3 Ideas when you can’t keep your horse

“I have a mare bred very well that is too talented to stand in front of a round bale. I have been wondering what to do with her and I was watching her in the winter pasture. She makes a big circle and sends herself does a sliding stop rolls back. She did this five or six times. My life fell apart and I cannot give her what she needs. If you know anyone looking for a beautiful mare that is very athletic. Please contact me. I want her to go where she can shine. Thank you for your time and attention to this. Gratefully” -Karen R.

This is a question that I get frequently and I would like to offer some creative solutions.

  1. Sell the horse: If this seems too generic skip to #2 and #3. This one doesn’t seem creative but many people are in this situation. For whatever reason they need to sell the horse (see my article ‘Should I sell my horse’) and they need to recuperate as much money as they can. Maybe they lost their job. Maybe they are losing their house. Don’t judge. In a perfect world we would all be able to always care for our horses…but this isn’t a perfect world. The best thing to remember in this case is that there ARE GOOD PEOPLE OUT THERE. Really. There are. Are you a good person? Do you know a good person? The biggest thing to remember is to be HONEST. To find the best fit for your horse you need to tell everything you know. If he bucks sometimes after time off then he should go to someone who can handle that (yes, they exist too). If you forget to mention it because maybe-it-won’t-happen then there is a bigger likelihood of him being quickly sold again or worse. Tell it like it is. List online and locally. There are tons of places to post. 

  2. Give the horse to a trainer. Now that’s creative! Why? Many horses that I see who need new homes also need training. Good training increases the horses knowledge, understanding and value. These all lead to better things for the horse. If you really need to move your horse and want to improve his life try finding a local trainer that is getting started. Or someone who is known for selling horses. Not all of them are evil (maybe some but not all), some of them are just well connected. People know that if they are looking for a horse they should look there. Evaluate the person. Look at their horses. Talk to people. Once-upon-a-time I was a trainer that was getting started and I trained and sold horses for this same reason. As for the giving part? If you decided to skip idea #1 you had already decided that there might be other things you valued more than selling for money.

  3. Give the horse to a rescue. Some rescues take horses in that are not in trouble yet. A rescue may spend most of their time focused on horses that are in big trouble but rescues also tend to be well connected. They are usually motivated by caring and they might even be able to make a profit on a horse like yours. You could be finding a good home, helping a good cause and making a difficult but good decision.


  1. Patty on September 10, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    I bought a doped – medicated – horse. She’s got a gimp- would be a good brood mare. Kid gentle and could give lessons . Any comments ?

  2. Tracy on March 11, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Sometimes when your life has taken a downturn or is falling apart, that’s exactly when you really need your horse. It can turn out to be the only good thing going at the time!! And….I see no issue with letting a horse be a pasture pet for a time or forever. Let’s face it, a horse’s base motives are plenty of good food, water and a safe place to live. They really don’t stand around wishing for work!

    I went through a job downturn along with depression a couple of years ago and was so broke I ended up eating peanut butter sandwiches for dinner every night, selling a lot of my un-needed items on EBay and cutting my expenses to the bone. I swear that my time with my horses was the only positive thing going on. Managed to keep them and things did get better. I would hate it if I had lost them when life did normalize!!

    • Jenny Mehrtens on January 9, 2023 at 9:36 am

      I’m in this spot with my two mares who I’ve waited all my life for. I don’t want to sell them. They are all I have, my dream,my joy, my happiness. If they go I’ll die inside and be more of a shell of a person than I already am right now. I have to fight to keep the girls.

  3. Kelly Boisvert on March 9, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    I leased all of my horses when I couldn’t keep them for a period of time. I did lease them with a contract and it worked out well.They were “free” leases in that the person who leased them did not pay me for leasing them, but they were responsible for all feed, hoof care and routine vet care. It was a real blessing to be able to do that. I now have all of them back!!! I value time with them more than ever now:D

  4. Tina on March 9, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I second the leasing recommendation. I’ve been leasing a horse for about 18 months. He belongs to someone who boards him at the place where I take lessons. I’m able to ride as much as I want and have done some gymkhana with him, also plan to show later this year. It’s been a win-win-win arrangement for the horse, the owner, and me. The owner recently bought a second horse and is leasing him out also. Some of us aren’t in a position to spend thousands on buying a horse. Leasing can be a great alternative.

  5. Rebecca on March 9, 2017 at 3:09 pm


    There’s also #4:
    Lease your horse out.

    If you have a solid enough contract, you can do off-site leasing. You could even contract with a reputable riding stable near the leasee to host, or team up with the stable in the first place to find a good leasee match.

    Leases can be paid or free, and although they come with some complications and concerns, a good situation benefits everyone involved – the horse, the leasee, and leasor.

    Another option is to free-lease your horse with a friend or friend-of-friend (w/ contract always!) who may be interested in showing or pursuing natural horsemanship training, and could use a talented horse like yours to have fun with.

    Leasing a horse out offers relief for the current problems that wind up in horses not having a job, while also yielding promise for a future where you can once again enjoy your horse yourself.

  6. Donnie on March 9, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Very helpful, thank you!!!

    • Cindi Swartd on March 9, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Stacy I would like to applaud you for venturing into this topic. You have brought up some really good ideas. Far too often I see really good horses going to auction. Kill buyers get them and off they go to the Mexican meat market. Please, if you care anything about your horse, train them or get them trained. There’s a much broader market for trained horses. Yes

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