The Horse Forum banner

1 - 20 of 157 Posts

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,045 Posts
It seems that a lot of new riders will get a horse within a year or two of starting to ride and then hit upon problems.

Here are some useful tips on many of the pitfalls - remember horses have been around a lot longer than cars, we all know what tricks there are to fixing cars! There are as many tricks and more to passing on a horse that is not as described!

To make sure you are ready for your own horse ride as many different horses as you can. Riding the same horse every time is not going to teach you anything about quirks of different horses.

It is no good asking "What breed?" there are as many differences between each animal of the same breed as there are in breeds themselves. Go for temperament rather than breed, colour, registration or anything else.

Just because you are over 5'5" does not mean you need a tall horse. Mark Todd at 6'2" was very successful internationally riding Charisma who stood 15.3. William Fox Pitt is 6'6" and rides 16.2 horses equally as successfully.

When you do start looking for a horse be honest with yourself as to your ability. Just because you once jumped 3'6" on a schoolmaster does not mean you are ready to ride a green young horse that is jumping the same height.

Always go to see the horse. See it in the stable, in the field, being ridden and ride it yourself. Take someone along with you that knows your riding ability and is very experienced with horses. If you can see the horse more than once. Ride it in the arena and out on trails. See if it is barn sour by riding it away from other horses and away from the barn. Have the vendor prove it is traffic proof, handle the horse in and out of the stable.

Ask what it is like with the farrier and to clip, load and ask about any health issues.

Some sellers will allow a horse to go on trial. Personally unless I know the buyer well, I will not allow this, any trial on or around the local area is fine but I will not risk a horse going off with someone I do not know.

Always have a horse vetted. Try to be present when this happens. I have known horses to have mild sedation when tried, then they vet goes along and the horse is dope free but ridden by an experienced rider and passes all health tests.
Ask the vet to draw blood when he examines the animal. One phial is given to the vendor and the other the vet takes. Both are labeled and initialled by vet and vendor. If the horse goes lame or is of very different characteristics to when you tried it, or goes lame, you can have the blood tested for either dope or pain killers.

If you are keeping your new horse at a livery barn then make sure that the staff are willing to help you. Continue to have regular lessons there is to much to learn to think you can manage on your own!

If you are keeping a horse on your own then again continue with the lessons. Make sure that you know a lot about the care and of maintaining manners on that horse. You can only do this if you have been use to handling a lot of horses.

Never be afraid to ask for help.

Owning a horse involves a lot of commitment as well as expense but the rewards can outweigh everything else.
And here's one good experience by a forum member:

A follow up thread prompted by the discussion that the term green on green equals black and blue is an insult http://www.horseforum.com/new-horses/how-many-years-before-no-longer-389874/ your thoughts on that topic should be added over there.

This one a whole new thought especially for those buying their first horse..

First of all GREEN: I am an experienced rider in terms of years, started lessons at 6 had 10 years of tuition, which I really enjoyed. Looking back now, I spent 10 years having fun at the cheapest place my parents could find, getting poor instruction, doing crazy things, all it gave me was the ability to stick. I then had many years off and on, riding other peoples horses having a ball thinking I was all that and change:grin: Then I had time off while I had the kids, and came back a few years later, went for a private lesson at my first real barn, and OH what a shock, I soon found out what I didn't know and started learning again, now having to overcome bad habits. Then I had a few horses of my own, switched to Western, had a few lessons, rode alone a lot, few more lessons, very basic, and I was good to go....yeah right.

Now we move to Canada, I buy myself a western horse, ride on my own for a while, go for some lessons to get some help, and somehow get converted back toward English, by a trainer who I now know made my probably already poor hands HORRIBLE. I can't imagine what my poor trained horses went through, but I know that it hurt my green horse.

So here I am many years riding, and I bought Big Ben, 9 years old and only just backed, thought I could work with him myself, and with my trainer WRONG, just WRONG, I did that horse a disservice, I should never have bought him, in the right hands he would have done well, in my slightly nervous heavy hands, well green on green was inevitably heading to black and blue, and in my case broken, like a month in hospital broken. If you have a trainer holding your hand each and every step of the way, MAYBE you can get away with it, but learning together is the worst thing out.

