Just starting out...so overwhelmed! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Just starting out...so overwhelmed!

My son, who's 11, just started taking horseback riding lessons last May. It looked like so much fun that I started taking lessons myself yesterday. I had horses as a kid, but I rode Western (actually mostly bareback) and just did trails, fun shows, etc. Our lessons are in English and it's a whole different thing! I really had a great time yesterday and I can't wait for the next lesson.

My son is very into his lessons and is progressing well. It's time to start thinking about a horse of our own, but I feel SO overwhelmed by it. We are going to start with leasing at first, because that is marginally less overwhelming. We actually found a barn to board at, and even a free lease situation (we'd pay full board). That barn had a horse I could shareboard so I'd be able to ride w/ my son. However, given that we don't even own a halter at this point, we decided to postpone it until spring.

Did anyone else start out from ground zero that can give us some tips? While we are not wealthy by any means, we are financially comfortable, yet the expenses of horse ownership are really freaking me out. I'm guessing the thing to do is to gradually collect things? But we really can't buy things like a halter, bridle, saddle, etc. w/out a horse right? Thank goodness I grew up owning horses and I'm used to handling them at least, even if my riding isn't pretty at this point.

Right now, my son has riding boots, half chaps, & breeches, and that's as far as we've gotten.

Any advice?

Edited to add: I also have a question, are men's & women's English riding boots the same? My son would prefer tall boots to paddock boots & half chaps (which he currently has). He and I currently wear the same size. I thought if I bought a nice pair of leather boots he could wear them until he outgrows them, and then I could wear them. I'm currently riding in my Frye "riding" (i.e. fashion) boots, which are doing the trick for the level I'm at.
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post #2 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 01:38 PM
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I started out with a lot of used tack. You can usually find some at yard sales, craigslist, consignments, even goodwill sometimes. Just make sure its in usable condition first. Saddles can be a hit and miss. Sometimes you'll find a great deal on one, but it won't fit. It may be best for you to wait for the horse to get the saddle.

You said it was a lease, does the horse have any of its own tack along with it?

If you know the general size of horse(s) you'll be leasing, large, small, average, you can still get things like halters and bridles because they're adjustable. However, if you'd feel more comfortable waiting for the horse, you can start out with getting the things that are versatile with any horse. Grooming supplies, leads/lunges, saddle pads, polos, reins, buckets, etc. It'll be overwhelming at first, but once you get a good collection going it won't feel so bad.

As for boots, I would only worry about men's and women's having some variations in the calf fit and height. But if you find a pair you both like and fit, I don't see a problem with it.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RobinPony17 View Post
I started out with a lot of used tack. You can usually find some at yard sales, craigslist, consignments, even goodwill sometimes. Just make sure its in usable condition first. Saddles can be a hit and miss. Sometimes you'll find a great deal on one, but it won't fit. It may be best for you to wait for the horse to get the saddle.

You said it was a lease, does the horse have any of its own tack along with it?

If you know the general size of horse(s) you'll be leasing, large, small, average, you can still get things like halters and bridles because they're adjustable. However, if you'd feel more comfortable waiting for the horse, you can start out with getting the things that are versatile with any horse. Grooming supplies, leads/lunges, saddle pads, polos, reins, buckets, etc. It'll be overwhelming at first, but once you get a good collection going it won't feel so bad.

As for boots, I would only worry about men's and women's having some variations in the calf fit and height. But if you find a pair you both like and fit, I don't see a problem with it.

Good luck!
Thank you so much! I am not sure if the horse will come with tack, as it will be boarded at a barn that is not where its owner lives. These are questions I will need to ask when we get to the point of actually meeting the horse. I'm not even sure if that's the horse we'll end up leasing given that we haven't met it yet.

You are probably right and I should start collecting basic things. It seems silly to buy brushes and lead ropes when I don't own a horse, but it's really hard to binge and buy all of that at once so it's probably a smart thing to do!

I did join a Facebook group for my county, and I'm keeping an eye on tack for sale there. Buying locally would allow me to save on shipping and I'd be able to see it in person. Used would be ideal! Ebay and other online buy/sell places (like this forum) are scary to me because I don't know enough about things w/out seeing them. I don't even know what size saddle we need at this point.

Thanks for the advice on the boots.
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post #4 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 05:01 PM
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My son is 11 as well and while we wear the same size shoe for now we do not wear the same size boot. Even with all the growing he's done we are not the same height and our leg lengths are vastly different as well as calf sizes. We often switch out our short boots depending on where and the type of riding we are doing but our half chaps are specific to our length of leg and calf. As far as collecting things goes my advice is start with the basics of grooming equipment and tools. Save anything for the horse until you actually have a horse. We went through this with my niece when her parents bought her a colt to raise. The colt stayed with us for four years. They bought all kinds of things for him and absolutely nothing fit. Not the saddle, not the bridle, not the bit. Not even the halter. They were so focused on those things when he was delivered they had nothing to put feed in, no buckets, no manure fork, no leads, nothing. Well, except the grooming kit I had gotten her for her birthday. I'd just start putting money in a horse fund and then
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post #5 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 05:23 PM
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I second the horse fund thing. If you find a real deal, that's fine because if you don't end up using it you can sell it. Just enjoy your lessons and start looking at lease horses.
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post #6 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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A horse fund is a great idea! I will do that and then snatch up any great deals I find in used equipment along the way.
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post #7 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 07:24 PM
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99% of the time when you lease a horse, he already has tack to use, especially the simple things like halters, leads and grooming equipment. Many times the horse owner will also specify that only certain bridles and saddles are used on their horses and provide that to you to make sure everything fits. There's no harm in buying some of your own equipment but you should probably ask permission before you use it on the lease horse. Personally I'd have a hissy fit if anyone put a rope halter on any of my horses for instance and no one is allowed to use spurs or any bit other than what I provide.

