I belong to several horse sale sites on Facebook and I regularly check Craigslist to see horses for sale in my area. I’m not going to buy another horse (probably) but I love horse ads. I love to see the $10,000 horses with their shiny coats and perfect braids. I like the super cute quarter horse who is built like a tank, ponies around five year olds and is only $300 because the owner can’t afford to feed him for one more day. Some of the ads are laughable. You want $3000 for an unbroke, unregistered, underfed ragamuffin because you think he has potential to be a 1D barrel horse? Mmmmmkay.
But it’s the senior horse ads that really get me. They’re advertised as beginner or child safe or bombproof, but that’s code for ‘He’s worked his heart out for me and now he’s tired.’ These horses are solid citizens. They have hundreds of trail miles, they’ve carried nervous husbands and gleeful, exuberant children who pull on the reins and poke their ribs, they’re to thank for that first blue ribbon for horse crazy girls who have long since outgrown them. Now they are for sale at age 18 or 22, because they are stiff or require an expensive joint supplement or need grain and can’t get by on just grass anymore.
These are the ads that break my heart. Some are cheap or free and are ‘to a good home only.’ Some of the owners are asking thousands of dollars, trying to profit one more time at the expense of an animal that’s already done more than enough.
Everyone knows a senior horse is a vet bill waiting to happen. I get it. Boarding a horse you can’t ride costs the same as boarding a horse you can ride. Once the horse is no longer ‘useful,’ people try to pass them along. These horses deserve better.
The ad that tore me up the most was on Facebook through an equine rescue as a courtesy post for the owner. A young thoroughbred, former show horse, free to good home. He’s not sound and will never be sound again due to a major injury sustained while carrying his teenager rider. The post had several photos of this girl and her horse. She looks elated mounted on her horse, his bridle adorned with ribbons. She’s hugging him in his stall, his ears are perked and they both are happy. Now he cannot be ridden- no more shows, no more ribbons, and she wants out.
Maybe her parents are to blame. Maybe they won’t pay for a horse she can’t ride. Maybe the girl wants a new horse and her parents can’t afford both. I understand the expense of horse ownership. But I don’t understand trying to pass off your best friend. You can call me judgemental or say that I don’t know the story behind the situation. Maybe so, but I still think it’s sad. The horse worked, he gave his all, and through no fault of his own, he was injured. I think in that situation the right thing to do is find cheap pasture board and let the horse live out his days in grass filled bliss. Find someone with horses on their property who will charge you next to nothing to keep him there. But don’t give him away. He could end up at an auction or a slaughterhouse. Yes, it sucks to have a horse you can’t ride, but we owe these animals something for their service. We should be good to them because they are always, always good to us.