But what about the green on gold? Well this weekend I went to my first reining clinic, the first time I have had any instruction in reining, and if you have never tried it GO TRY, IT's A TOTAL BLAST!! In the morning I rode Bailey a big stock paint, so comfortable, so much fun, I was getting to feel like I was really getting this. In the afternoon I was upgraded to a trained reiner, he has won lots with a youth rider, I have seen them run, he is a great horse, I was very excited. Well it was a disaster, he is such a well tuned athlete that the fuzzy, slightly off time, cues I was giving him upset him, as he got upset I got nervous, which made me tighten up, and start trying to hang onto his mouth. We dropped his curb and tried a snaffle, but that wasn't much better, he was still very unhappy with me. So I got to swap back onto the baby sitter.

The point of this story?

When you are horse shopping be totally honest about your skill level, both with sellers and more importantly with yourself. Riding should be fun, and if you buy too much horse it quickly can stop being fun and end up being a train wreck. There is nothing wrong with that rare gem of a horse, the confidence giver, one who is trained enough that he will try and do whatever you ask, but not so highly trained that he gets in a panic if he doesn't understand just what it is that you want.

When shopping for your first horse,buy the horse that you need NOW, not the one you will need later.
I am sure many others have more to add.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,567 Posts
Surround yourself with great horsemen. Trainers, riders, owners, farriers, and vets.

Take a trainer or experienced horseman when you go to look at a horse. Make sure it is someone who can tell you honestly whether or not you can handle that horse. (Some people will give in to your feelings if you fall in love with a horse that is totally inappropriate. Do NOT bring these people along.)

Look for a horse finished in the discipline(s) you want to do. A well-trained horse will teach you far more than any person ever could. But along with training, the horse must have the proper temperament. Keep that in mind.

As far as "which breed", breed doesn't matter, but type might. For example, if your main goal is trail riding, you want the same type of horse that the people you will be riding with have. If they ride gaited horses, and you get a stock horse, it will not be a lot of fun. The reverse is also true.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,179 Posts
  • Like
Reactions: emma715

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,273 Posts
.
Look for a horse finished in the discipline(s) you want to do. A well-trained horse will teach you far more than any person ever could. But along with training, the horse must have the proper temperament. Keep that in mind.
Unless you are an experienced rider (who has not actually owned your own horse) do not buy a green or untrained horse with the idea of "training it the way you want." Greenpea people and horses do not mix. It often ends badly, especially for the horse.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
718 Posts
Nice thread Fox Hunter.
My entire business revolves around fully preparing kids and adults to be responsible horse owners. Many of my clients already had horses when they began my program, and all were surprised at how much you need to know to responsibly care for a horse. One had taken lessons for a year and had owned a horse for a year before coming to me and they were blown away at how many things they were missing even though they loved their horse and wanted the best for him. Here are some issues I have found to be common over the years:
Tack Fit: I met one client and on the first lesson found that their saddle was much too wide for the horse and pinching. I asked who had fit the saddle and they replied "we just went to the tack shop and bought a saddle we liked" Not all saddles fit all horses, buy the saddle for the horse, not the other way around, and take someone who understands saddle fit to help you make sure it does fit.
Th same can be said for bits. I had a student who had trouble turning her horse. He did not move off your legs or neck rein, yet he had a big curb bit with a solid mouthpiece (because it 'looked' western) We switched to a snaffle and she was able to communicate to her horse much more effectively.
Nutrition: Overweight horses are actually worse than underweight horses. It increases the risk of Laminitis, cushings and other health concerns. Learn to judge your horses' body condition and keep track of your horse's weight fluctuations.
Hoof Care: In my neck of the woods, a barefoot trim costs $45 every 6-8 weeks. A farriers job is very specialized, and should be left to the professionals. You can very seriously hurt your horse with a bad trim. You can stretch ligaments, trim too deep, trim unevenly, or in unbalance your horse. Not all horses need shoes, it depends on the work the horse is to do, and where that horse needs to work. Boots are an alternative to shoes, and some don't believe shoes are healthy for horses. Some believe horses need shoes if the work requires it.

Consider leasing a horse before buying! Still has many of the benefits without as many costs. A good step between taking lessons and horse ownership.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,303 Posts
Just a couple of ideas from all my years...

