Disclaimer to start this isn’t aimed at anyone in particular just rambling comments from an over tired horse person who’s been in the industry a little while (10yrs of sales to be exact) and who likes to stir the pot occasionally and voice her thoughts
who knows they might all end up in a book one day!
Returns come with the package when you do sales for a living or to be honest of any kind. Horses aren’t like cars they have emotions and feelings and it’s not always guaranteed they’ll turn up at their new home and instantly settle in. I’ve had my fair share of horses that have arrived here that have left me scratching my head wondering where I went so wrong but each and every one of them eventually settled with enough time. Some took a couple of days, others weeks, heck some even took months but they all eventually settled into the routine given some consistency, work but most importantly time.
As horse owners we owe it to them to provide food, shelter, basic care and a safe place to live at the absolute bare minimum. I don’t care if you hate the horse it still doesn’t deserve to be neglected. It didn’t get a choice in coming to live with you…
Back to the topic at hand! If you have genuinely lived up to your side of the deal when you purchased the horse which was allowing it suitable time to settle, working with someone more experienced to help get you started on the right foot and have provided a nice stable and consistent environment for the horse to settle into there is the times when it’s just genuinely not working and I accept that is a thing. We can’t always get it perfect and that’s just part of it when you are dealing with animals with their own thoughts and personalities.
I get a lot of people asking me what happens if it doesn’t work out and I have a policy on my sales contract that covers this and have for the last couple of years. My thoughts are I would rather the horse come back so it’s in an environment it’s happy in and I can try to find a more suited option for it next time round but and this is a massive BUT it is your responsibility to send the horse back happy and healthy in a state suitable for sale and also be prepared to look long and hard in the mirror and accept that the horse isn’t the only one to fault in this new relationship not working.
We owe it to ourselves and the horses to be honest and reasonable about our short comings. No one is going to judge you if you put your hand up and say look it’s just not working out, let’s be reasonable, put the horse first and make a plan to find it somewhere that suits.
A big step forward would be being realistic with ourselves before we buy. What do we WANT vs what do we NEED. Sit down and have a think about it I think you’ll be surprised how different those two can be if you are being honest with yourself. Make sure you can actually commit before buying your new horse. It’s not fair on them to get to a new home and have you decide actually it’s not viable any more. Be prepared for it not to be perfect from day one. Imagine if someone suddenly packed up your stuff, shifted you half way across the country and dumped you with a bunch of randoms. How much would you like it and would you be the true version of yourself on day one or would it take you a little bit to re settle in this new life?
So let’s start being a little more realistic over buying horses, take some responsibility if it doesn’t work out and don’t become one of those people that returns every second horse, trust me people talk, you’ll find very quickly that people will stop dealing with you if you are unreasonable and make people’s lives harder than they need to be.
I speak only for myself here when I say I am happy for everything that is sold through me to be returned, I back the horses I put my name on and I am very fortunate that from the 780 + horses I’ve rehomed over the last 10yrs a very small percentage of those have come back and 98% of the people that have returned them have been amazing to deal with. There is no reason to get nasty when things don’t work out and you’ll find people will do an awful lot more for you if you are just nice about it. At the end of the day the horses have to come first but it is our responsibility to set them up to succeed and be realistic with ourselves over our shortcomings.
A note more for the TB rehoming side of things but especially with these horses it’s a massive change of lifestyle for them heading into new homes off the track and if you go down that route you have to be prepared to give things a bit of time! We can’t focus on rehoming straight off the track ones and getting them into good homes if we consistently have the people taking them on returning them because it seemed like more hard work than they were expecting!