Category Archives: Selling Horses

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.


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

Thanks for all the broken toys

I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

It’s a famously liberal, tree-hugging sort of community, where anyone who is anybody dutifully works their shift at the Food Co-Op in exchange for membership (I am not anyone) and there are still placards in the windows of million-dollar brownstones that say HOPE and CHANGE and SAVE DARFUR. There are tables set up on the street so that you can stop and change your electricity over to sustainable up-state wind-farms while you’re on your way to enjoy some locally farmed veg and eat a chicken who probably had a name and came when he was called. Yes, I live in Portlandia.

One of the fun things about Park Slope is the “All the streets are my Good-Will” mentality. If you have something you don’t want anymore, you put it out on the sidewalk, or your stoop, or hang it over the fence around your little garden. I’ve gotten many great books this way, including, interestingly, a hardcover of A Horse Around the House and a tattered paperback of Sam Savitt’s Vicki and the Black Horse, which will eventually be chopped up and used to decorate my already horse-centric apartment.

People put out everything. Clothes (I do not take clothes), furniture (I have a great book-case in my kitchen serving as a pantry/baker’s rack), and toys. Usually baby toys, but every now and then there are things a little more interesting, that catch the eye of my eight year old and myself…

We brought home Mouse Trap one night last summer. We were so excited. I told Calvin “Don’t bother playing the game part, just build the Mouse Trap. That’s the fun part!”

And it turned out, of course, that the Mouse Trap game was missing one piece. Just one piece, but a necessary one. The Mouse Trap wouldn’t work without it.

Thanks, I thought. Thanks for your sweet broken toy.


Every day, broken horses are put out on the virtual stoop.

They’re listed on Craigslist, they’re posted on Facebook, they’re put onto free classifieds ad sites. One thing they have in common? Their listings are always free. No use putting money into these broken toys.

I’m sure I speak for many when I say I’m tired of seeing horses offered cheaply, or for adoption, or for free, when they’ve been broken by someone else. Horses do not fall apart without warning signs; bodies do not give up without symptoms of stress. Horses speak up, but are frequently ignored. Things that should never be thought, but are anyway: Just jump one more course, just run one more race, just get through one more season.

Okay, says the horse. I will try.

And that’s the part that doesn’t break, the piece that never goes missing. The try. That’s the thing about these broken toys: when they’re put back together, they’re just as wonderful as when they were new.

Luckily, there are good people out there who can’t help but pick up a broken toy. There is something in them that makes them want to fix it. There is something in them that helps them see what else the toy can do.

Maybe it can’t be Mouse Trap anymore, but maybe it can be something else, and we can all still have a good time.

So hey, all you dealers and dumpers and shady traders and low-life trainers, from every discipline and every walk of a horse’s life: You’ll get yours.

But in the meantime…

Thanks for all the broken toys.

Rillo jumping, Canterbury

My first broken toy.


Filed under Retirement Options, Selling Horses, slaughter

Suffolk Showcase: How It Works, Why It’s Awesome; Or, You’re Getting a New Horse Sunday.

I’m so excited to have a Guest Blogger today: Jennifer Montfort from CANTER New England. She’s going to tell us why the Suffolk Showcase is the coolest thing since, well, Thoroughbreds.

So, by now you’ve read Natalie’s I NEED TO HAVE THEM posts highlighting some of the horses we have for sale through our trainer listings. And you’re of course wondering how you can get your hands on one, or what “Suffolk Showcase” is all about, right?

Don't tell me you don't want to meet Martins Flyin in person.

We at CANTER NE have been working especially hard the past few weeks as we approach the end of the Suffolk Downs meet on November 5. It’s an extremely busy time for us; as trainers make their plans for the winter they need to find new homes for horses that aren’t making it at the track anymore. Each weekend brings more horses for sale, but it also brings news of horses who have found new homes.

As Natalie has shown, there’s a ton of really great prospects available for sale, and the highlight of the end of the season for us is our Suffolk Showcase. This event aims to break down any barriers people may have that are preventing them from coming to the track to purchase a horse. And it also aims to give the trainers at the track one big chance to present their horses for sale.

