Knowing when to sell your horse

There’s no doubt that some of the happiest moments of horse ownership come when you take delivery of that new horse.  It’s kind of like infatuation —easy to see all the great things about the new partner, and any negatives or possible problems are easily overlooked.  Expectations are high and as far as potential success goes, the sky’s the limit.  You figure you and your new horse will be riding together years in the future, still enjoying a fruitful and fulfilling relationship.

The other end of that spectrum is coming to the conclusion that it might be time to part ways with your horse.  This can happen after years together, or soon after a new purchase.  Either way, the realization is unsettling — and usually for the very reason that the initial expectations were so high.

When someone asks my advice about selling a horse, I like to stick to some general points.  The final decision is a difficult one each individual needs to make on their own.  There are three things I tell them to consider: safety, enjoyment, and purpose.


When you feel unsafe around your horse, or if your instructor or some other professional is warning you about your safety, take it seriously.  No amount of loyalty to your horse is worth getting hurt.

Behaviors that threaten your safety include biting, kicking, rearing, bucking and striking.  If you can’t control your horse, even if someone else can, the horse is still dangerous to you.  You do have options if you consider your horse a safety threat.

Sending your horse to a professional trainer is one possibility.  The downside of this is twofold. #1 a good professional trainer can be expensive.  If you don’t have the money to see the training through, it’s time to consider selling.  #2-can you maintain what the trainer has done?  Some horses become wise and know the difference between the trainer and the owner. If you can’t maintain it, the training will not benefit you.

If you have the ability, time and inclination to train these behaviors out of your horse, it’s time to get to work fixing the situation.  Be realistic.  Are you really capable of addressing the dangerous behaviors in your horse?  Are you willing to commit to the time necessary (a minimum of four times per week) to correct the behavior?  Are you willing to be consistent over time (fixing your horse could take weeks, months or more)?  Are you willing to postpone your goals?  For instance, you may have had a goal to do some trail riding or enter a show this summer, and if you switch gears to fix bad behavior, that goal might not be possible.

If you hesitate in answering any of these questions, it’s time to consider selling. The area of safety is a serious one. This is one area where it is reasonable to expect your horse to change but if you don’t have the time or resources to facilitate this change-sell.


If you’re like me, the reason you spend time with horses is that horses bring you joy.  Why do something so expensive and time-consuming if you don’t absolutely love it?  So ask yourself if you’re still enjoying your horse.  Do you look forward to riding or do you avoid or dread heading out to the barn?  Have you noticed that you are riding less often, and when you do it’s for shorter periods of time?  Does thinking of your horse make you smile, or do you wince?

If any of this sounds like you, it’s time to ask yourself why the joy is gone.  Two things can strongly impact your enjoyment with your horse — personality conflicts and energy level.  Look for your enjoyment issues here.

Horses, like people, have distinct personalities.  Some are affectionate and seem to enjoy your attention.  Others are more stand-offish and businesslike.  If you want your horse to LIKE you, to run to you from the pasture and nudge you for a snack, don’t get your hopes up if your horse is of the second type.

I once trained a horse that was successful in the reining pen, but the horse and the owner didn’t ‘click’.  The owner had always had horses that were curious, friendly and loved treats and interactions. Her gelding however, would never eat a treat — not an apple or carrot or any of the expensive horse cookies.  And he was stand-offish. He did his job and then wanted to be left alone.  She always felt something was missing and in the end she chose to sell.  In doing so she was able to find him a home where he was enjoyed for who he was.

Likewise, if what’s most important to you is the way you and your horse perform, no matter how cute and attentive it is, if it doesn’t live up to your expectations in the arena, you’re going to have a hard time really enjoying it. Is it fair to try to change him? Consider your horse’s strengths and weaknesses before trying to change him too much.

Mismatched energy levels can also lead to lack of enjoyment.  A forward, excitable horse is going to be a challenge for someone to enjoy whose idea of a nice ride is a meandering walk along a trail.  Rather than relaxing, they’re likely to be constantly pulling the horse back, wishing it would just chill out and walk.  On the other hand, a lazy walker that resents moving to a trot can be frustrating to ride when your aim is to lope a pattern.

You get the picture.  Like with certain people, you move at the same speed or you don’t, you like the same things or you don’t.  If you suspect that the lack of enjoyment you’re feeling with your horse is a personality or energy issue, it’s time to consider selling.  Those characteristics are innate, and won’t be easily changed in either of you.  Not surprisingly, if you are constantly trying to change your horse, for example trying to make a lazy horse become a get-up-and-go horse, your horse is probably not enjoying the relationship much either.


What do you want to do with your horse?  Your current horse may have been the perfect match when you first got it.  It’s possible, however, that your goals and skills have evolved since then.  The key question is, is your horse suited to you and what you want to do NOW?

Let’s say you started out content to ride trails.  The horse you have is perfectly capable of that.  But now you’ve decided you would like to try to compete in endurance rides.  Your horse, while able to pick its way over rocks, cross creeks and step over logs, may not be up to the demanding pace required to be a successful endurance competitor.  Consider how important it is to you to achieve that next goal.  If your horse is holding you back, you’re going to begin to resent it.  Trying to change your horse into something he is not can also make him resentful. Instead, consider selling your horse to someone who can appreciate him for who he is, the way you did when your goals were different.

