Tell about the time you wanted to hang it up

So for some context here, I’m nursing a recent injury and what has become a chronic ego/confidence issues.
Historical details: Have been riding since a teenager and competed all over til I was a young amateur. Then took a break to build out career, and picked up a few years later and bought a project that I flipped… and also rode my older amateur hunter occasionally while he was leased doing a step-down job. Then took another few years off, and rode with a trainer for a while and got myself back up to doing the 3’ again. Then moved and rode for a bit in new area til trainer got out of the biz due to a weird barn situation. Took another 2 years off trying to get career sorted and life sorted… and then got back into it and back up to the 3’ again. Found a young horse that both trainer and I had believed to be a great ammy horse for me. Then things got dicey. Trainer went on vacation for a week. Horse got fresh from temp drops and from a week of just hacking (and newer feed that apparently spiced him up a bit). I got lawn-darted in a freak spook and hurt my collarbone. Decided horse needed a stronger program and sent him south for the winter to get things sorted. Didn’t get the training that I expected but did get my confidence shot by a trainer that liked to just tear apart the rider when things didn’t go right. Meanwhile, I was barely riding and felt entirely uncomfortable on this animal. A whole winter circuit went by, ended up finally realizing this trainer and program wasn’t working for either of us, and moved on. Left horse with new trainer and went home. Didn’t ride again til summer circuit where I would fly in a few times. Things seemed ok. So decided to lease something at. home to get me in shape. Truly a positive experience and things seemed to be turning around. Came back early for circuit ready to ride and horse was definitely much more tuned up, but now his jump had developed to be quite the power jump, so the easy, flatter jump was gone and replaced with this incredibly round, jump you out of the tack when he makes the effort, jump. So trainer has been campaigning horse all circuit and things are going great. Horse has really stepped up and enjoyed the job.
Now the problem… it’s not my ride. He’s grown and he’s really big (I’m pretty petite), He’s going to be a great 3’6/derby horse… but he’s always going to make more effort than I can stay with, so his heart is going to always make the effort, but I’m not looking to get back into the 3’3-3’6, and have always just wanted the true 3’ ride.
So I started riding something else this week in hopes of finding the one that I can kick around and enjoy some showing myself. Horse is a good soul and a packer and just wants to please. Day 1 went great and I felt really good about the whole thign. Day 2 ended up with me landing on a jump and now injured. So I’m back to square 1.
I’m seriously questioning everything. My ability just seems to be completely gone along with my confidence. It’s no longer fun. No one seems to understand that I need a program as much as the horse and that the gaps in time have taken a toll. When I’m good, I’m spot-on, so every professional thinks I’m fine… til I suddenly question it all and things go south quickly. I’ve thrived in programs where I had multiple horses to ride and spent time in the tack. Now it seems like I’m just relegated to one horse and it’s handed to me and it’s a quick warm-up, jump school, short cool out and back to the barn. Although this might work for the pro and the horse, it’s not nearly enough to get my comfortable.
So I’m at a crossroads. Already decided that it’s time to let the horse go and be the wonder star that he’s going to be. The question here is what to do about me. I’m scared of walking away from all of it but my ego/heart can’t take much more of this. I’ve fallen off twice in the past 10-12 years and 2 of those falls were in the past 2 years and both resulted in me getting hurt. I’ve spent thousands of $$$ in developing this horse and horse show dollars, for little saddle time for me in the mix.
I’m conflicted what to do and where to go. I don’t like being the sidelined spectator owner, but I’m just tired of having no set program and feeling like I’m not ready or prepared. Bottom line: I’m not having any fun and have invested a lot.
So let’s hear it… tell me I’m not alone… tell me that you’ve had similar disappointments or felt like you’re failing at all of it… I need it for my head and heart right now. Apologies for the novel… it appears that I’m more emotional about it than I realized til I started typing!


Sell the horse and go find yourself an absolutely bombproof quarter horse/other stock type. Something you can hop on after a month off and not worry if you will end up as a lawn dart. It will be capable of packing you around the 2’6-3ft, never need prep at a show, and most importantly, be fun again.

