There is honestly nothing better than owning a horse. They are best friends on four legs that you can have amazing adventures with in ways you can’t with other pets. The bond with a horse is much more special than that of another pet. But there is so much more to owning a horse than a dog or cat and considerations need to made before you go horse shopping. Here are some things that will make it easier and you smarter when you go to find the best friend you will ever have.
Let me give you a little background on myself. I was able to have my first horse at the age of nine and have been in the horse world in some fashion for almost twenty years. My disciplines included endurance, western pleasure, English pleasure, and jumping which I scored well in local shows.
Here we are at my first riding lesson. Aren’t we cute? 🙂
Below is a picture of my horse and I guiding a trail ride at a local ranch.
And even though this horse looks a lot like my horse, I am riding a friend’s horse in a fifty mile endurance race.
All this to say that I am familiar with many disciplines and training styles when it comes to horse ownership. Now lets dive into the things you need to know to own a horse.
First, you have to make the choice of where the horse will be living. Many people want a horse but can’t have it on their property so they have to shop for a barn or stable to board their horse. Thankfully there are many options for boarding, but not all barns are equal because boarding fees are not the same for the same services across the board.
Make sure that you are paying the right price for the services you are looking for. Are you wanting to have the barn feed your horse and turn them out while cleaning their stalls and other duties? Or are you simply looking for a pasture to put the horse and you do all the work? Make sure you are not paying the prime price that an all inclusive stable will charge but only getting a pasture. Shop around. Go to the barns and see what you are paying for. Because the flip side can happen where you are thinking you are getting a great deal on boarding, but the level of service is terrible.
Take the two barns above. Which one would you be drawn toward? The one on the left right? Well what if I told you that the one on the right was the one that offered all inclusive treatment, has the experienced staff, and is actually cheaper than the one on left that only offers one feeding a day and not extra treatment? The reason you can’t judge a place by it’s cover is because things aren’t always what they seem.
Wherever you board you horse there are certain things that have to be there for the barn to acceptable.
- Safe fence lines
- Clean water bins
- Clean food bins
- Clean stalls
- Friendly and experienced staff and property owner
- Clean location for the feed that is free of vermin and out of the weather
- Not having too many horses in one pasture (think 2 horses per quarter acre pen)
- A stable (I mean structurally not necessarily a stable) shelter for the horse to get out of the weather
- Accessibility to the pasture from the feed room or tack room. Is the pasture close or far away?
- Are there people on site all the time?
These aren’t all the questions to ask but they will open up the conversation for things to make sure the facility has to make sure it is the best place for you horse. One other thing that you need to be aware of is the many barns have waiting lists so make sure you have a spot before you buy the horse and not the other way around.
Now if you are planning on housing the horse on your property, then many of the things above will be needed.
- Safe fencing
- Clean water
- Clean food
- Adequate room to move around
- Ideal location where you can see some part of the pasture at all times and not at the bottom of a hill where you aren’t going to want to go down all the time to see the horse
- And anything else you come across when doing your research on horse care
These things are not cheap and require money to complete. And it can be that you will have to set the horse area up and then have to save again for the actual horse. I would suggest that because it is better to have the place all set up before you bring a horse in the mix instead of having a below par facility that can hurt you horse and cause you more bills with a vet bill. So make sure which ever way you go with housing for your horse make sure is the setup is complete before you bring a horse into the mix.
The next thing that needs to be considered is transportation. What kind of horse trailer do you need? This is personal opinion but there are a couple questions to consider.
- Does it hold enough horses for what I have?
- Does it fit the vehicle I have?
These are two questions that are not considered until you have to pick it up and find out your F-150 can’t tow a three-horse horse trailer. So make sure the trailer and the vehicle are big enough for what you need.
Next is pick a good vet. Do some research and ask people about their vets to find out who is a vet and who might not be the best vet. You can also search online for a vet near you but make sure that you do extra research on them. It might take a few tries to find the right vet but having a good vet is vital when owning a horse because a good vet will save you money and a bad vet will cost you money.
Good vets do what they can to save the owner money by only suggesting things that the horse absolutely needs. You can trust that the vet isn’t trying to money tap you just to make more money by suggesting test after test. A bad vet doesn’t have as much integrity. They will be more apt to suggest unwanted tests for your horse and in turn cost you money. So make sure you can really trust your vet.
Along the same lines of a vet is a farrier. Find a good farrier who will listen you and do exactly what you want. We have been blessed with awesome farriers but you have to do your diligence to make sure that the farrier is experienced, kind, and gentle so that they can work with your horse and you don’t have to worry about your horse being mistreated.
For the vet and the farrier I would suggest you try to find them before you buy your horse. Because nothing is worse than having a medical or shoe issue and not have anyone to call for help. So shop around and find these people.
Also having these people in line can work in your favor because they are a part of your horse network and might know the right place for you to find your horse. If a vet knows someone who is selling a horse he or she has treated for years, then you have an upper hand since the vet knows the medical record of the horse and where the horse has come from. Having a horse network is very important since horse ownership can be scary if you don’t have a support system there to back you up.
One last person I would suggest having in place is a horse trainer or riding instructor. This person is going to be your biggest help when entering the horse world. They will be the ones who will be able to give the most advice about a vet and a farrier, and they can even help find the right horse for you. Take them with you if you can when you go horse shopping and seek their opinion on the horse and whether or not it is a good fit for you.
My trainer was a big part of my riding career and I have had many in my lifetime depending on where I was in my disciplines. I started out western, went English, back to western and then finished in trail, and I had a trainer for all those disciplines. Did they have different opinions? Oh yeah! Oh yeah! But all those opinions can be good because you get a taste of everything to make up your own idea of what a horse person is. I value all my trainers and still look up to them this day.
How are you doing? Do you have these things in place? Good news is that you are ready to start shopping for a horse. But which one? I will give you a couple of tips when shopping for a horse to help you know if the horse you are looking at is your next best friend.
- Make sure the horse’s and your ability match
- A good age for most horses are 15 years old
- Pick the right breed of horse for what you want to do
- Mare or gelding?
- Tall or short?
- And don’t just shop by the color of the horse
I know this sounds like a lot of things to keep in line but they are all needed when owning a horse. They are a big project and aren’t as simple as getting a cat or a dog. So do your homework and before you know it you will be the proud owner of the most beautiful creature on the planet.