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How To Prepare Yourself For Horse Ownership?

This is a discussion on How To Prepare Yourself For Horse Ownership? within the New to Horses forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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        01-29-2014, 10:07 PM
      #21
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TrailTraveler    
    Wow, KatherineM! What a great thread you've started! Thanks for sharing this beginning of your journey with us.

    ECasey has given you some great ideas about where to start. I agree that it's a good idea to start with lessons. Call a barn and tell them what you'd like to accomplish. Hopefully, they'll start at the very beginning -- teaching you terminology, anatomy, a little about behavior; safety aspects - do's and don'ts; before moving on to haltering, grooming, "picking feet," etc. If you pick the right place, you'll be doing a lot of work before you ever tack-up and hoist yourself into a saddle.

    Leasing a horse is a good option for beginners who are primarily interested in riding and competing, but it sounds like you're committed to making a horse (or horses) a part of your heritage farm -- like ownership is primary. If this is true, and if riding turns out NOT to be your thing, you may want to adopt a "pasture ornament" -- a horse that is un-rideable due to an injury or soundness issue.

    I did a little poking around and discovered that "heritage" breeds of horses include Morgans and Mountain Pleasure/Rocky Mountain horses. Either would probably be good for your needs. There are plenty of others on the list that are less common (e.g., Caspian, Dales Pony, Dartmoor, Fell pony) and several Draft horses (Clydesdales, Shires, Belgians, Irish Draughts) that are going to be very large in size. I would consider those less desirable in your situation. You can google the breeds for pics and more information; or check out pricing/availability at sale websites like dreamhorse.com or horseclicks.com or equinenow.com.

    Good luck!
    Thank you all for being so welcoming and helpful to me.

    I am hoping to locate owners in my area and see if they will let me come out and learn first hand about the different breeds so I can do some research and get a feel for what would be a good fit for me as I obtain proper training and experience.

    Ownership is important to me, as I enjoy breeding quality animals. Quality animals require quality care, which I intend to be able to provide not only from myself, but qualified hired help, but that is well into the future. First and foremost, I would prefer a friendly horse companion animal.

    I do not expect riding to be my main thing when it comes to horses. Riding is something I would view as a luxury and pleasure. If the time ever came where a horse could not be rode or if I were injured and could not ride, I would still love and keep that horse because I value it's companionship first and foremost.

    Some of those horses are much cheaper than I expected. For breeding, quality animals command high prices. I was thinking something like $25,000 per horse. I would not trust anything that was too cheap, aka too good to be true.

    Like I mentioned prior, if I go all in on this, I want the best that is suited to my situation. I have no intention of making money from breeding and would in fact intend to keep the horses I breed. I expect it to be like any other animal, where you should be expected to afford, keep and care for any descendants your animals produce if you can not find them suitable homes and I am notoriously picky about who I let purchase any of my animals. I also breed strictly for quality and betterment of the breed. You do not get into breeding for money, you do it because you love to do it and you want to ensure the quality and legacy of any particular breed.

    When it comes to horses, I do not believe that I would want to sell them at all, but reserve them for myself and any children I may have between now and then and keep them as a family endeavor, should any children I have been keen on horse ownership, as I would never just shuffle responsibility over to someone else and after putting in so much time and effort, I probably could not part with such animals as I tend to grow rather attached.

    I think the draft breeds are beautiful. Those are the kind you see on the streets of Colonial town reenactments.

    I would adore horses like that.
         
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        01-29-2014, 10:13 PM
      #22
    Green Broke
    It's not often that people are so OPEN to learning as you are. It's a sight for sore eyes!:)
    beverleyy and KatherineM like this.
         
        01-29-2014, 10:14 PM
      #23
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KatherineM    
    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.
         
        01-29-2014, 10:20 PM
      #24
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cacowgirl    
    Since you will be in Tenn., check out some Walkers-trail ones, though, not the Big Lick show horses. Also try to read about Morgans-Lippets are like the foundation stock & they often both ride & drive. You will most likely tire quickly just riding on your property, so don't overspend on making a "track". After a few rides, most riders want to branch out & see new ground.

    I really read your posts, & see you are in Utah now & will move to Tenn & build your dream ranch after getting there. I bought my Morgan mare in Utah & I have seen Tenn Walkers for sale in most every state. So buy what you like, haul or have it shipped if necessary. A good horse & riding companion is priceless, no matter how little you pay for it. Please don't be turned off by a low price-paying a big price does not guarantee health, hardiness , or happiness w/your choice.
    Investing in a safe track I would think would be a huge investment and necessary, given my soon to be secluded location. I am not a traveler by preference. I picked such a location because I never want to leave the farm unless I have to. As such, the horses will be at this location and need plenty of space to enjoy, because I can not seem them going anywhere. Also, the whole thing about forest creatures. You never know what could be out there. Mountain lions, cougars, panthers etc. I need not only a large space, but a secure space. I would be devastated if my animals were the victims of predators.