It may not have show stopping movement or always be in the ribbons, but it will be a safe ride that will be fun again, and you might surprise yourself and others by winning; I’ve placed above many fancy warmbloods on my stock breeds because my horses are reliable, consistent, and workmanlike; and some judges do reward that.

I personally haven’t been in your situation (not that I haven’t fallen off and had bad injuries that made me rethink things) but I have had clients who have been. It almost always is the same story; client buys a horse (usually a little on the green side) that they have showing aspirations with. Something happens; the horse spooks badly, has a real kicker of a jump, or the horse misbehaves because it just is too much animal for the routine/rider. The client gets scared and tries to fight through the fear, but with every ride feels worse. It eventually develops into the client being scared to ride; sometimes just their horse, but sometimes any horse.
My advice is almost always the same; sell the horse and move onto another one. By the time you are scared, it’s too late to repair the relationship. Sometimes we click with horses and sometimes we don’t. I’ve ridden (and own) horses that others think are batshit crazy but I just giggle through their spooks. I’ve also ridden horses that I thought were no fun at all, that I did not trust, that others teach beginner lessons on.


Thank you. You’re speaking to my gut and I hear you on it.
Quite honestly, I wanted smaller and more reliable, but ended up with big, pretty, fancy, and young. All the things that I knew better about… and did it anyway. I would have told myself not to do it… and yet I still did. What I had wanted and what trainer at that time gave as guidance were completely opposite, which I’m utterly disappointed in myself for not listening to my gut and getting me into a situation where it’s not fun anymore and more anxiety. I’ve ridden long enough to understand that it conveys to the horse and that just makes it even worse trying to bottle up or pushdown that lingering worry about what could/would/has happened. I went about 30 years between injuries (with plenty of falls, mishaps, naughty horses, dumb pilot errors) so this has really shaken me to the core. I appreciate that guidance and agree with you 100%.


I feel like your trainers have taken you for a worse ride than this horse! Find a honest agent to help you sell. I would find a “smaller time” trainer to help you get back into things. One that actually understands the physical/mental needs of a true ammy. If “A” shows are you thing, that’s fine, but stick to those in your region and forget about Florida and the circuit and blah, blah, blah. All you have been doing is financing your trainer’s good time. Time to scale back and find the FUN and confidence again. No one else cares what division you are doing at what shows. Time to remove the invisible “pressure” you are feeling and get back to the root of why you ride. Enjoy your horse. You spend a lot of $$ for this downtime, don’t let it stress you out or let some leach of a trainer ruin it for you.


I know. It’s been a comedy of errors. Thank you for the reality check.

Since you asked for stories…

I once was about to hang it up, too. Pretty similar situation to yours, actually - gotten back to showing in the 1m after my post-college break, bought a horse to expand my horizons and hopefully resell, and then life promptly got in the way. Illness took me fully out for about a month. Recovery was long and taxing, both physically and emotionally. When I got back on, I was shocked at how weak I felt and how much that impacted my confidence.

On top of that, work took a busy and stressful turn that made me realize I really needed to make a shift there. But, I had two horses’ worth of bills, so I couldn’t stomach the likely pay cut. So the work hours stayed long and my fitness and confidence stayed low.

Throughout all of this, trainer was riding the new horse beautifully, but he was just too much for me as a weekend ride. Fine, sell him on and I’ll step down. Naturally, he starts having some here and there offness that the vet can’t find any serious roots of but is definitely getting in the way of salability. This drags on with me hardly riding, bleeding money, and desperate to quit my job but really needing to get down to a single horse first.

Oh, and about the other horse - that was my former meter horse who had also been off and on since a freak turnout injury that should have resolved quickly. I find out in the midst of this he has spinal arthritis, probably from an old track injury, so his jumping days are over and it’s unclear how much/what kind of riding he’ll be up for. He goes to pasture for a break, which rolls into a couple of WTF boarding situations, which is another story but it did little for my already waning appetite to keep horses.

