The trials of horse ownership

I love all my pets but I have a great fondness for our horses. One of our mares we have had since she was a yearling and she is now 17 years old. Nine years ago I bred her to a top notch stallion for an English riding horse. “Bubba” as we called him was born early one morning in 2000. My daughter was 6 years old at the time and she and Bubba became fast friends. I would often find her out in pasture reading a book to him or taking a nap with him, using him as a pillow. My mare standing guard over both of them.

Bubba, for the next 3 years proved to be my daughter’s horse and not mine as I wanted it to be. She could handle him as a young stallion with no problems – he would do anything for her. He was gelded when he was 3.

Shortly after he was gelded it was decided that the area we lived in was becoming too expensive for us to live there much longer. We put our small ranch up for sale and at the same time the decision was made to reduce our horse herd down. Two of our horses were chosen to be sold. They were chosen not because we didn’t love them but because they were more marketable than our other horses. The ones not chosen were the ones that were older and did not have show potential or had a health issue that I did not want to past on to a new owner.

Bubba and my husband’s AQHA were the 2 that we felt could be sold without much of a wait for buyers. It took only days after getting the word out about the 2 horses for sale that we had buyers coming to look at them.  I actually turned away 2 buyers for the AQHA because I did not think that they would make good owners for him. Bubba’s asking price was $8K and the AQHA we were asking was $5K.

My neighbor who had moved in next door to us when Bubba was just a foal found out that he was for sale. She was trilled and wanted to buy him but then learned about his asking price and then reluctantly had to pass on him.  After about a month I lowered Bubba’s price because I was not getting the type of owners I wanted to see show up. The price was now $6.5K and then I was getting calls from all over the state. I happen to be talking to the neighbor about all the people that wanted to see Bubba and she asked if she made an offer would I accept payments. I told her yes but I also knew she was not the type of person that would be able to handle Bubba. You see Bubba was bred to be a high energy competition show horse for show  jumping (he is over 16 hands) and cross country. He needed an experienced rider and someone who really wanted speed and energy from their mount. A trail horse for children or beginners he is not.

To shorten the story a bit, the neighbor ended up buying Bubba and sending him to my trainer. Within a year after selling Bubba and moving from the area I get an email from the neighbor that Bubba is doing great under saddle but he will be coming out of training because the neighbor is now going to start a family and would I be interested in buying him back for $5K? My answer at the time was no we have no room for him where we moved to.

It is now 4 years later and I get reports from time to time about Bubba from a close friend that lives in the area. She tells me how Bubba has been living in the neighbor’s arena for the whole time, even though they built a new barn. My heart sinks every time I hear news about him.

This morning I get an email from the former neighbor asking me if I want to buy Bubba back for $2K. My heart says yes but my finances say no. It is never the purchase price but the maintenance cost of one more horse. I would have to put up a pasture shelter for him since the 6 stall barn is full at the moment (with the horses that moved with us) and that would cost at least $1K in materials. Add to that the monthly added cost of feed, vet and farrier and you have a horse that costs much more than the purchase price of $2K.

I have not told her no I will not buy him back because I am actually trying to figure it out in my mind how I can really bring him home again to us. Tonight I will let the rest of the family know about the offer and have a family discussion about it. After all it is not just my decision to make.

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