That retired show horse with some arthritis in his hocks may have been a great choice for your eight-year-old daughter to learn to ride on. Now that she is twelve and has decided to take jumping lessons things have changed. Pushing a horse to do something it’s not suited to is a recipe for disaster.  Consider selling such a horse to someone who can use it to its abilities.

While it’s rarely easy to end a relationship, sometimes it’s the best thing to do. Many horse owners hang onto their horses based on the idea that they are the only ones in the world who will take care of them. There are many responsible horse owners out there, and for one of them, your horse could be that special once-in-a-lifetime partner.


I recently was recording a podcast on selling or rehoming an older horse and I pulled this article up. The information here is as accurate today as it was when first published in September 2011. The podcast I just recorded goes deeper into the specifics of selling or rehoming older horses and explores the three topics above in greater detail.

Here is a link so you can listen. The post looks short because this is audio you listen to. Look for the play button under the main photo…it looks like a triangle. Or download a podcast app on your phone (Stitcher works on all devices) and look for Train Your Own Horse with Stacy Westfall




  1. Beth Barnett on May 20, 2024 at 8:31 am

    I’ve had my horse for 1.5 yrs, 7 yr old paint, very sweet personality. About 6 months ago I was mounting and don’t know what happened, next thing I remember is waking in the hospital that night. Was knocked out, broken ribs, collapsed lung, almost broken hip. I’ve spent the last 5 months on groundwork and mostly my trainer rides him. He’s perfect until he’s not, he panics, mostly when he sees a horse leave. I’m finally going to sell but it’s breaking my heart.

  2. Tiffany on September 4, 2021 at 5:25 am

    I’m in a really difficult spot I have my heart horse who i have gained so so much confidence on who has unfortunately gotten stifle lock so I know that I her ridden career is going to start getting limited on what she is comfortable doing never the less i promised that I would keep her until the day she passes and I will be keeping her shes not the difficult spot the difficult one is my other mare that i got beginning of this year when I viewed her she was really calm and quiet so I decided to get her i got her home and ive had issues with her ever since it’s been 8 months now and after witnessing the fits she has had with my experience rider friend i am terrified of riding her as she’s been rather unpredictable i love her but I not sure she’s the right horse for me I’m struggling to decide on either keeping her and sending her to a trainer or sell her and find another pony that is better suited

  3. Picasso’s Mother on August 15, 2021 at 11:15 am

    I love my horse to bits had him for three years now and unfortunately he’s too large for me so both times he’s spooked and I’ve had a fall – I’ve broken several ribs. I’ve developed a fear of him feel so heartbroken to even have these thoughts don’t know what to do.

  4. Karen Bockus on February 3, 2021 at 9:02 am

    I could check the list on every point, I literally wasted 12 years of my life with two horses that didn’t give me much joy no matter how I deluded myself.
    The mare I have now, at my age 70, has given me every horse horizon that I’ve ever dreamt of and more. She’s not a warm and fuzzy type
    nor is a free ride type of horse , but with my trainer and her training she and I have had some wonderful adventures together.
    Two years ago she got Lyme, and her personality went to horrible, but she always did her job, once we treated her my girl returned. However had she not I WOULD HAVE SOLD HER! Because I no longer have the luxury of time to waste…and as one trainer said to me why waste your time on a poor horse when so many good ones out there. Thx for addressing a very difficult subject.

    • Stacy Westfall on February 3, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      I’m glad you have a horse that you’re enjoying! I know what you mean about some not being warm and fuzzy types. I’ve had a couple of these and they were perfectly happy…just not cuddly! And as you pointed out…so much better than a horse that isn’t a good fit.

  5. JH on December 27, 2019 at 9:53 am

    I rescued a mare from a kill pen, have had her six months and realize she is bipolar. Im a retired trainer and have had major strides with horses. Not this girl she disassociates and shuts you down so fast. have made little progress in six months its like doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I dont think i could sell her knowing she could potentially hurt someone

  6. Elizabeth Church on July 27, 2017 at 8:05 am

    I don’t know what to do…..
    I bought a horse around 5 months ago, the day that I rode him I felt a little uneasy about him. He was slow to react on my aids and he picked up the wrong lead the first couple times in canter. I just recently sold my horse of one year that I really loved; after the sale my parents where reluctant to buy another horse ( my first horse was a handful and she did not want to enter the transport), besides that the horse that i was trying was slow on aids and was recently a stallion, i loved his “eventing look” and his character, he is 8 years old and he is completely bullet proof which was great since my first horse was the complete opposite.

    I take the plunge and decide that the horse (cadillac) is the right fit for me i had a lot of faith for him since his parents where acclaimed show jumpers and he had a great technique for jumping,i myself am a show jumper and wanted to do more and achieve something in this competitive sport. when they transport him to my stable i have a buzz i have the saddle and all the equipment still from my old horse and i was told that the saddle that i previously used for my old horse is a good fit… apparently not.

