If your mental machete is sharp enough to hack through the verbiage of the title, you probably can also understand and maybe even empathize with the dilemma it implies. Most of us have found ourselves posessed of or possessed by the wrong horse. Wrong for any of a thousand valid and invalid reasons. Too hot to ride, too unsound, too poor a mover, too limited over a fence, too unpleasant in the barn, too old, too young, too big, too small, too unsuited for what we actually need to have.
Sometimes the unsuitability has come in the flash of an eye. He hobbles in from the field one morning with a non life threatening but athletic career ending injury. Or, as with incipient navicular disease, it has been sneaking up, month by month. Or we`ve had one too many spin and fall off episodes. Or too many refusals at too many events or shows. Whatever and however the cause or reason, deep down we know that this is not the horse that can take us to places we want to go.
If the horse is a pet, and you don`t care if you actually ride or not, and if the unsuitability only renders the horse unfit for riding, then you can just keep on keeping on. Or if you are rich enough to turn him into a pasture ornament, and still get one or more other horses that you can ride, you are also just fine. You aren`t the persom I`m addressing.
But what if you do love to ride, don`t have extra cash under your mattress, can`t successfully ride this one, but can`t bear to part with him, now what? This is a real dilemma, and thousands of riders face it every day, and there`s no easy, one size fits all answer. In the case of long term unsoundness, there`s the euthanization issue. In the “old days” when horses were utilitarian, and there was little cash for luxuries, this happened all the time out of sheer economic necessity.
I know lots of people who basically look at the issue like this: “This horse is lame. It`s not a question of whether this horse will be put down, but when. If I can`t give him away, and can`t afford to keep him, AND another, then now is better than later, since it`s unavoidable anyway, just a matter of when.
For those who aren`t able to face this, I guess they just have to stop riding much, while they wait for the horse to get old enough to die anyway.
There are plenty of horses that are sound, though, but wrong for other reasons like some I mentioned. Just because a horse might be a bad jumper, or not have a fancy enough trot to make it in dressage, might not mean he can`t make a nice trail or pleasure horse. The rider has to choose. “Do I want a horse that`s a round peg that I`m trying to force into the square hole, or would both he be happier in a more fitting job, and I be happier with one that seems suited to my ambitions?”
There is one key in all of this. The RIGHT choice has to be YOUR choice. You are not a “bad person” if you put down a lame horse now rather than four years from now, unless YOU think you are. You don`t have to be well mounted, but you probably should be if your main aim is to get ahead in your riding. Look at the horse you have. Look at your real goals. Then decide a best course of action. Or not! (Since putting this off is what you`ve been doing anyway!)