I would like a horse for just light and pleasurable riding around a cleared track or ring or whatever else works for what particular breed is right for me.
This is where I get bogged down in the whole fantasy VS reality issue.
I THINK I want a pretty white stallion that I can ride on occasion and groom and love like in a fairy tale. I THINK I want a horse that I could, I think the term is 'drive' with a carriage, as I have this vision of riding off from my wedding in a carriage pulled by a horse, but fantasy and reality are two totally different things.
What I think I want and what I need can be two totally separate things!
Horses can live for many years and my life will no doubt change between now and then. I need a horse that I can literally grow older with. I need a horse that is going to fit with my lifestyle goals and level of ability. My farm is for a pleasure hobby and I intend to enjoy it indefinitely. Even if the horse were to be injured or old or any of those things, I would still want to keep him or her around for manure and company purposes.
This is a HUGE commitment to make. Not just time and resources, but emotionally and I need to be sure that this is right for me and that I am prepared to grow old with this horse or horses, because there is no alternative. For better or worse, this horse or horses will be my partner or partners until the day they die an old and natural death.
An animal is for life.
I would like to look into the possibility of horse breeding as well, as like my hobby farm, I enjoy conserving rare breeds for future generations to enjoy.
This is a huge commitment and I need to examine all angles and gain a great deal of experience well before purchasing an animal, which may be an option in a year and a half to two years from now after I have an appropriate area and experience.
The climate at this location is cool, neither hot nor humid, just right. I will have a house and a barn and even a pasture, but I figure that a horse is going to need at least five acres, a nice track to trot along for riding, stables, all kinds of equipment, plenty of food and probably tons of other things that I do not yet even know I will need.
Price is not an issue. I come prepared and knowing full well that this is not a cheap 'hobby', but something that is going to run at least $100,000 to fix up the area alone, plus whatever the horse will need for care annually and the cost of the horse or horses themselves, as breeding quality, show quality and quality horses in general do not come cheap.
This is a decision made not for profit or fortune, but for the love and pleasure of doing it alone.
Well, at least you're being realistic in looking for what it's going to be like, so I'll address getting ready for the reality. There is no way that anyone (even 20 people) will be able to give you all the insights that go into owning and keeping a horse properly. I'll suggest ways you can learn.
This may sound discouraging. Don't let it be. Everything I'm saying is just to be realistic. For the benefit of you and any potential horses that you get. These are just ways of preparing yourself.
1. Forget the "fairy tale" (Disney movies, TV shows, children's books, etc....). You'll quickly learn that all that's fantasy and not fact. Horses are all individuals. No matter what the breed you have 3 choices. Stallions, mares and geldings. Everyone will have their favorites and their reasons why. Over the past 46 years I've had all three, but that doesn't make my choices right for anyone else. Just right for me.
Horses are individuals (I'll say that a lot) so these are "general" statements to keep in mind.
Stallions will generally be either an incredible horse or the greatest nightmare you can imagine (really can't afford mistakes that might be "forgiven" or "corrected" with the others). They are the most intense of the three options and as such you have the smallest margin for error. They are not an animal that you can nap on during a ride
. One of the three most enjoyable horses I've ever worked with and rode was my father's TWH stallion that he bought as a 2 year old and had me train him for riding, but he had a great personality which I feel helped a lot. On the flip side I've seen more stallions that I wouldn't touch than any of the others. They are the physically strongest and mentally more intense. If they want to work for you they'll give more than a mare or gelding. If they don't they're the most dangerous. There's not much middle ground. My advice...if you're not going to be breeding then you don't need a stallion (and if you're no experienced you shouldn't want one). If you're not VERY familiar with horses I really would recommend NOT getting into breeding. I've done it (along with my family) and I won't get back into it. There are more than enough skilled breeders out there for every breed you can find and too many "backyard" breeders already.
Mare's are like a toned down stallion. They can have the drive and give you their all, but just not at quite the same level as a stallion (otherwise they'd have the same problems). Some can also have their "moods", but some don't. They are a safer bet then a stallion (not quite as powerful and a bit less intense). Great workers if well trained and handled well.
Geldings are the easiest of the three. They don't have the hormones fueling the stallions hardwired drive to mate or the hormones that cause some mares to get moody. They're pretty dependable at doing a job, but in general don't have the extra intensity (can still be intense enough). They're considered (justifiably) the easiest to deal with and generally the safest choice (if a horse can be considered "safe"....statistically they're more dangerous than motorcycles
2. Take a course in equine nutrition (one that covers how the equine digestive system works, not just what they need nutritionally). That will help you avoid many potential problems by keeping out things that mess up the digestion and things that create other problems like in the feet (e.g. never feed grain...extremely bad for the hindgut as well as causing issues with the feet). It's well worth the time to lean these things.
3. Before you start looking at breeds, trainers and the other things that you may or may not want, you need to find out if you really want deal with the work involved in simply having a horse. Find a local boarding facility or someone who owns some horses. Get to know the owner and ask if they have a couple of horses that they will permit you to take responsibility for taking care of (you make sure they have hay, groom them, take care of their feet, vet checks, etc..... the list gets LONG)
4. Since you're looking to take on a bit more than me (horses, chickens, a few goats and couple of pigs is enough for me...the Canada geese take care of themselves) I'll suggest that after you get into the routine of doing all the things involved with having horses (the other person's horses) you add the rest of the work load required by the other animals to your routine. Do this for few months and you'll have an idea of what you're looking at with this commitment.
5. Once you've done all this and you've established that you understand how to best manage the health of your horses, how to care for them and deal with the issues that come up (colic and feet being to biggest, but not the only things). Toxic plants, etc....
If, after this, you still want to own the horses, then you need to:
a) Decide what you plan to do. (pleasure trail riding, competitive trail riding, endurance racing, whatever type of showing you want to do, jumping, hunting, barrel racing, driving etc, etc, etc,). This can help you when taking into account what breeds of horse might work best for your needs.
b) Since you're new to all this find someone experienced with the activities that you're wanting to do with your horse(s) and have them help you select a horse (actually look at the horse with you). They can ride it and see if it's one that you might want (don't just fall in love with the first one you see....get what's best for you....use your head, not your heart).
c) If the person you use in b) is not a trainer that's going to work with you and the horse then find a good trainer.
Note: I'd suggest getting a horse already trained for the riding you want to do. Will make things easier on you, the trainer and the horse.
1-4 are important to help you in experiencing and finding out what it will require and what it's like to have horses. It's important to get through those before you look at 5.