More downs than ups!

Horses24-7

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Will try to keep this short - I’ve owned horses my whole life; I’m a coach; have my own horse as well as having my own thriving livery business - they are basically my life! I’ve had the worst luck with horses with a constant cycle it seems of bringing horses on - start competing- injury/rehab horse not able to do the level of training work I enjoy doing - REPEAT I’m seriously starting to realise that as much as I love owning horses and the journey that takes you on - I’m not sure how much more mentally I can put myself through with them- I truly adore and want the best for my horses - best vets/physios/mixed ridden work and honestly feel I couldn’t provide more- it just feels like just as we get going as a partnership something goes wrong and we’re back to square one.

is this a normal cycle of events and just something we have to accept as horse owners or have I just had the most rubbish luck!?
Any experiences or advice greatly received many thanks
 
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Are you doing everything the same each time? By that I mean choosing similar horses, keeping and training them the same way?

I ask because my old instructor got fed up with her competition horses breaking and ended up buying a young, unbacked New Forest. She had so much fun bringing him on and competing him, plus the relief that he wasn't as fragile as her big competition horses was palpable.
 

AnShanDan

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I know an instructor who competed at a high level when she was younger, up to (old) 4*, but she had a string of problems with her horses, all different things as well. She was totally disillusioned in the end, she gave up competing and concentrated on teaching.
Horses are very, very breakable :(
I've often thought that, to be really successful at upper level horse sport, you must have to have a very pragmatic attitude to shedding horses (not to mention very deep pockets/owners with them).
Not much help OP, sorry. Better luck in future.
 

Willow1306

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I totally understand where you are coming from. I also work in the industry and have recently made a conscious decision to give up following years of continuous heartbreak and financial loss; it's been a long time since owning a horse has been truly fun and I can't afford to continue to spend all my savings on horses. I hope to maybe be a horse owner again in the future, but for the time being I will enjoy the odd ride on a friends horse and maybe go on some riding holidays in the free time that I will now have.
 

milliepops

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I've often thought that, to be really successful at upper level horse sport, you must have to have a very pragmatic attitude to shedding horses (not to mention very deep pockets/owners with them).
Not much help OP, sorry. Better luck in future.
:( this

I do think that it can just happen that you have a string of bad luck, despite all best efforts. horses are basically not really designed for the stuff we use them for, and they also manage to mangle themselves doing totally natural things so the odds are not in our favour really. FWIW my native did her SDFT getting up from rolling. She was out for a year if you tot up the rest and rehab. and then had 6 months off with ulcers with no findable cause. so moving away from sports horses doesn't necessarily mean you get a smoother ride!
 

Horses24-7

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I totally understand where you are coming from. I also work in the industry and have recently made a conscious decision to give up following years of continuous heartbreak and financial loss; it's been a long time since owning a horse has been truly fun and I can't afford to continue to spend all my savings on horses. I hope to maybe be a horse owner again in the future, but for the time being I will enjoy the odd ride on a friends horse and maybe go on some riding holidays in the free time that I will now have.
this is where I feel I’m coming to as well - I was looking back through my old pictures and had a bit of a moment when I realised 10 years ago I was riding at the same level competitively on my horse at the time as I am now! I honestly have spent probably 100k plus and 10 years of graft/ training - missed masses of family time and cried too many tears . I think as a minimum I need a break from the ownership side of things x
 

Horses24-7

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Are you doing everything the same each time? By that I mean choosing similar horses, keeping and training them the same way?

I ask because my old instructor got fed up with her competition horses breaking and ended up buying a young, unbacked New Forest. She had so much fun bringing him on and competing him, plus the relief that he wasn't as fragile as her big competition horses was palpable.
I was up until my past horse where I bought an upbacked Connie as decided to go for a hardier type - backed him spent 2 years slowly and steadily cross training/ building him up only to discover he has damaged stifle ligaments and can only do light hacking 😭
 

IrishMilo

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I don't know a single person with a horse, age and breed irrelevant, where it hasn't broken badly at some point. I am much, much less stressed since deciding to not own anymore...
 

chaps89

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I had a 12 year old pts last month. I reckon out of the 7 years I had her she was in consistent, sound, work for maybe 2 or 3 years and I think her vet bills finished at probably close to £25k, if not more. Thankfully alot of that was covered on insurance but not all by a long way. Not to mention the extra hours I worked to afford it or the stress and the impact it ultimately had on my relationship with my OH.
She was supposed to be a cheap to run, easy cob type. Hahahahaha.
I miss having one but I don't miss all of the above. Sadly with horses though you don't get to pick and choose and only get the good stuff, if only!
 

