Advice needed- thinking logically about purchasing my lease mare
*warning, a bit long...
I have been free leasing a sweet little mare from a lesson program for a few years now. I've been expecting for awhile that they were going to consider selling her soon, as she isn't really appropriate for their lesson program and is hardly used. Essentially, she's not earning her keep and she's taking up a stall. Well, I just got the email that they want to put her up for sale next week. It makes perfect sense for them to want to move her on, and I'm frankly surprised it hasn't happened sooner. So now I have to decide if I want her before she's listed.
Here are the pros:
-Easy keeper, good feet
-She is exactly the size I want
-Is capable of low level dressage, which is what I enjoy doing.
And the cons:
-18 years old, with a bit of a swayback that requires impeccable saddle fit and still being padded up when riding. I have never talked to a vet about long term implications of her back as I didn't handle vet care in my lease.
-As it currently stands, she's not great for trail riding (which is what I really want to be doing) as she's a bit barn sour and a little nervous alone or in a group. Granted, no one has worked on those issues with her recently (I didn't feel it was my place to do so during the lease period).
-They've offered her to me at $500 off asking price, which would put her at a price that I think is a little high for what she's worth.
It's so hard to be logical about this. She is the horse that has gotten me back into riding as an adult. She tested my confidence at first, but then helped me regain it. To be perfectly honest, I imagined that they would want to get rid of her eventually, at which point I would offer to take her for free as a pasture puff companion to another (as yet unpurchased) horse that I'd use for more strenuous trail riding. But, I'm about 1.5 years out from having a barn built at home, so not only would I be paying for her now rather than retiring her, I'd also be paying to board her.
Part of my head says that for the price they want for her and the cost of board, I can get a somewhat younger horse with more potential for trails. But the other part of me says I would like to be the one to see her through her last good riding years and then give her a nice retirement eventually.
I know none of you can tell me what to do, but I'd love to hear opinions on how you'd make a final decision about this.
good luck with your choice
I was in the same boat as you a few months back. The best thing for you to do before you decide is to find some horses for sale close enough to you that you can go see in the next week or so...horses that seem to match EXACTLY what you are looking for. Go see them and test ride them, then make a decision.
My lease horse came up for sale, I dearly love that mare. She was the horse that got me back to riding as an adult as well. She was sound, healthy, and could be made into a low level dressage horse. She was spooky, and couldnt do trails (could have been worked to start them though with time).
I went looking, rode a few great horses in my price range, passed on all of them but knew that although I loved my lease horse, she wasn't what I wanted. I passed on her, and found my dream horse. It could have gone the other way though, I could have decided that she was the right horse for me after seeing others...at least it would have been a more informed decision and not so much with my heart.
Best of luck with your decision!!
Don't fell obligated to her because you have leased her. If she is not exactly what you want, find the one that is! I know its a tough decision, but listen to your mind and your wallet, not your feelings toward the mare.
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I think it depends on you. I bet she can be turned into a trail horse but are you willing to take the steps to get her there? Are you trying to solo ride or ride in groups? Obstacles? Competitive trail? Pleasure trail rides (meaning, no competition)?
My horse had ZERO trail experience when I bought him. It was all arena riding for him. Now we're obstacle course training!
Point is, it may take months or even a year of regular steady trail oriented training and may involve riding with other people. You have to be willing to accept that RIGHT NOW she doesn't do it but ONE DAY sure.
Definitely get a pre purchase exam and discuss the long term implications of her back. All this pondering may be moot if she doesn't pass the vetting.
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I think part of my consideration would be how old does she act? I've seen 18 yo horses that act like they're on their death bed and 24 yo horses that act like they are 4. As far as the swayback goes, my barn owner has one (23) that has been swaybacked for years and is perfectly good to ride, but she does have a weight limit. If this horse should need a weight limit, are you light enough that it probably wouldn't keep you from being able to ride? Or if you're heavier, how would you feel about having her and not being able to ride? Ultimately it's really up to what is going to work for you. There are a LOT of horses out there that are small and sound, being sold dirt cheap right now. A lot of those horses require a more advanced rider, and I'm not sure what level rider you are or what you are confident in handling for issues. I agree with the poster that suggested looking around at other horses in the area. It might give you a feel for whether she is the best one for you or not. I also agree that she could still be trained to trails, but that depends on what you're willing to work through with her. Best of luck, sounds like a tough decision!
