New Horse Owners: It WILL Be Okay! The 5 Stages of Ownership - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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New Horse Owners: It WILL Be Okay! The 5 Stages of Ownership

I just want to give a shout-out to the first-time horse owners, from the perspective of a new horse owner, because we have all been in this position. And I wish someone was there to tell me this in the recent months.

You are not alone.

I want to let you know that everything will be okay.

I became a first time horse owner about a year ago and was completely overwhelmed by some issues that began arising. Being human, I always blamed the previous owner and trainer for anything wrong with my mare - after all, none of these things could possibly be my fault. Why should I have to deal with this horse's bad attitude problem? It was frustrating and made me want to get out of horses as soon as I got into them. I thought to myself, "How foolish I've been to buy a horse! I don't know how to handle them, I can only ride and only in the safety of my stables. I'm nothing without my instructor."

This is a stage that almost every new horse owner goes through, perhaps even more than once.

Be warned: your confidence will wane if not fully dissipate. You will wonder why you've put yourself in the situation. You will feel lost and hopeless and you will panic and look for a way out. Some tears may be shed. You will question your love for horses and riding. You will lash out.

You will go through the 5 stages of grief (of horse ownership):
1. Denial
My horse is acting up, but it's no big deal. I let him get away with it just that once. That little nip was just a love bite, he wasn't being aggressive. He must have had this issue from the previous owner letting him get away with this. It's not because of me. It could never be me.

2. Anger
My horse has bit me for the second time - hard enough to leave a bruise! How dare that spoiled brat! He better just wait until I get my whip. And if he even thinks about pinning my ears at me again, he's gonna get cracked! How could someone sell me such a dangerous animal!

3. Bargaining
It's been a month and I've become terrified of my horse... If only I had smacked him the first time. If only I had called a trainer at the first sign of this. If only I had not bought him...

4. Depression
I regret ever buying this gelding. I don't want to see him because I'm worried of what he will do next time... I called a trainer but I'm going to cancel. It's no use. I don't want the trainer to see this horse and possibly get hurt. I can't deal with this, no one should have to...

5. Acceptance
My gelding is spoiled, but the previous owners never had this issue. I've let him get away with so much since I bought him a month ago... This is my fault. This gelding is my responsibility.

And we all know that acceptance is the first step in the process of fixing the problem.

The harsh truth is: you have never had something be so entirely your responsibility. Your horse is a mirror of you.

Horses force us to face ourselves and for a lot of people (myself included) this can be incredibly difficult. Like a lot of things in life, we are defined not necessarily by the situations that happen to us but how we deal with them. With horses this is essential.

We aren't necessarily responsible for our horse taking that first nip at us, but we are responsible for how we deal with that situation. We have to make the decision to let the horse get away with it and let the issue progress, or to discipline our horses and correct them.

But I get it. As new horse owners a lot of us didn't really know how to deal with that situation the first time it happened because it's new to us. Luckily for us, most horses are incredibly forgiving. Horses are always testing to see who is worthy of their respect - and respect has to be earned. Yes, your horse has a biting problem. But if he does it again, show him that you DESERVE to be respected, that your space deserves to be respected. If he leans in to bite you, pop him on the nose and mean it. Remember, in the pasture horses bite and kick and push each other to show who is boss. The more the leader proves him/herself, the more he or she will be taken seriously by the other horses.

But be prepared - the longer you let the issue fester, the more difficult the issue with be to correct. You've let him get away with it for a month now so do not be shocked if you need to repeat the above exercise multiple times before he finally gets it. If he's won you over 10 times, you need to show him 11 times that he won't get away with it. And if your horse stops this behaviour for an extended period of time but starts up again, you need to show him immediately that it won't be tolerated. I'm sure you will though because now you're prepared. You won't repeat the same mistake twice. You are armed with knowledge.

And knowledge is the best weapon any horseman has. And it it my firm belief that making mistakes is the best way to gain that knowledge. It's all about making the mistake and learning from it and never repeating it again.

Don't forget about your other resources: fellow horse people in your life, trainers, books, videos, these forums. If you start working on an issue and aren't progressing, you need to take a step back and evaluate yourself and your methods. Everything leads back to you. If something isn't working, get a second opinion. Try a different method until you see results. If an issue becomes too much for you, get out immediately and seek professional help. A month of training can give you a good foundation to start working with your horse again. It also gives you the opportunity to learn from a trainer and boost your knowledge base.

Because we are all trainers. All of us. Every time you work with your horse, even if you have only been riding for a month, five months, a year, or twenty years, you are training that horse. Every time you put a halter on, or put a saddle on, get on a horse or lead it around, you are training that horse.

You are not alone. Be constantly learning. Be conscious about yourself and each and every thing you do with your horse.

You can do this.

You will get through this.

You have resources out there to help you learn, to prepare yourself.

Things will get better. You will see progress. You WILL enjoy your horse. We were all beginners once.

But just remember - you will get out what you put into it.