Everyone talks about how expensive it is to own horses, but I've rarely seen a buyer look at or ask about what can be the two most expensive parts of horse ownership when looking at a possible purchase. First, look at the feet (or have a farrier do it). Second, look at the diet. A 'low maintenance' horse that has good feet and a simple grass/hay diet will save you a ton of $$s over one that you're giving all your $$s to the vet, farrier, and feed store.

Consider paying more up front in the purchase to get a well trained and maintained horse. Everyone loves a $500 'deal' until they need to send it for a month of training. You'll save $$s in the long run if you don't have to fix someone else's problems, and you'll enjoy your horse a lot sooner.

Consider skipping the individual sellers and buying from a well established breeder that has a good reputation and has been in business for a long time. You'll pay more, but their word of mouth reputation is the core of their success. They will evaluate your riding and skill, ask about your expectations, and will notsell you the wrong horse for you. If they don't have something that they think is a good match, they'll tell you that.

Lastly, consider a brood mare that had had a good performance record. Often a breeder has more than recovered their investment and these 12+ year old mares can be bought for a good price. Even though they haven't been worked hard for a few years, they have not forgotten their training. After all, these mares were picked for breeding for a good reason. We obtained a 'bombproof' penner broodmare that become our 'go to' lead trail horse from the day she stepped off the trailer. She's 19 now and still the quickest, most consistent riding horse in our herd. Best investment we ever made.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,669 Posts
Go see multiple horses! Don't just settle for the first one you see, even if he's really the one you want. Give other's a chance, you never know!

Don't let gender be a deal breaker, well besides stallions. Many people say mares are moody and mean. It's no so. Look at horses gender neutrally, if it comes down to two then you can pick mare or gelding. You can really miss out on a great horse by excluding a whole gender!
Posted via Mobile Device
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
718 Posts
MAKE SURE YOU CAN AFFORD A HORSE! Nothing drives me more crazy than someone's horse looking like crap because they aren't able to give it what it needs.
Amen. Do the math. Calculate what it will cost in a year, divide that by 12, and make sure you can afford that much. Better yet, set aside the much for a few months before you get a horse A) to be absolutely sure you can afford it & B) so that if anything happens to your income, you can still afford to feed your horse while you are looking for a new home for it. Here's a sample breakdown for prices in my neck of the woods:

Yearly Vaccinations: $100
Farrier: $45 every 8 weeks. Barefoot trim, add accordingly for horses that need shoes. $270 yearly
Wormer: varies as you rotate wormer, say an average of $10 every 3 months: $40 yearly
Board: self care board for me is $135 a month, $1620 yearly
Feed: $100 month, $1200 yearly

So, baseline, you're talking $3230 a year, or about $270 a month. Baseline.
That's not to mention unexpected vet costs for injuries, colic or other crazy things yu'll be responsible for. My BO just spent $1400 in vet bills because his mare got bit by a tick. Teeth floating is usually a couple hundred dollars.

I think I mentioned this before, but leasing is a wonderful step to take before horse ownership. You get the perks of ownership without as much of the responsibility like unexpected vet costs
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
384 Posts
Awesome post! I was actually looking into a horse and, to be honest, wasn't quite experienced with them. I just wanted a horse to go trail riding on and just have a fun horse (ex: no shows, etc)--but I had bought a book and a few things that it mentioned that really made me rethink purchasing a mare I had been considering was:
1. Be realistic about your riding abilities.
-Now I had been a confident rider, but I also hadn't been in many "bad scenarios" where I had a horse act up too terribly much and if I had bought one that was a bit...er, rowdy, it'd knock my confidence down and I probably wouldn't enjoy it.
2. How many lessons you have had.
-I was from a small town initially (now live near a large city but still in a "large town") where people are mainly on farms, get an older bombproof horse and you teach yourself, so I hadn't had much instruction. By that, I mean I went to a week long camp (not much horse care/riding knowledge from that) and did about one month of "lessons", but I was still learning barn management and basic horse care so I still hadn't properly learned how to ride.
and lastly,
3. Your goals for riding.
-For the past 7 years I've wanted to leave the little country, trail riding aspect and to get into Hunter/Jumpers after being introduced to the side of English (about 7-8 years ago). I had gotten so caught up in just wanting my first horse that I forgot about my aspirations of showing in Hunters/Jumpers and settling for a Western trail horse.

