When I was 16 years old I bought my first horse. I used all my own money including for monthly expenses. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I believe I was ready for a horse of my own. Now you may be wondering if you are ready to buy a horse too.
How do you know you are ready to buy a horse? You know you are ready to buy a horse when you have enough money saved for all the upfront expenses, emergency expenses, and the monthly upkeep. You have solid basic riding skills and a good instructor. You know how to properly care for horses, what is required to maintain a healthy horse, and you have time to dedicate to a horse.
You see what it takes to be ready to buy your first horse. Now let’s dive deeper into the details, so you really understand what you are getting into
Are You Ready To Own A Horse
We are going to look at some questions to figure out if you are really ready to buy a horse of your own. It is not an easy undertaking to be a horse owner. It is both wonderful and stressful and not for everyone.
It is very important, to be honest, and make sure that you can venture into buying a horse before you do, because if you aren’t really prepared and buy a horse anyway then it is the horse who will suffer the most.
Here is a list of questions to help determine if you are ready to own a horse. If you answer no to any of them you are not ready yet.
- Do you make enough money to afford the monthly costs of the horse’s upkeep?
- Do you have a plan in place in case there was a period of time you couldn’t afford the upkeep of the horse?
- Do you have a plan in place if the horse gets injured and needs time off or if the horse becomes unrideable?
- Do you know what kind of housing situation the horse would be in?
- Do you know about different kinds of boarding options?
- Have you mucked out a stall before and know how to do it properly?
- Have you taken weekly riding lessons with a qualified riding instructor for at least one year?
- Have you leased a horse for at least 6 months?
- Are you able to walk, trot and canter confidently on a horse?
- Are you able to keep your balance without stirrups at the walk trot and canter?
- Are you able to sit the trot and the canter without bouncing on the horse’s back?
- Have you ridden out in the open and on trails?
- Are you able to competently lunge a horse?
- Have you loaded a horse in the trailer before and know how to do it correctly?
- Do you know the basic rules for feeding horses?
- Do you know the names of the horse’s different body parts?
- Do you know all the signs of colic?
- Do you know when you need to call the vet?
- Do you know what a farrier is?
- Do you know what an equine dentist does for your horse?
- Do you know how often your horse needs a trim and or new shoes put on?
- Have you taken care of horses before, meaning daily chores for at least one week?
- Do you know the names for the parts of the bridle and saddle?
- Do you know the different kinds of blankets horses wear?
- Do you know what size saddle you fit in and the different tree sizes available?
- Do you know how often horses need to be vaccinated and dewormed?
- Do you have knowledge of the different breeds of horses?
- Do you know all the different horse colors and markings?
- Do you know about the different disciplines of riding
Okay, I am going to stop there with this list. It could go on, but I think this covers the basics of what experience you should have and what you should know as a minimum. Some people may think that it is too much, while others will think it is not enough.
This is just my personal view on what should be under your belt as an equestrian before leaping into owning a horse so that you are prepared for what it takes.
Who Is The Horse For You Or Your Child?
If the horse you’re going to buy is for yourself and you’re ready for horse ownership that’s great, fine. But if you are buying a horse for your child, let stop and take a moment to really make sure you and your child are ready for a horse.
If you are relying on the information your child knows about horses… stop! If you are counting on the horse being your child’s horse and responsibility… stop! If you are just assuming your child wants a horse … stop! If your child says they want a horse but hasn’t shown proof of being responsible at all for a length of time… stop! If your child doesn’t already appreciate what they have and always wants more… stop.
Owning a horse is a huge undertaking. It is a long time financial commitment, time commitment, and heart commitment. You need to make sure that both you and your child are prepared for a horse.
Ultimately if you are a parent, the horse is your responsibility and you need to be just as knowledgeable if not more knowledgeable about horses and their care than your child.
Even if your child decides they don’t want to ride because they don’t like it anymore and refuses to care for the horse. If it comes to that the horse still needs care and attention and you will probably have to be the one giving it to them. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that point.
You also want to make sure your child really wants a horse. Don’t buy a horse if your child is on the edge about having a horse, or likes horses and wouldn’t mind one.
Only buy a horse if your child is horse crazy, obsessed, loves horses more than life itself, has the drive to get to the barn and be around horses as much as possible. Otherwise half-hearted or lukewarm going into this a child will very likely lose interest.
But this is why you really want to make sure you and your child are ready for the commitment of your own horse.
How To Know If Your Child Is Responsible Enough For A Horse
There is no guarantee your child is going to be totally ready for a horse. Even the horse-crazy type can lose interest or become lazy about the care and riding of the horse. However, there are ways to test your child to get an idea if they are ready for the responsibility of having their own horse.
