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!