Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Horse I Owned for 7 Months

Two years ago, right around this time in January,
I purchased a horse.

She was a lovely16h bay TB mare, and through no fault of her own,
it did not work out. Sometimes I think back and wonder how things may have been different if I had made different choices, but as they say, timing is everything.

Two years ago, I was a lesson student at a show barn and part leasing a horse I did not like very much. The lease horse was a grey TB mare who had a bit of a spook in her. I often wondered if she had vision problems, as she tended to be much more spooky at night and much better during daylight hours. As it was, I was spending $500-$600 a month to ride this horse I didn't like, and my then-fiance was hearing quite a lot about it.

We were 5 months out from our wedding, but because then-fiance (now hubby) is awesome,his christmas gift to me that year was a card that contained a picture of a horse, and $2500 towards buying one of my own. As much as my head told me I should wait until after we paid off our wedding, my heart latched onto this life-long fulfillment of a dream and would not let go.

So off I went, with show-barn-trainer in tow, to find my $2500 dream horse. I wanted what everyone wants - a sound, sane, 16h gelding for cheap money.  I was flexible on breed, color, level of training and age. The one thing I did not want was a mare.

Horse shopping in New England in January is not ideal. Horses are either ridden in slushy, icy outdoors, or in dark spooky indoors. Your toes slowly freeze solid as you watch the horse put through its gaits, then your trainer gets on, and then, if you already haven't ruled out said horse, you get the dubious pleasure of climbing aboard a strange horse in a strange place whist you yourself have become a frozen popsicle.  
But I digress.

SBT (show barn trainer) knew of a sales barn that also ran a lesson program. There were a variety of horses, in all shapes, sizes, colors and breeds, that we could go and try.
We were using it as an exercise to help me determine what type of ride I was looking for,
but I ended up really liking not one but two thoroughbred mares. One in particular was a very sweet, sporty-looking mare with a bombproof attitude.

A week later we returned. I tried both mares again, and the choice was definite.
We arranged to take the sporty bay mare on trial for 1 week.
The trial week went great, bay mare passed the PPE, and so a week later I finally owned a horse of my very own.

Now, in addition to buying a horse, i did not own one iota of tack or horse care items of any sort. Not a halter, a lead rope or even a set of polos. The sporty bay mare was slightly over my budget, I paid a commision to SBT, and the PPE didn't come free, either. I needed to buy everything - blankets, a bridle, a saddle, etc. Plus, I needed weekly lessons and the occasional training ride for my green TB mare. 
$$$ CHA-CHING $$$

Then bay mare ran into some minor, but expensive health issues.
She was a hard keeper. Even though I kept hay in front of her 24/7,
fed the max amount the vet would allow of high-fat, high-performance feed,
and added the max amount of pelleted rice bran recommended, she stayed lean.

She had seriously under-run heels behind, with longish toes, and
two different sized feet upfront, all which required special shoeing solutions.
The vet also diagnosed her with low vitamin-E levels, and an expensive daily liquid vitamin E regimine was prescribed. Lastly, she developed a a sarcoid on her neck.
The sarcoid was growing and changing in circumference, and it was recommended that I have it surgically removed.

I was bleeding financially at this point. Fiance and I were trying to pay for our wedding.
We still kept separate bank accounts at this point, and the horse expenses were all mine to bear. I borrowed against my 401K to try to offset some of the accruing costs.

While all this was going on, sweet bay mare was slowly becoming not so sweet. The show barn had limited turnout (maybe 4 hours a day?). Bay mare had been on 24/7 
turnout at the last farm, and clearly preferred that arrangement.
She soon began to run in her stall and dig holes in the clay. She developed a swelling on her front leg from digging in front of her door.  It didn't matter if another horse was left in with her or not.  Mare was NOT happy and let it be known.

Bay mare became frustrated and unhappy on the ground.  Although she was perfectly behaved under saddle, she snapped at me on the cross-ties and fidgeted when being groomed. As nice as she was, I had never really connected with her as much as I had hoped to. And, I had my own frustrations and disappointments being at the show barn.

The end came 2 months after my honeymoon. Husband and I were still maintaining separate finances, and I was going under. When it came to the point that I had $43.00 in my checking acount, I broke down and cried hysterically. It was time to face reality. 
I was too old to be this broke. I had lived hand-to-mouth in my 20's, and it was not a place I wanted to go back to.
I made the decision to sell the bay mare.

In the end, everything worked out for the bay mare.
I contacted her previous trainer and asked if she would like to buy her back.
Trainer did not, but did know of a nice 15 year old student who had really liked bay mare, and whose parents had decided to surprise her with a horse for her 16th birthday.

Arrangements were made, and bay mare was sold at a deep, deep discount.
Her new teenage owner was estatic when she found out the plan.
They went on to form an amazing partnership, and the girl has taken her much further than I ever could have.

Sometimes I wonder if I gave up too soon.
Maybe I could have found a more affordable boarding option.
But, that is where I was in life at the time, and that is the decision I made.

They say things happen for a reason. If you believe in such things, maybe a goofy paint gelding was really the one that was meant to be mine.


  1. It sounds like things worked out well for everyone and you made the right decision :)

  2. Glad you made the hard decisions. Show barns aren't for everyone, whether they can afford it or not.

    1. Show barns are not for me.... but that will be another post ;)