    Cadillac had problems starting to canter on the left lead we did not know what the problem was so my instructor calls the physio, the verdict is that the saddle is crooked and was causing him pain for the 3 months that i was riding him in, my instructor didnt catch this sooner. he has a sore back and now is very slow and boring to ride. i want to do showjumping but it shows that since his back is sore it is inhumane to make him jump.
    now my rides consist of walk trot and canter which is very boring for me since i have been riding for 8 years, i am not enjoying driving 45 minuets to the barn for just walk trot and canter (2 hours by bus)

    my mum and i have been talking recently about selling him, i dont know what to do because i think that he can become something great but i dont know if i am willing to wait for his back to heal, or maybe its just the stable and the instructor… i have no idea

    • shae on October 29, 2019 at 3:10 am

      Sounds like you are in a tough situation, from what it sounds like he clearly isn’t fulfilling his needs for you and It sounds as though you should sell him, easier said than done I know I am leasing a horse currently and she is so beautiful and has bonded with me but hasn’t been out in ages and is very spooky and jumpy I am a showjumper also and I currently found a beautiful eventer and I am not sure whether to give her back and but this other horse or continue working with her. I feel so guilty and upset when I ride her and look at her and don’t know what to do. In you case, however, he has an injury and you don’t sound happy deep down you know that right now the best thing for both of you would be to sell him but if he gets better who knows

  7. Savanna on July 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I’m in a really tough spot right now.. I love my horse. She is a 4 year old western pleasure mate and has already won a few things at the world show. She is capable of the western pleasure slower gaites, but she needs time with her training. My problem is I haven’t been able to go to the barn because I’m working from a job that I’m at so I can pay for her. With my job, it takes away from barn time. It seems like she is just in her stall. I feel aweful. I don’t know what to do.

    • Lana on February 2, 2021 at 9:48 pm

      In all honesty if you do not have time for her it may be kindest to sell her on or lease her out to someone you know or at least get someone else to ride her. So that she is getting out. Hard when you love her so much but if you arent getting out there to ride why keep her?

  8. Ashley on July 8, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    I’m not sure what to do. I bought a horse 5 months ago, a 7yo mare, and when I bought her it was because so many people were telling me what a great horse she is. I had my doubts, since she seemed too forward and green for me. Months later, and we’re still facing the same issues. She doesn’t respect me, she’s reared and flipped while I was riding, she’s kicked out at me, and she does not listen to me. Every ride is a fight. I’ve tried to be patient and work through it but I’m so tired and frustrated with it. I don’t feel safe riding her or on the ground around her. She’s so sweet though and I would heartbroken to sell her. I don’t know what to do.

    • Mary Keate on August 5, 2017 at 11:40 am

      You need to sell this horse for your own safety. They are so many wonderful animals that need a good home. Save your time and energy for a horse that will benefit from your commitment and love for horses. You can’t do this from an intensive care unit.

    • Lana on February 2, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      Please, please please sell this horse before it kills you.
      I had a friend with a bleeding heart who took horses often from kill pens. Unfortunately she neither had the skill or experience to be doing so. The horses were more often than not in those kill pens for good reason. She passed away after a mare she bought flipped and landed on her. She had been trying to rehabilitate this mare for over a year. The warning signs were there from the start and she hurt her multiple times. She refused to “give up” on this horse as she was convinced anyone who bought it would give up and put it back at the slaughter house. Sadly this decision cost her life. Dont do it. No horse is worth getting maimed or killed over. I hope you let her go and get a horse better suited to you. I say this with respect and kindness. No judgement. I just care.

  9. […] Stacy Westfall on “knowing when it’s time to sell your horse” This is an EXCELLENT… […]

  10. kj on February 15, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    does anyone have any advice for me?
    i have a welsh section A pony who is 11 hands and blind on one eye. i am too tall to ride him so my parents want me to sell him and get a 14.2 connie. i dont want to becouse he is my first pony ,( and hes a little pet) and i dont want anything to happen to him. btw i cant loan him becouse i dont know anyone and dont belong to a school at the moment.

  11. Autumn on October 2, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I’m in a pretty tough situation. I love my horse to absolute death. Just purchased her about a year ago. She’s 8 years old, and she’s physically capable of doing everything I want to do with her. Thing is, I have the feeling she absolutely dreads it. I belong on an equestrian team, and I really really want to try and do the best that we can. We have great moments and some not so great ones, which I know is normal. For the past 3 months it has been an absolute struggle getting her into the trailer. I don’t want that clouding my judgement, but it takes a huge toll on my stress level and it makes me feel like she hates doing it:(

    • shae on October 29, 2019 at 3:19 am

      Have you had a trainer come out to her and maybe have her for a few weeks and work through her issues and help you 2 bond?
      It sounds like you have an excellent horse and you shouldn’t give up on her just yet, but think whats best for her. as hard as that is you owe it to her.

