Should I get a horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Question Should I get a horse?

Hello!
I have loved horses literally all my life, but I have(sadly) not been able to have any more than four riding lessons when I was eleven(I'm now sixteen). As soon as I learned to read(my mom says It was really fast(age four(!))) I started reading all the books I could get my hands on about horses. I moved up to articles, than YouTube videos. I consider myself knowledgable, but not experienced. I just got my learners license and as soon as I can drive by myself I want to go work at a barn in exchange for lessons. I might get some sooner though. I KNOW that this is NOT a phase. I want to be a horse trainer "when I grow up". I'm at least going to get a few more lessons before buying my first horse, but do you think I should buy an older well trained horse, or wait a few years then buy an un-trained 2 year old(which is ultimately what I want)? My goal is to get to the Olympics! Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 03:59 PM
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That's fantastic that you're finally getting act on your dream! I remember how excited I was, too, when those opportunities opened up for me.

I understand the desire to want to own a horse right away. Even now, though I'm in no position to do so, and it wouldn't make much sense for me at all, I still find myself constantly browsing sale ads, and dreaming of what kind of horse I'd like to own if/when I get the opportunity.

In your position -- and I can say this because I was in your position, and I DID buy a horse before I had any real amount of lessons or really knew what I was doing -- I would wait. I would not buy if I were you, right now. Lessons will be HUGE for you. You'll learn so much about horses, and about yourself and your own skills and needs as a rider. Your coach will learn the same things about you. With a season or two of consistent lessons, you would be in a much better position to buy, and come it from a place of knowledge and experience instead of potentially investing in the wrong horse for you and having major problems. I did that, and more than two decades later I'm still shaken and have confidence issues from the first horse I bought. You would also have the benefit of your coach's advice in finding the right horse for you!

Another consideration: if you're at an age where you're getting your license, you're also not that far off from potentially going to college. Even if you don't go away to go to college, you will still find it very difficult to make enough time to ride, and could also find the financial constraints overwhelming.

If I were you, I'd start with just the lessons, and once you've gotten good enough, part-board a horse at the lesson barn if you want more riding time. You'd have most of the benefits of ownership with almost none of the drawbacks, and would be much freer in a few years to take your life in whatever direction you'd like to go.
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post #3 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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SteadyOn Thank you so much for this advice. I hadn't thought about how collage would affect owning a horse, but now that you mention that and other things, It does make more sense to wait. I also constantly brows online for horses ;)
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post #4 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 05:33 PM
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You sound just like me. I wanted to go big! I read all I could!
But... Ride horses first.
A lot.

The thing is, a lot of people, farther up the line even, decide horses weren't exactly what they expected, and bail. Some people enjoy it, but realize it's not THE THING they want to do. That happened with a friend I knew. She bought a horse after about... 20-30 two hour lessons. Then she decided ''nope''. That horse was carted away faster then you'd believe, because OWNING a horse, and TAKING CARE OF ONE / RIDING ONE is different.
And some people quit because they can't manage that, but that usually doesn't happen. you can tell right away, normally~!

Unfortunately, we don't usually learn as fast and well as we'd like. So don't beat yourself up if it's not as easy as you'd expect, or you don't make the Olympics. I mean, the team is a handful of people, how many people do you think try? It's sounds a little mean, but, hear me out.

As for age is you DO wanna go along, a sturdy, older horse is a good way to go! Buying a two-year-old is not the best plan, unless you have a lot of experience under your belt.
I'd think starting out with a lease would be good.

As for me, I want(ed) a lot of the same things. :) I used to wanna do Olympics, but it's such a life sapper... I'd rather not want to be a celebrity or constantly work off my *** thank you. :)
I want a first horse, too, though. I've been doing the care for a neighbor as a test, as well as already riding, and I think it fits me well. :) I was a bit concerned last year about college, but I've determined I'm going to a equestrian college with board. D
I want a big horse though! :o Maybe a Gypsy or a Perch. Very expensive though, and I can't convince my parents to let me! Haha!

A dog may be man's best friend,
but the horse wrote history.
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post #5 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 05:57 PM
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do you have a way to pay for the horse, and its upkeep? it eats every day, needs shoes/trimming/shots/worming/teeth floated . . . . . regularly. you have to pay to keep it somewhere. It is a big financial commitment. it's one I have not been able to make, since I always had competing demands on my finances.

having a dream,. though, is never stupid or foolish or a waste of time, and don't let anyone start you believing that.

get more lessons to start with, and then ask the question again, after a year of lessons.
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post #6 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 06:40 PM
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It's wonderful that you'll be getting your license soon and I really hope that you can find a stable to work at in exchange for lessons!

I was much in the same boat as you a few years ago! When my parents finally determined that I wasn't going to grow out of the horse phase, they started getting me lessons about once a week. During the summer I partially leased a horse and rode about 3 times a week. The following spring, I had lessons 2 times a week on a horse that wasn't defined as a lease, but practically was! I had been riding for about 2 years in all (only counting the consistent lessons, not the rare horse camp or lesson) before I got my first horse. It took around...3 months to find Tessa and I know it takes many people much longer to find a horse that fits them! I got lucky!

Another benefit to working and getting involved with horses at a stable before owning your own is that you can find a knowledgable trainer that can help find a horse that will fit you, or may even be selling a horse herself! You will find it to be invaluable, as many sellers can be dishonest, either by naivety or because they want a horse gone and will do whatever it takes to sell them. If this supposed trainer were someone that you've been taking lessons from for a while, then they may also know things about you that you yourself may not be aware of. This will help them to find the best match for both you and the horse. It also takes out the stress of finding a place to board a horse after buying it if you're already involved with a stable and know it's a good fit.

