I had a chance to reflect on the emotions involved in selling a horse recently. These emotions can be very conflicting especially when it involves a horse that you love. Recently I interviewed Maribel Paulson at the Ft. Stanton endurance ride.
Old Flames Reunite – David, Mari & Julie
Her horse Julie, had been my main endurance horse the last two years I actively rode endurance. Together we had won the big Wickenburg AZ ride winning the buckle and setting a new course record time. I had finished this tough ride, which is mostly rolling desert hills and deep sand washes, in 4;47 beating the record time my wife an I had set in 4;48 the previous year. That year Tracy crossed the finish line five feet in front of me, so I had to try again to get my own Wickenburg buckle, as I did the next year on Julie. After 50 hard miles she found another three gears when called on, to race full out at finish line to take the win.
Besides being a very talented endurance horse “Jules” was a people horse. Each day when she would see me she would whinny, while leaning hard against the gate hoping it might break open, and release her to come to me, if I would not come to get her.
She needed to get out and go somewhere to be happy, and my work commitments were eating into my time to ride.
So because we loved her so much we made a decision to find a new home where she would get the attention and daily interaction she craved and deserved. With over a dozen horses on our farm it was difficult to give her much individual time.
So the first rule in finding a new home for a horse is to acknowledge that you do NOT have to sell a horse to a person just because they are willing to buy it. It is your responsibility to define the type of person and thus home conditions, to which you are willing to pass your horse to. Matching people and horses can be a challenge. But if you write down the strengths and shortcomings of your horse, and then the characteristics required to mesh well with the horse you intend to sell, you will have the basis on which to find the right home. This is a process that requires time and effort to do right.
We had the opportunity to observe many people and how they cared for their horse, at the endurance events we attended. We then developed a very short list of candidates. One particular person, a single school teacher who lived near to us topped the list. While she had a horse she cared for, he was not a good horse, and his antics made him less than perfect match for her. Now this person didn’t really know how much see needed a new horse. So to help her understand, we ask her if she would ride Julie in a local upcoming endurance ride. This “first date “went well, and then we proposed the idea of letting her take Julie on a trial basis. This is “try before you buy”, is a good tool for the closing the buyer when trying to resettle your horse into another home.
Make It Easy For The Horse Buyer
Money was secondary, what we wanted most was the right home to send Julie to so we established a price that would fit her budget, not what we thought Julie was worth on the open market.
This is the tricky part. Be willing to sell for less than you may have paid, or what others would be willing to pay, to get the satisfaction of knowing you have matched horse and rider in a partnership, that will be rewarding and beneficial to both horse and new owner.
People sometimes ask us how can you sell your horses? This is the answer. We make sure good horses go to good homes. Not everyone with the money can buy the horse we may have for sale. I must admit when it came to selling Julie, no part of it was easy, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Tracy helped me understand it was in Julie’s best interest, and we had an obligation to always do what’s best for the horses.
And I had Julie’s foal in the barn, aka Ali Cat, who is a spitting image of her mom in both mind and spirit and sired by our stallion Go Flight leader. I knew she would be a replacement horse I intended to grow old with, and ride often, when I had more free time in my retirement.
In these times of high fuel, and hay prices, cutting down on your horse inventory may make sense. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Make a Plan, and put in the effort it requires to find a good home. The internet makes this finding and screening of potential homes easier than it was in the “pre-internet days”. Put the horse, not your pocketbook, first and realize that making hard choices, is often better than making no choices at all…