Should you OWN a horse?
I may get bashed for this, possibly even kicked off the forum, but I am sick and tired of reading all the posts about people who can't afford to call the vet, can't afford to hire a trainer, or any of the other hundreds of things a horse requires. Domesticated horses are 100% dependant on us, as their owners. They require a healthy diet, routine farrier visits, annual shots, dentals, clean shelters, safe pastures, fresh water, and YES, they can and WILL require emergency veterinary care. Owning a horse is not akin to owning a dog that can share your home, be a good pet, and sustain fairly easily. Horses are creatures that have not evolved to integrate themselves into human lives. We must integrate into theirs.
Do you really understand the responsibility you are taking on when buying that $100 horse, or taking that unwanted horse from your friend? I fear that many of those owners who dream of going on trail rides and having an equine best friend, have absolutely no clue what level of care their new family member requires. When you run into a problem, who will you call for help? If you don't have enough money in the bank to pay the vet at 2:00 am when your horse is colicking, or hire a trainer when your best friend has learned to take total advantage of you, then you have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS OWNING A HORSE!
Everyone on this forum loves horses. We all started with fantasies when we were kids about having our own horse. We took lessons, spent countless mornings waking up at 5:00 am to work at the barn, just to have extra time with the horses! We fed, cleaned up after, and cared for numerous horses under the supervision of people who knew what they were doing. THEN it's time to contemplate owning your own horse. Only after we understand their needs, understand how to handle them, diagnose them (or at least know when to call the vet), know if your farrier is a good one or not, and knowing when your horse's training issues' require the help of a professional, can we even consider taking on the priviledge of owning our own horse.
Think you're ready?? You'd better be sure, because you're best friend's life depends on it.
COMPLETELY AGREE!! Before I bought my horse, I sat down and budgeted everything and made sure I could afford it. Of course I may make cuts here and there, like doing my own vaccinations instead of calling a vet, but that's not sacrifcing quality of care in any way, just saving my wallet from drying up ;)
I agree with horses are like small children, more than they are animals. What can happen, will happen.
I started when I was 10 years old... Drove my parents crazy for years until one day, I picked up the phone book and called stables to make an appt for a lesson! For nearly two years after that, I spent every single day at the barn taking lessons, working 8 hrs a day on weekends, summer camps, clinics, etc. I leased a horse for a year and THEN my trainer told my parents I was ready to buy a horse. I read everything I could get my hands on even before I started taking lessons to learn about riding and their care. I worked as a groom / stable hand for ten years after that in big & small barns, even racing barns. I just get extremely frustrated when people don't devote the time and energy into learning and understanding horses before taking one into their care.
Hey, horses make all of us broke! I haven't bought myself new clothes for work in longer than I can remember. But, if Danny needs ANYTHING, we find a way to pay for it. That's our responsibility as his owners...
Great post; and I completely agree. Bravo!
However, and this is a *big* however - what is the mission and purpose of this board? Is it just a place for experienced horsepeople to network, or is part of its purpose to educate the novice and backyard horse owner?
IF part of the purpose is education (I'm assuming it is, because a lot of members and posters are novice and BYOs) then how do we best reach that audience? We can't educate them if we alienate them first. (I am guilty of this; having recently expressed my frustration in a thread.:oops: ) This folks aren't going to get rid of their horses because someone, particularly someone on the internet, tells them they're not responsible enough to have one.
What's the best way to help these novice and BYOs *and* their horses?
Thank you, luv. Excellent post.
May I also add, just because you have a mare doesn't mean you NEED to breed her, especially if you're completely new to horses or too poor/stupid to get her proper prenatal and post natal care.
If someone's stallion 'accidentally' covers her, get the vet out to give her a shot and get rid of the foal. You don't HAVE to make her go through pregnancy and foal out in your 1/2 acre dirt lot, with your nasty round bale of cow hay that's her only source of nutrition.
Foals aren't just adorable, they're a major responsibility and a very expensive one at that. Besides, who besides you is going to want your 'kyoot' foal when it grows into a fugly, ill conformed, done nothing, rank adult? Oh that's right, the kill buyers!
Maura, the noobs who really want to learn aren't the ones coming on here asking questions and then ranting because they're not getting the advice/training/medical recommendations they want, or having a tantrum about not having any money and dismissing out of hand any suggestions that they call a vet/farrier/trainer.