    A nice, large and bland track is exactly what I have in mind. No leaps, no jumping etc., just a nice little track to ride gently in a circle in. Just a nice little pleasure ride, nothing fancy. I guess I must just be depressingly bland, but like I said, companionship and just spending time with the horse or horses is what I want most.

    I agree about having to have the horse and or horses shipped from the best source. There really is no price tag on a quality animal. While a big price tag does not guarantee health, I intend on learning everything there is to know about their health before purchase. I want the fully papered, registered, tested, x-rayed etc., kind of horse. Just like any other breed, it is always buyer beware. Due diligence is very much required.
         
        01-29-2014, 10:31 PM
      #25
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by its lbs not miles    
    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.
    Absolutely true!

    Real horse ownership is not like some fairy tale and is a daily, life long commitment.

    Those dreams and the reality of my situation and what is the right fit for me are two totally different things.

    If there is one thing I have learned, it is to NEVER buy an animal because you like it in the moment. You need to be truly responsible, because it is not a game. These are living, breathing, magnificent creatures that do not deserve to be subjected to the whimsy of an impulsive buy.

    That is why I intend to be very thorough in my own learning and to put the effort and time to find out if this is really for me or not and if so, at what level.

    I have all the time in the world to learn how to do this right and I intend to, because if not, then I simply would not be fit to own a horse.

    They are true blessings.
         
        01-29-2014, 10:57 PM
      #26
    Green Broke
    I am not an adventuresome person-I like working on varying the speed of each gait & getting the horse sensitive to my cues. I used to work my husband's horse, because the daily "foundation steps" bored him, (the dressage part of his 3-day event training), but I loved it. My riding partner now keeps pushing to take the (my) trailer out as she is bored riding in our area, but it's all new to me, so I want to get my bearings here. Besides, I'm concentrating on being one w/the horse, so the scenery does not matter to me at all. So, I totally get where you are coming from. I did show, also, as I had a stallion to campaign. And my previous husband liked jumping & cross country, so I got a taste of those also.

    Another place to get some horse experience is a therapeutic riding center. Good luck on your search & hope you find some good horse folks near you now, so you can start your journey.
    KatherineM likes this.
         
        01-31-2014, 11:55 AM
      #27
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KatherineM    
    I have always been around horses in one way or another. They are pretty inescapable when it comes to being on a farm. I have never disliked being around horses, but I never liked being up close with them, as I had a rather ridiculous fear of being trampled by large animals when I was little. That is no longer an issue.

    I've fed one and petted one before, but that is about it. I wouldn't exactly call that experience.

    I'm more concerned about general upkeep and daily chores. Animals require care and there is no way of getting around it. Even if I hired out the work, and I do plan on hiring some help so I can enjoy the good parts without so much of the unpleasant work like cleaning out stalls and such, what if that hired help was not available? What if my hired help got sick suddenly or if they quit without notice? I need to be prepared, willing and able to care for a horse on my own.

    I'm not shy of hard work, but I do not like the idea of taking on the care of an animal that I am not fully prepared for. Like my other animals, I know how to care for them and would be able to care for all of them on a daily basis if I had to do all of the work solo. I believe that I should not take on the responsibility of caring for a horse if I am not prepared to shoulder their care by myself in the event of emergency, or for any extended period of time as well.

    It seems like I need to read more into the different kinds of training available and to further deliberate on my ownership goals.

    It would be a shame to go out and purchase a beautiful, quality show worthy horse and not be an owner worthy of having such a creature.

    What good would it be to have such a magnificent animal, yet be so poor in skill that I would not be able to work with the horse and have it live up to it's potential?

    Training and preparing myself to own a horse is laying down a solid foundation upon which I can build and achieve what I want to achieve.

    It is important that I get this right.

    I need to get me some good books on the subject.

    Does anyone have some recommendations?

    Any books on the care of horses.

    I am biased toward Morgan horses, so all my recommendations would be geared towards them.

    Great to hear that you aren't starting from scratch, I sort of got that impression in your first post.

    I do have to say, that owning horses, is a lot like having kids. And to me, stall cleaning is an integral part of owning them, I tell my boyfriend, that cleaning stalls is my therapy. The smells and sounds of a barn while you're cleaning, there is nothing else like it.

    Good luck in your search and education!
    KatherineM likes this.
         
        02-01-2014, 02:42 PM
      #28
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 4hoofbeat    
    any books on the care of horses.