    • Lynn on February 15, 2021 at 5:52 pm

      Think hard about who is driving when pulling the trailer and particularly HOW they are driving. When making turns make certain you do not accelerate until the trailer is in line with your tow vehicle. If you accelerate when the trailer still on the curve it’s like playing ‘Crack the whip’ it will throw your horse against the outside wall of the trailer. Horses learn to fear the trailer because of that. Pretend there’s a glass of water in the trailer you don’t want to spill. Before you take a radical action make sure it’s not the ride it is afraid of.

  12. Emma on July 6, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    After years of being with a horse that I just adored, I decided I had to find a more suitable home for him as our relationship was just so frustrating, he always pushed the boundaries and never respected me. One of the hardest decisions I ever made was to move him on to someone that he was more suited to his strong personality, someone that would bring out the best in him. Gut wrenching for me. You invest so much of yourself and time with your horses but if the relationship is not clicking then you have to do what is right for your horse and not just what you think is right for you. Horses deserve that.

  13. Isa on June 25, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I am thinking about selling my 14 year old quarter horse gelding. I first got him when he was 12 and have had him for 1 year and a half. After I got him I joined pony club and did all the D levels on him, and I am now a C1 Horse Managment, going for the riding in the fall. He started to have bad back problems when I started jumping him 2’9″, I realized that he wasn’t built to do his job. He is a down hill horse, bad for jumping, and he can’t push off from his hind end. He jumps jump throwing his chest at them because he can’t lift over them. I talked to a dressage instructor at regional camp for pony club, and she said he won’t be more than beginner novice horse because of how he’s built, I have been riding him for shorter periods of time, and his body has taken a big tole from jumping novice and up.

  14. Kk on December 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    My mom and dad need money we only have maybe two months to live in this house before we have to sell everything. My mom dosnt know I’ve been thinking of selling my horse I love him to death I just went out to the barn and started hugging on him and crying he’s so good to me I trained him from the start I got him to w/t/c and jump but then he started to buck and had a scared look no matter what gate so I stopped riding him now I don’t ride him only 1 a month and I don’t know what I should do we go threw 1 bale a day because of a border and are others which I also considering to sell. I’m 13 and I don’t know what to do please help

    • Stacy on December 22, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      That’s a tough situation. I know it will be hard but you should talk with your mom and/or dad. They might even be thankful that you are the one to bring it up.

  15. […] No, they are not all jerks. If you go back and look at Jac in this episode he was two and a half and well behaved, but if you go back and look at Episode 3 he was a handful. He matured because of the training. If you have the time to invest as well as the desire then he still might be a good fit. If, however, you don’t have the time to commit or find that he is more than you can handle you should probably look at other options. […]

  16. George on April 23, 2014 at 12:25 am

    I’ve read stories of those regretting having sold a horse ‘recently’ within the past few months or few short years. What Iora says is very true and I wished I had taken that advice 23 yrs ago. Yes, try grieving a horse you had such a strong connection with that you’ve never gotten over it. I bought my beautiful 2 yr old chestnut mare when I was a 17 yr old teenage boy in 1987, and she was perfect. By 1991 I wasn’t riding her as much and thought she deserved better than to simply remain in pasture. So I placed an add in the paper and a women responded who claims she never sells her horses, and has horses she’s kept for 20 yrs and I’d be welcome to visit my horse after purchase. This seemed like a good arrangement, and I ‘reluctantly’ almost gave her away at a significantly reduced price, in exchange for a good home. I’d always call first before visiting my horse. I’d paid her two visits within two weeks.

    By the third week I mysteriously received a phone call from the former owner. The lady I originally purchased my beautiful girl from. She wanted to know if I still have her and upon discovering I’d sold her she wanted the contact details. One big mistake – I gave her the address believing she only wanted to see how the horse is doing. WRONG.

    By the 4th week I was missing my horse and wanted to ensure the new owner will “give me first priority if ever she’d decided to sell”. When I rung, she thought I was wanting another visit and said, “Look, I’ve actually sold her”. My world came crashing down. This women who claimed she’ll never sell her to anyone, sold her within a few weeks. She gave me no warning, at least, not even to say good-bye or consider I’d want to purchase her back. I was a gullible 20 yr old whom thought I could trust a stranger. I was wrong. I was wrong again, to trust yet ‘another’ women. The former owner didn’t want to see how my horse was doing, she intended to buy her back, and she succeeded. I was duped by two women. The former owner, I believe wanted the horse for her daughter. What happens when her daughter loses interest? All that’s probably occurred.

    Since 1991 to this day I’ve missed my horse terribly. I’ve had nightmares and dreams about her and they’ve never left me. All those years ago and I still grieve. I never did ride another horse again until a few days ago. The first time in 23 yrs, I rode a horse with 8 other people. It opened the flood gates to unresolved grief. I had always pushed the grief aside, never shedding a tear. But the grief rose with vengeance during the horse ride a few days ago. I’ve been a mess since and finally have been able to cry. I’d post a few photos of my horse and I from way back then, but there’s no feature on this response form to do so. Oh yes, I tried contacting the former owner many times over the years with no luck. However, with the recent surfacing of grief, I have hired a private investigator to try and locate her. I have no hope my horse is still alive. Indeed, she’d be about 28 today. In my heart of hearts I know she has passed over. If by some miracle she is alive, I’d offer a whopping sum to buy her back, even if it’s for a few years till she passes. Love never dies.

