Thoughts for first-time horse owners
I've been thinking alot about this lately and thought that maybe it would be nice to share. I am a first-time horse owner myself, I have owned my first and current horse about three years now. Like many kids, I plunged into it thinking that "I knew horses." Well, I was wrong. I WISH that I had been patient and done REAL research before buying a horse. Yeah I skimmed through some books and looked at the pretty pictures. But that's really not enough. My horse and I have had some extreme ups and extreme downs, and grey areas of both in the middle. But many of these downs could have been prevented if I just prepared myself properly.
My advice to anyone who is thinking about purchasing their first horse: research. Here I am now, deeper into my passion than when we first bought Rusty and I feel like I'm just now really starting to learn about horses and about him. Sure, I knew basics. But basics will not get you a well developed, trusting relationship with your horse. Also, if you're going to board a horse, make sure you like the place and people because the environment and people play a HUGE role in your experience. That has been one of my obstacles. I can get social anxiety as it is and keeping my horse around people whose personalities conflict with mine in the past has caused me to avoid being around them and consequently, him--making me miss out on crucial bonding time. He's at a much more open facility now and I am able to see him whenver I want which is nice, but it hurts to know that I still haven't established myself as a true, trustworthy leader. I think he sees me as having a high ranking, but not always above him. Kind of like, battling for the same spot as the leader. Maybe it's because I am unsure of myself and he can read that?
I wish that I would have read about horse behaviors, natural horsemanship, training, bonding, anatomy, illnesses and really understood it all before I bought my horse. Sure, I read a little bit, but definitely not as much as I have now and sometimes I feel like it's too late. They say a horse will always forgive you if you work hard enough at it...I feel like I've been absent for a lot of my horse's time with me, not just physically, but mentally too. I'm just recently, as of last spring, really starting to develop a better state of mind and it's obvious that he still really doesn't trust me.
So this may sound morose but on a positive note I am in the process of gaining more knowledge, asking questions, and just hanging around my horse. I was with him for like 6 or 7 hours straight daily for a week while we moved him to his new home. And I've been coming out 3 times a week now that school is back in session. We've been braving the trails--something very new to him still. I'm doing trial and error and trying my best to be consistent with him. But anyway, to anyone who wants to buy their first horse, it has the potential to be a completely magical experience. The fate of your experience with your horse is about 20% up to the horse and the rest is in your hands. So with that remaining 80%, use it wisely! Educate yourself. Gain experience. Watch videos, read books, watch movies. Talk to other horse people that you know. Spend a lot of time with the horse you are interested in before buying. Be confident in yourself and with the horse. I used to really think that a horse couldn't read my mind and that I was safe in my own thoughts. Now, I can see that horses can definitely sense your feelings!!! Sure, they can't tell if you're thinking "Oh I want to go home and eat pizza right now." But they sure as heck can tell when you're worried about being near their back end, or you're afraid of taking control in the saddle, or if you're confused about how to handle a particular situation. You might as well open up to your horse, get it all out in the open, and go about being yourself so your horse doesn't get confused about who you really are. And remember, if you are afraid or confused about it--your horse will be too! That's why I believe fearless horse crazy little girls or boys tend to have the most magical bonds with horses. So if you can keep a little bit of that fearlessness and horse crazy love, you're at a good start.