Tell about the time you wanted to hang it up

I love this… and I’m so glad we’re building a mini support group. I’ll DM you. If anyone else wants in, let me know… bc it’s a real thing and I feel like I’m on an island.


Wow. I mean, you took the words that I had floating in my brain and wrote them out so perfectly. This is EXACTLY how I feel! I’m so grateful that I’m not alone!


A lot of horse people go through this. I’ve been riding since I was four. I’m 64 and there have only been a few years here and there that I didn’t own a horse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been going to quit. I’m still riding, but I’ve learned to understand what I can/cannot do and what I should/should not do.

I’ve had my current (and likely last) horse for 15 years. I still have the list I made when he was six. It was a list of reasons to keep/sell. Obviously, I didn’t sell him. But I have learned to ask for help from a good trainer when I need it. And to accommodate him when he needs it. For example, I think you shouldn’t have to longe before riding. But, in the winter, if I don’t want the first 10 minutes to be riding a dingdong, he needs 10 minutes on a line. Not fast, not crazy but a good warm up.

In return we’ve done things I never thought I’d do and been places to show I never thought I would.

And, btw, I did have to sell several that just didn’t work out. There’s no shame in finding a new home when yours isn’t “the one”.


I wasn’t necessarily about to hang it up, but I’d had a bad year of barns closing and trainers falling through and was feeling pretty distraught/wondering where I fit in as a forever 2’6" rider on a forever low budget. I found a local barn with a trainer fresh out of college and not-so-fancy horses that are as safe as they come. It’s been the most amazing community. Everyone is there for the same reason — to love on horses and have a hell of a fun time doing so. I’m learning plenty from my trainer, and I even found an amazing horse to lease. We go to some of the bigger local shows and have so much damn fun (and even place quite well!). It’s really reinvigorated my love for the sport.


Remember the same horse you loved to climb on at 20 maybe one you dread going to the barn to ride at 40. And the one you love riding at 40 is not the one for you at 60.

Its a lightbulb moment when you really understand that…or maybe you never really did enjoy it deep down but were trying to please others or justify the time and money.

When you get older, some of these things you ignored when younger are harder to convince yourself you need to do now.

Sell the young one, get yourself a born broke packer and go back to enjoying horses and treating your barn time as the oasis it once was. Please yourself, nobody else matters, you owe nothing to anybody else. Have fun again.


Between age (now 66) and lame horses, I have definitely been there on more than one occasion.

The most recent episode was a horse that ended up having several years off (with a bit of on). It gets depressing to keep coming to the barn to tack walk and watch everyone else have fun in lessons, improving, and going to horse shows. I did some leasing and catch rides (thank you friends with extra horses or very busy jobs), but couldn’t justify the expense of going all out with an expensive lease fee. I figured that if I couldn’t get him sound, I’d give up. If I could get him flat sound, I’d do that. Figured that, at best, I’d end up doing 2’6” (nothing wrong with 2’6”, but original goals with the horse were 3’3” medals…). I was pretty meh about the whole thing.

Fast forward. Horse now sound and happy and jumping. Having a blast with him. Doing challenging exercises in lessons, up to a meter. Went to Thermal after two years of no shows and only one show in the previous three years, did the 80-cm jumpers, and had a fabulous time. Did all my own riding at the show. No lunge. No ear plugs. Now looking forward to more shows…once we have them again in California. And moving up a bit. And having more fun. I find that showing is an addition that you’re OK with not doing when you’re not doing it, but want more once you start.

Clearly horse is suitable. He’s 12 now and coach has noted that he could sell six or seven of him in a week. Can do hunters, eq, or jumpers, but the hunters at Thermal are crazy competitive and I figured that jumpers would be less stressful.


Exited to add our last jumpoff round. Sound on for our small, but enthusiastic, cheering section.


While I don’t have too much advice to offer as I’m relatively new back into the horse world, I do want to say that I really enjoy hearing everyone’s input on this topic. I ride for fun, like many of us, and I am also at a point in my life where I’m up to my ears in career development and I am all over the place as I make a name for myself - aka I don’t have a ton of time to devote to horses, plus the fact that I am not exactly the most talented nor ballsy Equestrian. It is nice to hear the validation that there is no shame in getting and enjoying a horse that is fun for you to ride, makes you happy, and is a kind partner. As much as the stories of training up greenies to their potential and having flashy hack winners sound cool, it is nice to be reminded that it’s ok to not do those things and that you are still valid as a rider if you don’t. Horses are a lifelong pursuit and finding a partner that makes your heart happy is so much more important than finding one that will take a good picture in the show ring.