    My advice to anyone wanting to sell a horse you LOVE is not to do it.

    • Tracey on April 22, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      I really wish I could just not do it. I love, my horse soo much. He means the world to me…

  17. lora on March 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Sorry but my attitude is u keep your horse for it’s lifetime. Maybe the horse becomes unrideable for what ever reason, I am not going to get rid of him. Too many horses end up at slaughter. Just my two cents

    • L. Grace on March 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      I agree with you lora but sadly not all of us have that much control over how long they stay

  18. Orphan on December 18, 2013 at 3:29 am

    I’m so torn… I’ve had a horse for 7 years. She was the first horse I ever bought. I bought her untrained but had her professionally trained. She threw me and broke some ribs and concusion, when she came back from the trainer she ran me under a carport and I broke my collar bone. Then I rode her in a parade and a large trail ride with 3,000 riders wagons etc. and she did amazing. I took her out and it was always hot or cold the ride was great or she decided to be mare-ish…. I sent her to the trainer again and she bronco bucked the trainer who then refused to work with her. So I took her to a chiro and she was really out and needed an adjustment. Trainer is riding her fine now but my confidence has been shot with her. I have another horse I ride all the time and love him so much. Yes he does stupid stuff but I’m not afraid of him. I was so scared of riding her I had to take anxiety meds…. I just don’t know if I should give her another chance or call it quits and focus my attention on the horse I enjoy riding. Has this ship sailed??? I understand she was in pain but I’m not sure we ever clicked like I do with my gelding. I almost sent her back when I got her but I didn’t I got the gelding instead. I don’t know if this was allll pain or just a mismatched meeting of minds.

  19. La on July 19, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I’m stuck.. I’m a 14 year old girl and two years ago, my first horse got hurt so I traded her with a wild Arabian gelding. My trainer trained him and now he’s like my best friend.. I love him so much.. He’s sweet, loving, a great ride, and loves me. He looks like a puppy dog. I mean, I just adore this horse.. But I barrel race and he’s not that fast.. My parents have said if I give him away, I can get another horse. A faster, barrel horse, but every time I mention actually giving away, they basically call me heartless and mean. And I have cried multiple times even over the thought of this. I don’t know what to do. I think I could give him back to my trainer and she’d just let kids ride him while I have another horse. :/

    • Jen on May 8, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Personally if I loved my horse and he would do barrel racing I would just do that with him even if he’s not very good at it because at the end of the day I would still have fun taking part even if I didn’t win. Depends how important winning is to you.

  20. Miranda Gustafson on May 16, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Hey Stacy! I’m 14 and I have this paint gelding. He is beautiful and tall. I loved him a lot when we first got him about 9 months ago, he didn’t seem like there was anything wrong with him. Well I started to get to know him and his true colors seemed to finally show. I mean he was born in a place where he was spoiled to death, lived in a stall his whole life, and was used to just that place. In his video he was so collected and didn’t look spooky because of him being there his whole life. Well when I got him home, he was and still is scared of everything, I am not even kidding either, he is scared of rocks, weeds, bags, his own shadow… and so much more. I also went to toss my sweatshirt to the ground after a long day of riding and it was starting to warm up, well as soon as it went flying, we were barreling into branches of the tree on his other side due to him freaking out, leaving marks on my face from the branches. He trips all the time too when I ride him, I have almost went face first into the ground with him many times because of that. Within the last month things have gotten worse it seems, I was riding him around in the yard when he just started bucking like a bronc and took off back to the barn. A few weeks later, I was going to put the breast collar around him and he reared up and nailed me on the leg either with his knee or hoof, not sure, happened too fast. My mom thinks I am just giving up on him being I want to sell him because honestly I don’t feel safe on or around him anymore… She thinks I should keep working with him but I just don’t feel safe whatsoever!! I have been trying to avoid riding him lately because of all of these reasons. Any ideas to what I should do? He is up for sale right now but I guilty I am pretty much giving up. But I have had this horse for about 9 months :/

    • Nancy on April 4, 2017 at 12:22 am

      I got very badly hurt at twelve with a back injury that has lasted all my life . I am 51 years old now. No horse or animal is worth that kind of injury. If you are not enjoying an expensive hobby, sell. Don’t bat a eye.

  21. Kat Walker on March 13, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    I need some advice if at all possible,
    I bought my first pony when I was about 9, I’m 13 now and she is 16-17 and has Arthritis and Cushings, and we just don’t ‘click’. I love her to death but she bites me (not at all hard! a nip more like) and isn’t very ‘I love you!’ I want to find her a good home but I’m not sure HOW, please help me.