    I am biased toward Morgan horses, so all my recommendations would be geared towards them.

    Great to hear that you aren't starting from scratch, I sort of got that impression in your first post.

    I do have to say, that owning horses, is a lot like having kids. And to me, stall cleaning is an integral part of owning them, I tell my boyfriend, that cleaning stalls is my therapy. The smells and sounds of a barn while you're cleaning, there is nothing else like it.

    Good luck in your search and education!
    Do you know if there are specific requirements for certain breeds of horses?

    Much in the way that the care of a Persian cat, who requires a lot of brushing, is different from that of a Sphinx cat, who requires care to ensure their skin stays moist and healthy, I assume that different horses may require different kinds of specialized care.

    I like being in barns, except for when you run into the occasional spider.

    Cleaning up after animals and general labor involved in tending to such can be quite therapeutic. However, with my other intended animals, combined with the fact that I will have children someday, are certainly things to consider prior to ownership.

    I am trying to locate an owner that will teach me to tend and care for horses, so I can see if this is something that will work out for me or not.
         
        02-21-2014, 10:50 AM
      #29
    Foal
    I would like to get some estimates and recommendations from the members here in regards to the expenses involved in caring for a horse.

    Cost of feed and if it is possible for horses to live entirely from pasture and what they require and how many acres they need.

    Pre-Purchase Exam
    Saddle
    Bridle
    Saddle Pad
    Grooming Kit - What all should be in such a kit.
    Halter
    Lead
    Feed Tub
    Winter Blankets
    Worming
    Trim Costs
    Shoeing Costs
    Teeth
    Shots
    Grain - Should it be fed? Are they meant to eat grain naturally?
    Supplements
    Insurance
    Vet Fees

    Anything else I am missing.
         
        02-21-2014, 12:47 PM
      #30
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KatherineM    
    I would like to get some estimates and recommendations from the members here in regards to the expenses involved in caring for a horse.

    Cost of feed and if it is possible for horses to live entirely from pasture and what they require and how many acres they need.

    Pre-Purchase Exam
    I really have no idea but rough idea is a couple of hundred.

    Saddle
    Anywhere from $500 to $3000. You first need to decide your discipline as far as english or western. All my answers are western because that is what I ride. You also need to have your horse first because the saddle needs to only fit you but also your horse.


    Bridle
    For leather (nylon is cheaper) is $50 to $150.

    Saddle Pad
    $10 to $200

    Grooming Kit - What all should be in such a kit.
    Minimums is Brush, hoof pick, and curry comb. Maybe $20 for all 3.

    Halter
    Around $30 for nylon

    Lead
    $5

    Feed Tub
    $10 for a basic bucket to $30 for a small water trough

    Winter Blankets
    Maybe not neccessary if your horse is healthy and at a good weight, $100 roughly

    Worming
    $5 per time

    Trim Costs and Shoeing Costs
    Not typically separated, $30-$100 depending on location. Needed every 6 weeks or so.

    Teeth
    $50-$300 depending on who is doing it. Once or twice a year.

    Shots
    Probably couple hundred, typically given twice a year.

    Grain - Should it be fed? Are they meant to eat grain naturally?
    Huge can of worms, all kinds of debates. I feed grain all year long. In summer it is a handful to keep them coming up the gate daily so I can check on them and they don't become more wild. In winter, I am feeding one horse a handful because he doesn't need it and the other is getting 2 large amounts daily. A 50lb bag runs between $10 and $30. Right now, I go through 1 50lb bag about once a week. During the summer 50lbs last me months.

    Supplements
    Don't think it is typically needed, especially if feeding a grain that has the vitamins needed in it.

    Insurance
    None

    Vet Fees
    See shots, Coggins is typically $25 around here.

    Hay
    This one your forgot. Definitely need to feed during the winter months and in summer is going to depend on how good and how large your pasture is. I don't feed hay during summer unless it is a drought. A winter's hay will cost about $600 for the year.

    Cost of a pasture
    You said that you live in a wooded area. You are going to have to have that area cleared (if you get lucky and depending on the types of trees) you might find a lumber company that will cut all your trees for the cost of the wood. You still need to go in and clear the stumps. Then you will need to seed it with something that will grow well in your area. Grass seed is expensive. You will also need to fence it. Cost of this varies greatly with kind of fence. Wooden fences look the nicest and are most expensive. Woven wire works somewhat well for horses though they can lean across it and take it down. Electric is typically the cheapest and easiest to do.


    Most of the items here are 1 time or seldom (saddles, pre-purchase exams)
    I really think you need to find a stable, a horse rental place or something in your area to hang out with (if they are ok with that). You will pick up on this stuff very quickly.
         

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