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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is very difficult for me to discuss. Both because the subject matter is unpleasant for me to think about, and because I'm still not sure what I want. I originally bought Thunder to drive, and for my fiancée to ride on occasion. He was never a horse I would have chosen for myself, even though I had always thought it would be fun to have a draft - but drafts are BIG, and hairy, and they really do better on 'special' feed, and they require special care, etc etc (all of which I knew when I bought him). When I brought Thunder home I instantly fell in love with him, with his dopey goofiness and his gigantic hairy feets and the way his tongue hangs out like a dog's when he's feeling playful.

Then he grew up, and I started training him, and I fell in love even more. He is so level headed (I'm sure that's at least partially a draft thing but his sire was very chill even for a Shire) and tries so hard to please. He's a horse you can do literally anything with. ANYTHING. Want to hitch him to an inner tube and go snow tubing? Sure. Want to go swimming and do backflips off his butt? Sure. Want to load him in the back of your pickup? Sure. Anything goes. He was such a good horse during training that I was able to muddle through breaking him to drive all by myself, just by watching videos and reading articles, something I surely never would have attempted on a hotter animal. He was - IS - the perfect 'anything' horse. Ride, drive, the whole shebang.

But.

I thought having a horse to ride, and to drive, would allow me to share my passion with my fiancée. It hasn't. Rodney has been out to the barn a handful of times, and ridden Thunder once. Which, to be honest, isn't shocking - I was hoping for more, but Rodney isn't a horseman and I never expected him to become as gung-ho as myself. But I WAS hoping for more. And Thunder, bless his big goofy hairy heart, eats more than a regular horse would. His shoes cost three times what Dreams' do, even when I get Dreams shod all around, which isn't often. When I take him on trail rides, the poor dear can't handle more than a few hours, and usually gets very hot and thirsty. I like to lope a lot on trail rides, and with him you just can't. He's not bred to do that. He's bred to pull a load, on a relatively flat surface, at a walk, and not all day either. That's all well and good, but it's not what I want to do all the time. When I envisioned driving Thunder around, I had always thought he'd have approximately the endurance of a regular horse (something I admit perhaps I should have thought about before I bought him) - but when we go driving, after about an hour he's ready to park for the day. On a nice cool day he'll have a few hours' worth of gas in the tank, but on a warm day, after an hour it's 'stick a fork in me, I'm done!'

I just think … he's not the horse I want at the moment. When I have friends or family over, it's wonderful to have a horse that I can put anybody on and not have to worry, or go for a drive and know that it'll be a nice pleasant day. But usually what happens is, I saddle him up and ride him, or harness him and drive him around, because I don't want him sitting without getting some exercise. And I love riding him and driving him, but I do feel guilty sometimes because I think I could be making so much more progress with Dreams if I didn't have to divide my time to be with Thunder too. Which makes me feel even guiltier, because Thunder is such a love and I love spending time with him. It's a vicious cycle lol. I want to get more into packing, but Thunder is not the horse I would choose to pack with, both because of his size and his lack of endurance (and his 'special needs' being a draft - more food, more frequent stops to rest and drink, etc). And I feel like with as much money as I spend on Thunder, I could have two 'normal' horses that are more aligned with what I want to be doing.

And I know what happens to horses who get shunted from home to home. I know. I like to think that Thunder has the training, the breeding and the temperament to keep him out of a truck bound to Mexico, but if I sell him it'll be out of my hands, and that thought terrifies me. I couldn't bear it if I found out he ended up in a bad place. I sold Mirage in high school and that decision haunted me for years - I never found out what happened to her and it eats me up inside sometimes. Some horses I've been able to buy, train and resell with no issues, but selling Thunder is hard for me to think about.

Sigh. I guess I'm fishing for advice. For those of you who've sold nice horses that you really liked, how do you do it? Maybe I should hold onto him a while longer?

-- Kai
 

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Here I was under the impression that draft horses were essentially work horses. What kind of work horse only does an hour of work?
 
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It sounds like you would worry and regret selling him. It doesn’t sound like you can’t afford his care, but rather that you feel you aren’t getting your money’s worth in experiences. However, it doesn’t sound like you are putting a price on the love you feel - rightly - but that love does have value.

