As a professional, a big part of my business is selling horses.

Some I personally purchase, develop and sell. Others are owned by clients who have hired me to help them find a new home for their horse. More often than not, when a client reaches out for help selling their horse, I hear some version of the same struggle: “I love my horse, I really do. I hope you don’t think I’m a bad person for selling them.”

And every single time, I stop them before they can go further. You are not a bad person for selling your horse.

There is absolutely no shame in finding a new home for your horse. You should not feel guilty for making a decision that benefits you and your horse, given it is done responsibly. Horses are not pets that are lifetime obligations. And before you come after me with your torches and pitchforks, just hear me out (and give me a bit of a head start!).

I personally own six horses, and yes, it made me a bit sick to my stomach to actually count them just now. Three are sales horses, two are show horses and one has no purpose but to look pretty and cost me money. I love all of my horses and I would do anything for them, but I do not consider them pets.

Horses are huge financial responsibilities. Anyone fortunate enough to own a horse is just that—fortunate.

There are a lot of expenses associated with horse ownership, but the expense of your financial security is not one of them. Especially in the strange world we live in today, amid pandemic concerns, a fluctuating job market, and all the stresses that life can throw at us in one year, your horse does not need to be an additional stress.

We have horses because of the peace we find in early mornings at the barn, in the sound of soft nickers, the smell of fresh hay and the feel of perfectly worn leather. We ride horses because it gives us release, it makes us feel purpose. We own horses because they make us happy. When your horse stops making you happy—be it for financial reasons, an incorrect match under saddle, or furthering goals that it’s unfair to ask your horse to attain—it’s okay to move on.

So, no. I do not consider horses to be pets. They are not large dogs that cost as much as your mortgage. They are more like relationships, meant to bring us joy and enhance our lives. Some relationships work out beautifully and last forever. Some do not. And if you’ve tried to make it work, done your due diligence and exhausted your options, selling your horse is not the wrong answer. Given it is done correctly.

Horse sales that are thoughtful and responsible, that are meant to place the horses in well-matched homes and allow others to experience joy, are a win-win for all involved. So, be open and honest with yourself (and potential buyers) about your equine partner, work to find them the right match when that time comes, and involve a professional if you’d like.

But most of all, stop feeling guilty about it.