Horses24-7

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I had a 12 year old pts last month. I reckon out of the 7 years I had her she was in consistent, sound, work for maybe 2 or 3 years and I think her vet bills finished at probably close to £25k, if not more. Thankfully alot of that was covered on insurance but not all by a long way. Not to mention the extra hours I worked to afford it or the stress and the impact it ultimately had on my relationship with my OH.
She was supposed to be a cheap to run, easy cob type. Hahahahaha.
I miss having one but I don't miss all of the above. Sadly with horses though you don't get to pick and choose and only get the good stuff, if only!
they truly are heart breakers! Not all the same horse but I’ve had -

side bone/concussion issues
Suspensory damage
Back/neck arthritis
Ulcers - horse psycho 🤣
Stifle damage
And that’s excluding all the ‘normal’ cuts / abscesses

oh such fun 🙈😆
 

J&S

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I feel I have been very lucky with my horse ownership, though I don't go for very high stakes. Two out of three have been excellent and served me well, competed succesfully well into old age. I do know other people who do seem to have the most extreme bad luck, not just with bought in horses but also with home breds who did not have any "baggage" with them. From what I have garnered through speaking to "proffessionals" there is a huge wastage of horses in all disciplines, a huge turnover, and only by this happening can you constantly have a good'un on the go.
 

oldie48

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Sadly horses are so breakable! I've been very lucky over the years but currently got a horse off with a ligament injury but have no idea how she managed to hurt herself! It honestly doesn't matter what breed or height but I do feel that the more competitive the horse (ie able to progress up the levels) the more likely it is to have an injury. Having said that I look at many low level RC types and happy hackers and generally they are not completely sound either!
 

Horses24-7

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Sadly horses are so breakable! I've been very lucky over the years but currently got a horse off with a ligament injury but have no idea how she managed to hurt herself! It honestly doesn't matter what breed or height but I do feel that the more competitive the horse (ie able to progress up the levels) the more likely it is to have an injury. Having said that I look at many low level RC types and happy hackers and generally they are not completely sound either!
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head - if you want a nice all rounder to do lower level stuff it doesn’t matter or you might never discover that it has a physical weakness or even lamensss as it happily does the job. When you want to progress it’s then that these things come to light ?
 

Alibear

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It is just horses, I've tried various breeds, ages, sports and training methods and it is just horses. However I've more recently learnt that it is also just life, humans suffer just the same, when you start looking after a larger group of people, the problems and challenges are very similar to the ones we go through with our horses. I do finding having two horses is helping so far, I tend to worry less about each challenge now. It is doubly expensive though!
 

AShetlandBitMeOnce

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I totally understand where you are coming from. I also work in the industry and have recently made a conscious decision to give up following years of continuous heartbreak and financial loss; it's been a long time since owning a horse has been truly fun and I can't afford to continue to spend all my savings on horses. I hope to maybe be a horse owner again in the future, but for the time being I will enjoy the odd ride on a friends horse and maybe go on some riding holidays in the free time that I will now have.
I could have written this, I lost my boy at the end of April, I lost my horse before that as a 7yo and the horse before that after just 2.5 years' of ownership (kicked). I can't cope with any more heartbreak and maybe will go back one day, but I just need to get some money behind me and not be in eternal injury/financial limbo, I knew it was bad because I started to believe that any invoice less then £1k for something was small!

Not sure what my point is other than I get it, and you really aren't alone! have you thought about buying a cob with a lot of bone to just go out and have fun on with no pressure and 'probably' no vets bills, to find the enjoyment in it again?
 

milliepops

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It is just horses, I've tried various breeds, ages, sports and training methods and it is just horses. However I've more recently learnt that it is also just life, humans suffer just the same, when you start looking after a larger group of people, the problems and challenges are very similar to the ones we go through with our horses.
it's such a good point. the little niggles and injuries aren't really unusual are they?! but where we need the horses to be totally sound we can get by scrabbling around with old and current ouches.

Having more than one horse in work definitely takes the sting out of it. You always need a spare.
 