Another thing that is nice about taking lessons is that you can ride many different horses and it will make you a better rider! Once you have your own horse, that will be the horse you are riding most, if not all, of the time. I sometimes get to ride some other horses, but Tessa is the horse that I want to be on (and if you don't want to be on your own horse, I think that you might want to rethink that match! ) It is also a whole lot more of a commitment. Tessa has had a whole lot of ups and downs in the 2 years that I've had her, and I think that's common. You can't just start riding another horse. It's not always fun. But I am always glad that I stick with her and riding.

And it is very true that horses cost a lot! The cheapest part is probably buying them. I know my stable lets me work off some of the board and thankfully my parents pay the rest. I don't know what boat you're in, but everything adds up between vet, farrier, board, or even lessons! You'd likely have to buy your own tack and riding clothes and those are not cheap!

Best of luck and please keep us updated on how things go when you get your license! We'd love to hear about your horse journey!

"Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?" ~Job 39:19
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post #7 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmberScarlet View Post
I want a big horse though! :o Maybe a Gypsy or a Perch. Very expensive though, and I can't convince my parents to let me! Haha!
Weren't you hoping to have a black Arabian mare?

The possibility of changing mind is exactly why it is good to ride and care for as many different types of horses as possible before moving into an ownership. This will give you a good base understanding of what kind of qualities you value in a horse, and what you don't.

Last edited by Fimargue; 05-01-2017 at 07:07 PM.
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post #8 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 06:58 PM
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I remember being your age and being so excited about horses too! I was lucky I guess - I had my first pony when I was 5, then my first horse when I was 11. My pony was boarded and my parents wouldn't let me do anything with her other than be led around on a lead rope. Then we moved to a big property and they bought me a QH. The horse was in my backyard and I was in way over my head. My parents were not horsey at all, in fact, they were afraid to go near my horse. So I had to do EVERYTHING. Sure, it sounds awesome until you do it. every. single. day. That meant getting up early to feed the horse before I went to school, lugging buckets of water over snowbanks on snowshoes (sounds like something a parent would say, but it's true!). My horse lived alone in a shed, and was probably miserable. My parents didn't believe me when I told them horses needed a companion. I didn't know about horse nutrition and my horse care knowledge was extremely basic. I honestly don't know how the poor guy survived. Pretty well everything was inadequate. I wish I could say it made me a stronger, better person. It did not. I sold him when I went off to college for all the reasons mentioned above, and did not have horses again for decades. Partly because life was just too busy and I didn't have the financial means to keep a horse, but partly too because the child I was had been burned out trying to look after a horse without any help. It's different if your parents are into it as much as you, and if they're willing to look after the horse when you can't. Mine were not interested in that. I had to stay behind on family holidays, couldn't go to sleepovers with my friends. Did I have good times with my horse? You betcha. But it would have been better to have waited under the circumstances. My parents would have been better off giving me a lot more lessons, but I was a convincing kid.

I do have two horses at home now, and I don't mind looking after them, but I am at a different place in my life. I've raised two kids to teenagehood, have a house, a property, could afford to build the barn I wanted with the amenities I wanted, could afford to pay vet bills, farrier bills, buy top quality hay and feed... I spent years studying to have the career I have, which I love because it gives me a flexible schedule and good pay. None of that would have been possible when I was in my teens, or even in my 20s or 30s (I'm 46). Not saying you'll have to wait that long, but right now isn't the best time.

When the time does come, boarding a horse can be a better option for someone new to horses, or someone who is young like yourself, because at least someone else is responsible for their day-to-day care. But you're at a time in your life when a lot of things are going to change really quickly. You may go to college, meet your soulmate, start a career, probably move (if not to a different town, presumably out of your parents' house). It's very difficult if not impossible to have a horse while you go through those life transitions.

Take those lessons, years of them. Learn about horse care. Learn first aid, grooming, how to do ground work. Learn to recognize signs of illness. This is the best time in your life to learn! Follow your dream, just don't be impatient. Take the time you need to do it right. Volunteer at a barn. Learn to muck out stalls. Soak it all in. You'll be a better horseperson for it!
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post #9 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 07:13 PM
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Wait. Always wait. You have your whole life ahead of you to get a horse; do not rush into such a huge financial and emotional commitment. Are you prepared for the cost of not only buying the horse, but the cost of boarding, which can run from $200-$2000 a month, feed, monthly farrier visits, vet check-ups, vaccinations, medical tests, training, AND riding lessons? The expenses do not end with just the cost of the horse itself.

It's great that you've learned as much as you can, but listen closely: Knowledge is NOT the same as EXPERIENCE. EXPERIENCE can only be gained by years of lessons and training. Knowledge comes from the internet or books. You can study over and over again on how to control, calm down, and prevent injury to a hysterical, spooking horse, but in that real life situation? A person with no experience will either freeze, lose their head, or make a stupid decision that further puts humans or other horses at risk. It's just a fact. So, wait. Wait until after college if you have too. But don't put a horse, or yourself, at risk if you honestly don't have any real-life horse experience. No matter how much a person loves horses, love does not equal good horsemanship. That's something that is developed slowly over time.
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post #10 of 37 Old 05-01-2017, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fimargue View Post
Weren't you hoping to have a black Arabian mare?
The possibility of changing mind is exactly why it is good to ride and care for as many different types of horses as possible before moving into an ownership. This will give you a good base understanding of what kind of qualities you value in a horse, and what you don't.
You betcha! But after looking at info about them, and riding a couple, I've decided I like heavy set horses better (from that experience at least). Like you said, expectation vs reality. In reality, a hot little zipper is probably not my dream horse. <3 With something as important as a first horse, changing your mind is a given! If I'd never have changed my mind from the first horse breed I wanted, I'd be stuck on an akhal-teke!

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