Buying a Horse
It is such an exciting time when you are able to consider owning your own horse but before you make the decision for definite you need to acknowledge many crucial responsibilities as an owner.
It is not the cost of buying the horse that is the most expensive, it is the upkeep. Each horse is an individual and has various needs. Here are some of the things you must budget for:
- Equipment (stable tools, horsewear, Tack)
- Stabling including water and lighting
- Maintenance (fencing repair)
- Muck removal
- Livery fees (if required)
- Horse Dentist
- Saddle Fitter
- Veterinary fees
- Transport costs including fuel
- Retirement care
- The unfortunate cost of euthanasia
Be true to yourself and your potential horse, do you have the time as this is truly a dedication that must be met. Will you need to travel to a livery yard or will your horse be at your home as you will need to visit your horse at least twice daily. Here are a list of things that needs your time allocated to:
- Rug changes in the morning (season depending)
- Turning your horse out in a paddock
- Mucking out
- Bringing your horse in from the paddock
- Rug changes in the evening (season depending)
- Skipping out (removing droppings from the stable in the evening)
- Stable maintenance
- Paddock maintenance (removing droppings, harrowing, fertilising, weed killing especially ragwort control)
- Time with visits from the Farrier, Vets, Dentist etc
- Time for riding/driving
SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
Owning a horse is very rewarding but a huge responsibility and is your obligation for the horses welfare. If you don’t have the knowledge how to look after a horse for example how to groom, feed, carry out stable management, understand the healthcare and recognising lameness this should be learnt first.
As a parent if your child has their own pony but is under 16yrs old then it is ultimately your responsibility for the pony’s welfare, therefore you should gain the knowledge for caring for the pony also!
FINDING THE RIGHT HORSE
Questions to ask yourself first before you start looking:
- What will you ask of the horse ie will it be a happy hacker, childs pony or competition horse?
- How will it be kept ie Stabled and use of a paddock or totally live in a paddock?
- What skills do you as the prospective owner/keeper have?
- Will it be a youngster or an educated horse?
- Have you found somewhere to keep the horse if not at home?
When deciding on the type of horse I have more often than not come across people that have unfortunately fallen in love with the wrong horse which has ended up that both the owner and the horse suffer. If you are a beginner/novice rider, there is absolutely nothing wrong in that but please do not fall in love with a competition horse. To explain; I try and liken it to learning to drive a car, start with a reliable Ford Fiesta the Ferarri can come later!
Regarding the type of horse, for instance hardy types like the Dartmoor, New Forest ponies and Cobs normally cope well with living out at pasture but more fine bred horses and ponies may need stabling and an additional feeding regime which you need to take into account.
It takes much further skill when owning a youngster than an established horse, you may feel that it will be lovely to learn together, yes this can be successful but it can also be a serious failure. It can take just a day for your little one to go from a cuddly pony to a monster and too often than not the human blames the pony but I’m afraid it is normally the opposite. They need handling with confidence and boundaries set from the start just like a toddler does, so if you have the option of a youngster or an older horse please make the right decision for you.
YOUR HORSES HOME
It is crucial that you have a place for your horse to live before you go ahead with the purchase or loan. If you are going to keep your horse at a livery yard it can be harder to find somewhere at winter time as this is when livery yards are most popular as owners who previously only kept their horse in a paddock now need shelter for them.
BRINGING YOUR HORSE HOME
It is a very exciting time when you have your new horse home but do bear in mind it can be quite unsettling for the horse, give it time to get used to its surroundings and be aware that its behaviour can change, therefore the horse you thought you saw when you first went to see it at its old home maybe totally different in your new home.
Again I try and explain to people imagine how you feel when you start a new school or start a new job it can be quite daunting but at least you know why you are there, your new horse doesn’t, give it time to settle and over the following days, weeks, months and years enjoy building your new relationship and most importantly Have Fun!
Written by: Sam Jamieson © 2015