When I finally got the younger horse sold and the older horse settled in a good situation, I really considered being done. I was completely burned out on horses. It had been all stress and no fun for a long time. I kept up caring for my teenager, but I barely rode for a year or two.

The itch finally came back. It was hard to get going again, and to find a horse/situation where I could do well being knowledgeable but out of shape and lacking confidence. I had to give myself a lot of pep talks on the way to the barn. A lot of those early rides didn’t go how I wanted. One day I almost fell off and swore in front of the children. :laughing:

I think the most important thing I did coming back, which I might suggest you also do, was to re-evaluate my goals and expectations. I’m not the same rider I used to be, not just in my ability, but also in my sources of motivation and fulfillment. The metrics I had used to evaluate my progress were obsolete. A lot of the things I felt like I had to do or wanted to do started to seem arbitrary. I did a lot of soul searching about what I wanted to make of my life with horses and what I truly loved doing with them.

So anyway, there’s my novel. You aren’t alone and it’s super hard. Though I don’t know what the future holds for any of us, I do know that it isn’t always super hard and you won’t always feel alone in it.


OP, I want a big safe fun hony for you. One that isn’t going to win in the A/O’s and probably should skip the flat but is going to make you smile every time you see its face and make the judge smile when it canters in for the 3’ amateurs because it’s the epitome of what an amateur horse should be.

This horse sounds cool but he doesn’t sound fun for you. He sounds like he needs to go make someone else happy.

I don’t have a good story here, I just want to affirm that we do this for fun and if it isn’t fun it’s time to change it up.


Thank you. I realize I’m not alone in this difficult path and that things are just different than they were 20 or so years ago in the horse world, but I really wanted this to work out. Instead, I’m limping around and wondering if I’m just beyond it all at this point. I needed a commiseration station because I’ve stayed so quiet about it and only my husband a few select friends really know the extent of my disappointment and sadness over all of it. So thank you for sharing. I enjoyed your TedTalk. LOL


Funny, I’ve always liked the smaller ones. Initially that was what I wanted but was pointed in a different direction and we all know how that story goes. What I have now is a lovely personality horse that just won’t be ready for me for another few years, if ever, and he deserves to have a team of people that can just let him shine. He has a kind heart and wants to take care of his human, but he’s truly just so big and talented that I think even if I could put all the pieces together, he’d still never get to reach the potential that he deserves.
Thank you for your kind words and for being supportive. I’m in a fragile state lately and I truly needed this.

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You ride fine, likely very well, just not enough, because, well life. Sell the uber fancy one and take off a few months until you find yourself trolling BigEq or whatever method to find the next one. The hunters have been my lifelong passion and therefore an essential part of my identity. I really struggled wanting more horse than I have time to be able to ride well. My additional limiting factor is I burned out on the crazy costs. Now I do a few local As to scratch the itch on a lovely homebred that though not lacking for scope never got the message to crack his back over the 3’. I’d love to do the 3’6” again but it’s just not happening unless I scale back my professional life, at which point no way I could float the costs more more than a circuit or two. It’s a lifelong sport, which you well know.


If you have the time and the money, try a weeks riding vacation, somewhere lovely (possibly in Europe), beautiful country, great food, comfortable accommodation and just ride with total enjoyment and no worries. It gives you time to relax and have fun with horses while also showing you an equestrian world without competition. Our priorities and targets change as we get older. My ideal 16.3 OTTB in my teens is now a 15.2 local breed who is good company. Leaping over things no longer has appeal but I find dressage endlessly fascinating.


This is a great idea. I got really burned out last summer — I was barn-hopping trying to find a trainer/program I clicked with, was getting increasingly down about it and losing confidence, thought I’d found the right fit, and then had a scary fall while jumping right before a riding trip to Iceland. I seriously debated cancelling but went anyway and it was just amazing and so refreshing. It reminded me what I love and value about horses and riding, and made me realize those values were kind of a fundamental mismatch with the fancy jumper program I was riding in.


You’re definitely not alone!

