As I write this, my Orange Goodness is in a stable I’ve never seen, with people I’ve never met, going through the quarantine process. My partner for the last 2.5 years is on her way to her new owner, her new life, leaving me here in Denmark without my Grand Prix horse. I’ve lost the horse that has been teaching me to make the piaffe to passage transition smoother, the one-time changes more expressive, and has given me the joy of just sitting and turning in an amazing canter pirouette.
I’ve lost the horse that I can hack out on the buckle, knowing that when the deer jump out of the trees, as they do every time, she will be the one who unflinchingly looks in their direction and doesn’t skip a beat, while the other horses snort, spook, and occasionally bolt.
She’s gone, and I won’t pretend it doesn’t suck a bit. I’d be lying if I said I kept it together when I hugged her just before we left the stable, and when I snuck onto the trailer to give her big orange butt one more good-bye rub.
It’s hard to say goodbye to an equine partner. This mare has taught me more than any instructor alone. She tries harder than any horse I’ve known and loves to tattle on me when I’m doing something stupid.
But as hard as it was to say goodbye, as much sadness as I’ve felt in these moments, the winning emotion during all of this is gratitude. None of the opportunities I’ve had in the last two plus years would have been possible without the generosity and faith of two incredible people I know.
These two bought a mare that I fell in love with, a mare that I believed in. They believed in me enough to give me a chance to finish a horse, to take my finished product down centerline. It’s one thing to say you can ride Grand Prix, but it’s something different to have evidence, and it makes a big difference to your business, to your marketing and clients. Through their generosity, faith, and patience, these two people gave my resume a big boost, changed my professional course for the better.
This is not something I could have done myself. While I have and still do own horses myself, they always have been sold before we’ve accomplished all the things I’ve hoped. Being a professional usually doesn’t mean you can collect horses for yourself, paying the bills through lessons, coaching, and training. Selling horses is what pays the bills in this business and selling your own horse is often the crappy solution that makes the most financial sense.
The Orange Goodness was purchased with a plan: I finish her, get some Grand Prix experience, and then we sell her. There was no timeline, there were no rules except for one, that she would be eventually be sold.
When it started to make sense to start moving in that direction, to sell her, a lot of people started making “noooooooooo” noises. “Oh, can’t you keep her?” “Can’t the owners keep her for longer?” “Why do they want to sell her?” “That’s not fair!”
Um, no, no, because we agreed to it, and you’re wrong. I understand the questions and statements were coming from a supportive place, people wishing I could keep “my” horse. But she has never been mine, I’ve never had the huge financial responsibility and risk involved in purchasing, maintaining, and insuring this horse. I took care of her and loved her like she was mine, but without the actual financial responsibilities, and that makes the difference when it comes to decision making.
We all know owning horses is expensive. Really, really, very expensive. Horses are a luxury, and even when you’re “horse broke,” it’s still a luxury first-world problem. Think of all the other things you could buy if you didn’t have a horse! Vet bills, board, insurance, training, farrier, tack and equipment… then there is the actual purchase price of a horse. Sure you can find a free horse, but it will still cost you to keep it. And like any product, the better quality the horse is, the more it’s going to cost to buy it.
As I’ve progressed in my skills, education, and abilities, my taste in horses has definitely veered towards the more expressive, athletic, and unfortunately, usually more expensive models. Bargains are out there to be found, but it involves a lot of good luck in timing to find it and flexibility in how much time you plan to invest in this horse.
This opportunity my owners presented me involved a horse that was definitely out of my budget, there was no way I could have bought her on my own. So they bought her and we made a plan, where the end goal was a sale.
The game of selling horses is a high-stakes, high-risk game. A lot of people dream of quick turnovers and big profits, but unless you have the right skills and your stars align, there are hundreds of reasons of reasons this just won’t happen. In this situation we did fine. I wish I could have presented the owners with a ridiculous, ginormous 1000% profit, but we are all satisfied and we all know that the fact that we sold a sound, healthy horse to an excellent home is in itself a small miracle.
You can check out a nice article about the new owner HERE. I am really excited that a horse I’ve trained is going to help this amazing young woman further her education and get more experience so that she can fulfill her own dreams. The team that my Countess will be surrounded by is top-notch, I honestly believe that Brittany will bring out the best in that horse as she continues to mature into a stronger and more confident Grand Prix horse.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve apologized to Countess for riding like an idiot, for making stupid mistakes, I probably could have bought her outright, with a huge profit for the owners! I owe that mare so much, and more than that I owe her previous owners an eternity of thanks. Without their risk, their faith, my life would be different right now, in ways that I wouldn’t want. Their support has given me such opportunities and has provided a spring-board for amazing new opportunities. If they weren’t such private people I would yell their name out to anyone who would listen, so that the world could know how absolutely awesome they are. However, I’ll just have to hope they read this. 🙂
Without owners, equestrian sport would be a lot harder for us professionals regardless of the discipline. Whether you are riding a wild three year old, a promising six year old, or an old campaigner who’s teaching you a few tricks himself, the owners of these horses provide us with opportunities. We all know it doesn’t always work out: horses get hurt, owners switch trainers or suddenly need to sell for reasons you can’t control, or relationships go sour. This is life in any business, but when the emotional tie that comes with horses gets broken it adds heartache. So when it does work out, when you do have a fantastic run with owners and their horse, you just have to give thanks. Hooray for the owners!
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