Saturday, April 26, 2014

Horse Ownership: Some Things You May not Know but Need to Know


What’s not to love about horses?  Ronald Reagan addressed that question in his own colorful way in stating, “I’ve often said there is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” As a former owner of horses, including a show horse, I can attest to the truth of those words. However, horse ownership is not to be taken lightly. There are things that one needs to know before purchasing a horse for the first time and much to know about ownership and care of a horse.

Need-to-Know Information before Purchasing a Horse
Buying a horse for the first time, especially for those who truly love horses, is an exhilarating experience. However, a first time buyer should be cautious not to jump into buying the first horse that bats his or her big beautiful eyes at him. It’s important for a first-time buyer to purchase a horse that is right for him. Doing so requires some research, some smart and strategic purchasing strategies, and experience with horses. If a first-time buyer lacks a lot of experience in choosing a horse, it would be wise for him to take with him a trusted friend who has experience when looking at a potential horse to purchase. After all, horses require a sizeable commitment of time and money.
How much investment one makes in purchasing a horse depends upon the goal or purpose for having the horse. If the purchaser mostly just wants to ride, have fun, and maybe even compete at a local level, it may be possible to find a good horse for at or under $5000. More serious competitive aspirations or goals, however, may involve a considerably higher purchase investment.
Another financial consideration in horse ownership is the ongoing expense beyond the purchase price. There is the expense of boarding if one doesn’t own his own place to keep horses. Boarding cost can range from complete care which can include feeding, stall maintenance, and perhaps even grooming and exercising of the horse. Self-care is a more cost efficient option as it would only include a place to keep the horse. With such an option, the owner would do all of the feeding, stall maintenance, grooming, and exercising of the horse.
Another expense that must be budgeted is veterinarian care for shots at least twice a year and worming about every two months, as well as regular farrier care or trimming and shoeing. The expense of at least the basic tack and equipment and feeding and bedding for the horse must be budgeted too and is certainly an on-going expense.
Need-to-Know Information for Ownership and Care of a Horse
Horse ownership requires knowing at least the basics of horse care. One must learn the proper strategies for feeding, housing, tying, and caring for the horse. If the first-time horse owner is a novice at these basics, it is necessary that he learn the basics from a friend who has experience with horses or pay for lessons in horse care and maintenance. If the first-time horse owner is a novice rider, he may find it necessary to take some basic riding lessons to avoid injuring himself or stressing or causing injury to the horse.
The basic needs of a horse include safe fencing and pasture in which the horse can happily move around and graze. The pasture should be free of holes, dangerous or rusty farm or other type of equipment, and loose wiring on fences. Horses are social animals, so having the horse among other horses, or even ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep or goats, in the pasture is an important consideration, as well. Proper horse ownership requires seeing that there is enough pasture for adequate grazing or the equivalent of that by providing quality hay. Other essentials for the horse include unlimited access to clean water, minerals, salt, shelter from inclement and wintry conditions, as well as shade from the summer sun. Additional basic needs for a horse include a clean and dry area to lie down and daily monitoring for any injury or illness.
Some Little Known Things and Common Mistakes about Horse Purchase and Ownership
Sometimes after purchasing a horse, the initial enthusiasm wears off. To avoid the mistake of making a long-term commitment to a horse that might be regretted later on, one can sometimes acquire a horse on sort of a trial or short term basis through opting for a full or partial lease. In leasing, one pays either a fixed fee or a portion of the cost of the horse’s care in exchange for riding time on the horse. If one opts for a full lease, he will typically assume all of the expenses and care for the horse. With the partial lease option, the actual owner of the horse remains primarily responsible for such expense and care. One shouldn’t hesitate to ask the seller for a trial period. Some sellers are receptive to that if they have concerns that the horses they are selling go to a good home. It never hurts to ask.
It is unfortunate, but true, that some horse salesman, just like some used car salesman, have earned the reputation of being somewhat untrustworthy individuals known to downplay a horse’s flaws and while hyping attributes. Always remember the motto, “Buyer beware!”
Too many first-time horse buyers make the mistake of purchasing an untrained horse because the price is considerably less for one, and they mistakenly think that they can train the horse themselves. Training a horse takes experience and sometimes months to accomplish. Training is not a job for a novice.
Sometimes a first-time horse buyer, with visions of purchasing a young, fine, noble, and handsome steed upon which he can ride off into the sunset with the wind in his hair, allow that vision cloud to cloud their reason and may pass up on the benefits of purchasing an older horse. Most people don’t realize that an older horse makes a great beginner horse for a child or any novice rider.  It is a fact that many healthy horses can be ridden well into their senior years. This is particularly true when buying a horse for a child. Young, frisky horses and children and novice riders are not a good pairing.
Picture Credit: Cowgirl 13