 If you’re in New England, and at all interested in OTTBs, you should attend. Really. Here’s why:

 Over 80 horses, all in one place. It’s like the Keeneland sales. Well, sort of. We DO provide you with a catalog with information on each horse including basic information, a brief description, and trainer contact info. We also bring each horse out individually to a showing area where they will be presented and jogged. We DON’T have hip numbers, an auctioneer, or bidding wars. So you don’t have to worry about itching your nose and ending up spending $100K on a horse, we promise.

CANTER volunteers are there to help you. See a horse you like? Not sure what the next steps are? Ask a volunteer! We’ll be there and available to answer any questions you have to help demystify the process. We’re also happy to go see a horse or two (or 20!) with you. We’re like personal shoppers for Thoroughbreds. Who doesn’t love a personal shopper?

Meet the horses you’ve been admiring online. All those pictures of horses you’ve drooled over on our trainer listings page? Those pictures don’t do them justice. Really. We certainly try our best to get great photos, but they will never compare to seeing that horse right in front of you. You’ll see them move, you’ll see their personality, you’ll see how they handle a group full of people staring at them. And you’ll get to hear great stories from the people who work with them every day.

There is a horse for everyone.  No, really. There is a horse for everyone. Pasture pals, trail horses, family pleasure mounts, polo ponies, hunters, dressage mounts, and eventers. Bay, chestnut, grey, black. Flashy and plain, big and small. It’s like the jumbo mega Crayola box of horses.

Just showing up supports Thoroughbred retirement. Even if you don’t purchase a horse (why wouldn’t you!?) it’s a great day to enjoy with a bunch of people who all believe that these horses deserve great lives once it is time for them to hang up their racing shoes. And it helps us show trainers that there IS a market for their horses, which in turn helps more horses find homes. You’re paying it forward. Awesome.

All good reasons, right? So bring your trailer and come on out and see what Showcase is all about, this Sunday, October 23, from 9 am – noon on the Suffolk Downs backstretch.

If you have questions you can contact us at 617-207-1238 or at And join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@canterne) for all the newest updates. And if you can’t come, please share our posts, blogs, etc. with all your horsey friends. There are open stalls everywhere!

There you have it. And as Jennifer says, please share and share and share! I’m going to sweeten the pot…

Reblog, retweet, or share this post on Facebook. Make sure you mention why you think Thoroughbreds are the greatest horse on the planet. Then email me at, and show me where you linked it. For every ten links, I’ll give away a download of my ebook, The Head and Not The Heart. For every hundred links, I’ll give away a signed paperback copy!

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Filed under Retirement Options, Selling Horses

Today’s ALL THE HORSES ARE ALL FOR ME Selections from Suffolk Downs and CANTER NE


Meet trainers pet horsies take one home with you!!

(I think they should get one of those big inflatable gorillas to put out front and get lots of extra attention, but nobody ever listens to me.)

Dark skies and pouring down rain is the perfect horse-shopping weather. How so, you ask? Well, horse-shopping is done on the Internets these days, right? It’s so much easier to justify spending your day looking at pictures of horses if it’s dark and stormy. And that is precisely what I have been doing.

I’m a little bit of a horse flipper, I confess (not the vaulting kind, although that would be fun) and so my eye is always drawn to the $500 and below listings. Even if I was planning on keeping the horse for myself (see: New York Bob, my imaginary novice-level eventing buddy) I lean towards the bargains, because I don’t mind a little goofiness or patching-up or whatever extra work a horse might need, as long as they’re nice and don’t bite with their ears pinned. (Biting is one thing. Biting with ears pinned is another thing altogether.)

But last night I went to a free gig at a posh hotel, and I am still feeling the residual effects of pretending to be rich. With that in mind, here are three horses that I would cheerfully drop a fortune (that is, more than $500) on and probably keep forever and braid their manes and give them those prepackaged horse treat cupcakes and wash them with that strawberry cheesecake scented shampoo I used to carry at Grand Cypress Equestrian Center for the rich kids and their ponies.

