Horseless In Colorado But Saving Up!
Hey everyone! My name is Cali and I'm horseless. I'm 23 years old and have limited experience with horses. As a child, I used to read horse novels up and down. I worked briefly as a stablehand at a local barn about 10 years ago, but I don't remember too much (memory problems from an accident in 2009). I'm sure the basics are stored in my brain somewhere but I just can't recall them.
Anyway, it has become a goal to acquire two to three equines. My current desire is to have a draft (probably a Belgian) and one or two miniature donkey jennys. Ideally, I'll only get one mini, but it would seem that having another donkey pal is most recommended. From my understanding, they are much like guinea pigs in that they do better in pairs or groups and you see some really interesting behaviors when they are around their own kind. I've just started serious research but have decided that I'll be looking for jennys at least 13 years old and perhaps seniors. I'll be looking for a gelding draft of at least seven years. I know that I'll be looking for traffic-safe, friendly, non-spooking, non-green, easy keeper, and trained beginner-level animals. The jennys will hopefully be trained in packing and the draft would need to be familiar with riding. I would consider some carriage experience as a plus.
I get the impression that donkeys in general are not as stubborn as believed if they are trained well and have an assured human. I also get the impression that despite drafts being called "gentle giants" in general, that they can and probably will be stubborn/pushy if they don't have a strong leader. I'm not sure if I will be, but I know I'll find out as I learn more about horses and their proper care. I don't think I'll be too intimidated by a huge horse after I learn what I can and can't do with a horse. I'll just have to watch those feet!
I am currently searching out possibilities for boarding, vets, and farriers because I know it can be difficult finding anything that is draft-appropriate. I'm also doing a separate search for the donkeys as I know their hooves need to be cut at a different angle.
Other than this, I am working on saving up at least $20,000 before getting any sort of equine and I'm going to be taking riding lessons this summer after I lose some weight. I don't imagine there will be many horses that can hold my 207 pounds without some strain. I am currently of the thought that I will end up getting the jennys first so that I have some experience in care and can work more on my riding level. Besides, I'm sure it will take a long while to find the "perfect" draft.
So, I just wanted to say hi and wanted to pose five questions:
Do you think I should wait to get the draft horse until I know how to ride, or find the horse first to learn on?
I know there is a trade school near me that teaches horsemanship. Do you think it would be worth taking classes just to expand my knowledge? I doubt I'll do horsemanship-related careers but may learn some interesting things.
Should I wait until after I get the equines to buy my toolbox of stuff? This would include tack, blankets, hoof care, sprays, ointments, etc. I know it's hard to size tack without having the animal measured, but other basic stuff?
Those with draft horses in boarding, what sort of pen/stall do you have to use? I was thinking a double pen would probably be the best option, though it will be expensive. Or perhaps pasture... I know Colorado tends to be more dry-lot than anything.
Lastly, should I be worried that a large draft will break the pen fences? I can't imagine how one would prep a smaller pen with electric wiring without having the horse afraid to move about a run.
Thanks for any answers. I'd love to meet some Colorado people too! I've been asking around offline for recommendations on trainers and stables, but suggestions from anyone here would be so much more helpful! I've spent a good week lurking here so far and see that there is such a wealth of information.