I know I'm not the only one here who doesn't own or loan her own horse, but who instead rides a lesson horse at her stables. I often get a little frustrated that I can't ride as often as I'd like, and I was considering the pros and cons of being in this situation. What are yours?
No mucking out! I don't have to do the dirty work all day every day.
It's a safe horse and I can switch around for one suited to my current abilities. There's no danger of being committed to a horse that isn't at your level, and you get the opportunity to ride different horses and so learn more about them and your own riding.
It's less expensive than owning a horse ... well, that bit's debatable when you consider that you do a lot less riding.
You only get to ride once or twice a week! My lessons are half an hour long, and waiting for the next one gets unbearable at times :( The horsey itch is difficult to scratch!
Lazy old lesson horses who know every trick in the book. The horses we ride are often used for beginner lessons too. They're used to riders who are just learning how to sit on a horse and trot. They also know how to get away with being as lazy as possible. You have to try and wake them up and get them behaving from the moment you get on - and that can be really tough at times!
No consistency. Because they have many different riders each week, of varying abilities, you can't build up a consistent response to your aids or do that much 'training'. While the horses are well-trained enough to understand what's being asked of them, you can't build up a sensitivity to the way you ride. As a sort of corrollary from that, they're typically not as well-muscled for more advanced things such as lateral work, and because of that and not getting much practice at it, they do find it harder.
Bonding. The horse isn't yours, you don't get that special bond owners talk about.
Grooming and taking care of them. At my stables, at least, you can't have any old volunteer dropping by to help. Anyone who does any work at the stables has to be trained by them to ensure the horses are getting the best of care. This means I can't really drop by and groom a lesson horse and spend some time with them.
Money! I have to pay £25 a time to ride right now!
Practice. Because we don't get to ride so often, and when we do it's in a lesson and we want to get our money's worth and do something interesting, we don't often get the opportunity to just spend an hour working on the basics or plain old enjoying our riding.
So, what do you guys think about this sort of thing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of just riding in lessons without your own horse? If there was one small thing you could change about your current set-up, what would it be? Is the situation a workable one for you, a necessity, or something you're desperately trying to get out of?
I know us guys might be a minority on this forum, but I do think it's an interesting thing to discuss :) For me, this is the only situation I can be in right now - I've asked about loaning, worked hard to get to a point where I could for the last few weeks of my holiday, and now all the big horses are already out on loan. And soon my riding will be even more restricted when I go to uni. But, for all the frustrations, this probably is the best situation for me apart from a working livery loan: it's not too expensive for me, I get a couple of lessons a week at the moment, and at least I am getting to do something I love! Riding like this is infinitely better than not riding at all.
You know, I think your list is right on! Although, I wouldn't mind doing all of the dirty work. I hate the inconsistence with the lesson horses, it's been hard for me to develop trust with the two that I've ridden.
My husband has been bucking my decision to buy a horse... sooo.. I dunno.
Gosh, I was in that same spot my whole life up until this January. I wanted a horse SO BAD, but it was unrealistically expensive since I lived in town, and would have to board. I took lessons here and there, but it got so expensive, I couldn't stick with it long enough to get really good at anything.
I got married, moved down to where my husband lives, which is out in a farming community, and WHAM! "Hey Katie, I know this guy who is giving away a free horse!" I was like, FREE HORSE???? That is totally unheard of where I used to live...
So now I am the owner of a fantastic mustang gelding, and learning all the pros and cons of horse ownership!!!!
Having to deal with all the fun things like thrush, fungus, flies, and fear of horse-eating wal-mart bags, trailers, dogs, and lurking cows in the pasture....
Being able to work consistently and develop a relationship with my horse, so I can know exactly when things are normal or not
Being able to just ride whenever the heck I want, and not pay $30+ a ride!!!!
But of course, I really have it made....the family I married into has plenty of land and 3 other horses, so Rowan wasn't a problem to add to the collection! If I can't get out to see him, I know he is being well taken care of, since my ten-year-old cousin-in-law is horse crazy and would probably sleep out in the pasture with them if she could. Haha!
I've had horses most of my life, and had them at home, and I also boarded too. The major complaint I always had was dealing with stupid and ignorant barn owners.... after warning the barn owner that they were over-feeding too much rich feed (pure alfalfa and sweet feed and way too much of it) that the horses were going to colic (the barn ownre's wife actually asked what colic was...grrr....), I am of the opinion that unless you can have your horse at home, it is hard to find a decent stable to board at......and, yes, two horses colicked shortly after I warned the idiot barn owner, and one of those horses was my mare (this was many years ago). But, the pros usually outweigh the cons, depending on where you keep your horse....and there are some knowledgeable and decent barn owners out there somewhere....lol.
I got my first horse last year after about 2 years of lessons but then she colicked this June and we had to put her down. So I know how different it is between owning a horse and not.
Not Owning a Horse:
Don't have to worry about your horse getting injured or sick.
Can go on vacation any time you want without having to worry about your horse.
Don't have to worry about leaving the house when it's 10 degrees with a foot of snow.
Don't have that bond.
Can't stop by anytime just because you were in the area.
Can't go to shows unless instructor allows you to take lesson horse.
Can't trailer to trails unless instructor allows.
Pro for NOT owning a horse:
>Expense. You do not have to worry about an expensive board bill every month, you don't have to worry about the vet bills or price for routine vaccination/wormings, you don't have to worry about
>the market. If you own a horse that you do not get along with(not all are precious gems) and want to sell, you have to go through the trouble of marketing and showing them to tire kickers and so forth. Nothing sucks more than buying a horse you later find you don't get along with.