Would all those new experiences outweigh your regrets and worries? This is something only you can answer. Everyone is different, but for me it wouldn’t be worth it. My mare is very limited in what she can do due to her breeding, size and a defect she has. I would be worried sick if I sold her so I just do the things she can do without regrets.

Would leasing be an option?

He is amazingly cute and pretty.
 

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Here I was under the impression that draft horses were essentially work horses. What kind of work horse only does an hour of work?
Answer to that is they are work horses but most of their work, ploughing, carting about the farm is done at a walk. Those used for longer distances, carting are usually in a team and again at a walk or slow trot.
 

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I agree with your assessment of the types of things your horse is good at. Drafts are a niche animal, and are not going to handle distance, heat and endurance the way other saddle horses will.

While I've not personally passed a horse on to another person yet, I would feel comfortable selling a horse like Thunder for the reasons you've mentioned. I think the risk of him ending up in a bad home would be low, if you found him a home with someone who had experience with draft horses and loved them. All the people I've known who have draft horses were well prepared to take on their special care, and wanted them for driving or farm work, and/or as an occasional light riding horse. As a lovely, mellow, trained horse, it would seem most likely he would be a valued horse for someone. I also think if you are only wanting to keep him out of guilt, you might consider that if you found him the right home he could be someone else's #1 horse the way Dream is for you. Which might be great for both of them.

Keep in mind that I would not be able to follow this advice myself, since I get too attached to my own horses. :smile:
 

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He's a good looking horse.

To your question: I sell when I discover that a horse would have a better life with someone else. Usually they either aren't suited to my needs or they can't tolerate the terrain or workload.

I used to think that every horse I bought had to stay with me forever. Then I realized that if everyone felt that way and hadn't sold a horse, I'd never have had the wonderful ones in my life.
 

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Are you not able to loan him out at all? That way you can keep an eye on him 😉 some here loan horses permanently - pay for everything as if they did in fact own. Only difference is owner is kept in the loop. Though these require a well thought out contract x
 

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He's a good looking horse.

To your question: I sell when I discover that a horse would have a better life with someone else. Usually they either aren't suited to my needs or they can't tolerate the terrain or workload.

I used to think that every horse I bought had to stay with me forever. Then I realized that if everyone felt that way and hadn't sold a horse, I'd never have had the wonderful ones in my life.
I agree with this statement. It just gets scary when you realize that you have no more control and someone else could end up not being who you thought they were.

I have a mare that I would like to sell. She's a fine riding horse. Very sensitive to aids, no buck, bite, kicking, rearing or what have you. But, she is not for a very beginner because she can have a bit of spook in her. She would be perfect for anyone who has at least some experience and doesn't become afraid of mild horse antics. And to be honest, the spooks even diminish with regular riding. I just don't have time for all that I have. I bought her for my nieces and they don't ride anymore. They were fine with her and they were not experienced AT ALL.
Bottom line, I can afford to feed her and take care of her basic needs so she stays until the right person comes along for her.

My advice would be, advertise him for sale and see what happens. Be patient and wait for the right person for him. There are people out there who would appreciate him for what he is and have great use for him.
 

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My answer - When the animal takes your time, finances and questions arise for which there are not solutions to a degree that it negatively impacts your relationships with others (people, animals, work) or you begin to feel resentful. That is the simple, cut and dried answer. For each person there will be a level of tolerance for each of those. Not all solutions involve sale but sometimes that is the best for all parties. Better to be ahead of the curve and in a position that allows you to be choosy about where your animal lands.



Drafts are incredible animals and are born with a purpose. Sadly most do not ever meet their potential. Drafts that are worked consistently and for a week of typical work days you do not see the fatigue and out of shapedness to the degree many draft owners experience. There was a time when every draft under my care was worked in some way, shape or form at least 5 days a week. they were consciously conditioned and kept fit as I did not have the work that friends with small farms had to keep them that way. Because they were worked with that in mind asking them to work for extended periods especially on weekends was not an issue and they were happy to oblige. All but one were public attention hogs. I know so many that work all week (or most) in the fields and then on the weekend are found at various functions pulling vehicles filled with excited riders. These are the horses that aren't tired and sweaty with just a short exertion.



