I had my black and white gelding for 8 years, bought him when he was 4 and I was only 13. I learned so much on that horse, did so much, and knew everything about him. I could tell you what every quirk he had meant, what he would do before he would do it, and knew every little nuance of his personality.
But he wasn't the world-class horse I was striving to compete on. His back was a bit too long, so his lope was not good enough to win us higher than congress. Even though I became a better trainer in the end, because working with a horse to overcome his physical shortcomings was impressive, I wanted to improve my skill on a horse that was bred and built better and who could get me to the worlds.
I knew that there was someone out there who could benefit from my well-trained boy, someone who could learn a lot just like I had. Though I didn't really get to make the decision as my mom sold him behind my back. And even though I am deeply sad sometimes for losing my best friend, I know that someone else is enjoying him. And then when Lily came into my life I knew I was on the right path.
Exactly. We have learned and grown so much together. Betterment was a two-way-street and we have both always had each other's back (well, maybe not in some cases on his end of the deal!).
Not only is our connection and our history a factor, but the reality that if he were to leave, nothing is protecting him from getting hurt. There are thousands of horses out there who need homes; some who don't have the best confirmation, or the best higher-level abilities, etc., and then those who do. When you sell a horse, you may know who you are selling the horse to, but then that horse could be sold again and end up in completely the wrong hands, whether it be somebody who screws them up (training wise or psychologically), or somebody who fails them completely and they end up on a truck headed for slaughter.
You don't have to travel far to find a horse "owner" who completely neglects their horses (especially psychologically). Sometimes they even board where you board!
I know this sounds a little "out there" and a little "over-concerning", but it's sadly the reality. Personally, I am sorry, but I can't risk putting my partner
of 8 years up to that type of vulnerability. He may not be perfect or be able to get me where I am dying to go, but he doesn't deserve the slightest chance of a crappy life either. He has played a huge part in where I am now in my riding, and needs some respect and payback for that.
Leasing out would be more of a viable option, though.