Selling A Difficult Horse

Joined
13 June 2016
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3
Hi All,
Let me preface this with some background. I'm 18 and headed to college in the fall. I chose a college that is only an hour and a half away since I'm leaving behind a dearly beloved senior horse. I'll be studying natural horsemanship and they require us to bring a horse. My senior horse (Pokey) ended up getting injured a year or so back and now can't do hard work 5 days a week, like the college wants of us. So, that along with my desire to keep eventing, led me to look for a new horse. I live in a very western part of the states. If it ain't a Quarter Horse, then it's not worth your time mentality. I found one out of state that was in my price range and sold by a stable that dealt in training and selling jumping horses. The owner seemed nice, got him vetted, he passed, so we skipped XRays. I bought him and shipped him here myself so I figured if the vet check came back clean, I could save some money there.

He gets here, and immediately my joy turns to fear. The owner said she bought him to be her eventing horse but she got busy and had to turn him out for a few months. She didn't want him anymore so she was selling him. She claimed he was perfect on the ground and I'd have no trouble riding him. Well, this horse didn't get the memo. As soon as he gets off the trailer he's all spook and lightning. I'd never handled a horse this large and this hot before. Leading him from his stall to the field everyday scared me so much I had my dad lead him. He'd rear, spook, race forward, knock me over. Any try to correct him sent his head up. Eventually I learned to handle his antics and started riding him. He was perfect to saddle and lazy even in the round pen. In the arena we had a few good weeks and even took him off property, but that's where the good behavior ended. Our first ride off property it took me half an hour to get in the saddle he was so hot. He pranced off the trailer, raced around the lunge, and spooked in the arena before finally settling down enough for me to ride. On the way home he panicked in the trailer and broke one of the windows. After that, he would not get in the trailer again. At one point he reared up and struck me in the shoulder while trying to load. In the arena, he developed a habit of spooking and spinning at random times. He could be walking totally normal and freak out on a dime. For months I was scared to even ride him. I would take him out, saddle him, lunge him, and call it a day. Only a few months ago did I try restarting him once I got over my fear somewhat. We did ground work and he got a little better. He didn't bolt off on the lunge, he lead from the field on a loose lead most days. I could walk, trot and canter in the round pen and was starting to trot and canter in the arena. Our work slowed down as I picked up a few odd jobs working horses for other people. When I got on to ride him around two weeks ago, he was perfect. Walk, trot, canter in the arena. No spook! I was on cloud nine. The next day he was acting fizzy so I walked him around the arena first. One corner in particular sent him into a panic no matter how many times I walked him by. He'd bolt past it and rear, ripping the rope out of my hand once. He acted the same way in the saddle. The next morning I went out bright and early to ride and noticed his back was sore. He kept dipping, even to a soft brush. Called the vet out, she says possible kissing spine and a weakness in the lumbar from his racing days. (He's a now 7yr old OTTB) Vet says he'll never event over novice without a lot of pain. Have the Chiro out and he calls bull. Says he can't feel anything and sees no reason why he can't event. We decide to get XRays to be sure.

While waiting for XRays, I practice him in the trailer, since in only a month I'll have to get him down to college. We ended up selling my old trailer and getting a new one with more space and it's brighter. After some work, he loads right up. Even loads himself. Only problem, he panics when I leave the trailer. Stood tied fine while I was there (and yes, he new he was tied) but pulled when I tried to leave. I had a quick release so I pulled him loose but was a split second too slow. Once he felt the rope stop him he bolted out and literally fell out of the trailer into a heap. I lost the rope and he bolted. I knew then that this isn't going to work. In months, maybe years I could get him trained up, but I don't have that time. I need him to be safe enough now, and a month isn't going to cut it. I posed him for sale that afternoon.

Sorry for my ramble, but I really needed to vent! I feel awful about selling him. He's a sweet horse, but just has so many issues I don't think he's cut out for college life right now. I feel like I'm a failure. Like I'm giving up on him. I've worked at a horse rescue the past 3 years and had to pass on a lovely Thoroughbred mare who had a rearing problem, so I feel like this is my second offense. I want to be a trainer once I graduate, and I can't even train this guy? I've worked a dozen other horses, gentled mustangs, ridden the spicy ones, but this guy I'm just out of luck. We're just not meshing. The days he's good make me want to keep him, but the bad days sends me online looking for a new horse. The bad outnumber the good it seems like. Now I can't even go look at him without crying.

Anyway, I could use some advice or even just your own experiences with horses like this. My trainer cannot ride other horses for legal reasons, so I HAVE to ride him if I want lessons. I can't trailer him so he's stuck at our place. I've asked older, more experienced riders to come ride him but they all bailed and told me to find a trainer. I'm just so fed up and frustrated I feel like never riding again.
 

Red-1

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Joined
7 February 2013
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10,367
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Yorkshire
I am sorry you are in this position.

The early part of your post sounds like a normal event-bred youngster TBH. Even our saintly Charlie Horse (who was one I could loan to anyone) took almost a year before a quarter of the school was easily accessible to us without spooking. The annoying this was, it was also his winter turnout and 'scary corner' just so happened to be the corner he ate his hay from! LOL.

I am unsure what the resolution of the kissing spine was? I didn't see mention of the X ray result? Horses I have known with kissing spine don't tend to duck away from a touch with a hand, that tends to be more like a symptom from sore back from ill fitting tack. I would follow that up.

It sounds like you do have good days. Baby hot-bred horses do also have bad days.

