When You Have to Sell a Horse
by Catherine Madera
I loved the book Black Beauty and read it several times as a youth. It’s a beautiful story but a sad one, too, especially the way it explores the selling of horses. Some “win the lotto” when they are sold, in terms of an excellent home, but for others a sale marks the beginning of the end: the end of understanding and thoughtful care, the end of a good relationship with human beings.
While winning Sport Horse In Hand Open Stallions at Donida Farms last summer was a thrill, it hardly compared with running into the current owner of a beloved horse we had sold. She was at the show riding for a client. The horse in question, a kind Quarter Horse gelding, had fractured his hock and could no longer be used for gaming. While we sold him to a responsible home, for light riding only, I wept after dropping him off at his new barn. It seemed so unfair that this fine gentleman had no say whatsoever in his future. To hear, nearly 3 years later, that the horse was still healthy and loved did more for my heart than any ribbon.
Life changes and sometimes hard decisions must be made, but I’ve never been good at selling horses, saying goodbye and forgetting about them. With summer on the way, I’m thinking of the many buying and selling scenarios that will take place this season. If you are thinking of buying a new horse, please remember each animal is an individual. Make a plan and be realistic about your needs as this will minimize turnover. Also, be mindful of its current training and living situation. Horses are creatures of habit and a change in care and handling can profoundly affect behavior. A most noble creature, horses deserve a thoughtful approach when they change hands.
Lastly, if you need a new barn for that new horse (or a better one) I can’t think of a finer company to build it than Barn Pros. Feast your eyes on some of the options on page 6. Got a buying or selling story? Email me at email@example.com.
Catherine Madera served as editor of the Northwest Horse Source for five years. She has written for numerous regional and national publications and is a contributing writer for Guideposts Magazine and the author of four equine-related books. She has two grown children and lives with her husband and three horses in Northwest Washington.