I agree its irritating- it used to really annoy me when friends with horses just took them for granted, beacuse I would have given both my arms and legs for a hose at one point!
However, if they don't want the horse any more, that's their choice. And by the sounds of it, this particular horse would be very limited in what it could offer his owner. Perhaps they don't want to carry on putting the effort into this horse if he isn't progressing how they would like him to? After a few years, it would be fustrating not being able to canter!
I'm sure there is someone out there who would love a grey project horse and will be happier to own him than your friend, while your friend can get a different horse who suits her better!
(as for the rugs though... doesn't every horse end up riuning rugs eventually?!?)
We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too ~Kristen Martz