^^This x1000! I had a very frustrated period when I was trying to reach my “old” riding goals while juggling kids and a career. And my goals weren’t even competition oriented, just my usual desire to always be moving up and progressing. Time constraints due to family and job, career stresses, and health issues made that become Not Fun. I had to really back off mentally because riding became just another source of pressure. The good news is I’m having more fun now! I’m not jumping as high as I was a year ago for a variety of reasons, but I’m actually enjoying my jumping lessons more now. I trail ride more and foxhunt a bit. I found that when stress and pressure in other areas of my life were high, I really needed to remove stress and pressure from my riding. Even if that meant a lesson bopping around a few 2’6" jumps even though horsie and I are capable of more.

Me too! My job got crazy at the start of the pandemic, and for the first time ever I had my trainer ride my horse regularly. This was awesome - if I couldn’t get to the barn, I could show up after a week or ten days and have a sane, fit horse to ride. BUT - I learned that if I hadn’t been riding much, I just can’t hop on and jump around a 3’ course, even if we did it two weeks earlier and even though with trainer rides my horse is a MORE solid citizen than if I’d been riding him. So, your description of intermittent riding really resonated with me. I think as adult ammies, our mental game and fitness deteriorate more quickly than our skills. For me, some of that ego you mentioned came into play - horsie is capable of jumping way higher than we’re doing, and objectively I probably am too, and sometimes I still feel weird being stuck doing the same things we were doing 2 years ago. The part of me that wants to always be progressing still does feel like a failure at times. But for me right now, little jumps, dipping my toes in the dressage ring, hacking around and getting out of the ring make me happy. I think that re-evaluation of your goals and expectations that SweetMutt mentioned is key. What is fun and rewarding now is different from what it was 10 or 20 years ago, and that’s ok! As others have said, you need to find a horse and program that you find fun, and that will look different than the horse and program that was right for you in the past.


I work at a farm full of fancy horses that were bought for riders for you that are all retired to pasture life because they were “troubled rides” for the intended rider. 75% is if their owners decided to hang it up. The rest bought safe, reliable packers and kept going. From one horse person to another, you sound like the 25% that keep on and having fun. Remember fun? That’s why we do this. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?

I have a career of riding not great horses. There is no prize for being really good at riding bad horses.

I almost hung it all up after my last horse that was not that great at what I needed out of him. Most times, he was an ass. In other ways, he was a gem. But when I needed him, total asshattery ensued. It wasn’t fun anymore. I was tired of the fight. I was tired of being good at riding the asshole. I was over it…
And then I rode my trainers school horse. Game changer. I didn’t know horses between my legs could get over a course of jumps flawlessly without asshattery. It was fun again. I took most of the fall riding her fun horses.
I happen to stumble on a horse for sale that I thought for sure would be like the rest.
Nope. He’s fun and fantastic. Green but willing with a smile. And I’m having fun.
Take a breath, step back, and ask yourself what makes it fun for you. That’s what matters.


No advice here but I just wanted to tell you that I commiserate with you. As a junior rider and in my early college years, I rode anything and everything (I even galloped racehorses for 4 years) and had no fear. Now as a 33 year old amateur who only has time to ride 3x a week because of work and other obligations, I found myself scared to canter my steady eddy lease horse yesterday because it was windy out and I was just sure he was going to take off with me or something. It’s frustrating. But my guy, even though he’s not super fancy or athletic, is slowly helping me with my confidence, so maybe that’s the kind of horse you need right now as well? I wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect situation :slight_smile:


Oh gosh. I feel this post so deeply.

When I was younger, I was fiercely competitive, determined, and driven. I rode anything that anyone would let me ride. I took advantage of all the blessed privileges I had. I had big dreams, and I chased them.