  22. Erika on December 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I need some advice…
    I’m sixteen and got my first horse about four years ago. He was green, but my mom trained him and he was pretty good. A lady at my farm, my mom and I rode him a lot and I was completely comfortable on him- galloping, trail rides, you name it.
    I ended up keeping him and my sister’s pony at our house. My mom gained a little weight and was already big on him so she stopped riding him. It was just me riding him about once a week and he started becoming more frisky and harder to control. I got scared and stopped riding him.
    About a year ago my parents suggested I sell him. I wasn’t riding him and it made me feel so guilty I stopped visiting him at all. I realized they might be right and so I started training him as if he’d never been ridden before. My mom helped me and it was all going great until my parents got a divorce. My mom moved into town, and my horse-clueless dad kept the barn. I’ve been trying to carry on my training since then but it isn’t going well. For one thing, I’m at my mom’s for a week every two weeks and only seem to be able to fit in one ride while I’m there. Also, I find I’m struggling now without my mom here. I’m doing what I can but my dad isn’t much help despite his efforts. I feel like I’m going backwards at this point.
    I love my horse so so so so so much and selling him would really be my last option. But this is making me absolutely miserable! I can’t go for trail rides (which is really all I want), I can’t canter… All I can do is trot him in our arena. If I try riding him outside he bucks and freaks out at everything. What should I do? If it isn’t selling him, any other advice would really be appreciated! Thank you so much.

  23. Chloe hagen on October 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I have a problem… I have a barrel horse I trained myself as we rescued her from the kill pen… I also have my old barrel pony who is semi retired because of arthritis in her back foot… My current barrel horse, Lucie, is a great barrel horse but if I really want to follow my dreams my dad told me I could sell both Lucie and taffy and get a very nice barrel horse, but the problem is idk who will want taffy… She is a very awesome pony but really just needs to be a companion or a beginners pony… I am so emotionally attached to taffy I don’t know what to do.. I want to find her a forever home without her having to face a sale barn or slaughter ever! Any advice?

    • Mary on December 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      If you feel that your horse isn’t going to take you where you want to go then I would consider selling. I recently had to make a similar decision about a horse that I rescued. The good thing is, that just because someone says they want to buy your horse doesn’t mean they would be the right home, and you have the ability to decide to wait for the right one to come along. I would recomend contacting your local 4h and seeing if there is a young rider who is looking for a good starting horse. Many homes like this will keep in touch and let you know how she is doing, and some may let you come visit every once in a while. Don’t feel bad if you decide to sell her and buy a new horse. It doesn’t mean you don’t love her, and you can find someone who will love her as much as you do.

  24. G. Day on October 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Hi Stacy,
    I have a 7 year old Lusitano who I love on the ground, he is as animated and loving as they come. I have trained him to Novice level at Eventing and he likes to jump, but he hates ring work/dressage and would prefer a lazy hack out in the woods with no pressure. Because dressage is important to me and we seem to fight each other most days, I recognize we are making each other miserable. My son rides him and gets along happily (they both have matching energy levels), but because of High School obligations, his riding has become less and less. This is as tough a decision as I can ever make. I raised this horse and got this breed because they are known for their dressage abilities. However, my guy is not interested in this kind of work. I have decided to sell him to a good family and will take my time. If I had my own barn, I would keep him, but the expenses of keeping him and a horse that matches my energy are too great. The lesson I learned here is that energy levels do count, I can not change him to be what I want and you can not always share a horse with another person. It often feel like a bad owner and that I am giving up, but I take comfort in that I gave him a excellent/loving start.

    Thank you for your wonderful article – it has helped me to move on.

  25. Taylor on October 17, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hi Stacey, I’m really torn and don’t know what to do, I have a awesome pleasure horse that I have owned for 4 years now, I love him to death and have taught him to bow and other things, I don’t want to sell him, but now I am getting back into barrel racing and have a mare for that, My parents cant afford 4 horses anymore and would like to get down to 2, The foal we have I def. wanna keep cause he was born here. Im afraid if I sell my pleasure horse, and he does go to a good home, that in the future he might end up at auction. I don’t want that for him, and I see alot of people that cant afford anymore take them there. How do I go about parting with my best friend??? this is very hard on me Im 15 and don’t know what to do.. Please Help!!!

  26. Kathy Doman on September 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    i have experienced the delema of needing to sell a horse i loved. he was a sprint breed quarter horse that threw me more times then i remebered, he did a giant cat leap when you went to get on him and off, i perserved with him for five years took him to different trainers did a lot of ground work. i lost my confidence to ride. in the end i had to admit he was to much horse for my knowledge and i needed to start riding again for my mental health. so i passed him on with a few tears and am now developing a relationship with a quarter horse mare who has great manners and has built my confidence again.