You will know your child is responsible enough if they prove it to you over a long enough period of time, which may be 6 months to a year.
Ways To Let Your Child Prove They Are Responsible Enough To Own A Horse
- Full lease a horse for a year- commit the same days a week to the leased horse that you would if the horse was your own. At the end of the year see how your child feels if they are more interested in owning a horse or if they have decided it is not for them.
- Working student position- It depends on the barn, but some barns allow barn work in exchange for riding lessons or practice rides. It is a lot of work. I have been a working student at 2 hunter/jumper barns, 3 eventing barns, 2 dressage barns, and 2 therapeutic riding barns. Usually, you work around 8 hours for one riding lesson. Having your child commit to doing this every weekend and help them prove they really have the desire for a horse of their own and are willing to work for it.
- Household chores- There is nothing better to test the desire, commitment, and responsibility than to create a home chore chart for your child. Children hate chores at home but usually love chores at the barn. So if your child keeps up with your home chore chart consistently for a year or so. That child has a drive and a love for horses that no laundry pile, a messy closet, dirty dishes could squash. Get that child a horse right now!
- Family Pet- Give your child the responsibility of taking care of the family pet. Whether it is a cat, dog, hampster, bird or whatever it is. Let them show you that they can be responsible, day in and day out taking care of that pet so that you know they will be responsible if you purchase a horse. Of course, you need to be overseeing the care and making sure the pet is actually properly cared for and correct and explain any mistakes by the child.
How To Get Ready To Own A Horse
So you decided that yes you want to buy a horse. You obviously want to make sure that you’re totally prepared to own a horse. So let’s go over some ways that you can get ready for your first horse.
- Start off by answering all the questions to see if you are ready to own a horse. If any of your answers are no then those are areas you are going to want to work.
- Find out how much it is going to cost you to own a horse monthly and annually. Add this to your household budgeting.
- Figure out how much you need to save for the initial costs of horse ownership such as price, instructor commission (if an instructor helps find horse), pre-purchase exam, transportation, training rides possibly from instructor or trainer, emergency fund as well as, and equipment.
- Decide on the type of riding you want to do with your new horse- The discipline of riding you choose will have an effect on the horse you end up choosing. Some horses are better suited for certain disciplines, and you want to make sure the horse you buy has experience in the discipline you are looking to do.
- Decide where you are going to keep your horse. Will you board your horse at a barn or keep your horse at home. Boarding is a better option for the more beginner equestrian because there will be experienced equestrians to help and your horse will be cared for. In order to keep your horse at home, there are a lot of factors to consider and the horse will be fully under your care and responsibility. Beginners should not keep horses at home for the safety of the owner and the horse.
- Figure out what kind of horse you want and the criteria your future horse ideally will meet.
- Get into the right mindset for buying horses. Don’t buy a horse just because it’s the first horse you see, the purchase price is cheap, you like the way the horse looks, or even because the horse has a good temperament.
- Find an experienced horse person that can go with you and help you screen potential horses. Whether that’s a friend or a professional that you can hire.
- Plan to hire a vet to do a pre-purchase examination, for the horse that you decide you want to buy to make sure there aren’t any underlying health problems and that the horse will be able to do what you want to do.
- Read books on buying and owning horses. Learn as much as you possibly can about horse care, horse behavior, horse training, and horse health care. Buy a good equine veterinarian handbook. It will be handy to be able to quickly lookup symptoms if your horse is not well, or if your horse gets an injury. Of course, calling the vet when you are unsure.
- Find names, numbers, emails for your future horse’s health care team. Here are some members to have as part of your horse health care team. Riding instructor, equine veterinarian, farrier, equine dentist, equine masseuse, equine chiropractor, saddle fitter. It may be trial and error finding the professionals you are confident with.
- Realize your horse may get hurt, sick, and need time off. This is toward the top of the list for one of the hard parts of owning horses. Many people buy horses because they love horses and love to ride. There will come a time with your horse that they will get hurt and probably need time off. The best thing you can do is preventative measures. Learn as much as you can to keep your horse safe, soreness-free, injury-free and healthy. But know you are responsible for the horse even if one day they become unrideable due to illness or injury. Selling or giving the horse away is not in the best interest of the horse as they often end up in terrible situations. The very sad reality is that you are better off putting the horse down in some situations if you are unwilling to continue to keep and care for the horse.
- The last bit of advice is to take your time and don’t rush into buying a horse. Really make sure you are prepared and making the best choices you can. This advice is meant to help protect you and help you make the best decisions you can. Owning a horse is a lot of work, money and time. Make sure it is something you really want to do and are willing to commit to that horse’s well being.
Did you find this article helpful? Check these out:
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