In my last post I covered the frequently asked questions that we get in regards to starting a retirement farm. We have another set of questions that we are asked multiple times per week as well, not in regards to starting a retirement farm, but in regards to what someone can do with a completely unrideable but otherwise healthy horse.
1. Are you a rescue? No, we are not a rescue. All of the horses retired with us are here because they have a loving owner who is willing to step up and pay for them to enjoy retirement. (Before people start up with the hate mail I'm not saying any horse owner who chooses not to retire their unrideable horse is a bad person so calm down.) I am simply saying we are not a rescue, we are not a non-profit, and we will not support your horse for free. If you want your horse to be retired at our lovely facility with excellent care you will have to make the choice to pay the board bill.
2. What happens if someone does not pay the board bill? We screen our clients carefully, as carefully as they screen us, and have never been faced with this decision, but if someone ever decided to stop paying the board bill for their retiree we would not continue to support the horse at our expense. That is a beyond foolish decision on our part that could potentially affect our ability to care for the other horses retired with us. If someone ever did abandon a horse in our care the horse would be euthanized. Undoubtedly my inbox will be blown up with all the hate mail I will get for making that statement. I would not enjoy it, I would cry a lot, and I would hate being forced into that decision by the horse's owner, but at the end of the day it is the most fair decision to us and the horse. I am thankful none of our clients would ever dream of abandoning their horse.
3. Another variation of question number one is "I love my horse dearly but he can no longer be ridden. I cannot afford to pay retirement board, would you consider retiring him for free?" No. For further explanation see my answer to question 1 above.
4. I cannot afford to retire my horse and he can no longer be ridden, do you know of any potential homes for a companion horse? My answer is always that I don't know of any potential companion homes because that is the truth. People ask me all the time if I know of someone looking for a companion horse but as of yet I've never had a single person ask me if I know of any free companion horses available.
This question in itself does not bother me. From time to time you can be the lucky person that finds a good companion home for your unrideable horse. The part that kills me is that it is usually followed up with: MUST be an EXCELLENT home, MUST have EXCELLENT vet and farrier references, MUST sign a contract that they will not sell or give away the horse away, blah blah. That is the part that really irritates me.
OK, let's cut to the chase here. You could afford the horse when you could ride him, but now that you cannot ride the horse you can no longer afford him. The reason is because you are planning to get another horse you can ride. I absolutely do not blame anyone for wanting to get a horse they can ride. However, if you don't want to pay the bill for the permanently broken horse any longer just man up and euthanize the horse. I can respect that decision. I cannot respect the fact that someone else MUST be willing to provide an EXCELLENT home of which you approve, agree to do it for the life of the horse, sign a contract in blood, pass all of your background checks . . . yet you yourself are unwilling to do all of these things. Do people seriously not see the massive double standard in this, or am I simply being judgemental and cranky?
Well, that is it for this round of FAQs. It turned a bit into Melissa getting on her soapbox and ranting at the end, but when you are asked this stuff several times a week it starts to get old, and I'm only human.
Johnny and Lighty
Cinnamon and MyLight
Largo and Rocky
Murphy and Sam (we're in that blankets on, blankets off time of year)
Noble and Merlin
Thomas, Moe and Homer
View of the front 1/2 of the farm that you can only get when the leaves are off the trees (there are 2 barns and 3 run-in sheds in this picture)
Tony, Leo and Chance highlight this view of the buildings at the back of the farm; another barn and 3 more run-in sheds
I love you guys! This is exactly why you run a *business* that people can trust for the top-notch care of their horses. If I had a horse retired with you, I would take comfort knowing this is your livelihood and therefore you take every aspect of horse care seriously, rather than rescue orgs where the care (let alone accountability) can vary widely.
I am equally irritated when I see people trying to re-home unrideable horses with many demands. Really? It's YOUR horse, YOU are the one responsible for providing an excellent home! Unless you are willing to pay a reputable retirement farm board for your horse, or euthanize, how dare you demand others treat your horse better than you are willing to? Sorry, touches a nerver with me too ;-)
I wouldn't be able to support more than one horse at the moment, so I understand the dilemma. But in buying a horse, I believe I've made a commitment to it for it's life. Yes, there are the occasional situations that are perfect for an unrideable horse but they are few and far between. The guarantees on care are even more tenuous.
If I couldn't afford to retire a horse with a business such as Paradigm and I felt the horse was far enough along and/or I couldn't handle not riding, I'd euthanize. And yes, I'd get the wrath of many people...many who blindly sell off "useless" horses with blinders on as to where those horses end up.
But really, if you can afford board on a rideable horse, you can afford board on an unrideable one.
I couldn't even comment on your previous FAQ post because if people are asking ANY of those questions, they shouldn't be running a retirement farm any time soon. Just lack of business acumen alone makes it a bad idea. Maybe I'm too harsh but I've never run a boarding facility of any kind and I would know how to approach those issues from the get-go in deciding whether it was a viable business in my area. (getting off my own soap box now!)
You guys are awesome! I agree with the euthanasia part 100% too! I have a soon to be 6 year old who is not able to be ridden. I've had him since he was 3 days old and I bucket fed him. We put YEARS of work into him to make sure he had perfect ground manners, tacked up nice and so on. Shoot, you can even neck rein him from the ground with a lunge line. This past summer, he got EPM and he didn't come through well enough to be sound for riding. He became sound for a pasture pet and that is what he will be for the rest of his life. If I EVER get in a situation where I cannot support him, he will be put to down. I could never give him to some one else and expect them to treat him like I do.
When you bring up rescues, all I can think about is all the horse rescues that take in all these sad, forever lame, can't be anything but a companion. The thought that runs through my head is that they could kindly pts the forever lame horse and saved one that wasn't broke down. Sounds harsh but that's how I feel about it. Putting a horse out of it's misery is kindness too.
RB I'm thrilled to see that the first comment is not someone telling me what a horrible person I am, definitely a pleasant surprise!!
You are FAR nicer than I am. I am 100% okay with blaming people for trying to rid themselves of their unrideable horses. The horse was only worth something to them when it when it had something to give, and then the second the years of jumping or barrel racing or whatever catch up with the poor animal, people forget "how much they loved the horse." It makes me sick. I'd give up riding and live on ramen noodles before I ever tried to dump my horse on someone else.
Sigh, rant over!
I'm so glad you get to see the good side of horse ownership. I feel like I've seen way to much of the bad:(
And here I was all ready to take my internet smackdown for publicly posting my opinions on such a touchy topic. I thought as soon as I mentioned euthanasia I would get raked over the internet coals . . .
On another note, I love the pictures of the wider perspective of the farm. The layout looks amazing! No surprise since you were able to plan the layout but very neat to see. Any plans to post details on how you laid things out? Even roughly? I have an unhealthy interest in learning things that I will likely never put into practice, lol. Beautiful, beautiful farm!
I did a partial one back when we first started building out the new farm (that I guess is not new anymore!), I should do another one. Good suggestion!!
My lady agrees with you too.
I agree 100% with your post and with all of the comments!
Agreed Melissa! If you don't want to take care of your unridable horse then you SHOULD man up!
Internet backlash be damned - you're only saying what we are all thinking!
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