Alibear

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Not wanting to give too much away on t-internet, but we want our horses to work and I'm discovering that keeping a group of people in work is the same challenge. Now if the horses or humans don't need to work, well then that's much simpler! I'll stop there as it becomes a wholly ethical and moral dilemma all-around that will have me staring into the middle distance and wondering what is life all about really when you get right down to it ;)
 

lottiepony

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Not a lot to add but just wanted to say I think there are many people on this forum (and in life) who will be sympathising with you. I certainly am. When you put your all into something it is soul destroying when you don't reap the rewards.

I would say I have now hit my patch of bad luck having had a very straight forward time of owning horses. My current horse is currently doing a sterling job of making me feel that he will be my last horse. Admittedly that might change if we ever get going again lol!
 

teddypops

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I have always been very fortunate with my ponies and never had any major issues but recently I’ve just had one thing after another and for the first time ever I just feel like giving up. You are definitely not alone.
 

Horses24-7

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I have always been very fortunate with my ponies and never had any major issues but recently I’ve just had one thing after another and for the first time ever I just feel like giving up. You are definitely not alone.
i feel your pain - I’ve always thought horses mentally kept me level in life; my escape and fun and more recently it’s definitely more heartbreak and misery than fun for sure!
 

Horses24-7

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Not a lot to add but just wanted to say I think there are many people on this forum (and in life) who will be sympathising with you. I certainly am. When you put your all into something it is soul destroying when you don't reap the rewards.

I would say I have now hit my patch of bad luck having had a very straight forward time of owning horses. My current horse is currently doing a sterling job of making me feel that he will be my last horse. Admittedly that might change if we ever get going again lol!
I do think it’s just luck of the draw !
 

Kahlua

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I really feel for you and totally understand where you are coming from, but I don’t know anything other than to say to you keep going if you love it. I put my whole life into my horses (it’s my job as well as my passion), and it only seems to be the ones I actually own that end up “broken” in some way 🙈 It is soul destroying! But I can’t see my life without them, so I have a cry, have a “wtf am I doing” moment and then figure out what is going to be my next step.

It definitely helps having deep pockets, however I have very good friends who are worth bucketloads - they have imported 4 horses in the last 3 years, they pay for the very best care, they LOVE their horses - 1 of them has fractured a pastern and 3 of them have done various things to tendons. As you have mentioned it is the luck of the draw. At the top it can be somewhat easier because when one horse has a moment, you usually have another 3 or 4 going but it still sucks. I do think we have rough patches, and I hope that yours is ending x
 

LEC

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Totally normal - the ones I am most jealous of are those who actually keep a horse sound year on year so can keep getting better up the levels. I have never managed it and have very nice horses, manage them pretty well and have great professionals in my corner. I actually don’t think you need a super amazing horse but that year on year consistency helps a lot!

When you dig deeper they all have issues but it’s whether they can be managed. Take Mr Bass - complete vet fail as a 4yo, Tina Cooks 5* horse had KS, a friends 5* horse has hocks regularly done and lives in wedges but seems to keep coming out and jumping.

The other thing to ask is how far are you willing to go? Ultimately I don’t go that far to keep them on the road and I am not willing to in the name of competition and yet lots of people will keep them on bute and just do 7 day WD period to compete.

There are certain pros who keep the horses into work as teenagers very well - the Prices are masters at it. But they choose a very specific type which I think helps (light, great footwork and very blood). They also run them sparingly as they get older and because they are such good jockeys they get amazing training from day 1. Liz Halliday Sharp said her obsession is how they land and gallop for eventing which makes sense.

finally I will add that it’s a numbers game - WFP in his heyday would see 100 horses a year. Of those he might take 7 and expect 1/2 to get to 4/5* level. You don’t see the attrition of those who don’t make it at N/Intermediate as they just disappear for another life. The prices currently have a string of 35 which is insane and they look at a lot of horses each year on top of that.
 
