Advice to the first-time horse owner... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
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Talking Advice to the first-time horse owner...

Warning: this is going to be a ramble! ;)

I have been riding on-and-off for about 8 years. I have been riding my bike to local stables and begging to shovel manure or groom a horse for much longer than that. Growing up, I was positively obsessed with horses-- we all know the story. I wrote about them, I read about them, I drew them, I pretended my bike was one of them... but my big family could never afford regular lessons let alone a horse for me. I remember one year where my mom and I took maybe 4-5 lessons together before it became too expensive, and it was kaput! The first horse I ever rode was a gentle rescue owned by a family friend; after him, I would ride a neighborhood horse who I mucked and groomed enough to earn a few rides, or the mildly crazy OTTB (ha!) my aunt owned.

It wasn't until college that I finally rode regularly. I joined the Western equestrian team and showed Western pleasure, and loved every minute of it! Weekly lessons, a barn to hang around... I was in heaven. Well, my riding habits waxed and waned with my college workload and were nearly non-existent by the time I graduated and moved to AZ with my now-husband. In AZ, I've leased two horses--and by lease, I mean throw the owner $100 a month and exercise or hit the trails with a horse who wouldn't be otherwise ridden--and again, my work as a PhD student would get in the way and I'd have to end the lease every fall.

Well, fast forward to year 3 of my PhD. I've passed all of my major qualifying exams, and lo and behold-- I have a life again! My husband and I have talked at length about horse ownership on several occasions... I made up a reasonable budget, located a boarding stable only 2 miles from our home, and started shopping around. Today at last, I was able to pull the trigger on my first horse. He's a wonderful 10 year old bay arabian gelding out of Mishaah (see below!). His registered name is MS Player, but we're calling him Jax (Jackson). I bring him home to the barn tomorrow! I never thought I'd be buying an Arabian (I've been a QH girl all of my life!) but when it feels right...!

So, at LAST the point of my post! What advice would you give to the first-time horse owner? Whether it be practical, emotional, about riding or care, anything! Let's hear it!
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Last edited by existentialpony; 12-13-2012 at 01:08 AM.
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post #2 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 01:08 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Indiana
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Beautiful horse!

I would love to hear from others too about this, I am also in the process of trying to get my first horse!
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post #3 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 01:14 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Oregon
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All I can say is GORGEOUS! Waiting for others to chime in. But congrats, he is a beauty!

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post #4 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 02:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Bronson, Florida
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HaHa! Good job and congrats!

The only thing I would say as since you have never had an Arabian before, prepare for a great time! They are much different that Quarter Horses. (I love both breeds for very different reasons.) They have a personality all their own. Be calm, be confident and enjoy him for who he is. Take time to really get to know him. I'm betting you will find him to be a real clown sometimes.
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post #5 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 04:05 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Queensland, Australia.
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The biggest piece of advice that I can offer you is - learn from your experiences (if they are good or bad). Know that with your first (and second and twentieth) horse, you are always going to make mistakes. Don't get down on yourself, just take it as an opportunity to learn new things.

Never be afraid to ask for help (on the forum, from a friend or an instructor). We all need some help sometimes, and its better to admit you need help sooner rather than later when the issue is too big to easily fix. Having said that, be confident and trust your abilities, you've obviously thought through your choice to buy your horse, so, clearly you have common sense. (:
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post #6 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 04:09 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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My advice would be to take lots and lots of pictures!!
(and then share them with us!)

Congrats, he is a stunner!

You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
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post #7 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 04:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Kentucky
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Never ever stop learning. Just because you have that fancy title(congrats by the way) doesn't mean you can stop learning. Keep your mind open and always be open to new ideas.
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post #8 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 04:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Riga, Latvia
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Become friends with trustworthy horse owners from the nearest area. These friendships can give you valuable experience, tips and help, if needed.

Get the contacts of all the local horse vets, farriers, trimmers, trainers and chiropractitioners, who can be trusted. Even if you have gathered a good team of "your" specialists, you can still sometimes need a second opinion or an emergency help.

If you'll be keeping the horse (he's fabulous, by the way!) at home, be sure to get at least a second horse soon - horses are herd animals, they need the company of other horses, ponies, or even donkeys or minis for their sanity, and the company of other species cannot fully replace it.

Love your horse as he is, don't set any plans or expectations for hem, don't try to see him in a set role - let him be Himself, and be Yourself around him, that is the first step to a trusting relationship.

Be sure to explore everything you can about horse nutrition to decide about the best diet plan for your horse as an individual. Stay clear from sweet feed.

Learn as much as you can about horse health ABC, the structure of their hooves, and giving basic medical attention, as well as being able to see the signs of common ailments and traumas. Observe your horse well to see when there is anything off. Trust your gut at all times!

The main thing might be - never stop learning, be patient, be confident and be honest to yourself. Good luck! :)
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I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
/James Wright/
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post #9 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 05:43 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Central Western NSW, Australia
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My tip comes from my own experience - don't rush things with him.

When I got my first horse, who I've since parted with due to what I like to call 'irreconcilable differences', I figured that since she was a dream to ride when I tried her, she'll be fine to ride straight away. Because of this, I landed myself in hospital on day two of horse ownership. Take at least a couple of weeks to get to know him before you get up in the saddle. Learn his quirks, how he moves, and be sure to keep an eye out for any injuries. My belief with my mare is that a slip in the float on the trip home injured her back, and my weight as a heavier rider was enough to cause her to misbehave, although a much lighter rider also had difficulties when I asked her to hop on during the fortnight that I was unable to ride. One thing we know for sure is that she wasn't the same horse I rode when I went to see her. The quiet, responsive young thoroughbred mare had turned into a headstrong, speedy OTTB. If I had of taken more time to get to know her, I feel that I would have noticed the changes without sacrificing my health.

But yes, photos are a must. I'm not an Arabian fan, but even I want to see him
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post #10 of 18 Old 12-13-2012, 08:15 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: New Hampshire
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My horse adventure took virtually the same path as yours, so I totally relate. I bought my first horse this summer, though had free leased her for about 2 years prior.

I do have a non-horse related question for you though, and I'm asking as a recent PhD myself. Where are you with your job search? Are you going the academic route, and how does that affect your spouse? I only ask because my husband is also a PhD, and a professor. I work for a research firm, not in academia, so I was pretty flexible in terms of where I could live, but my husband absolutely was not. In this market, he took the faculty job that was offered to him, even though it meant moving across the country. We love where we live, but not everyone gets so lucky. If you're on the faculty path, how confident are you that you'll end up somewhere where you'll be able to afford to keep a horse? I don't want to discourage you, but making it through the PhD program, while certainly an amazing accomplishment, is almost just the beginning, depending on what you want to do next. As I'm sure you know, if you want to be a professor, you could see several quick moves in your future as you work towards tenure, and I think you should really factor that in to your decision to get a horse now. Again, you know your plans better than internet strangers, but that's just what came to mind for me when I saw you were finishing up a PhD.

PS- Beautiful boy though, I can see why you love him!
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