I'd have to consider the facts the lease mare is 18, has that way back (which could present a problem trail riding even if you get her to tolerate that) and seems to the OP to be overpriced. Of course, asking price isn't necessarily what the mare should sell for and if you make up your mind to buy her I'd offer what is fair in your market.
First thing though I'd do as others here have suggested and go ride horses in your price range that may be a bit younger and more well rounded. Then if I didn't find another horse and decided on the lease mare I would certainly have her vet checked to get an idea of how that swayback could effect her future useability.
About the trail issue, sometimes it doesn't take much work to get a horse into "trail mind".
For example, my mare was 23 when I got her and hadn't been out on the trail (or ridden at all) in 15 years. Nowadays, we trail ride pretty exclusively and she's totally great at it. It did take some work on my part but it wasn't at all impossible. If she trusts you, i don't see any reason why she'd be unable to come around. :)
I agree with Amlariie about wondering how old she acts. I mean, my mare is now 27 and she's pretty sure she's not a day over 10. With "your" girl being 18, she could possibly have at least 8 more good riding years, if not more.
Personally, I'm a fan of older horses to be the ones you get your feet wet, so to speak, with. However, there is the issue of your life down the road. Once horses get past the 21ish mark, pretty much whoever owns them then is in for the long haul. You can't really sell older horses after that point without either giving them away or considering some other, less savory, options.
I didn't think of that when I got my mare and having her, though I'm eternally thankful I have her, has kept me from exploring college options that I would have liked to explore (I got her the summer before my senior year in high school). Because of my mare's age, major climate change/long trips were basically out of the cards and now with her sight issues, drastic changes in her environment (like moving her to a different place etc) are even more fraught with possible danger.
I think of my mare as my 1000lb baby. She needs soooo much care that there is no way she could go a few days without being checked on. She needs to be messed with daily to make sure everything is "right" with her.
But yeah, older horses=a lot more responsibility than a younger horse (also a lot more instant gratification, imo).
Weigh your options, plan for the future, and make a decision that your heart can be at rest with. :)
should I buy this horse?
Walk away and move on. Why buy a horse that already has problems and issues
Get your own property finished so its 'move in ready' and then find your true dream horse - it may take time but its out there somewhere waiting for you!!!
Thanks everyone, this advice is really all excellent (and exactly why I posted here :-)).
To confirm, I would definitely have a vet check and think very seriously about the long-term prognosis for her back. Attitude wise, she is definitely an 18-going on-10 horse rather than an 18-going on-death horse; she's got spunk, personality, and opinions, which is why she hasn't worked out in the lesson program, which is targeted at therapeutic riders. She can w/t/c under saddle, though fitness and balance is a real concern and getting her in better shape could only help her back. Someone asked about my size, and I do believe that we are compatible- she is a 14.2 Morgan (a bulkier Morgan, not very fine boned), and I am 5'3'' and about 150 pounds. I'm probably towards the top of her weight limit, but I will ask the vet that specifically.
As to the trail training issue people have mentioned- yes, I would be totally committed to working with her on it. There are places we can ride around the barn where she'd likely be kept. I have been stalking the Trail Riding thread here for months and do have a trainer on the ground to help. The only potential problem is that I don't have a lot of riding buddies at the current barn- I would love to have a friend and an "old reliable" to go out with, but I'm not sure how realistic that is.
I also like the advice to go test ride a couple of other horses- good suggestion.
And finally, Wallaby, I totally get what you're saying about the long-term commitment to an older horse. If I did this, I would with the assumption that this was her forever home. That has always been my attitude towards animals. My husband and I are very fortunate to have stable, professional careers that make this financially possible if I decide to go for it. And in my mind, at some point in the future, I would be adding another horse once Isabel was no longer rideable, so she would have a companion once we're able to have horses at our new home (just moved to a place with 5 acres).
Decisions, decisions...I am going to continue thinking on it this weekend, but so appreciate the advice so far. Keep it coming.
And now, it only seems fair to include some pictures of the lady in question (I don't have any great ones of her back without a blanket on, so these are mostly for the cuteness factor):
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