The trailer incident, I can quite see them panicking in a new situation, not sure I would have untied him as a result of his paddy. One of my horses once gave my big HGV a couple sunroofs (full 8' headroom) and the last thing I would have done is 'rescue' him, as he would simply learn that rearing in the lorry means he gates taken off the lorry. Nope, I went and stood there for half an hour, moving hs weight, bending his head round to me, stuff to keep his attention off rearing. He didn't come out of that wagon until he stood himself like a grown up!

I used to train Police Horses. Many of them, as youngsters, would initially throw themselves around in the box at first. The boxes were strong, we would advise the horse that throwing themselves around was not productive, they would not be allowed off until they stood well.

It does sound like this may not be the horse for you, it certainly isn't if you decide that you don't want him. However, if it is a decent college rather than a teach by numbers college, it would be a shame not to take him and have help. I would consider a professional transporter to take the horse, full disclosure so they know what the horse is like.

Nothing wrong with selling, if that is what you want. Obviously, the horse is not worth much as he stands. A query over kissing spines, can't be ridden, can't travel. Selling her cheap could end up with her in an unsuitable home, being drugged and sold off for a quick profit. Alternatively, send her to a professional yard for training, via pro transporter.
 

Cowpony

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Joined
17 May 2013
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2,203
It sounds as if he's in pain. Even if the xrays come back clear you need to get your vet to find out what the problem is. Then you can decide if you're prepared to put in the time, effort and money to fix him, if it's fixable. You may or may not want to keep him after that, but it's really not fair to the next person to sell him on in the state he's in without at least finding out..
 

[131452]

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Out to Pasture
Joined
18 June 2017
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214
This screams to me a horse that is in pain!
What are the x-ray results? Without knowing those I wouldn't make any plans for the future.
Kissing spine is common in race horses and you might wish to prepare yourself ti making a very difficult decision if the results are not good.
 

CanteringCarrot

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1 April 2018
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732
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Germany
I'd get the x-ray results and probably start treating for ulcers. I'd be shocked if he didn't have them.

I think he had some pain and is just overloaded a bit. Who knows what his previous owner did or if he was crazy with her too and she couldn't handle him.

Although he was raced (I assume) and ridden, he may need to be restarted. I'd get the pain sorted out and start him like he's a feral horse I just acquired. He's going to need some confidence installed. Slowly.

Occasionally there are horses that lack self preservation and just have a screw or two loose. In that case, it is really hard to work with them. It's rare, but can happen.
 
Joined
13 June 2016
Messages
3
Thank you all for responding. I have not considered ulcers. That'll be something I mention to the vet! The vet's coming out hopefully Thursday to do X-Rays. As far as tack, I've had his saddle fitted so he's good there. He has shoes right now and has to stay shod. I also think you're all right about holding off on selling until we get the pain figured out! I was too hasty in posting him.
 

Ossy2

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Joined
25 October 2018
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91
I think your jumping the gun a bit here You haven’t had any xrays done yet and your talking about how possible it’s going to be to sell this horse. TBH I think that all depends what XRays or a scoping shows surely! I know your up against a deadline here but take a step back gather information that may help you sell the horse eg clear XRays, scoping results etc. I assume returning to the previous owner is not an option?
 

Orangehorse

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25 November 2005
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11,009
If the horse turns out to be OK, surely he is perfect for a Natural Horsemanship course? They would help you to overcome his difficulties with handling etc.
Many horses don't like being left in a trailer alone as they have always travelled in company and it is something that many young horses have to learn over time.

A TB excited with its tail and head in the air is a lot different to a quarter horse with its nose by its knees so I agree that you could do with some help and advice for handling this sort of horse.
 

Dwyran_gold

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Joined
17 January 2020
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393
What a rubbish situation I’m sorry your in.
I feel like selling him now has a huge question mark over his health for any potential buyer and the investigations do take some time, if it were me I would like to get an answer before I sell.
Is it a possibility while this is all underway your dad could take care of him and perhaps you could find a nice loan horse to take to collage?
although perhaps if he comes back all ok then he’d be a perfect project for your course? X
 

BBP

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17 July 2008
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4,694
As well as the other advise, consider RER, which is a muscle myopathy not uncommon in thoroughbreds. The highly strung ones are candidates as it’s a calcium regulation issue that affects contraction of muscle sarcomeres. Basically the cell nucleus is pretty excitable and easily stimulated, and it tells all the muscles to contract, which signals to the horses brain to get the heck out of dodge. Some of them will tie up fully if they can’t leg it, others will be more subtle. Also consider that pain rarely is limited to one particular spot, you get referred and compensatory pain. The horse only has so many ways to say ‘this hurts’ before he starts shouting. For my horse, notoriously difficult to back and bring on, he had layers of events through his lifetime. Sacroiliac, ulcers, RER, and now investigating hypermobility issues amongst others. So on days when it was just one thing he could cope, but layer those things up and he hits critical and becomes unrideable. Fix the pain and he is the most delightful horse I have ever had the pleasure of riding, and I ride with no bridle he is so easy. Now I know him so well I never push him on bad days, so he never gets wild and crazy any more because I don’t force him to work when he’s sore, we just hang out. But the RER still is always on a hair trigger if I don’t keep him calm.
Good luck helping your horse.
 
Joined
13 June 2016
Messages
3
Well, I took him off the market! Thankfully no one was too invested in him. We'll start with X-Rays and go from there in terms of testing. In regards to college, a lovely client I've been training for is letting me take a mare I've been working, down to college with me. The new plan is to ride the mare for the school year and help her get sold, then bring my guy next year. It's a bit up in the air how much he'll get worked, but I had another wonderful friend offer to put in some work with him while I'm gone. Thank you all for all your advice!
 
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