Commit 100% and you CANNOT fail.
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:02 PM
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Interesting post. If only I read this 14 years ago. Ended up breaking my leg before my situation got any better
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillowNightwind View Post
Because we are all trainers. All of us. Every time you work with your horse, even if you have only been riding for a month, five months, a year, or twenty years, you are training that horse. Every time you put a halter on, or put a saddle on, get on a horse or lead it around, you are training that horse.
You are CONSTANTLY training, even if you have owned that horse for over 20 years, which I did with my oldest horses, who passed away a few years ago. It is the nature of the horse, a herd animal, to always want to move up in the herd when the opportunity presents itself. Only had one horse who was happy remaining #2, after #1 passed on.
Since we are giving advice to new horse owners, let me give mine. How about spend several years taking lessons at an academy where the horses are trained to be safe, and then you can get a very good picture of how a well trained horse OUGHT to behave.
Thank you for posting this. It sounds like you are committed and I commend you for that.
You kinda jumped the gun buying a horse before you had been around them very long and that is why you didn't know to react immediately to that first bite. MY instructor showed us what to do when the horse didn't behave, without being abusive. I anticipate that my horses will misbehave, and therefore, I still take a whip out with me whenever I need to walk the pasture and weather conditions, or fireworks, or the neighbor on the corner is gunning his engines, again. I can't care for and train my horses if they kill me, and they are big enough to do so.
However, if they were my chickens and the sizes were reversed, they would have already eaten me, so the horse is made for us to master.
Still, I have no trouble catching any of my current herd of 3, and they were little angels for their shots last week and when I made them stand tied and waiting while me and Vet visited for 3 hours. (It had been awhile, you see.)
When you establish a healthy relationship, and you horses have NOT be mentally ruined--mine have not--AND you always praise when you ask them to perform, horse ownership can be a joy. Your horses want to please you, and you build on that.
Welcome to the Forum. I hope that you will be able to own horses as long as I have, since 1985. =D
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:08 PM
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nice

5. acceptance is key -- the sooner you get there the better

it is what it is, the past is in the past, and only now will determine the future
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by .Delete. View Post
Interesting post. If only I read this 14 years ago. Ended up breaking my leg before my situation got any better
Something I may not have touched on as much as I could have (mostly because I want this to be a confidence post to new horse owners), but as mentioned: professional trainers are definitely a resource to be used.

Something I think people need to learn the fastest is when an issue can be tackled alone and when it needs to be delivered to a more knowledgeable individual.

DANGEROUS horses are obviously not something I was trying to mention in the post. This thread is more for those people who have bought well behaved horses that suddenly turn a bit sour after your ownership.

If you have bought a dangerous horse, you need the face the truth: you KNEW this horse was dangerous when you bought it. You thought you could fix it and you know deep down that you can't. There are already several posts about this particular situation and I would incline people to read those as well.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillowNightwind View Post
Something I may not have touched on as much as I could have (mostly because I want this to be a confidence post to new horse owners), but as mentioned: professional trainers are definitely a resource to be used.

Something I think people need to learn the fastest is when an issue can be tackled alone and when it needs to be delivered to a more knowledgeable individual.

DANGEROUS horses are obviously not something I was trying to mention in the post. This thread is more for those people who have bought well behaved horses that suddenly turn a bit sour after your ownership.

If you have bought a dangerous horse, you need the face the truth: you KNEW this horse was dangerous when you bought it. You thought you could fix it and you know deep down that you can't. There are already several posts about this particular situation and I would incline people to read those as well.
I inevitably became a trainer and specialized in problem horses because of my first horse being dangerous.

However, I don't recommend the path I took to get there to anyone.
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
You kinda jumped the gun buying a horse before you had been around them very long and that is why you didn't know to react immediately to that first bite. MY instructor showed us what to do when the horse didn't behave, without being abusive.
This is something I feel I have to talk about.

Unfortunately, not all barns are as great as your instructor was to you. In fact, I am inclined to say you were lucky.

I've been to about 4 barns in my time of schooling and not one has taught proper horsemanship. You also have to remember that most horses at lesson barns are well-behaved, older horses with little to no vices. After all, 10 year olds are getting on these horses. They have to be safe.

When are you going to have the opportunity to learn about behavioural issues from these bomb proof animals?

This is how it plays out a lot of the time:
- 10 year old kid starts riding at her barn. She rides one or two horses in the lesson program until she is older and decides she wants her parents to lease. The next step is purchasing.
- the family is moving and so will have to relocate to a different barn where the previous owner/instructor is not able to be around all of the time
- at the new barn, issues start arising. The horse is not the same without the careful hand of the previous owner/instructor.

I'm not saying all barns are like this. I'm just saying many are not as they should be.

At lesson barns, we are usually taught to be riders, not trainers. And that's very unfortunate. It doesn't prepare us very well for when we want to buy our own horses.
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:45 PM
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Great points!! Thanks!

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:55 PM
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I remember the night before they delivered Ana, I was in a panic because I was second-guessing myself because I thought she was too small of a horse for me.

Once they delivered her, I remember thinking she is much bigger than I remembered.

Then I was nervous about riding her by myself. After all, I've only ridden in lessons or in groups with others. Silly me. Now we ride all over the place, mostly by ourselves; we kind of like it that way.

I lost like 10 pounds the first month I owned her because I was constantly nervous about something.

Horse-ownership is defintely a journey. You never know what awaits you around the next corner. I love it though.
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-15-2014, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by frlsgirl View Post
I lost like 10 pounds the first month I owned her because I was constantly nervous about something.
lol yes! An the sleepless nights when you're so stressed about what might happen.
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