Ebay has become quite safe for buying used tack as all of the protection regarding the sale favors the buyer, not the seller. This wasn't the case years ago but it is now. As long as you read the descriptions carefully and then post questions, you'll do fine. The only times I've been unhappy is when I haven't read the description carefully enough.

The horse fund sounds like a good idea, you will want to be ready for those great deals that come along. Often times when you do buy a horse, the seller will thrown in a halter and lead but once you own, you will find that you can't resist buying more stuff! I'll bet that a lot of us have 3-10 times more tack than we have horse!

Check for consignment sales at tack shops in big cities. They often have extremely high quality tack for bargain basement prices.

I wouldn't rush into owning right away, with you both taking lessons it's taking a lot of money out of your budget. Unfortunately, sometimes the parents of my lesson kids get ahead of themselves, buy a horse and then can't afford training or lessons when they run into trouble. If you can get fully involved with this lease horse, that will give you both a taste of 'what it's like to own and you can ask a lot of questions along the way.

Just remember that most of us don't have all the tack and equipment we need (or think we need!) when we take that jump into ownership so there's no reason to worry too much about it. You'll figure out what you need as you go along. The big ticket items like saddles do cost a lot but they are a one time expense and they can last for decades.
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post #8 of 22 Old 09-13-2015, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Those are great tips, thanks so much! And very good point about making sure we can still afford lessons.
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post #9 of 22 Old 09-14-2015, 07:29 AM
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I agree that for you both to take more lessons rather than buying or leasing.

As for long boots, there is usually a difference in foot width between men and women's and I would certainly never consider buying long boots for a child.

You can get a good jodhpurs boot and smooth leather half chaps that look very much the same as long boots, no one will notice the difference! I followed hounds wearing this combination when my faithful old hunting boots finally gave up th ghost and I wasn't going to shell out mega bucks for a good pair of boots and cheap ones never last very long,
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post #10 of 22 Old 09-14-2015, 12:24 PM
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Collect things slowly. Lease horses often come with their own gear, so that helps. Also every horse is slightly different in size so rather than buy things right now, put away that money you would buy those things for into a fund used only for horses. Add to it each month, and make a list of essentials. This would be my list

For the horse:

1. Hoof pic (The Ultimate Hoof Pic is worth the price)
2. Flyspray
3. Halter
4. Grooming brushes
5. Saddle (what type of saddle depends on what you want to do, but it must fit both the horse and the rider) and stirrup leathers/stirrups
6. Saddlepad(s) (Fit matches type of saddle used, may need more than one depending on fit of saddle and fitness of horse)
7. Bridle with reins and Bit (Which should be a bit that allows good communication and fits their mouth properly)

As for feeding:

1. Good quality hay (type depending on area and horse)
2. Haynet to put good quality hay in, to keep it off of the ground and make it last longer
3. Feed dish
4. Any supplements/loose minerals that improve horse health
5. Nutritional feed (depending on horse, could be as simple as alfalfa pellets or handful of pelleted feed)

For Rider:

1. Good fit helmet
2. Breeches
3. Paddock boots and halfchaps, much easier to replace if they break or child grows
4. Breathable shirts, polos or the long sleeves with venting.
5. 'Horse socks' as in socks that are only used for the barn to avoid wearing any that are worn-out and can cause blisters
6. Good pair of gloves

For the home:

1. Horse-safe laundry detergent. My friend uses Dreft, I use Tide pods and rinse twice, dollar tree sells detergent that is seemingly horse-safe but I still double rinse, sensitive or odorless formulas are best
2. Good tack cleaner. Oddly enough Lather Therapy Wash from Tractor Supply works well.
3. Your horse's vet records, kept in a binder or file that is protected.
4. Horse towels, for drying your horse off or just using around the barn
5. Carrots/Apples/Alfalfa cubes/Peppermints as treats

Health needs:

1. A good vet, check them out and make sure they are well respected and knowledgeable
2. A good farrier, learn about hoof care so you can spot a good fit. Do not simply leave all the responsibility on your farrier
3. A good equine chiropractor, you need them at least once a year as your horse is an athlete and it can be very helpful.
4. A saddle fitter, but not always necessary if you have knowledgeable BO's or if you consult with the horseforum as well. They are few and far between it seems.

Final say: Watch your horse like a hawk, leased or not. Make observations in a notebook of their weight and overall health. They need to be wormed (consider a fecal analysis), vaccinated twice a year, and coggins pulled via collecting blood and analyzing. Subtle changes can often go unnoticed but they are very important as horses can be quite stoic.

Oh, yes. You should also create a first aid kit for the horse. Include duct tape, triple antibiotic, diaper rash cream, vet wrap, betadine scrub (NOT SOLUTION) to clean wounds, thermometer, weight tape, gauze, some form of antibiotic cream formulated for horses like furazone/wonder dust/etc) electrolytes, if you can afford it a stethoscope, scissors, cleaning sponges, bute, benadryl, list of contacts, completely blank check (for you to fill out to pay incase you don't have it on you), and extra leadrope/halter incase yours breaks or you are somewhere that is not near where you keep yours)

Obviously a long list, you can add what you think is best but I feel it's good to be prepared. It should also be a portable kit.
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