Hear hear! I also am an adult re-rider and think this is such a valid point : as we shift our focus to things like family, career, home ownership, retirement planning - it is unrealistic to also have the same focus on horses as we did as juniors. That certainly is nothing to be ashamed of. I personally had a moment of realization coming back that I was not having fun riding my horse or in my lessons and made some changes to find the joy in it again. Your definition of success will change as you get older, and that’s ok. Take some steps back to re evaluate what’s important to you and what makes you feel most in love with riding and do that. Plain and simple.

And, in this crazy horse market, if you decide your current guy isn’t right for you, OP - bet you won’t have any trouble selling. :slight_smile:


You don’t have to be the rider you once were. You don’t bounce like you use to and why spend all this money if you are unsatisfied and miserable. Also don’t let anyone tell you ya have to show. The show world doesn’t change much other then getting more expensive. The same people that have been showing forever will continue. Don’t think you have to compete or keep up with them.

Reevaluate what it is that you enjoy about riding and do that. If you want to sell the current horse do it. You make the decision that’s best for you. If you take another little break so be it. Horses will always be here.


I’ve definitely been there! Multiple times, after having gone through 3 horses in 3 years to find one I could trust.

I rode a different discipline as a kid, but didn’t ride for 15 years and decided to do jumpers when I came back to it as an adult. After a couple years of lessons, I finally bought my own horse. Had some good times, but also had a few really bad falls. Finally diagnosed the horse with a medical issue. Almost left then, but ended up leasing the most steady, reliable horse from my trainer for a couple months. Best decision I ever made.

Went and found another horse, which unfortunately came from a really great rider to not-so-great me. The number of falls I had was well into the double digits within a few months. I thought I should push through, but it ended with multiple falls in one day and broken ribs. Never rode that horse again. Thought about quitting again. (Also ended up diagnosing the horse with a medical issue.)

Family & non-horsey friends told me to find a different hobby. Rode some of the lesson horses for a little while. Finally found my current horse, who is a dream. In just a couple months with this horse I feel more confident than I ever have before. Not to say he doesn’t occasionally have his moments, but they’re few and far between, not that bad, and I can usually recognize them coming.

I think hanging on to the wrong horse will often end with burnout and walking away from the sport. The best decisions I ever made were to walk away from the wrong (for me) horses.


I second this 100%. I was over-horsed - too much training, too much angst, not enough joy - and my lightbulb moment (and when my self-imposed guilt lifted) was when a trainer said, “Look. This is a great horse. For someone else.”

And just like that it made sense that I needed to let go of my need to prove to myself that I could bring along a greenie even at my age, just as I could as a junior, and allow myself the joy of having a horse to enjoy every day. I haven’t looked back since.

Grab the joy, OP. You deserve it.


I am not ready to hang it up but am being encouraged by my husband to take a break. I have bought and sold multiple horses in the past year looking for the right one. Now I have ended up with a lemon in my most recent purchase and I cry just about daily. I hate it as I am ready to move up and forward but the market has priced me out of anything remotely decent and this project gone sour has really hit me in a bad way. I am with the others that say if you can sell and find a new horse that sparks joy in you the place that you are in could quickly become a distant memory. I wish it were as easy for me to sell my lemon so I could do the same.


Not entirely the same but I had an on-paper perfect horse who has the worst attitude in the world if made to work. After much trying, I retired him at the grand old age of 12. I could’ve chased diagnostics etc but quite frankly, he is at heart a lazy sod and he just doesn’t want to play ball. He’s happy retired. I’ve ended up with a friend’s small spicy mare and she fills me with joy.


I had a very similar situation with one of mine, and it was beyond frustrating because he was extremely talented, but just didn’t want to work, and both of us were miserable trying to make it happen. I retired him for the rest of his days as well, and don’t regret it one bit (I actually regret not having done it sooner more than anything, as that would’ve saved me a lot of money and headache).

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For some background context, I rode in weekly lessons growing up, camp every summer, and the occasional extra ride when I could. My family couldn’t afford my own horse and with where we were at at the time, leasing wasn’t an option. When I went to college I was able to start riding a little more regularly with the IHSA team and since we rode at a farm off property, I had some opportunities to help out at the barn and get to hack more horses and help run trail rides and such.
Eventually I transferred to a school without a team and ended up at a local barn taking lessons. They didn’t have a ton of lesson horses so I ended up I half leasing a boarder’s horse for a month but realized if I wanted to ride more and lesson more, show, etc. I would need to purchase my own horse. I purchased a young OTTB fresh off the track and the rest was history.