Those three points were honestly what made me stop and now I've been getting Hunter/Jumper lesson for the past month (going to my fourth lesson this Thursday *happy dances*) and I'm SO grateful I didn't jump into horse ownership. I've become a much more confident rider, have found that I LOVE riding English more than just going for a leisurely walk through the woods in a Western saddle (not bashing Western riders...English is just my preference ^-^) and I thoroughly enjoy what I do, have made a bond with a school horse who I now have hopes to lease in a few months (hopefully by this upcoming August).

So my goal is now to:
1. Continue getting lessons and to keep improving.
2. Lease a school horse and begin showing.
and
3. Eventually work my way up into horse ownership when I have more knowledge/basic horsemanship.

^-^ Again, this is a great post. There is definitely a LOT to think about when it comes to horse ownership and it shouldn't be taken lightly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,135 Posts
Find a barn that you like and get to know the people there. A good trainer is your best bet for finding a suitable horse, and keeping that horse at a stable is your best bet for finding your Vet, Farrier, and help when you need it.
It is still VERY MUCH a Buyer's Market, So be VERY PICKY and VERY PATIENT in your horse search. Horses are emotional creatures, and emotional people get into horses. It makes for a very good romance novel, and also makes for a very good horror story.
You MUST be willing to give a great deal of your time to continue to learn about horses in general, and your own horse, in particular. Boarding at a barn will save you the time I take to get hay and grain, clean the barn and daily manage my herd, along with training them, so this would enable you to keep working so you afford to be Horse Poor, like we all are. ROFL!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Yes, I think LEASING is the way to go before horse ownership. When my kids were young and taking lessons....what a difference it was to bump it up to leasing a horse!!! So much responsibility, cost and realizing that coming to take a lesson once a week on an already tacked up and ready to go horse was waaaaaaay different! It really is a great preparation to owning a horse.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,515 Posts
This may just be my opinion, BUT:

DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, buy a foal or a mare in foal for your first horse(s)!! Unless of course you've been employeed full-time by a breeding farm for several years, and just haven't got around to getting your own horse.

I know they are cute and adorable, and the idea of 'learning together' can be enticing. But it will only cause you $$, pain, and heartache in the end.

Oh one other thing, remember there is more than one correct way of doing things. You will learn sooo much more if you keep an open mind. So even if your trainer says something must be done a certain way, listen to others & keep their suggestions in the back of your mind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
So my goal is now to:
1. Continue getting lessons and to keep improving.
2. Lease a school horse and begin showing.
and
3. Eventually work my way up into horse ownership when I have more knowledge/basic horsemanship.
Couldn't agree with you more. I'm in the same position and started off doing things completely backwards. Luckily I never got hurt, but obviously had some experiences that shook my confidence and were way out of my comfort/knowledge zone. So I'm stepping back and taking my first dressage lesson tonight! Nervous, but excited, and I know this is the most responsible way to do it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
My advice for beginners is long, but bear with me. I have ridden pretty consistently for over thirty years and have seen beginner mistakes over and over. Take a few minutes and consider some of my ideas as well as those of the other experienced posters.

You will likely get interested in a discipline of riding, such as trails, barrels cutting etc. That is fine and dandy, but before you get too involved doing your discipline of choice, take a couple of *years* and really focus on learning to ride well. Proper, classic, equitation, and also proper handling of horses, especially when things do not go as planned. To do this, find a good trainer and take lessons as often as you can. I think a dressage type trainer would be ideal for starting out, personally.

Before you really focus on a discipline, you should be able to ride easily at all gaits with proper seat and leg position, and be able to ask for those gaits correctly. You should be able to make upward and downward gait transitions, as well as rate your speed within those gaits. You should be able to do a one rein stop at all gaits. You should know your diagonals, leads, and have light gentle hands. You should ideally spend a good deal of time at first on a longe line, simply getting your seat at all gaits (what is known as an *independant* seat) so you will never have a tendency to balance on a horse's mouth, something I constantly see beginners doing.

Additionally you should start to be able to respond instinctively to handle unplanned behaviors. You should be able to know what to do if a horse spooks, bolts, rears, bucks, and you should start being able to read a horse's behavior to notice that those things might occur and corrective action can be taken *before*things get dangerous. The real key to safety with horses is prevention.