Then life happened. Grad school, marriage, career, and kids. For the past 15 years, I have been trying to reconcile my former self with my current reality. I know there are some superwomen out there, but realistically, most ammies just aren’t what we used to be. Yet, we chase many of the same goals. I bought a young horse hoping to do the A/O’s. HA! I’m scared to jump 2’6" most days. He comes out fresh and spooky – not an ammy’s idea of fun – and every day I question WTF I am doing. The voice in my head tells me to keep going. Riding is my life! My trainers love him! Give him one more year! But, like you, I can’t ride frequently and so I never truly feel comfortable. The fun is draining away, day by day.

Then you start thinking about the cost. How much have I paid for all this not-fun? How much do I really pay every month? What else could I be doing with all that money?

So, I’m right where you are. I know I should sell my horse. Maybe get something fun and simple. Maybe take some time off. But I feel like I’m disappointing my trainers and, more importantly, MYSELF. Plus my young horse is sweet and I love him (despite being scared to ride him many days).

I don’t have much more to offer, except that maybe we should dm each other for a little moral support. Sometimes it’s easier to see a situation from the outside. Maybe we can give each other some straight talk.


OP, you’re in good company, I promise. I think your story is more common than you realize - I feel like a couple times a year we see threads by frustrated ammys who are overhorsed, and paying through the nose on training and show fees for a horse they can’t really ride. Some are just frustrated, others are scared and have been injured in these situations. It seems that as more barns become “full service” or aspiring to be A circuit regulars (or who are already there), the trainers keep pushing the young, talented prospects on their ammy owners…even if it’s too much horse. It’s a ready-made scheme to earn training fees every week, and extra show fees at competitions. Lots of people have been where you are, and it’s disappointing. We should be able to trust our trainers and horse professionals to do the best thing for their client, not what earns them extra income. It sucks the life and enjoyment out of what should be a fun, relaxing hobby. And yes… it does seem like these poor folks are just financing their trainer’s Best Week Ever.

I quit a professional riding career in 2009 and walked away from horses completely for two years. I was burned out, broken from various horse related injuries my crap insurance wouldn’t fix, financially broke, and sick of the people in the industry. I eventually came back, did lessons and rode young ones for a local breeder, before I stumbled upon my last OTTB. Been enjoying horses ever since because it’s an outlet. I don’t show unless I really want to, we do lots of hacking out, some dressage lessons, jump lessons…sometimes we do a lot of nothing. And you know what? That inner voice of my former 17 year old BigEq self doesn’t speak anymore. My story’s probably not as applicable to your situation though as my family’s:

My oldest neice started riding pretty young. My brother (who is not horsey) called me in a panic about two years ago. The lovely, small neighborhood lesson barn they started at was closing, and they had to find a new barn. They visited a place that did lessons but also did regional A circuit stuff. He was told she could do lessons, then lease, but after a few months would be expected to have her own horse and be in the program. The dollar figure they gave him for horse budget?

$75,000 :scream:

Sure, maybe for a kid stepping up from 2’6" to 3’ who wanted to be competive in the Childrens at As that might make sense…but my niece was 7 years old, w/t/c on ponies and didn’t want to do big shows. My brother panicked as he thought this was some kind of requirement. I said no…go find another local lesson barn with no A circuit aspirations and continue lessons. Then if she’s still horsey somewhere down the line, lease. If that goes well and she’s still into it a couple years from now, horse ownership is a great step up, but she probably needs an old QH-type that can be had for four-figures. I could hear his relief over the phone. They ended up finding a great little lesson barn after a couple weeks. She and her younger sister are still doing 2x weekly lessons and they do it because it’s great for the girls…and they have fun.

Go find your fun. If I were you, I’d sell that lovely young horse you have and take the money he’s worth. Take a break for awhile - travel, relax, take the pressure off yourself. Reevaluate your riding goals as others suggested. Then, when you’re ready, shop around for some lessons and see what out there fits. I’d recommend NOT looking at A circuit oriented barns if you can help it, unless they come highly recommended for not pushing stuff on clients. Maybe take some dressage lessons. Go on that horse vacation. Ever been out West? Go to a dude ranch! Do something different for a bit and remember why you’re involved in horses at all. Find the fun and the joy. Then you’ll have a better idea of what you want going forward.