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Will try to keep this short - I’ve owned horses my whole life; I’m a coach; have my own horse as well as having my own thriving livery business - they are basically my life! I’ve had the worst luck with horses with a constant cycle it seems of bringing horses on - start competing- injury/rehab horse not able to do the level of training work I enjoy doing - REPEAT I’m seriously starting to realise that as much as I love owning horses and the journey that takes you on - I’m not sure how much more mentally I can put myself through with them- I truly adore and want the best for my horses - best vets/physios/mixed ridden work and honestly feel I couldn’t provide more- it just feels like just as we get going as a partnership something goes wrong and we’re back to square one.

is this a normal cycle of events and just something we have to accept as horse owners or have I just had the most rubbish luck!?
Any experiences or advice greatly received many thanks
That sounds really tough!
Are you vetting these horses prior to getting them?
I have worked selling horses both young and old professionally for many years and the number of horses that look absolutely perfect on the outside yet fail their xrays is pretty high even in well bred yearlings that have done no physical work.
What kind of injuries seem to be happening? The same kind or completely different each time?
What level are you competing at? Obviously the higher the level the more physically demanding that can be.
You sound well experienced and sounds like you have a good network around you to help care for your horses.
I worked in a racing stable and one summer we had 3 horses break down during their training. They all bowed tendons. We believe it was due to the local track maintenance not being up to scratch. I don’t think we were the only stable to suffer.
 

J&S

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finally I will add that it’s a numbers game - WFP in his heyday would see 100 horses a year. Of those he might take 7 and expect 1/2 to get to 4/5* level. You don’t see the attrition of those who don’t make it at N/Intermediate as they just disappear for another life. The prices currently have a string of 35 which is insane and they look at a lot of horses each year on top of that.
This is exactly the point i was making earlier.
 

Horses24-7

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That sounds really tough!
Are you vetting these horses prior to getting them?
I have worked selling horses both young and old professionally for many years and the number of horses that look absolutely perfect on the outside yet fail their xrays is pretty high even in well bred yearlings that have done no physical work.
What kind of injuries seem to be happening? The same kind or completely different each time?
What level are you competing at? Obviously the higher the level the more physically demanding that can be.
You sound well experienced and sounds like you have a good network around you to help care for your horses.
I worked in a racing stable and one summer we had 3 horses break down during their training. They all bowed tendons. We believe it was due to the local track maintenance not being up to scratch. I don’t think we were the only stable to suffer.
hi thanks for your reply :)

all we’re 5 stage vetted (not xrayed though)

they seem a real mix of things- some that they have more than likely come with others not - I’ve tried buying unbroken blank canvas types so they are hopefully unspoilt - but 1 had back and neck arthritis at 5 and the other had a super weak stifle ligament diagnosed at 5 when we started doing a bit more (more than likely always there but not picked up at vetting as was unbacked).

it’s just so frustrating going round in circles- my main aims are to get to PSG - currently scraped up to elementary with the on/off cycle - but I also jump them, hack, XC and try to develop them as a super all rounder too- use a variety of surfaces, regular physio/saddle/teeth etc etc.

maybe I should try one last time with a 3 year old again and go through thorough x rays ? Or is an older horse that’s done the job for x amount of years a better bet as at least then it’s proven it can cope with the workload of the job?
 

LEC

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hi thanks for your reply :)

all we’re 5 stage vetted (not xrayed though)

they seem a real mix of things- some that they have more than likely come with others not - I’ve tried buying unbroken blank canvas types so they are hopefully unspoilt - but 1 had back and neck arthritis at 5 and the other had a super weak stifle ligament diagnosed at 5 when we started doing a bit more (more than likely always there but not picked up at vetting as was unbacked).

it’s just so frustrating going round in circles- my main aims are to get to PSG - currently scraped up to elementary with the on/off cycle - but I also jump them, hack, XC and try to develop them as a super all rounder too- use a variety of surfaces, regular physio/saddle/teeth etc etc.

maybe I should try one last time with a 3 year old again and go through thorough x rays ? Or is an older horse that’s done the job for x amount of years a better bet as at least then it’s proven it can cope with the workload of the job?
in answer to this the older horse… they have proven they will stand up to work and you can vet and know what is there and what needs managing. I have read hours of studies by KWPN and Swedish warmblood and basically if your horse makes it to 7 under saddle you have done well. To get it to 10 you have done even better. I had a long chat with a 5* eventer who hunts them at 4 and then harder at 5 as wants to see if they will stand up to work. It takes years to make an eventer so better to not waste years before realising it isn’t going to be tough enough.

I do find it interesting that they now train too dr horses slightly differently to help long term management. They do collection work only one day and then other work another so as not to strain too many muscles in one go. I just thought that was interesting and something Anna Ross-Davies talked about.
 
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