If people truly want to learn about horse keeping and how to be responsible, their first step should be trying to research as much information as possible before they bring home that auction special.
I know I never would have been prepared to bring my boys home if I hadn't had many years of experience working in and around barns and farms, and paying trainers to teach me the basics and beyond.
I didn't work out feed. Had no idea what a horse ate. I fed him about 50lbs of grain per week. It cost about seven dollars a bag. I bought 1 bale of hay per week. (he was on 30 acres of grass). When I pulled the sheet off a few months later I was shocked. He was GORGEOUS! He'd gained a ton of weight but with the weight came attitude. I brought him home with an old halter and a $2 lead rope. I was riding him bareback with baling twine.
I took $125 to a local auction and bought a saddle/bridle kit that came with a girth for...$125. I did not know anything about shots so the first few years the only "shot" I got was a coggins because you needed that for shows. I asked some friends about teeth floating... they said "You'll know if he needs them done". So no teeth floats for years. (he has a terrible wave mouth and should have gotten them at least twice per year) I got his feet done once or twice a year but that wasn't as neglectful as you'd think because my farrier now will skip him on occassion because he wears them down on his own.
He had this spot on his cheek that used to sweel up huge, then a hole would open up and puss would drain. It happened for years. One vet told me it was a man-made hole for sinus drainage. I went with that. (YEARS later it turned out he had a tooth that had rotted. When it stopped draining - the toothe had died).
After I'd had him for a good five years or so I moved him to a boarding facility where I learned about shots and proper hoof care. Now I'm someone that was ALWAYS in a lesson program. You do NOT learn horse care in a lesson program.... Or I should say in alot of lesson programs.
I never had much money but I spent everything on him and when he was sick or hurt, my parents paid the bills on him. I did not have 2 nickles to rub together and looking back he received minimal care but I bought him at 3 and last month he turned 26. I love him now, I loved him then. He taught me how to care for a horse. He taught me more then you could ever imagine. Not sure what my point is...
Maura, yes, this forum absolutely should promote education to the new and inexperienced people joining the horse world. However, I cannot ever condone individuals buying a horse, getting in over their heads, then coming to this forum for advice because they can't afford to call a vet or hire a trainer. The internet is not a replacement for professional services. I am more than happy to discuss with and help those who are learning, but not when they refuse to take advice such as "your horse is in a severe medical state and must be seen by a vet" and their response is "I don't have the money for a vet (or trainer, or dentist). I often wonder if the "I can't afford it" excuse is simply a cover up for "I don't want to call someone out, I want to do it myself." or "I don't want a vet/trainer/farrier/dentist to see the condition my horse is truly in."
Speed Racer, I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment as well! I have never been too close to the breeding aspect of the horse world, but only shake my head and think of all the unwanted horses in this country that end up neglected or being shipping out of the country. Same mentality as all the back yard breeders of puppies that end up at the shelter.
I'm really not trying to be blantanly rude, I'm just tired of holding my tounge and playing nice!!!
Farmpony, I love your story... I think a lot of people have those types of intentions when getting into this, but those intentions often quickly fade. I'm really not trying to say that people without money shouldn't have horses, it's more about the mentality of it. You can be broke and still do everything for your horse (you may just have to live on rice and water in the mean time). You can have limited experience and seek out every opportunity to learn from those around you. It's the new owners who do not have the knowledge and do not have any interest in acquiring the knowledge. Owners who don't have a clue (for lack of a better term) and would prefer to stick with the fantasy of horse ownership than come to terms with the reality of horse ownership.
Well, according to this I shouldn't own a horse. That sucks, but you won't see me selling my horse because a bunch of people on an online forum think I shouldn't. No offense to anyone here, just saying.
We can't afford to call the vet out everytime our horses have a sniffly nose or a cough. Our horses get their hooves done when they need to be. They get yearly shots. They are fed and cared for. They don't go without anything they need and they are watched for carefully - when something is up we watch them until they are better or until it's time to have the vet out, so no, I'm not going to go run and list my horse for sale because I can't afford thousand dollar vet bills - if it happened, we would figure something out, but it hasn't. I am aware that someday it will and when that day comes, we'll figure it out.
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