Free to a good home

Yesterday I saw an advert on a local equine social media group advertising a horse free to a good home because he had a splint and the owner could not afford to treat it and didn’t have time to let the horse rest and see if he recovered naturally.  The final option was to put him to sleep.

Regardless of all the nasty comments she received absolutely slating her decision, it got me thinking about when “enough is enough” in term of lameness and ongoing problems.

The post also made me worry about the amount of people who could potentially exploit this poor horse. The owner is clearly at her wits end if she is offering to give him away for free.

People have commented that she shouldn’t have a horse if she can’t look after it, but who are we to judge? Without knowing the details, for all we know she could have just lost her job and can no longer afford to pay. There have been comments saying that she should turn him away and let him rest. I’m sure in an ideal would she would love to do this, but what if grass livery isn’t an option where she is? What if she’s paying £600+ per month for full livery and turning him away for a few months will cost her nearly £2000 in livery fees without knowing whether he will even get better. Not to mention the vet checks to assess his progress along the way. What if riding is her career rather than her hobby and she has to be more ruthless in order to make a living?

Now I’m not saying that I agree with her decision; I can’t comment as I have never been in that situation. But I do worry that dealers or people who think they can make a quick buck from this horse would be on the lookout. Anyone could take this horse on, put him in a field for a few months until he becomes sound and sell him on to an unsuspecting buyer who has no idea of his previous ailments. I worry that the horse could get passed on from home to home and have a really unstable future. I hope for his sake that she will thoroughly vet the new owners’ place and not be tempted to give him to the first people who offer him a home.

On the other hand, it’s also concerning that the new potential owners won’t be able to try the horse out, will take him on and nurse him back to health, only to discover that he could be completely manic or even dangerous to ride. This could be disastrous if a less experienced person is lured in by the offer of a “free horse”.

The whole situation has really mind-boggled me and I can’t imagine how confused she must feel. I think it also highlights the importance of good insurance – but hindsight is a valuable lesson and I’m sure she’s thinking about that right now.

Some of my family and closest friends have experienced the agony of ongoing lameness and it’s always been such a hard decision for them to make when it gets to the breaking point of whether to keep going and throwing time, money and heartache after illness, or whether to cut and run and sell their beloved animals or even put them to sleep.

What are your thoughts on the above? Has anyone here tackled ongoing lameness and where did you draw the line?


  1. When I acquired my first horse I told him he would be with me “till death do us part”–and he was, even though in his last three years he was fairly cripped up. I found a wonderful trainer who worked with us to build up the muscles around his weak areas to compensate for what had deteriorated. He went from a horse who didn’t know where his feet were at the trot and whose canter looked like a bunny-hop, to a horse who got scores in the upper 60’s low 70’s in his first and only dressage show at Intro level. I didn’t push him beyond that, but rode him a couple of times a week to keep him active and the rest of the time he was out in the pasture with a large herd. In the meantime I rode other horses for my trainer to keep up my own riding education. It was a win-win for everybody even though it might not have appeared that way to the casual observer.

    Liked by 1 person

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