We had a great few years while I was in college and could ride almost daily, as well as ride some other horses when I could, but then reality hit and I entered the job world and couldn’t juggle it all. My commute was long, and even further away from the barn. My horse required a program and it was impossible for me to get to the barn everyday. Without that consistency, my ‘stickability’ was lacking and riding soon became a fight for survival (to stay in the tack). I wasn’t making the kind of salary where I could really afford exercise or training board nor was moving my horse an option, so I decided to sell and purchase another horse that didn’t require as much of a program.

Unfortunately, the grass wasn’t greener - my horse wasn’t selling (but was making a great personal horse for my trainer…on my dime), and my new horse ended up having some health issues and needed more of a program than I thought he would. My confidence was shattered. One day I woke up and said I don’t want to do this anymore, this isn’t fun. I sold my newer horse quickly and lost a good amount of money. I moved my other horse to a friend’s barn who was able to eventually help me sell her. I tried to do some lessons locally and stay with it, but when that trainer quit and the barn owner never even tried to reach out to get me situated with the new trainer, I just gave up for awhile.

I’ve just recently started to ride again. I was nervous as it’s been about 5 years or more since I was consistently riding. But I can happily say that I am having so much fun! My new trainer has really helped me and listened to me and it’s so nice to ride again without having to worry about falling off or taking flight. I can’t really afford it but I do my best to make it happen even if it’s a lesson every other week and I’m going to start riding a friend’s horse once a week once the weather gets a bit nicer. I live in an expensive area and I was so burnt out from riding and owning and everything before that I’m really just taking my time and trying to have some fun. Eventually I’d love to own again but I need to be in a good place and truly figure out the best situation with time and money.

Sell the horse, take a breather, you’re not alone. I don’t think you should give up entirely but take a step back and figure out what will make you happiest and go from there, but take your time.


This is a timely post. I had a terrible accident some months ago- on a horse that a trainer convinced me to buy that was far too green for me (I no longer have the horse). Now, as an older rider who has had more than a few accidents over the years- (I have ridden off and on since I was a child including time on a college team) but I am now sadly thinking of giving up riding forever. The last accident (a spook, a run and a real bucking show) nearly ended a lot of things for me- including my desire to ride. How does one start again?


You start again by finding a place that has some nice solid packers. You find someone who will let you go at your speed with just a little push outside your comfort zone. I know this person exists as I watch him teach a timid anxious but determined woman every week. They’re out there, you may have to look hard but they do exist. Good luck and my best wishes for you. Riding CAN be and should be fun.


Maybe step outside the HJ universe and try Western on a born broke QH packer in a saddle with a handle. Not kidding here. Try something new and less high energy.


Yeahhh… unfortunately, I’ve been doing this for 30-something years now. Switching disciplines isn’t something that is going to inspire me. I’ve ridden Western. I’ve ridden packers. They’re great, but it’s not where I find inspiration. The bottom line is that I need a program, not a game-changing moment. Why trainers seem to struggle with that concept is beyond me? I had a lovely 3 months where I was riding consistently on a winning small jr hunter and coursing well. He was a good soul, but required a ton of leg and had specific buttons installed that once you knew them, it would be lovely but you had to get the gears in motion. I really had fun figuring him out and getting myself strong enough to support him. I would have shown him if it wasn’t the late summer/fall where everything had pivoted to indoors or powering down for show season. Felt great and lots of progress… was lessoning twice a week and hacking once or twice a week and horse had a regular pro tuneup once or twice a week. Lessons were in small groups of 2-3 mostly and lasted an hour, so there was significant focus on flatting, as well as jumping. I left there feeling capable and strong… and then went south for winter and things just fell flat… literally and figuratively.

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For me that’s where the time/money/adulting issues conflict. I also thrive in a twice a week lesson, hack once a week, pro once a week situation. But, it is REALLY hard to commit that time as the trainer we need isn’t (typically) right down the road and even if they are they are out showing to make a living (even the local folks). I’ve not solved it except by learning to objectively “under horse” myself. So, when I can’t ride 3-4 times a week or the pro travels I can still enjoy riding. That means the 3’6” just isn’t going to happen. Maybe the friendly 3’3”, hence that divisions crazy popularity.

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