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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;


In Search of the Perfect Horse

By Janet Rose, Horse Haven Montana , Frenchtown , MT


March 2013 issue  

      Finding the perfect horse is like finding the perfect mate — trial and error. Sixty-percent of first-time horse owners will sell or give away their first horse. What happens to the unwanted horse? While many new horse owners sell or give away their mismatch responsibly, just as many do not.

      The beauty of owning a horse is that it should be a joy. The horse will never lie.

      This story is dedicated to horse owners who wonder if they will find their perfect mount. Yes, your horse is waiting for you to find him. As an old cowboy told me before he passed, one thing you can count on is that many a horse seller won’t tell you the truth. Finding the right match in this partnership is up to your skill of investigation and dedication.

      Hopefully, with each horse and every ride, clinic, and dollar spent, you will find “the one,” because our equine partners deserve nothing less. Horses benefit from having the best human partners — who understand and ride them as they were meant to be.  


Janet Rose and her daughter, Kara, give some love and laughter to Lily, the perfect horse.  

      A trainer once told me, “I can count on my hand the number of good rides I’ve had.” I decided that premise was wrong — we should expect the best of our horses and ourselves.

      One of my favorite mares is reserved. Certainly, a quiet trail ride is not for my rodeo pals. My equine partner would never be good for a competitor or barrel queen. That’s the point — before you step foot in a stirrup, know what kind of horse is right for you — your abilities, strengths, skills, personality. Often this is what leads to the unwanted horse, a mismatched person with the wrong horse.


      My story? I am a cliché, someone who thought they knew something and believed that what people told you ought to be true.

      I went in search of the perfect trail horse for a beginner. She was advertised as “beginner lesson horse,” perfect age, right size; loved her color. She seemed head shy but the trainer said it wasn’t an issue. Trail experience? Absolutely - she had done what real trail horses do, packed in a wilderness; lesson horse in the off-season. How perfect could she be? Never mind that my trainer and vet suggested I pass her up and look for a different horse.

      Her experience on a wilderness pack trip? I learned later that this mare had been packed once in her life — and that one time she had freaked because her packs hit a tree and she took off, flipped over, never packed again. I learned that as a lesson horse her ears and mouth had been mishandled; of course, she was head shy!  


      But I loved her and so I kept this sweet, troubled mare for over three years; worked through head shyness; had trainers work with her in ways that I couldn’t; poured time and money into trying to make her what she was not and blaming everything on my lack of confidence. By the time I sold her to the perfect match for her, she was in great shape and my confidence was shot!


      My mistakes didn’t end there. The day I delivered this mare to her new owner, my dreams of horse ownership were in flux.

      I stopped to look at some ranch horses on my way home. Like a broken-hearted lover rebounding, I was about to walk away when the horse trader brought out a big gelding.

      The horse was tall and I was small. The gelding was young and I was not. I was told someone else was interested so I had to make a quick decision. It was getting late, I was cold, tired and missed my horse. A young wrangler rode the gelding to “show” me how quiet he was, I should try him out. The horse trader added, he didn’t have much formal training.

      I climbed aboard this gentle giant, rode him around and sure enough, he seemed quiet. It was getting later, darker and colder. We reached a deal (expensive); loaded him and off we went. He loaded well and came running when he saw me. He loved people! But he was young and had attitude! Lack of training was a cue for green; “green rider with a green horse.”

      By now, I had learned a little and nipped this in the bud. Luckily, I found the right family who lived on a big ranch and he was a perfect match for them. I have continued to check on him and everyone is still happy. But I was lucky that the right owner came along and paid my price. What if I had been pressed for cash or lost my job or didn’t care?


      Years later, after tears, scars, and an almost-divorce because of horse mistakes, could I do the search one more time? In the end, I chose Lily…a ranch horse with some experience and a quiet temperament. A reserved horse, we were both at about the same level. I now had friends who were knowledgeable and would help me.

      It’s been many years and I’ve done more with this mare in the first six months of owning her than I did in all the years before. I have more confidence, ride better, go further and enjoy almost every ride, whether it’s challenging, scary or just a stroll in the woods.

      I’ve added a quiet, easy-going gelding. As I went on new horse journeys, my herd grew and this story has a happy ending.  


      Our horses and I found our match, and that first experience led me to found a horse rescue and adoption organization, Horse Haven Montana  —because every horse deserves a good home and every good person deserves the right horse for them.

      A mismatched horse and rider is not the only reason that a horse becomes “unwanted.” A person may not have the knowledge or experience to recognize the best horse for them. A buyer may not always get the truth. Life can change in an instant. There are a thousand reasons why a horse may no longer fit into our lives but what we owe the horse is the best life possible.

      I started Horse Haven Montana because of a simple phone call from someone, asking me to place a horse that had been left on their ranch. I was also troubled by how many people seemed so unhappy with their horse. Those two things led to more rescues and adoptions.

      In the intervening years, we have placed about 75 horses in wonderful, adoptive homes. We’ve taken in horses whose owners couldn’t keep them and found homes for horses in desperate situations. I’ve met people who faced hard times and their horse was their last tie to a normal life — people whose divorce, job loss or broken dreams, forced them to give up their horse. An accidental stop at the brand office led to the rescue of two beautiful horses that had been abandoned. They ended up in great homes.

      Not every situation is solvable. We are not a sanctuary and try to focus on horses that we can find homes for. Adoption is a great alternative to slaughter.

      We have every size, type, old and young, registered and unregistered. We are part of a growing network of people across the country working together to find the best possible home for a horse in need.

      Adoption — it takes just one to make a difference.


Horse Haven Montana frequently has well-broke mounts that need good homes. For more information about Horse Haven Montana in Frenchtown , MT , contact Janet Rose at 406-880-0683.




Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;

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