Thinking of getting your own horse?
It seems that a lot of new riders will get a horse within a year or two of starting to ride and then hit upon problems.
Here are some useful tips on many of the pitfalls - remember horses have been around a lot longer than cars, we all know what tricks there are to fixing cars! There are as many tricks and more to passing on a horse that is not as described!
To make sure you are ready for your own horse ride as many different horses as you can. Riding the same horse every time is not going to teach you anything about quirks of different horses.
It is no good asking "What breed?" there are as many differences between each animal of the same breed as there are in breeds themselves. Go for temperament rather than breed, colour, registration or anything else.
Just because you are over 5'5" does not mean you need a tall horse. Mark Todd at 6'2" was very successful internationally riding Charisma who stood 15.3. William Fox Pitt is 6'6" and rides 16.2 horses equally as successfully.
When you do start looking for a horse be honest with yourself as to your ability. Just because you once jumped 3'6" on a schoolmaster does not mean you are ready to ride a green young horse that is jumping the same height.
Always go to see the horse. See it in the stable, in the field, being ridden and ride it yourself. Take someone along with you that knows your riding ability and is very experienced with horses. If you can see the horse more than once. Ride it in the arena and out on trails. See if it is barn sour by riding it away from other horses and away from the barn. Have the vendor prove it is traffic proof, handle the horse in and out of the stable.
Ask what it is like with the farrier and to clip, load and ask about any health issues.
Some sellers will allow a horse to go on trial. Personally unless I know the buyer well, I will not allow this, any trial on or around the local area is fine but I will not risk a horse going off with someone I do not know.
Always have a horse vetted. Try to be present when this happens. I have known horses to have mild sedation when tried, then they vet goes along and the horse is dope free but ridden by an experienced rider and passes all health tests.
Ask the vet to draw blood when he examines the animal. One phial is given to the vendor and the other the vet takes. Both are labeled and initialled by vet and vendor. If the horse goes lame or is of very different characteristics to when you tried it, or goes lame, you can have the blood tested for either dope or pain killers.
If you are keeping your new horse at a livery barn then make sure that the staff are willing to help you. Continue to have regular lessons there is to much to learn to think you can manage on your own!
If you are keeping a horse on your own then again continue with the lessons. Make sure that you know a lot about the care and of maintaining manners on that horse. You can only do this if you have been use to handling a lot of horses.
Never be afraid to ask for help.
Owning a horse involves a lot of commitment as well as expense but the rewards can outweigh everything else.
I am sure many others have more to add.
Surround yourself with great horsemen. Trainers, riders, owners, farriers, and vets.
Take a trainer or experienced horseman when you go to look at a horse. Make sure it is someone who can tell you honestly whether or not you can handle that horse. (Some people will give in to your feelings if you fall in love with a horse that is totally inappropriate. Do NOT bring these people along.)
Look for a horse finished in the discipline(s) you want to do. A well-trained horse will teach you far more than any person ever could. But along with training, the horse must have the proper temperament. Keep that in mind.
As far as "which breed", breed doesn't matter, but type might. For example, if your main goal is trail riding, you want the same type of horse that the people you will be riding with have. If they ride gaited horses, and you get a stock horse, it will not be a lot of fun. The reverse is also true.
Nice thread Fox Hunter.
My entire business revolves around fully preparing kids and adults to be responsible horse owners. Many of my clients already had horses when they began my program, and all were surprised at how much you need to know to responsibly care for a horse. One had taken lessons for a year and had owned a horse for a year before coming to me and they were blown away at how many things they were missing even though they loved their horse and wanted the best for him. Here are some issues I have found to be common over the years:
Tack Fit: I met one client and on the first lesson found that their saddle was much too wide for the horse and pinching. I asked who had fit the saddle and they replied "we just went to the tack shop and bought a saddle we liked" Not all saddles fit all horses, buy the saddle for the horse, not the other way around, and take someone who understands saddle fit to help you make sure it does fit.
Th same can be said for bits. I had a student who had trouble turning her horse. He did not move off your legs or neck rein, yet he had a big curb bit with a solid mouthpiece (because it 'looked' western) We switched to a snaffle and she was able to communicate to her horse much more effectively.
Nutrition: Overweight horses are actually worse than underweight horses. It increases the risk of Laminitis, cushings and other health concerns. Learn to judge your horses' body condition and keep track of your horse's weight fluctuations.
Hoof Care: In my neck of the woods, a barefoot trim costs $45 every 6-8 weeks. A farriers job is very specialized, and should be left to the professionals. You can very seriously hurt your horse with a bad trim. You can stretch ligaments, trim too deep, trim unevenly, or in unbalance your horse. Not all horses need shoes, it depends on the work the horse is to do, and where that horse needs to work. Boots are an alternative to shoes, and some don't believe shoes are healthy for horses. Some believe horses need shoes if the work requires it.
Consider leasing a horse before buying! Still has many of the benefits without as many costs. A good step between taking lessons and horse ownership.
Can this get stickied? I think it will help people in this forum. We can all add things over time too.
Also, learn everything you can get your hands on about horses. Trawl the internet, order magazines, go to the library, chat to professionals...
I have every book in my regions library system on horses and horse welfare. I advise you do the same.
Just a couple of ideas from all my years...
Everyone talks about how expensive it is to own horses, but I've rarely seen a buyer look at or ask about what can be the two most expensive parts of horse ownership when looking at a possible purchase. First, look at the feet (or have a farrier do it). Second, look at the diet. A 'low maintenance' horse that has good feet and a simple grass/hay diet will save you a ton of $$s over one that you're giving all your $$s to the vet, farrier, and feed store.
Consider paying more up front in the purchase to get a well trained and maintained horse. Everyone loves a $500 'deal' until they need to send it for a month of training. You'll save $$s in the long run if you don't have to fix someone else's problems, and you'll enjoy your horse a lot sooner.
Consider skipping the individual sellers and buying from a well established breeder that has a good reputation and has been in business for a long time. You'll pay more, but their word of mouth reputation is the core of their success. They will evaluate your riding and skill, ask about your expectations, and will notsell you the wrong horse for you. If they don't have something that they think is a good match, they'll tell you that.
Lastly, consider a brood mare that had had a good performance record. Often a breeder has more than recovered their investment and these 12+ year old mares can be bought for a good price. Even though they haven't been worked hard for a few years, they have not forgotten their training. After all, these mares were picked for breeding for a good reason. We obtained a 'bombproof' penner broodmare that become our 'go to' lead trail horse from the day she stepped off the trailer. She's 19 now and still the quickest, most consistent riding horse in our herd. Best investment we ever made.
Go see multiple horses! Don't just settle for the first one you see, even if he's really the one you want. Give other's a chance, you never know!
Don't let gender be a deal breaker, well besides stallions. Many people say mares are moody and mean. It's no so. Look at horses gender neutrally, if it comes down to two then you can pick mare or gelding. You can really miss out on a great horse by excluding a whole gender!
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