Difficult Decisions

There is nothing that I want to do in this world other than work with sporthorses. Eventers, dressage horses, jumpers. That’s where my passion lies. I’m in school to be a biology teacher. To be honest, I have no desire to do that. It’s just a piece of paper that could potentially get me a job. A job that’s indoors, in a classroom. Without horses. I can search my soul all day and all night and find NOTHING that will make me happy outside of working with horses. Except maybe being an astronaut, but the odds of that are slim to none (and there are no horses in space).

But herein lies the problem: in order to stop getting dead-end horse jobs in which I am subjected to poor management and not enough money to feed myself, I have to make some big changes in my own life. I have to “start over.” I have to improve my riding, and eventually hope to work my way up to becoming an assistant trainer. I have to stop marketing myself as a groom. I can be a manager — I’ve been a manager for a Pan AM alternate and that’s kind of a big deal. I’m already great at that stuff, and from there I can potentially move up to more of a riding position, or, at least get good training from a professional and advance my riding skills.

The only way to accomplish this is to take a job away from here. I have to leave central Florida. Maybe there’s something in Ocala, but most likely, I’d have to leave the state to find that job. And then we come to the real reason for this post. I have the resume. I can run a barn. I have too many horses. Barn managers and working students often get a free stall as a “perk” with employment…but never two stalls.

I cannot get rid of Nacho. She would not do well with anyone else, and I believe that she would get passed around and her brain would be completely fried. I can’t do that to her. Plus, her history and mine have been intertwined for 14 years. She’s more than just a rescue horse.

Bonnie, my sweet red beautiful love is the one that I’m going to have to part with. I don’t know how to do that. I’m so desperately in love with both of my mares and it breaks my heart to think about it. My brain just keeps going over all of the awful things that happen to thoroughbreds that are placed and lost…so I know I have to find her the right home. How do I even do that? How can anyone possibly love her as much as I do?

It’s hard to breathe while I’m thinking about this, but I have to ask: can you help me find the right home for Bonnie? One where she’ll be happy and someone will love her as much as I do? She is 13 years old and has some decent dressage training, though she needs a tune-up because she hasn’t been worked consistently. She is solid at first level and can do most of second level though not prettily all the time. She can also do flying changes when asked properly and her canter is SO rhythmic and fun. She’s an enjoyable horse to ride and easy to keep round with a light, soft, sensitive mouth. She is never mean or mareish, but she is a mild cribber and can get ulcers when very stressed, but she has been easy to manage. Her feet are not great; she needs a skilled farrier. She is just tenderfooted, not crippled. Her personality is absolutely delightful. She makes me laugh every day. She’s personable, happy, and likes cookies. She’ll do anything for cookies. She likes her butt scratched. She bows. She loves Nacho. She loves me.

The Red Mare.

The Red Mare.

I will lose my job in May, so I have until then to find a home for her. If I can’t find a home for her, I’ll have to put these plans aside indefinitely and take a job at a restaurant or something. The time is right, and I’m going to have to, for once, take control of my own life rather than just ride the waves hoping to make enough money to by hay at the end of the week. I will miss my sweet red mare so much, and my heart is broken, but this is the only way I can progress.

Thanks to Natalie for kindly understanding my predicament and offering suggestions. This is a challenging time for me.

I am now officially looking for a job and sending out my resume. Suggestions are welcome.

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12 Comments

Filed under Bon Appeal, horsepeople, Selling Horses, Sport Horses

12 responses to “Difficult Decisions

  1. I wish I could take on Bonnie but now is just not the right time for me. You might want to put the word out to Union Valley Riding Club. They have a lot of young kids participating in a class act Riding Club. The club is not that far from Ocala, so you know it is also horse country area.