  27. Lauren little Annie on September 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I am kind of half and half on selling my first horse. somebody please help me decide what i should do. I am and hopefully always will be I love tbs and fast jumpes my first horse is a 31 inch miniature filly that is 2 i love her to death and do everything for her have been hurt a few times due to pure stupidness on my part. She trusts me and loves me but I can’t do anything with her but take her for walks I am 13 now and too big to ride her she is 2 and has alot of life left I want to sell her because I want to get a jumping horse and my mom says I can’t get another horse because we don’t have the money and the money I could get from selling Annie(the pony) would really help because she has great show potential and is a great horse she is the first horse I ever trained and I have a connection with her she runs to me in the field everytime I come with treats to play with her. There isn’t really a problem with behavior but The type of jumping she does isn’t what I have always dreamed of doing she also has several friends here at our farm her 2 mini buddys and a walking horse who is a boarded horse
    Please give me any advice you can I would sell her in an instant if I knew she would be going to somebody who would love her and treat her like I do

  28. Kenady Johnson on September 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    My dad has a paint mix mare that hates to be caught & hates to be rode. When we can catch her she will behave decently on the ground, but when it comes to riding she will behave for a lil bit (5min) but when she thinks she should be done she will absolutley not move. At All. I am trying desperatly to get him to sell her. But he won’t listen! He says she rides good enough, he doesn’t even ride maybe 2x a year at the most. I want to get rid of this horse so badly so I can get a 17hh Valentine QH mare that really needs a new home & the other horse that is being sold with her I can use for my SAE (supervised agricultural experience) for Ag. but my dad will not sell his horse! If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it.

  29. Rebecca Starlin on September 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I have a tb mare that I cannot handle. I tried to find her a home and got crucified for it, but I can’t do anything with her. Great on the ground, but when it’s time to work, she rears, strikes, and bucks. I don’t even take her out anymore…and no one has been able to give advice of help. I dread dealing with her, but also have huge guilt over bringing her home and not being able to do anything with her. I love her, so the prospect of selling is heartbreaking. If I had more room, she could be a pasture pet but I am at a loss over the entire situation, to make matters worse she and my gelding are so bonded I can’t ride the gelding either. I am in over my head and don’t know what to do. So depressing……..

    • DeAnna Ball on October 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      I don’t know who got after you about finding a new home for your horse. I think that your safety is the #1 concern. Personally, whenever I have had a problem horse, I worry about the next owner, so I am careful to whom I sell. Be honest about the problems your horse has, and do not sell to someone with less skill than yourself. Be certain the new owner knows what your issues are. Bring the price down and sell to someone with experience.

    • Jamie Rafferty on June 9, 2022 at 3:00 am

      I’ve worked with mostly OTTB horses. Whenever we had a horse that was a lot to handle we would lunge them before we rode with bridle and saddle on already. Some I lunged with one line and some with two, just depended on what worked best for that particular horse. Some of them just needed a little bit of lunging to get into working and some had to have a good deal before they were calmed down and listening. Idk if this helps you with your situation but it worked really well for us training eventing horses at a barn. Sometimes the indoor arena they were quieter in also since there were less visible distractions. Some horses we got were just too dangerous to handle. I’ve had horses pin me against the wall of the stall and try to smush me. The horses that were actually dangerous we could not keep because we couldn’t risk the horse hurting us- because lots of other horses depended on us for their care- or anyone else. I don’t know who bought the dangerous horses from my instructor whose place it was but I’m positive she had people she knew that had the time and knowledge to deal with such horses. So maybe a suggestion to all would be to tell riding instructors and/or vets that you are trying to sell your horse because of xyz and they may know people that are capable of dealing with xyz. Plus you have the added knowledge that their animals already see a vet or instructor and are taken care of. Hope this helps you!

  30. bearzbe on September 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    My Apologies, Stacy and Staff – AFTER I posted the above comment, the blog page reloaded with a normal white background – Thank Goodness – sorry!

  31. Leslie Zvolanek on September 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Gee, Stacy, I love to read, watch, and take-in your lessons – But the combination of medium-dark gray Font on a dark brown background is making all of today’s post nearly impossible to read … Might you re-consider this color combo? Please? Thank you for your consideration –

    • Stacy on September 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Not sure why that happened….I didn’t change anything…hopefully it fixes itself.

  32. Amy Lou on September 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    My advice would be to start advertising him, take your time, and find a home for him that you’re happy with. Save the money and in the future, when you’re ready, you can look for another horse.

    I kept my first horse for too long because I loved him and the thought of selling him made me cry every time. We had grown up together; he just wasn’t suited for what I was doing. I would advertise him, someone would call and ask about him, and I would say he wasn’t for sale and hang up. This went on for way too long, and it got to the point where I was completely burnt out on going to the barn to care for him every day. He suffered for it. I ended up giving him away in a rush and still regret it because I can’t be sure that the home he went to was the best one for him.

  33. Laurie on September 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Myra, I agree you have made the decision, now find another young girl who will fall in love with your boy and give him the attention he deserves. Sometime later in life you will once again find the right horse for the right time of your life. Here is a story I sent to Horse Junkies United about it.
    When the time is right . . . you’ll know, and your horse deserves someone who will give him the attention he needs.

