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tb_jumper

Advice Please!

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I'm facing a pretty difficult decision. Nicolai is 17 now and is still doing well, but I'm at a point where I should probably decide what his future looks like. He's game and sound, but I can tell he's slowing down, as any horse his age would. He's had a long career and has worked very hard, and part of me wants to give him a little break. If I could, I'd keep him forever - he's just about perfect and such a good, good boy, and I love him dearly. The thought of letting him go breaks my heart, but an opportunity has come up that I really need to consider. My trainer has raised four babies by the head trainer's old grand prix horse, and all are awesome, honest, smart jumpers. Her 5 year old is up for sale and he's pretty darn cool, and his brothers/sisters have been bought by clients, so we've been able to see them mature and all that. I want to keep riding and showing (as school permits!), but don't want to push Nicolai. Jumping on the grass at shows is hard on him now, and as game as he is, I don't want to push him in the bigger classes.

This is all very up in the air. I have yet to sit on my trainer's horse, and the decision is far from made. If I wanted to go ahead with this, I'd try to work out a trade for Nicolai to be a lesson horse at my barn (we're in need of one, and most of the client's old jumpers get a nice retirement with 1-2 lessons a week - not a bad deal!) The quality and quantity of riders that come through would keep him fit without overworking him, and I'd get to see him around and ride him here and there. Otherwise, I don't think I could bring myself to sell him to someone at this point in his career, unless it was a really great situation. He's been too good to me :)

Sorry for the lengthy post. Given the situation and the opportunities, what do you all think? Giving my boy up would be incredibly hard, but I want to do what's best for him at this point in his life, and don't want to pass up an opportunity either. Having horses would be so much easier if money wasn't a factor indifferent0001.gif

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tb~ you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders and have a wonderful and caring relationship with your horse. That type of retirement sounds perfect for your "slightly senior mount". Good for you figuring his limitations! I would, if you so chose to let him be a lesson horse, get everything in writing. I would get in writing if you want to "buy back" your old friend at a later date, too. I sold two great mounts that I should never have let go for a so so horse I ended up selling. Remember, all that glitters isn't gold. I've lost touch with both of them and think of them often. And that was over 10 years ago! There is no shame in moving on, and up, if this is your chosen career. It makes my heart warm to know there is still someone out there that truly cares and understands their horses limitations. Good luck to you!

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Obviously I would sit on the trainer's horse first. But honestly, if you want to take your riding further, at some point along the line, and maybe that point is now, it will become a tradeoff between your goals to go further and Nicolai's health and wellbeing. I know you love Nicolai and take great care of him, but perhaps stepping down would fulfill your goal for him: that is, to be healthy and happy.

I had an AMAZING horse through most of high school. I did everything with him (hunters, jumpers, eq, trail rides, swimming, costume classes, even barrel racing) and I really, really loved him. However, my last junior year I really, really wanted to move up and school higher on a regular basis (he COULD jump around a 3'6" course, but clearly did NOT want to do that every time we jumped). I made the decision to sell him to a younger girl who wanted to do the 2'6" with a meticulous contract including first right of refusal if she resold him (I suggest putting EVERYTHING in writing if you decide to do anything with Nicolai). Yes, it was heartbreaking for me, but the result? He was fat and sassy, they went to state finals for 4-H and cleaned up, she regularly sent me pictures. In fact, about two years ago, he foundered, abcesses in like all his feet, etc etc. The girl's family managed to keep him alive and loved him so much that they kept him in their barn, even after he was totally useless for riding and the girl got a new horse. I recently got a picture of him and he looks super-chill, just hanging out in his field and chasing other horses away from HIS hay :winking:

So it's not like you're "betraying" Nicolai or consigning him to a life of doom. Horses just want to be taken care of and have some kind of job. You may both be happier with a new arrangement.

And to be totally honest, it sounds like you've already made up your mind, reading your post.

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Thanks so much, both of you :) I appreciate the input and you both have an excellent point about getting things in writing. Before making any decisions I want to spend a good deal of time riding and getting to know the new horse. I think he's pretty talented, but I've never had a relationship with a horse like what Nicolai and I have, so I need to make sure the baby and I would work together well too. Talking to my trainer today; I'll keep you all updated!

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As long as you get along with the new horse and know Nocolai is taken care of, that sounds like it could be really cool. I know how much you love Nicolai and this is possibly the best decision you could make for him. You'd still get to see him, but he'd be working less, while still staying in shape. I would also get everything in writing just to be safe. Best of luck and keep us posted!

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If you like the young horse, I think it's an excellent idea. Like others have said, get it all in writing. Even though this is a farm you've been around and people you know well, having it on paper is the right thing. They will understand that the paper is just a formality if they mean best for your boy. If they get squeamish with you wanting it on paper.... (not that I expect that AT ALL) be wary.

I'd also try the youngster one round at a horse should before you make up your mind. Knowing how a horse rides in the ring can be a huge deal. (Ask me how I found out the hard way...)

Sounds like there's a lot of good points with the young horse- knowing some of its siblings and having someone experienced with raising horses with the bloodlines and mentality can be a huge asset.

Is there a downside other than not getting to ride your old guy whenever you want?

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Well, the downside is that I may not be able to find a buyer at my barn. The youngin' is a bit pricier than expected (and should be, as he's honest as the day is long and already has some solid show experience under his belt with Mr. Trainer). I'd have to find the absolute right buyer and sell Nicolai for what he's worth to be able to afford a new horse, and that's a tricky situation at his age. If it does/doesn't work out, then that's what's supposed to happen...in the meantime, I'm going to try him out for a few weeks and see what happens!

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