First horse do's and don'ts? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 01:32 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2016
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First horse do's and don'ts?

Hello everyone! This late spring/early summer I will be bringing home my very first horse and I am beyond over the moon. I am currently searching and trying different horses, though I have my eye set on one in particular. I've been riding on an off for most of my life (I'll be 23 this winter) with most of my experience being trail riding in the mountains. I recently joined my school's equestrian team and am now lessoning four days a week as well as some additional rides on my own.

One of my big questions is, how does buying a saddle work when you're purchasing your first horse and don't have one yet? The horse I'm most hopeful about will not come with one, nor is there one available for purchase with him as he is on training board. I know how important saddle fit is, so I don't want to buy one now and then have it not fit and end up with an uncomfortable horse. Also, how do custom saddles work? Does one pay the saddler to come and measure or do they make their profit from the cost of the saddle? I'm so sorry if these seem like silly questions, but I've just realized I haven't a clue how buying a saddle works!

Also, if you had to come up with an "essentials for bringing home" sort of kit, what would be included in it?

So far I have on my list:

Custom leather halter (because when you've waited 15+ years for a horse of your own, would anything less suffice?!)
Lead (or 2)
Grooming kit (body curry, face/leg curry, flick brush, body brush, soft brush, hoofpick, hoof oil, mane and tail comb/brush, sponges, rag)
Fly sheet (I'm in Florida so this is essential)
Tack (saddle, bridle, few polo sets, boots, few pads)

Is there anything else that I would need for the first week/few weeks? Obviously I will acquire many more things overtime, but is that good to get me going?

Also, I've never boarded a horse, so how does it work when it comes to bathing supplies? Do barns normally supply shampoo/wash buckets/squeegees, or is that up to the individual owners? Do they normally supple a basic shampoo and then owners can choose to buy a shampoo to suit their particular horses?

Also, what is appropriate cross-tie etiquette? Obviously if I'm just having a grooming day with my beast and someone needs to hose a sweaty horse I would move without a doubt, but if I want to give my horse a spa day should I wait until there is a bit of a lull to barn traffic, or is it a free for all since we all pay the same per month?

Sorry if these seem like silly questions, I just want to make sure I'm being a nice barn-mate!

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 01:47 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jul 2014
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I've never boarded, but to add to the essentials kit, I would add a first aid kit that included blue-kote, a tri-biotic ointment, gauze pads and stat wrap at a minimum. You'll add to that over time. Also - I'd assume you provide your own shampooing supplies. And never have your horse in the wash rack if you aren't bathing him/her. If you're just grooming, find another place to tie up.

Courage is taking just one more step...
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post #3 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 03:28 AM
Join Date: May 2014
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Lunge line and whip. Not sure if barns provide this in the States but regardless, itís nice having your own so you donít have to wait or search all over.
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post #4 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 03:51 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: London, UK
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I just went through this process (still am!) as a newbie owner. I had ZERO idea what sorting a saddle was. I just rang a saddler and he came over. BUT what I didn't know was...

... that the saddle to fit comes bare and he had many options to try. So to properly try it I needed stirrups, girth and the leathers READY ON HAND. I had to buy all of that expensively on the spot otherwise I'd not have had the chance to sit in it. Also, I never would have even done that but the staff were very VERY adamant: DO NOT BUY A SADDLE WITHOUT TRYING IT (provided horse is trained and tested b4). The saddler was very eager to sell me a saddle without me trying it without much care. But the staff had such a strong opinion about wither and shoulder clearance both when in the saddle and out of it. The one I bought in the end needed adjusting but I wouldn't have known that at all...

I bought a really expensive headcollar and am scared to leave it in a shared yard for obvious reasons.Our tack room is with one other and left open all day during staff working hours. Yes there are staff and cameras but my stuff, and many others, aren't exactly on lock-down.

Lunge line! Don't wait to get one. Safer than any lead rope on new outings by foot. I like to walk mine like a dog to the park :P I have been advised not to use boots/wraps unless its actually deemed necessary from a physical standpoint with an actual benefit.

I have to buy all of my supplies. ALL OF IT. The only thing that they supply is hay, feed and bedding.

As for etiquette where I am it's first come first serve and you wait. Most people are nice though and will at the very least give you a time frame to return so the queue isn't jumped. Never leave a horse in cross ties. It's like a mantra and I've read the horror stories on here to not cross tie her ever, actually.

What I feel I need STILL:

- actual equipment as if it's out of hours I cannot clean out her stall (she's full board and mucked out daily regardless) if I feel like it. The staff lock all theirs away!

- SPONGES AND BUCKETS! One for her face, one for her bum and a BIG ONE haha. A bucket to wash her kit in and to never be used for drinking.

- a proper first aid kit locked with a combination code only known for emergencies to stop people pilfering.

- SCISSORS... jeez. So many times I needed a pair of scissors.