  34. psalisbury3 on September 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Myra – I come from the school of thought “you’ve made a committment to the animal so you should see it through” BUT (and there’s always a BUT) considering that you are 15 years old and are mature enough to realize that this may no longer be the horse for you, my advice is to “interview” potential new owners so that when you do sell or pass him on you feel absolutely certain that he has gone to a good home and will be happy. As an adult owner and rider I plan to keep my horse through his golden years, and he is already in his mid-twenties – but I’m able to financially handle that – I’m sure at your age you cannot – so bravo for such mature thinking and good luck in finding the next home for your horse! 🙂

  35. […] Knowing when to sell your horse. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this.   Leave a comment […]

  36. Myra Hernan on September 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I have a dilemma. It makes me really sad to think about and I’ve had about five meltdowns in the course of two weeks! I’m only fifteen and bought my first horse about two years ago. He was free from the owner, we only had to pay for board. He was fairly green, but he wasn’t hard to train (English rider). He’s been nothing but good to me. He’s adorable and loving and funny, good under the saddle and all around a great horse! I love him to pieces but I’m starting to dread riding and with my classwork and just plain life, I feel I’ve been outgrowing him. I don’t visit as often and my rides are becoming shorter. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on because I love him, but feel he deserves someone with more dedication and time. I guess I just need some advice, can anyone help?

    • Stacy on September 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Myra-It looks like you found my comments on the subject. After reading your comment it sounds like you have already come to a decision…does anyone else get that after reading this comment?

      • Rebecca Starlin on September 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm

        Sometimes we just need to know that it’s okay to sell them or find another home. You have to have joy and peace in your life…..

    • sandbean on September 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Myra, my advice to you would also be to do some interviews before you find a new home for your beloved horse. I am sure there is a loving home out there, but there are also a lot of creeps and you don’t want to regret your decision down the road and always wonder what happened to your horse. Take your time, be in control, and don’t feel pressured into any situation you don’t feel comfortable with. You can always ask the new owner to give you first right to buy your horse back if they are ever to sell him. That way, you might get some piece of mind that he is less likely to end up in an auction down the road. If you are really unsure right now, you can always consider a leasing arrangement until you feel more settled in your decision. You never know, there might be another little girl who may come along, lease him, end up becoming his permanent “human” that way too? Best of luck to you! Sandy 🙂
      ps…I was also in your situation when I was 15, (36 now and have horses again :)… Good for you for caring so much about your horse!

    • David on September 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Myra, I agree with Stacy. I feel you’ve answered your own question. One thing if I may, look at this more as a beginning not necessarily the end. As we go through life we form many relationships and bonds. They often prepare us as we move forward in our lives. These relationships and bonds will always be a part of our life. One never knows when they will be re-visited. There is no shame in affording yourself or your horse the opportunity to form new relationships to grow and enjoy the journey of life. The positive is the beginning and the promise of something well deserved by both. Much to what you’ve already stated; “he deserves someone with more dedication and time”. However, you deserve to continue on with your endeavors and pursuit to happiness too. The best thing you can do for him is make sure he enters into the right situation that will promote his happiness as this will ensure yours.

    • Emma on September 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      A few years ago we free leased a horse from a girl in the same situation. This gives you the ability to visit your horse and still be able to be involved in decisions with the health of the horse. It also allows the horse to be worked with pretty regularly and if you ever want him back you can just end the lease. I wish you luck with whatever you decide.
      P.S. If you ever decide you don’t want the horse you can offer it to the person you’re leasing the horse to. We ended up buying our free lease.

    • Sky on May 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      If u really loved him to death then u wouldn’t dread it. So try making ur time with him fun for both of you. Try to teach him tricks. It makes everything much funner (from experience

    • Olivia on October 26, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      When I was your age I went through something similar. I had a horse given to me and unfortunately she passed a year or so after I got her. I decided to go on a quest for another horse. I found my current horse and her to pieces. We have an incredible bond. However when I was 15, I had the same feeling due to trainers saying I would outgrow her and I just lost all joy in riding. I still do.mot have joy in riding. However my bond to this horse is so incredible that I cannot leave her. I still have her and she gets ridden once a week due to college. She is definitely my last horse. Not that I don’t love her, or love horses in general. I just hate being discriminated against because my horse wasn’t $50,000 and she’s a pony and blah blah blah. Horse people are probably the proudest group of people I have ever encountered in my life. Myself being a horse person really wish people would stop acting like they know everything about every breed and every horse.on the planet. It ruined my passion.

  37. Tabitha on February 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I had to sell my horse.I got her from the sale was a great horse while at the sale rode her all over the place and then when i got her home it was another story.She kick my husban and bit me when she got loose.Could not get to her without her kicking and biting .she was not a horse for me at all

  38. Nikki on October 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    just please dont buy and sell for no or the wrong reasons…..
    horses are creatures too, with a soul, a pea sized brain and lots of love to share…..
    think twice, if its the real mate for all those purposes above for YOU!!!
    Then buy… !!!
    Thank you for thinking! 🙂

    • lana on August 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      i am might be selling the horse i have had since i was 5 and i need a new horse and want one but i don’t want to let him go. what do i do?

      • Phoebe on October 28, 2015 at 4:57 pm

        Keep him as a companion, loan him out or sell him to someone you know. There are tons of young riders wanting to loan a horse, so you’ll probably have a lot of success with loaning and if you get/have another horse you can keep him as a companion.

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