1. O’Malley

O'Malley is a hands-free Thoroughbred! The latest and greatest in OTTB technology!

Okay, first off, he’s a chestnut. +1. Second, he’s named after one of the Aristocats. +1. Third, that shoulder. +1. Fourth, THAT FACE . +500. And look, he stands up and poses for pictures! Right after a race! He’ll look so cute with a champion rosette, and you know he’s going to show off on that victory gallop. This is one of those horses that I can look at all day. $2,000 negotiable sounds right to me.

2. Gonna Blow

Dark bays are mysterious and brooding, like James Bond. If you're going to rename him (and you probably are) can we go with a Secret Agent name?

Those ears! When I saw those ears, I had to check out his pedigree. (Don’t ask, I don’t know why.) Gonna Blow, poor sweet boy, is just like me, a Florida-bred asking why is it so damn cold? But horses like cold weather,  so he has probably adjusted better than I have. Look, he’s got dapples, a gorgeous hip, a swan’s neck, a sweet face, and he’s ever-so-slightly over at the knee (I think) which as The Authority, AKA James Wofford, has said, makes for a better jumper. (See: Amarillo.) His trainer and groom vouch for his chilled-out ‘tude, which totes make sense since he’s a beach boy, and they’re letting him go for $1,500 (neg.).

3. Chief Picolo

I swear, Chief Picolo already looks like he is in the arena at HITS.

Gray horses cost more because only rich people can afford enough grooms to keep them clean all the time. When you stroll down from your mansion to your stable, you want to be sure that your dappled gray isn’t dappled muck-green. That being said, a little elbow grease, a washcloth, and some rubbing alcohol not only removes grass and manure stains from a light-colored coat, it also builds muscle! And you have hay bales to stack! You need biceps! Chief Picolo has enough white on him to keep your body buff and enough of those pretty circles we call dapples to keep the judge’s eye from wandering. I know I said I’m a plain chestnut girl, but I am out of shape, and he is incredibly gorgeous. He’s also been handled like a horse (winters on the farm, lightly raced, good manners) so the transition to the show ring should be fairly smooth. $3,000 and it’s probably a bargain for a racey eye-catcher like this.


Filed under Retirement Options, Selling Horses, Sport Horses

Today’s I Want Him, Give Him To Me CANTER Horse

Remember the Suffolk trainer listings? The end of the meet is growing near and there are still so many gorgeous horses available, directly from their trainers! These trainers are awesome, wonderful folks who are working with CANTER NE to find great sport and pleasure homes for their horses, and they deserve awards for stepping up and taking care of their horses.

Today’s horse that I WANT and I CAN’T HAVE because I live in a fourth-floor walk-up is NEW YORK BOB.

Daaaaaaaaaw New York Bob you're so cute.

LOOK HOW CUTE. According to his listing, New York Bob is 6 years old and 15.2. He’s a PONY. But look at that balance! Look at those rock-solid joints! Look at those clean legs! Look at those hooves! BRING ME BOB!

Bob’s trainer says he’s been at the track long enough and it’s time for a new gig. He has an old knee chip that he’s sound on, is a classy guy, and has a good disposition. She also suggests an experienced rider.

What would you do with Bob? Personality permitting, I’d probably do novice level eventing and some hunter/jumper shows. I love his size: 15.2 with a great big engine behind and a strong shoulder in front. I love his “meh” expression too. This is a horse who has been there, done that, and has had the T-shirt so long there are stains on it.

He’d also be super-easy to get ready for shows because he’s BROWN. No, I mean, he’s a gorgeous chestnut, but look, no white feet! No scrubbing, no Quiksilver, no purple hands, no corn starch at the last minute… he’s wash and wear, Bob is. And can you really put a price on that? Not at five thirty a.m. when you’re about to load up for an eight a.m. dressage time and your best friend is gazing in horror at her greenish-brown “gray,” you can’t. Showing is hard. Plain horses make it easier. (I’m going to trademark that for my plain-colored-horse listing service, so don’t even try stealing it.)

