You probably think I'm about to say a lifetime supply of carrots or something like that. That is not what I had in mind. I'm sure your horse would love that, though I have something that is more of a long term gift in mind.
I have been lucky enough in life that I have been able to keep most of my horses their whole lives. I haven't had the worry of needing to sell my horse and not knowing what might happen to him.
This is a scary thought for any horse owner, and rightfully so. Selling your personal horse to me would be like giving away your baby. We cannot predict the future. None of us know what the circumstances of our lives will always be—if we will always be able to afford a horse or if we will be healthy enough to care for one and ride.
So what would happen to your horse if you had to sell him? It probably depends a lot on the age, asking price, and all those sorts of other factors. When we sell a horse, we don't want to think of it being passed from one home to the next. We don't want our horse living some sort of "Black Beauty" type of saga where its sold from good home to bad home and never landing in a safe place to stay.
There is one thing that you can do to assure that your horse has the best chance at a good life if for some reason you can't keep him. That one thing is training. I'm not talking about fancy dressage, huge jumps, or reining patterns. I'm talking about good basic training. Things like having good ground manners. How to tie and load on a horse trailer. You want your horse to be broke to ride and be a safe ride. He doesn't need advanced training in a specific discipline he just needs to know the basics.
A horse that has a pleasant demeanor on the ground and is safe under saddle has a much better chance of finding and staying in a good home. (Not that there aren't people out there who buy untrained horses as projects or resales, there certainly are, but having a well-trained horse increases your chances of him or her going to a good home).
I believe that your average buyer isn't a professional horse trainer. It is most likely a pleasure rider: an adult returning to riding, maybe a kid graduating from a lesson horse. These types of riders want safe, trained horses.
The best gift you can give your horse is to make sure he has as many of these basic skills as possible. Working on these basics will make your horse more pleasant to deal with. More importantly, though, it makes your horse more desirable to a potential new owner.
There are a lot more people looking for good, honest horses than projects. If your horse has good basics, it opens up more potential doors for him to find the perfect home.
We all hope that we never get into a position that would cause us to have to give up our horse, but life is unpredictable. Giving your horse the gift of good basic training will help ensure his safety if he has to move on to another home.
With that gift to your horse, you are also giving yourself some peace of mind in that you did the very best you could to give your horse a chance at finding a loving (and hopefully) forever home.