The Stables

Why I Won’t Be Buying Another Horse

I lost my horse last week. And it has been devastating. I owned him for fourteen years and his long list of ailments and this horrible winter sadly led to the worrying deterioration of his health and his nearly twenty three year old bones were suffering.

Making The Hardest Decision

So I had to make the kindest but toughest decision to send him on his way. The last two weeks particularly have been awful and I knew it was going to be hard but it has been such an upsetting process in preparing to say goodbye to the horse that I adored. However, I am lucky to have had so much support and kind messages during this time which has been a real comfort. I have also had one question that has been put to me in volume – and that is “are you buying another horse?” The answer is no.

I have gone over and over this thought actually for a few years now, so this is not an instant decision I have made. If you take a horse or any animal into old age you will be faced with decisions over their health and their end of life. I made a decision a couple of years ago that when I would be faced with losing my horse that I would not go into horse ownership again. I am now at that sad time because I have lost him and I still feel the same.

Life Without Owning A Horse 

So why? There are quite a few reasons which put together strengthens my decision to not own a horse again. Now I love horses and I love all aspects of riding them to looking after them. I love shopping for them and I love pampering them. So why am I not continuing this love with another horse? I have a combination of reasons which confirms my decision to leave the equine ownership club.

I really don’t totally trust the process of buying a horse and trying to find the horse that is right for you. It actually is a pretty stressful decision and costs a lot of money! I see so many horses for sale through the internet and read many horror stories of horses with huge problems being sold with misguided truths about how suitable a horse is. I know there are very genuine people selling horses but it is quite a job to find them. I also do not want to deal with a young horse again. They need time, dedication and in some cases nerves of steel. I don’t have that anymore. If you want a schoolmaster that has seen and done it, they are inherently older and I don’t want to go through having an ageing horse again.

I also think hacking out has changed beyond recognition in the last decade. When I first had my horse, you could ride out on our country lanes and see five cars within the hour. Now it’s twenty five cars and they are speeding with no thought in passing with care these days. To be taking out a younger horse that is protesting in traffic or objecting to a crisp packet in a hedge, just doesn’t rock my boat anymore! Perhaps it’s my age? Slipping towards to half a century perhaps I have lost my nerve the older I’ve got? I just don’t have the inclination to take on a younger horse and traffic proof it together with the time you need to give with this training.

This leads to time. I think to take on a new horse needs a lot of your time. I truly believe that a horse takes at least a year to get to know you and you the same. If you have your horse at livery, it’s potentially visiting twice a day which is normally a car drive. Factor in mucking out, rug sorting, feeding, turning in and out, grooming, tacking up and then getting out to ride amounts to hours! I have struggled with time and the juggling act having horses brings, especially recently. I would then feel guilty that I was not giving my horse the time he deserved. To have a break from that actually will be welcome after all these years.

My last and main reason is that I simply cannot replace my horse. He is irreplaceable and no horse can match up to him. I worry that I would be disappointed and constantly comparing a new horse to the kind and gentle horse that I had. This may sound a silly reason but at the moment, that’s how I feel. I know it’s early days but I do tend to stand by my decisions. I also could not go through the heartache again that I have endured these last couple of months. I know this would fade and perhaps this is why I have felt the need to write this post.

Loving Equestrian Life

However, I am not leaving equestrian life! I love it. I am lucky that I have been offered horses to ride that are suitable for what I want and fortunate have years on their side so I can have an easier hack out. So I am planning to get back in the saddle but without the huge commitment. I love equestrian sport and I will continue to follow it with interest and go to the events that I find thrilling to visit. I am lucky to work within the equestrian industry which I enjoy. So I really have no reason to stop enjoying equestrian life just because I do not own a horse. I will continue embracing aspects of all things equine without being a horse owner. And that is fine too.


by Samantha Hobden

Founder of Haynet

In loving memory of Zeb 1995 – 2018


  • Kathy Price

    Well Done Sam what an interesting read and a better insight to me and lots of others that
    are not involved in The equestrian world.Having read your article it helps to highlight the huge time and energy needed for owning a horse.I know you will miss Zeb dearly but Haynet is his legacy to you and will always be the reason for your continuing interest and support for others involved with horses.So Well Done And keep up the good eork

  • Jacqui Broderick

    Well said.. at one time I’d have done anything to have a horse- and did riding anyone’s wild things as a child and then when as a teenager getting my first horse, everything centered around making sure I always had horses.
    Everything in my adult life has revolved around them. My lifestyle, choice of home, every penny went into their care and improving my stables, fields and sand arena..
    holidays are a constant stress of who will look after the horses and will they be looked after properly.
    And now like Sam I’m realising I’ve had enough..the two pensioners I have probably (!!) won’t be replaced when they are gone and long term my riding horse will probably go into livery so I’m not tied.
    I think sams made a sensible decision- nice to have some ‘me’ time…

  • Mary

    Dear Sam, I’m so very sorry to hear about Zeb’s passing. I know what a devastating loss that is. Please take good care of yourself during this difficult time. Thank you for your eloquent posts and all you do for the equestrian community.

  • Libby

    If it is ever “in the cards” for you to own a horse again- that horse will find you and you will know it! So take this time to relax and know the “universe is unfolding as it should “

  • Andrea Pratt

    If you can find the right partner, sharing a horse is a great option. Half the work, half the expense, and potentially the same amount of time riding if you are normally only able to ride a few times a week.

  • Chloe

    Dear Sam, Very sad to read of your loss, and I can totally appreciate your situation. I have owned horses for 30 years, and had them at home for the past 15 years. I lost my cob who I had owned since he was a 9month foal when he was about 20years old, he was an amazing horse and a fantastic friend.
    I owned him between the ages of 13-33 so he saw me through many life changes, and my daughter rode him when she was tiny. I could never replace him, but not having a horse when they have been so much part of your life was unimaginable.
    I like you could not trust the horse buying process and in the end purchased my new horse who I have now owned for about six years via a friend of a friend that was well know in the industry.
    They could not be more different and I miss my cob who I owned for twenty years dearly, and still feel I am getting to know my new horse who I have owned for six years. But those few months without a horse was miserable and I believe making the time is well worth it.
    Of course you can’t replace him, never the less, give yourself time and never say never!

    “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

  • Diane

    I’m in the same boat as you, Samantha. I said goodbye to my one and only horse on Mar 7. I owned him for 20 years, he was able to carry me on trails until he was 32, but at age 34 he was starting to show neurological deficits and also could not eat hay or grass due to missing teeth. We are moving to another state, and the thought of finding the right horse, the right boarding stable, and new friends to ride with is just overwhelming. So, I’m trying to decide – do I miss riding and all that comes with it, or do I just miss HIM?? I’m almost 64, I don’t want a young horse. I’ve said goodbye to many pets over the years, but loosing Copper has been devastating. I lost a big part of my identity that was mine, alone – not part of being wife, mother or sister. So, hopefully after we move I can find a place to volunteer or find some new friends who want to rent a horse to ride out for an hour or two, or take lessons just for the fun of it. But, I don’t think I’ll own another horse. Peace to you – I know how hard this is!

  • Haynet Admin

    Thanks for your comment Diane and I totally get how you are feeling. It is now over a year now since I have lost Zeb and I still feel the same about not returning to horse ownership. I love everything to do with the equestrian world and it will always be a massive part of my life. But I just think another horse will not compare to my beloved Zeb and I just can’t go through the ups and downs of horse ownership again..