I too have my drafts with the intention of being able to share. So much easier to remain in control and spread the love with many (at one time) rather than sit someone on their back and limit the experience. But that too takes effort. It takes having an animal trained and conditioned for it.
 

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I have sold many horses over the years, and there is always that worry that "what if someone else doesn't take care of them well enough?" This fear is compounded when you really love the animal and have spent many hours with them. However, horses are too expensive to just be a pet in reality for most of us. I think that when you realize the horse would have a more productive life with a different owner, then it becomes easier. If you aren't ready to let go, then leasing is an option as several others have mentioned. I have no personal experience with leasing but I'd possibly consider it although I haven't really owned horses that would be good for leasing as they typically aren't beginner safe.

I did have two horses that were particularly hard for me to let go of. One was an older mare that I had owned for about 10 years when I sold her. I sold her to a really good friend of mine who essentially used her to lead little kids around on and be a friend to their buffalo. She lived out the rest of her life there. This one was made easier because I knew she was exceptionally cared for and I could get updates on her.

The other was a four year old gelding that I'd owned for two years. I started him myself and he was just so amazing. I ultimately was forced into selling him because I was a young single mom who didn't have the money to keep him or the time to really make use of his considerable talent. I knew that I couldn't give him what he needed at the time, so I found someone who could. I have attempted to look him up several times, but I have never been able to find him. I think that one was hard for me because I did not want to sell him, but I felt I had no other option.

The rest I let go because they were not right for our purposes at the time. And since I cannot afford to indefinitely keep large animals that are expensive when they are not fulfilling a purpose it just made sense.
 

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I feel the same way, except my horse is even more difficult to re-home. I took in a rescue Paso Fino, thinking I could sell him in a couple months. After a couple months, he gained weight and looked great. But he was petrified of everything- shaking in his boots and terrified.

I spent the last two years training him under saddle so I could find him the perfect home. But the vet diagnosed him with recurrent uveitis. This means he might eventually go blind- as in sometime in the next 15-20 years.

After all the work I put into him, no one wants a horse with health and behavioral issues. Even if the behavioral issues are mostly gone. He's still a very hot and nervous horse.

I tried listing him for a small adoption fee- I didn't get one person who was interested. I told all my friends and asked around. I would gladly give him away for free, if I could find the right person. But no luck. I even posted lots of videos of him under saddle.

He was only supposed to be here temporarily. This was never meant to be permanent. I want a horse I can jump- my other horses all have issues which prevent them from jumping.

I even started the Paso over small jumps, but he is way too excited. I think he still remembers the abuse he received in an arena so he gets hyped up. He's happier as a trail horse. Much happier. He deserves someone who loves him the way he is- not someone who resents being "stuck" with him.

I keep looking for that right person and hope that I can find him a home. He is young, sound, and mostly healthy. He's not spooky on trails and will ride for hours and still be ready for more. He's just not what I want.

He does love me- he will gallop up to see me and he neighs when he sees me.
 

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Thunder is exactly what a lot of people are looking for. What about a lease or partial lease? The more he's worked, the better shape he will be in and the better his endurance. Shires are a breed that crosses over to under-saddle work better than many other draft breeds, and that's because they do tend to have a nice canter and endurance than others.


I really wish I was closer and it wasn't going into winter with hay prices sky-high. Thunder is pretty much what I would be looking for if I were in the market for another horse. Big, sturdy, friendly, quiet, and versatile.
 

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I think too many people make the mistake of buying a horse for their non-horsey spouse only to realize that they remain non-horsey.

Thunder is adorable and from what you are describing, he's a great horse for someone! I agree with the idea of trying to find a home familiar with the needs (and limitations) of draft horses though. That might reassure you that he won't end up getting re-sold for the same reasons you're selling him.

We bought our first horse from a lovely family that was heavy into high-level dressage. My daughter wanted a jumper. He could jump, but was quite fiery and hard to control, and they told us as much when we got him. He was limited in his ability to lift his back in dressage. But you know what? He walks on water as far as we're concerned. I have actually found every single one of his previous owners, so we have his entire life history, and half of them follow his accomplishments on social media. He has become a fantastic jumper for my daughter to learn on. So while I understand your worry about re-homing Thunder, there are some people out there who would give anything to find such a great horse for their family. Not everyone has ambitious goals, and for the right family, he might be just perfect!