As usual, trainer listings are negotiated directly through the trainer. Vet checks are super-easy at the track; there are vets everywhere. Go to his listing for the phone number, talk to the trainer, and when you get him home, email me and let me know how my horse is doing.


Filed under Outside Sites, Retirement Options, Selling Horses

Thoroughbreds On Sale at Suffolk!

Summer is over and gone (at least in the Northeast) and if you’re a Thoroughbred at Suffolk Downs in Boston, you’re getting ready for a change of scenery. The 2011 meet ends on November 5th, and while a lot of trainers head south to Florida for the winter season, they aren’t usually keen on taking all of their horses.

It’s a long, expensive trip, and Florida’s three-track winter racing circuit is tougher than Suffolk’s.

CANTER New England gets busy every fall at Suffolk, connecting with trainers to find out which horses they think are ready for new careers, and providing them with listings on the organization’s website.

Trainer-listed horses are not adoptions — purchasers are buying directly from the trainer — which means they’re not bound by an adoption contract. Sporthorse trainers looking for project horses, take note!

There are more than one hundred horses currently listed, in all ages, sizes, colors, and breedings.

I’ll feature a few in their own posts, but here’s a tantalizing preview of what they have to offer…

Cajun Quickstep, 16.3 4 yo gelding

Cajun Quickstep, 16.3 4 yo gelding

Like size on your horse? Got long legs? Cajun Quickstep is 16.3 hands high and has he ever got a gorgeous body! Excuse me while I drool over that croup for a while. Oh wait, I have to admire his shoulder… Now I’m picturing myself jogging him at Rolex for the horse inspection…

Okay, I’m back.

Cajun Quickstep is listed at $750.

Someone buy this horse before I do something stupid.


LINK: NE Trainer Listings – Page 1 of 3.





Filed under Outside Sites, Retirement Options, Selling Horses, Sport Horses, Uncategorized

Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project: The sad reality; An auction, a Paint, a feedlot, and some OTTB’s

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s link regarding the Minnesota auction yard, directly from Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project. This is an important read. Even when trainers try to do the right thing, someone is lurking right around the corner waiting to turn a quick profit on a horse’s life.

In this case, a trainer was duped into thinking that someone was purchasing his horse for a riding home, let the retirement farm know that the horse was taken care of, only for the retirement staff to find the horse had been shipped directly to the kill pen.

The “dealer”, along with a little cash, offers the promise of finding the horse a good home.  Sometimes it’s someone who is looking for a riding horse, sometimes it’s a polo operation, and sometimes it’s a hunter jumper home. Unfortunately his idea of a good home is dropping them off at the feedlot for quick cash…

One of the five horses was confirmed to have been given to him, again, with the promise of a polo home in another state. He even went so far as to ensure he got the Jockey Club papers (which were not given to the feedlot). He then loaded this horse on his trailer (along with the bay gelding and 3 others he’d collected) and hauled  30 minutes south to the feedlot where he cashed in an easy $200. By my estimate, this gentleman  probably scored close to $800-$900 at the feedlot , if not more. This is fraud, anyway you look at it. It’s one thing if he was honest as to where they were going, another if he deliberately misled them. Which appears to have been the case in multiple incidences.

Five racehorses, given freely and sold for slaughter. All of these horses’ trainers thought they had done the right thing by their horses. In the end, the President of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association stepped up and supported MNRRP’s financial need to get the five kill pen Thoroughbreds out.

It’s a sad example of how just one person with a lack of humanity and morals can thwart a cast of well-meaning people and perpetuate the perception of the racetrack as a place where no one cares about a horse if it can’t bring home a check. It’s people like this who, ultimately, will bring the sport down, if the practice of sending retired racehorses to slaughter continues to horrify this horse-loving nation.

But what does a con man care? If he isn’t ruining lives at the racetrack, he’ll just find somewhere else to ruin them.

Please, be careful with your horses. And read the entire story – link below.

Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project: The sad reality; An auction, a Paint, a feedlot, and some OTTB’s.

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Filed under racetrack life, Racing, Retirement Options, Selling Horses