Horsemanship / Neu Perspectives

Running into an Ex

Crossing paths with an ex-horse can stir fond memories, make you cringe or cause you to lament selling a diamond in the rough.

It seems that quite often (whether intentionally or not) we’re exposed to what our exes are up to. 

By “exes” I’m not talking about the men and women who have filtered in and out of our dating lives. I mean our ex-horses—you know, the ones we once owned, raised or trained.

We might run into that familiar face at a horse show, in an auction barn or on social media. 

Sometimes it makes our hearts happy to see the update post. There might be pictures of a gelding we loved and cherished, but he just wasn’t a fit anymore or we needed to sell him for personal reasons. Perhaps there are pictures of him slick and fat with his new family, a little girl grinning as she holds up a buckle and a post that reads, “We just love our Blackie so much. Just won $8,400 in a jackpot last night!”

Running into an ex-horse.
Running into an ex-horse can be sentimental, sorrowful or a big surprise.
Photo by Ross Hecox

Sometimes that same winning statement is a bit of a bite. Maybe it’s a horse that everyone gave up on (including myself!) and sold for pennies when he was really just a late bloomer, a diamond in the rough, something that needed a real chance. He didn’t seem to have the right sort of potential, but as I stumble across his picture I squint, recognize features and then do a double take. 

“Dang. He looks so good from that angle. What was I thinking, letting that one go so easily?” 

Sometimes you see the filly who almost was, but wasn’t quite worth buying. You didn’t have the money at the time, you decided to pass and wait for something else, and then that mare turned into a ripping good show horse that went on to produce six-digit money earning foals. You knew she was special, but she got away. That one stings. 

Sometimes you get the follow-up call. Your phone rings and it’s that number. Yep ,it’s about the ex-horse. Do you answer? Do you press the red button, squelch it and hope it was an accidental dial? That one was the wild card colt. It was either going to work or it wasn’t, but do you really want to know how it ended? Here’s hoping they just want to buy that gelding’s little brother and will leave a message raving about the horse. 

You might be at a group trail ride, or a Congress show, or maybe a horse sale and something really off of your “usual type” passes you and your horseback buddies. One friend watches the half-heavy, quarter-Appaloosa, quarter-Arabian cross trot by and looks at you, confused. “Wasn’t that your brand on his left shoulder? I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing.” 

“Yeah, I went through a phase in my mid-twenties. Let’s keep walking.” 

With some of our exes, we are just a small piece of the picture. A few rides here and there, a little time together, and they move on. Some are more emotional. Selling the best broodmare because you just couldn’t say no to the dollar amount, only to see her off in someone else’s field, with her new babies and family, a new brand on her hip. 

And yes, there are the ones we’ve had that we’d rather not remember. Ones that required a lot of hard work. Easy come, easy go. 

And sometimes, once in a great while, our ex-horses circle back into our pastures. It might be a colt we started years ago for someone else, and all of a sudden he became our own. Or perhaps a friend, family member or riding buddy ends up with one you knew and loved as well. It’s always fun and entertaining when that happens. 

“Hey, I know that face! I met you years ago! Remember those special, unforgettable 30 days we spent together in California?!”

Thanks to the internet, a lot of the “I wonder” thoughts turn into knowing the truth pretty quickly. Usually it’s entertaining, interesting and reassuring to know our ex-horses are being used, cared for and loved. Occasionally there’s a rough truth. But overall, it’s nice to know the rest of the story. 

And, of course, there’s the flip side of all this where, although we are satisfied with “Ol’ Reliable”—our current mount that does his job and brightens our lives—we’re always on the lookout for something else. We’ve got to make sure there isn’t a horse that might be a better fit, a little more fun, a little better looking on the market. Or maybe even just a fun alternative and supplement to the one we already love. 

 But that’s a post for another time. 

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