And if that horse that you need is NOT the one in your head, keep an open mind. Sometimes those less impressive types have a heart of gold and are exactly what you need. My former show self wanted that big, flashy warmblood. What I have is a 16h plain bay Thoroughbred who is just a rockstar at everything and is fun to be around. He’s a lifer with me and I’m thankful for him every day.

Wishing you the best!


All the feels on this one.

I was a competetive AA/AO , could ride and jump anything, showed competetively in the AA/AOs in Zone 2. Fast forward- I bought a lovely hunter a few years ago and we Just.Didn’t.Click. She’s lovely, I couldn’t jump her well and she had stop- which I felt was because of me. I literally felt like I fell off ALLLLL the time jumping (it seemed). It sucked. Trainer worked really really hard trying to “fix” the situation. (no joke- one time doing a training ride swinging his leg all over and shrieking. I was like COME ON I am not that bad :slight_smile: ) I switched to dressage after 40 some years in hunters. I was devestated.

I had broken ribs and a broken ulna. I literally thought - I am done. I am done riding. I suck. The mojo is gone.

Until I bought a horse for my daughter coming off ponies. He was nothing of my type- head the size of Canada. Definitely NOT a hunter (jumper bred and trained), bred to be a GP horse, aimed at a pro ride. Trainer was adamant (since I keep mine at home) “If you buy this horse for child, he will have to come for training once a month for a few days for tune up”. Ok- not a problem

A year and a half after I bought him- trainer still hadn’t done a training ride. I immediately stole him from my kid. I showed him in the hunter ring (didn’t place but he trucks me around), walked into the meter in KY and cruised around the jumpers, carried me around in Ocala. Now I take him all over, doing litte events, CTs. I wish he was smaller because it is a LONG way down but I found the joy.

My kid rides the hunter and they click perfectly.

I don 't ride the hunters anymore and basically do not give a flying fig if I ever step foot in the hunter/umper show ring again. My point is- this horse journey doesn’t always work out the way we forsee it. It is OK to reset your goals, your expectations. (and nothing wrong with a vent and a good old pout because we have ALL been there).


I have found some kindred spirits among some other posters and @Tini_Sea_Soldier1.

I had been feeling lost with regards to my riding and horsemanship goals for the last few years. My temperamental western dressage horse was getting older and less sound, my young horse was very hot and not particularly talented, and I felt at a dead end. I considered going back to hunters, but that’s a near impossibility out here in Cattle Country. I was depressed, because horses have been my heart and soul my entire life.

Then I listened to advice from a new trainer I just sort of clicked with. She’s not the World’s Most Successful BNT, but she’s a solid, lifelong horsewoman with an admirable reputation. She encouraged me to look for a sane, honest young horse that I could learn new things on, which would hold my interest. Yet it also needed to have enough quality in case I wanted to eventually show.

It took a while, but I found the perfect horse. He’s not the greatest mover. And since I’m used to riding TBs and Trakehners, it has taken me a while to “slow my roll” and get accustomed to a horse that’s barely 4 and yet is in no big hurry to go anywhere. At his first show ever, one held over 3 days, he was clearly the greenest horse on site but he never once did anything wrong: never spooked, never blew up, just went in every class and seemed to think, “Well, I guess this is what we’re doing now.” :laughing:

I guess what I’m saying is that there are all kinds of right horses for each one of us. The key is to find the right horse for you right now.

Best of luck and don’t hang it up. Not just yet.


Can I just say: this thread is all that is wonderful about COTH! I love how people on here are willing to share their disappointment and struggles, all to give hope to someone else.

I think we as horse people (or maybe just humans in general) are embarrassed to admit that we made choices in the past that didn’t work out, and are overwhelmed. I haven’t been in exactly the same situation as you but I did buy one horse who ended up being a spectacularly bad match, and I also really did not want to discuss it with anyone. As you can see from the responses, many of us have contemplated quitting for whatever reason (burnout, horse mismatch, loss of confidence) so you don’t need to feel alone. I hope you find your happiness soon!