CANTER Mid Atlantic stopped selling horses out of our lay-up farms about a year ago. We found that most people have a very hard time looking at a horse who is being pasture kept and picturing what they will become. They are not fit, lack muscle, may lack weight, sometimes have yak hair, unkept manes and unbalanced feet. They aren’t being ridden and are used to living in a herd of other horses so if you go out there to show them to people they can sometimes act like feral animals 🙂 You have all watched my lunging videos where I try to lunge horses in big open fields in a herd of their friends. It’s quite the show and if I manage not to fall down or have a horse run away with the lunge line attached then we consider it a success. It’s so much easier for me to work with a horse in my home ring where I have boundaries, the right equipment and lots of time on my hands.
The other component to selling a horse to somebody out of a field is that you truly know nothing about that horses personality or what they want to be when they grow up. Will they like riding out of the ring, how about jumping, will flatwork be easy or hard, what is their personality like, spooky or not, herdbound, hot/quiet/in the middle, can they take a joke, easy/hard keeper, need to be ridden consistently or can you ride them twice a week and the list goes on. I can often figure out the answer to most of the questions in just a few rides but if I sell them out of the field then I really can’t answer most of the above questions. Just a month or two of retraining adds a lot of value to the horse and ensures that we are going to know that horse well enough to make the right match.
Horses at the track are absolutely gorgeous but when you take that horse out of work and reduce the amount of calories they were eating they often look like the before pictures here- https://dixierumble.wordpress.com/before-and-after/ and then we bring them into the retraining program and in a few months you get the after pictures. How many would buy the horse in the before picture? I’m pretty darn experienced at this and a few of them I wouldn’t even go to look at 🙂
I plan to keep adding pictures to that part of the blog of all the CANTER horses that we have had so that people can see how much a horse can physically transform with a few months of correct muscling. All of the CANTER MA horses get a minimum of two months of field rest before they start their retraining and then we put two months of retraining on them before they go up for sale. It ensures that they smoothly transition right into a new home as smoothly as possible.
It’s nice to look back at some of these pictures and see how far the horses have come. It’s also nice for people who are bringing horses off the track to know that it’s fairly normal for them to go through a transition period where sometimes they look worse before they look better.