will be saving a lot of money.

When you buy a horse. Buy a horse you can ride now. Not one that needs training rides or only ridden in lessons, etc,etc. You have to be able to get on and ride it for what you want to do now.

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This. If you have any hesitations with trusting your trainer, you should send your horse to a reputable sales barn.

Honestly, based on what OP has shared in this thread & the other thread, I would sell the mare and start over. Moving to a new place is hard and takes an adjustment. For example:

  • What will your work schedule be? Will you have the same time to devote to riding your horse?

  • What will your commute be to your new barn?

  • Do you have a list of trainers/programs you are considering in your new area or contacts in this area?

If this was a horse you had already connected with and doing fine with, I would say bring it, even if there is a delay between you moving and the horse. Honestly, based on what you have shared in this thread and other, it doesn’t sound like this horse is a great fit for where you are at right now and the horse. It sounds like this horse needs a full time program to shine and support you in being the best partner with the horse. If it were me, I would sell and lease a horse in the area for awhile before purchasing? Why lease? It can give you a chance to check out a program, build a rapport and trust with a trainer, and make sure you can sustain the financial and time commitment of horse ownership in your new area/job before making that jump.

I get wanting to make it work with the horse. I’ve been there. I had a horse who I was overmatched with, but I wanted to prove I could do it–I ended up getting bucked off and spun off quite a bit, and I’m just lucky I didn’t get hurt. I wish I could tell my past-self that I had nothing to prove and I wish I had sold the horse sooner.

OP, it’s hard for us to give strong advice without knowing your exact level, how many years you’ve been riding, and how the horse is doing well, but again, I would reiterate for you and the horse, I think your riding and happiness would be better served by selling at a reputable sales barn, settling in and getting connected in your new area, find a leasing situation, and then consider buying a horse once the market has settled.

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Yeah, this isn’t rational, but the prospect of being “out” of horses after I move is just not something I want to consider. I’d rather have a horse I can lunge and hand walk every day than no horse at all.

I picked our rental based on its proximity to the barn I found for boarding. My job has always been remote, even before COVID, so that’s staying the same. And so I’ll have the time and commitment to work on the horse, though still being light on knowledge and skill. I think maybe as a rider I’ve stalled out at a point where I don’t do anything wrong but don’t do anything right, either. And I’ve just been there for a long time. It was a non-issue on packer horses.

If I did sell, I would be in the market for a full-lease right away, probably hating every day I didn’t go to the barn. I know that’s probably wisest. Even the high-end barns in the area have reasonably priced lesson packages, if I wanted to ride school horses. But on the other hand, I really don’t want to give up being an owner, or at least a full-leaser. It’s an enormous part of my life. Like I said, I know that I would rather have a horse I can’t ride than no horse.

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