- a torch. Just because my phone never lasts.

Last note. ENJOY! It's incredibly exciting stuff <3
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post #5 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Ireland
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Congrats on your new horse! It's an amazing experience and I wish you luck with him.

When it comes to saddle fitting, never buy one beforehand as it most likely will not fit. I would advise asking a saddle fitter to come out (once you have the horse!) and give you the exact measurements for your horse. Make sure you have a girth, stirrups and stirrup leathers, a saddle pad/numnah and it's worth buying a half pad or borrowing someone else's, as many saddles fit better and are more comfortable for the horse with a half pad between the saddle and numnah. The saddle fitter will assume that you will have all of that on hand. (this is assuming you're looking for an English saddle; I don't know much about Western saddle or if they use half pads at all haha)

I would definitely get a second halter and lead rope! Even if you buy a really cheap set, those things go missing all the time and it's good to have a spare.

Mane and tail conditioner is a must-have for me! They usually come in a spray bottle, and are a life saver for knotted tails. Just spray the knots and work 'em out one by one.

Fly spray works wonders when you have to take off the fly rug and tack them up. I find the citronella ones are most effective, if you don't mind a lingering citrus scent everywhere you go, haha! The brand we get has a gel form as well, which we apply around the eyes and nostrils.

Anti-bacterial spray, because horses are always hurting themselves. You'll have to get used to checking him for heat, swelling or scratches on his legs every day, and if you find an open wound, provided it's small, you can spray this stuff on and prevent it from worsening. You can pick up a bottle in any pet shop or veterinary clinic.

And definitely a first-aid kit. Absolute necessity. Even if the place you're boarding at has one to share, it's a good idea to have your own.

It's best to assume that you'll need to buy your own wash equipment. And while there's a lot of horse shampoos on the market, it's cheaper and works just as well to pick up any old shampoo that you would use yourself. Keep it out of his eyes, ears and nostrils! We get conditioner for a silky tail, too. Having at least one bucket of your own is a good idea. When we used to board our horses, we could never find one when we needed it. Separate sponges for the face, bum and body! Use that spare halter when washing so the nice leather one isn't ruined.

Grooming in cross ties is fine. Never leave a horse unsupervised in cross ties. If the cross ties double as the only wash stall at your barn, it's probably best to groom and tack up somewhere else. We used to just do it in the stable.

Going to ditto scissors and a torch as Kalraii mentioned!

Best of luck with your new horse!
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post #6 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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In case you need translation from British/Irish to American . .

numnah: saddle pad
torch: flashlight

Boarding-specific advice -- things disappear. Even well-meaning folks will use your grooming supplies, borrow your halter, feed your horse treats, and all sorts of other stuff while you aren't there. They just do. So don't leave anything lying around. Keep your pretty halter locked up.

Saddle fitting is typically a giant pain in the rear. Do not expect it to be simple, brief, or inexpensive. It might be, but it usually isn't. Ask people who really know what they are doing for saddle fitter recommendations. Decide on a budget, and double that, and you'll be in the ballpark. Don't scrimp, you do not want to start out with a poorly fitting saddle. There are *lots* of extraneous things one can easily do without or go cheaper with, but not that one.

Short horse lover
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post #7 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Texas
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Things WILL go missing in a boarding barn - put your name on EVERYTHING and lock it up when you leave. In addition to scissors, I always want a sharp knife easily accessible - you never know when a disaster might strike and a lead rope need to be cut. Or you may just have a tricky package to open, lol.

Buy the saddle after the horse. Decide your budget beforehand, and CLEARLY explain your max to the saddle fitter - do NOT try on saddles outside your budget, as they will undoubtedly fit perfect and feel best and you will be heartbroken.

Definitely keep spare nylon halter & lead - both for washing, and for when your lovely leather one goes missing or breaks.

The horse's temperament will decide if spa day will be fine or a disaster on busy days. Be respectful of others, and don't camp out for a full body clip in the only wash stall if other boarders are waiting to rinse off sweaty horses.

If someone needs to pass your cross-ties, the polite thing to do is unclip one side and move over, then resume your business.

~Reserved Cash, 2011 AQHA gelding~
~Lark, 20-something Arabian mare~
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post #8 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Bonners Ferry Id.
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I know for my horses, a custom fit saddle would be a waste of money. Right now they are fat and out of shape. By this fall they'll be muscled up and a completely different shape. I've found some really well built saddles (Ray Holes) that fit any of my horses or even mules, year around, without any problems.

There is one problem, they often cost more than the horse.
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post #9 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 11:04 AM
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Location: Western Massachusetts
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Ditto on the knife. I have a multi-tool I keep on my belt. Endlessly useful.
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Short horse lover
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post #10 of 25 Old 04-05-2018, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2016
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As for the knife, I was always recommended NOT to get a folding knife. Stationary only.

A dog may be man's best friend,
but the horse wrote history.
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