Keeping a Horse Takes More Than Many People Think
What could be more romantic in the eyes of many Americans than owning one’s own horse? The idea is so romantic, in fact, that many would-be horse owners rush into purchasing their first horse without taking the time to research the ins and outs of horse ownership. For these people, horse ownership can end up being troublesome and often short-lived.
March 1st is national horse protection day here in the United States. In honor of what it takes to safeguard and properly care for horses, here is a list of the six most important things you should carefully consider before getting a horse as a pet.
1 – Horses Aren’t for Everyone
It may seem like horse ownership is easy. After all, they eat dry grass and just have to be tied to a post when they’re not being used to jump fences or corral cattle, or so film and television might have us believe. Not everyone, however, has the patience, temperament, or financial resources to make for a good horse owner in reality.
2 – Horses Can Be Very Expensive to Keep
When you add up the cost of the animal itself, the vet bills and medications that it takes to keep a horse healthy throughout its lifetime, the cost of boarding the animal, the bridelry and grooming tools that you will need to keep them looking good and ride them, and the cost of training them and yourself as a rider, you will be looking at several thousand dollars all-together.
Even if you are lucky enough to have a friend or relative with a stable and all the equipment that you could possibly borrow, and someone who is willing to provide you and your animal with free training, you will still need a couple thousand dollars a year to cover the cost of feeding the horse and providing it with medical care and other basic necessities. Also, you will need to make sure that you have a nest egg set aside for medical emergencies that may arise.
3 – Horse Behavior Takes Work to Understand
Contrary to what many uninformed children and adults may think, horses are not simply big dogs that you can ride. Horses require patience, understanding, and intuition to work with over the long term. You cannot simply expect a horse to take to you because you’ve purchased them and provided them with their necessities.
If you are a first-time horse owner, you will need to seek professional help to develop a solid working relationship with your animal. If you neglect to do so, you most likely will never develop the bond with the animal that you need in order to truly enjoy riding and caring for it.
4 – Horses Need Regular Exercise and Training
Like many other pets or companion animals, horses require consistent training from a well-educated, patient, and steady trainer. Training a horse correctly can take months and be dangerous for both horse and rider if attempted by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. For this reason, it is usually better to spend more money on a horse that has already been trained.
5 – Riders Need Training Too
You may have ridden at camp or rented horses for trail riding or other activities in the past. But that does not mean that you know enough to adequately manage a horse in a variety of contexts, no matter how well-trained the horse may be or how even its temperament. Spend the time and money to get fully trained as a rider, working with your animal.
6 – Getting the Right Horse
Lastly, it is important for inexperienced would-be horse owners to take the time to educate themselves on how to avoid buying the wrong horse for their experience level, interest level, and pocketbook. There are many mistakes that novices make when buying their first horse; educate yourself so that you can avoid them.
There’s More to Horse Ownership Than the Dream of Owning a Horse
The reality is that horses are expensive to purchase, expensive to keep, and require medical care, specialized feed, training and attention that is generally well beyond what most would-be horse owners are willing or capable of giving them.
Beyond that, not everyone has a temperament that is conducive to horse ownership. Before purchasing and caring for a horse, make sure that the animal is the right fit for you and your life.
Author: Giano Panzarella