Are you starting to see why I emphasized *years*? :) That is how long it will take most people to become minimally proficient at all the skills listed above.

These first years of riding, or returning to riding aren't supposed to be a punishment, they are supposed to be fun. You will hopefully get with a great instructor, ride a variety of horses, and start getting interested in one of those disciplines, if you don't already have one in mind. Most of us do more than one discipline, especially throughout our lifetimes. I rode hunter/jumper as a child, did gymkhanas, also rode trails. Now I ride trails mostly, but enjoy working on western pleasure and reining type stuff with my western horse.

In addition to taking lessons to get proficient, *read*. Read as much as you can get your hands on. Watch the clinitions, but don't get hung up on just one and make him/her your guru. The best horse people I know keep open minds and learn from a variety of people and sources, then they use what works best for them and their horse.

After you take a couple of years to get proficient at basic riding, talk to your trainer about the next best step. A lease is often a good option for a first horse experience. Remember that your first horse leased or owned should be bomb proof and possibly older. You may need to move up to a more advanced horse in another year or so and depending on the first horse, and the situation, so keep that in mind. For sure do not make your first horse young (less than five IME), untrained, highly reactive, or a problematic horse with "issues". You need to use your head, not your heart when making the first horse selection, leasing or buying. Listen to your trainer.

All of the above will help you get a good start. Adult beginning or returning riders especially, think about this: if you had a child interested in horseback riding, you would start them (hopefully) with lessons to get a good safe foundation to start, and then a safe gentle horse. Why adults often do not offer themselves that logical start is a mystery to me. Instead, I often encounter adults, who should know better, take a lesson or two, and then they rescue a 3 year old, essentially unhandled, highly reactive, high energy horse. Then they either end up afriad, injured, both and then may end up with even more unsuitable horses for some reason, while keeping the original because they fell in love with it. They simply keep accumulating unsuitable horses. An example of more money than sense in some instances.

Lastly, if you do end up with a horse that is not right for you, for whatever reason, there is no shame in rehoming it. Even the best of trainers don't "click"sometimes with certian horses, and it happens even more often to us amateurs. I bought an unsuitable mare once. I gave it six months of trainers, lessons, then found her another home. You can't win 'em all. It is just as easy (easier IMO) to fall in love with a suitable horse as it is one that is not suitable. Besides...horses can kill you. A horse that is really unsuitable could cost you your life. Our sport is dangerous. Having a good horse and rider match helps decrease that danger significantly.

Good luck and welcome to horses! There is nothing better!!!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,559 Posts
I mostly agree with the advice. I started at 50, have now been riding for 5 years, did the green on green thing and have a nagging injury to prove it. However...

In many parts of the US, having trainers, instructors, saddle fitters etc isn't practical. It is entirely possible to live 50+ miles from the nearest "barn". It also takes a long time to get decent at riding if you ride 1 hour/week. Lots of riding is muscle memory, which requires lots of time in the saddle. At $40/hour, it is tough to get 5-6 hours/week of saddle time!

If I had to do it over again, I would:

A) Buy personality. A willing, well-broke horse who doesn't take advantage of beginners can afford some physical faults, assuming the faults are not crippling. A true beginner's horse is a valuable piece of horseflesh! If you later progress beyond that horse, you can sell him, keep him for the grandkids (if you are starting as old as me) or keep him for old times sake.

B) DO take an expert who doesn't mind telling you "This horse sucks". Also, the local trainers around here will often know of a good horse who will never be on Craigslist.

C) Expect to pay more than the typical horse on Craigslist. This goes back to A & B. Horses with good personalities and who work well with beginners don't show up very often on Craiglist. They are sold by word-of-mouth by people who know people. They are too valuable for Craigslist.

D) Bump up your budget. The real cost of a horse is in feeding, farriers, vets, lessons, property, corral supplies, building sheds, monthly boarding fees, etc. Where I live, going from a $1000 horse to a $2000 horse is a big jump in what you can expect. The extra $1000 there can save you much more a few months later. I bought a $1200 horse, but I would have saved a lot of money, time and future health by buying a $2500 horse...

I don't have 30 years with horses, and I'm a nobody rider with no credentials. Take my comments with a big steaming cup of FWIW. :wink:
 
1 - 20 of 157 Posts
Top