  2. Jeanne

    Katherine,
    I have no advice to give you; just understanding. Do to unforeseen circumstances, I had to part with my two beloved Mules, whom I had raised from the day each one had been foaled. The decision to let them go was a gut-wrenching one, something that I will never get over.
    Your Red Mare knows that you love her, and she will never forget you, just as you will never forget her. Just find the best home for her that you can; someone that will continue the love. And know that the spot in your heart that hurts now will heal over this wound, forever holding the Red Mare in that one small place.
    My prayers are with you

  3. Do you have an OTTB placement organization in your area? We have one in Texas called LOPE, which has a huge network of TB enthusiasts. You need to network with those people. I bet there is someone out there wanting a horse just like your mare.

  4. Christy Heffner

    Don’t lose faith. There ARE good people out there shopping for horses. And when you find the right one you’ll be happy you did. Sometimes moving a horse on us the best thing for them. Because of social media, I’m still friends with the woman who sold me the most fabulous horse ever 7 years ago. Through Facebook she can see him change and grow and enjoy his new life. From the nutcase he was with her in a high-profile show barn, she’s watched him become a gentle giant, always respectful of my children. And though I’d never let my children do this intentionally (so no lectures please), she even got to read the story about my very young son driving his Gator clear under him. He did nothing more than look down as if to say “What in the world is that crazy little human doing now?” There was absolutely no reaction from a horse who flipped in the crossties when I dropped a brush a month after he got here. Although he came from Florida to MD, she was even able to visit us when she was here visiting family nearby. My most recent addition (a gelding by Touch Gold out of a Holy Bull mare) came straight off the track from a trainer who bawled her eyes out as I was loading him. I even offered not to take him because she was so upset. She said she’d be okay, eventually, so off we went. Again, a match made in heaven. I’m able to email her and we even got to visit with his groom when we visited his old track for an OTTB demonstration. One of my 9-year old daughters and I are training him to be her horse. We’re taking it slow and just letting him be a horse and letting us all bond (because believe me, when I find another gelding by Touch Gold, that one’s mine! Lol).

    Long story short, there ARE other good people out there buying horses. To expect an animal that lives to be 30-40 years to stay in one household forever is unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong, it does happen and will happen with mine (32 YO Welsh pony, 18 YO OTTB, and 9 YO OTTB). But to expect a 15 year old to keep her 17 YO first horse forever is unrealistic. She still needs to go to college, get married, have children, maybe travel the world before or while all that happens, … Mine will stay with me forever because I’m a 40 YO woman who’s done all that stuff and can afford someone to care for them if I want to do a little traveling. Being “horse poor” is no better than being “house poor.” It’s a sad reality in the horse world.

    Best of luck to you in this difficult time.

  5. Natalie Keller Reinert

    Christy, thanks for that comment. It’s so true. Look at me and Final Call. I’m Facebook friends with his owner, and I know that he’s happy and loved. I LOVE Final Call, but I had to do other things in my life. He’s better where he is, and I’m better where I am. It’s a win all around in the end.

  6. Sending positive energies…hoping you find the perfect home for her, and the perfect job for you, and extra energies just in case the two shall mix. Best of luck to you. My heart goes out to you. Wish we had room for her here.

  7. Jacqueline S Capps

    She sounds like a horse I have been searching and dreaming of. Please email me at jackiecapps6211@yahoo.com and we can see if we might be a match. My horses never leave me, I love them as they are my family.

  8. whitewolfe001

    Perhaps instead of parting with her forever you could free lease her? Retain ownership and control over her destiny, and give someone a chance to experience a great horse. Horse crazy teens make great horse moms. 🙂 One of the very best horses I’ve ever had the honor of knowing was a 20-something Morgan mare on free lease from a vet. We did everything, from dressage to western. I learned so much from her. It lasted 5 years until I had to go away to school, and by then she was going on 27 and probably due for a quieter life, so she became a therapeutic riding horse. (Although you would have never guessed she was so old… she was sound and looked as if she was in her teens).

  9. I have no words of advice, so I just wanted to wish you luck! I have never sold a horse as my heart is just not built for it. I would definitely ask for references (& actually check them out) and include first right to refusal if the new owner ever needs to part with the mare. That way you have the option of getting her back, if the new situation doesn’t work out and yours has changed.