I'd list him, and see how you feel about the responses. Specify that you'd like a home experienced with drafts. You can always take him off the market if you change your mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So how does a lease work? The lessee pays a fee monthly to essentially take over care of the horse? If the horse is injured or otherwise requires some sort of veterinary care, who pays for that? Who decides what gets fed? Who says what goes as far is riding and driving? I've yet to find anyone (and I mean ANYONE) who has hands as light as mine. For the majority of the ride or drive Thunder is on no contact whatsoever. Every once in a while I'll ask him to collect up, and obviously on turns and stops there is contact, but other than that not a whole lot of touching the mouth is going on. Every person I've spoken to who drives is adamant that you always have to have contact when driving 'in case the horse starts to take off' which to me means both that the horse hasn't been properly broke to drive and that if you're always hanging on his mouth, if he takes off you just have to put that much more pressure on him to stop. I would want him to be ridden/driven the way I do it, not have two ways of being used that potentially confuse him and aggravate me. Do I get to use the horse at all during the term of the lease, or does he essentially belong to the lessee? Would he go off to their place?

I have never lived in an area where leasing a horse is common. That seems to be more of an English riding thing? In Montana you're hard-pressed to find a horse who isn't wearing a western saddle. Driving seems to be slightly more common than English riding but not much. I'm curious about leasing but I really don't think it will be an option around here. Although I could put out an ad and see how it goes? It's an option anyway. Does anyone have a sample lease contract so I could see what all is involved?

I had planned on putting up an ad for him tonight, but now I just don't know lol. I'm still on the fence about it. I was talking to R this evening and he asked if I wasn't boarding, if I had my own property, would I still want to sell? I think I would. Even if he had acres of pastures to run around on he still wouldn't be getting used the way he needs to be. Somebody else hit the nail on the head earlier - it's not that I can't afford him, but that I don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth in experiences. That's exactly it. I've always been a practical person and to me, paying for board and feed and everything else for a horse that I'm not using very often, and not in the way I bought him for, is just … wasteful. I hate to use that word, but that's how it feels sometimes. Especially if someone else could be using him and enjoying working with him … I just don't think I can justify hanging on to him 'just because' no matter how awesome he is. But I don't want to see him go, either. Le sigh.

Thank you all for the responses. It seems I have a great deal to think over.

-- Kai
 

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Well I don't think you'll find someone who will ride and drive him EXACTLY like you. But it doesn't mean you can't find someone who is very similar.

I wouldn't go the lease route personally, because it's clear you aren't looking for a horse like Thunder and it's highly unlikely that will change. I'd do a straight-up sale to a home that wants a draft horse to do a little driving and maybe pop a rider on him on occasion. Surely not everyone in your area has heavy hands. There are people out there who would love him to bits! You just need to find them.
 

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Just because someone says they maintain contact does not mean they are an aggressive or heavy handed driver. IMO you do need contact. That contact tells the horse you are there with them. Contact does not have to equal excessive pressure which I think is what you have in mind when someone says they have to have contact. That rein telegraphs intention both ways. From the driver and to the driver. With no contact you have just cut off your line of communication. That would not be a safe way to handle a horse. Most of mine are voice command and can be worked 100% that way. Some I do work that way. I may work them that way from the ground or in the saddle, doing obstacles where it is impressive to see such a big animal move through a course but put someone else out there with me in a conveyance and you better believe there is contact for the safety of all concerned. The message on the line travels much quicker than the voice in any situation that suddenly pops up unexpectedly.


You can always make sale conditional on going see their animals and driving skills with them. I'm sure you'll find someone that would just love having him.
 

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Is offering a lease on him be an option so you can keep him all together and not part with him, but give him the chance to be loved and used and given a job with someone else and not have the financial burden.
 

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I think a lease sounds like an ideal situation. You still have control over his well being, and can step in an terminate the lease if you feel he isn't being cared for or handled like you would prefer, but he gets his own person and you don't feel as guilty?
 
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