New to owning a horse, help!
My name is Sarah, and while I have long loved horses and even have some experience riding, I mostly know nothing about them, really. HOWEVER, as of saturday I am getting my first horse. A local man was giving away his horses, he is 75 years old and feels as though he cannot get around well enough to properly provide his horses with the TLC they require so he was looking for people who would take care of them. A mutual friend of ours suggested me and my boyfirend as one of the takers. We have a small barn and 40 acres so we gladly accepted the offer. The horse we are getting is a white mare, about 15hh.....and is pregnant! I am hoping we have not bitten off more than we can chew, but i have purchased several books and have a friend near by who breeds and sales horses who is willing to offer advice as much as she can. However, I found this forum and am open to any advice I can get right now.
Thank you for your time and attention in advance!!
For a first time horse owner, you have definitely bitten off more than you can chew.
However having someone who is experienced with horses (especially foaling, colts, etc) will be helpful. What are your plans for the resulting foal? What is the breed of the mare/the stud? Were they registered? If so, I would recommend registering the resulting foal.
I would start talking to your friend and get a reliable vet now. How far in her pregnancy is the mare? She will need special nutrition and veterinary care while pregnant (as will the resulting foal) and you will want to get an idea of her needs.
Will your friend be there to help with training/handling of the colt and mare (if she needs it. Is she broke?)
What is your set up like at the barn? Definitely check all your fences and your fields. If there is something to escape through/fall into/etc a horse is going to find it.
Will the mare be alone or will there be any other horses with her?
Good for you for taking in a horse in need :)
I would highly suggest reading up on a lot of basic ground manners. Obviously since the mare is pregnant, you wont be doing much riding at first. Some of the most important things about owning a horse (basics) are as follows:
1. A horse is NOT a dog. If you bought it to feed it treats and just let it get away with everything, you WILL have a handful.
2. Horses are herd animals, and they will constantly test to see if you are their leader, or their subordinate. Do not be afraid to let them know who is boss
3. Hitting a horse will not kill it. Obviously you don't want to beat the thing, as they are a LOT stronger than you will ever be, but you need to make sure the mare understands that you are her leader.
4. If you EVER doubt you can handle something, call someone to help you or call a trainer that can give you pointers.
5. Nipping is not cute. Dont let a horse nip you. Thats not a cuteness in the horses mind. Its a way to dominate you. And it can quickly turn to biting, which can crush/break bones. NOT CUTE!
6. Horses have a short type of memory, like dogs. Therefore it will not understand why you are punishing it for something it did 5 minutes ago.
I follow a rule set out by a trainer named John Lyons. If a horse bites, kicks, pins his ears, or turns his or her butt to you in blatant disrespect, you have 3 seconds to make that horse regret it. (RULES: NEVER hit a horse in the head, never ever do damage to the horse, and stop after 3 seconds)
7. Get an equine vet and a farrier set up NOW. The last thing you want to be doing is looking for a vet/farrier in case of emergency. Have both and talk to them tellling them of your situation. They have priceless info and can help greatly in the care of your new horse.
8. Read the forum, especially those dealing with horse diet and basic respect/training. There is a lot to learn but it can be done. Everyone starts off as a beginner at some point.
9. Get some horse friends to help you out. Its always easiest to learn from someone personally rather than on a computer.
Sorry for the novel, there is so much to learn. I just put some basics of horsemanship that I thought important to remember. You will be okay as long as you do your research, ask questions, and take proper care. Remember, ignorance is no excuse on why a horse is not taken care of properly. YOU are responsible for her and the baby.
Good luck and keep us updated :-P
We already have a vet lined up that specializes in livestock. And yes my friend will be available to assist with training/handling the horses.
As far as my barn and fences, our barn is small, we have 3 stalls, my bf use to keep donkeys, one of the stalls is open.... the fencing we are putting up is welded no-climb livestock fence with t-posts, 5ft high. We have thought about barbed wire too, but am not sure of the potential danger that may present to the horse.....
Lakotababii, thank you for all the pointers and enouragement!! I am very excited but also nervous!
As far discipline for a horse is concerned there seems to be a couple of different opinions, I have read a lot that you should NEVER strike a horse, but others, obviously, feel differently. Could you elaborate a bit more as far as how you go about setting boundaries and responding to defiant behavior??
Barbed wire and horses, especially baby horses, do not mix. That is a very large and costly vet bill just waiting to happen.
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A good smack with your hand isn't going to hurt the horse, just alert them that what they did was wrong. Of course, not on the face or head, which was mentioned.
If you could get some more information about the horses from the owner, that would be ideal.
As far as making them respect your boundaries, getting their feet moving is usually quite effective. The only time I really feel the need to hit is if they nip or barge into me. Usually though asking them to bend, disengage their hind end, or move off of pressure is usually really effective. A good wack in the chest, when used immediately can be effective.
Well in order to set boundaries you need to do some reading up on what is considered aggressive behavior and what to look for. Usually if a horse breaks one of those boundaries you set them back in line by 1. Making them move their feet. Horses are lazy animals and will more than likely give in to make it easier on themselves. 2. Putting them back in place (literallly) or 3. (and this is only for true aggressive acts like biting or kicking) hit them in the chest.
So for example lets say you walk into the horses stall and she turns her behind to you. That is BLATANT disrespect, and most beginners do not realize it. You MUST make her move her hind end. The way I usually do it is grab a crop and tap (and I mean LIGHTLY tap) her hind end to get her to realize "hey thats not acceptable." Also, cluck at the horse to get her attention and let her know you want her face, not her butt. If she still don't move ill tap a little harder. Most horses get it after that.
Another one would be nipping. When a horse tries to nip, I will usually wave my arms all around and make a ruckus. Then they think "oh lord shes crazy!!" lol well maybe not that but they get that its not a good thing to nip.
If that don't work I will "kill them with kindness" Rub their nose, chin, lips and face. Hard enough to make it annoying. This will get them to understand "hey thats not cool, when I nip she won't leave me the heck alone!"
horses are smart animals, and it takes a lot of common sense and practice to know how to respond to one properly. Trial and error works to an extent. It also depends on the horse. Like I said, do your research, it will be helpful.
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