5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Horse
You might get the idea that you want to own a horse on impulse. Even if it is not on a whim, and you had the dream for years, getting a horse can be a major step in your life, and just because it’s something you’ve long dreamt about, it doesn’t mean you're ready for it. Getting a horse is much different than, let’s say, getting a dog or a cat, or a parrot. These are magnificent, powerful, and complex animals that require plenty of space, understanding, and patient care. Getting into horse ownership without prior knowledge and preparation can end in disaster – in more ways than one. But even if you read all you could on horses and their care, the real, first in-person impression can still take you by surprise. It is important to know exactly what to consider before buying a horse to make sure you are ready for this commitment and responsibility – these are the 5 most important things to know in advance.
#1 Horses need plenty of space
This should go without saying, but it is still worth mentioning: horses need ample room. If you want to be a responsible horse owner, you will have to provide them with quality accommodation. Naturally, a backyard or a shed won’t do as proper horse housing. If you are serious, you need to have special outbuildings, food storage areas, and horse stalls that are comfortable, built by standards, dry, and spacious. A horse cannot be confined in cramped stalls where there is no isolation, ventilation, or natural light. If you own the land but have no such buildings, creating them from scratch can be a major investment. And that is not all: horses can’t spend every day in the stall or the stable: they will have to go out as well. This requires extra free space – an open field or a pasture, or a large corral, where a horse can exercise, spend excess energy, and take in some fresh air and sunlight. Before getting a horse, all these things should be secured.
#2 Horses require regular care
Needless to say, horses are complex animals that require plenty of care. You will have to get acquainted with the nature of horses, their behavior, common ailments, their quirks and character, and the ins and outs of an equine. You will have to know how to feed them and when, and how much. You will have to provide fresh water several times a day and organize regular vet visits. And you will have to schedule regular farrier appointments, in case your horse is to be shoed. All this requires your time, patience, attention, and above all – money. Getting a horse is not a one-time investment. It requires funding over a long period, with little to no returns. Make sure you are ready to fund the care needed for a horse because it can be of vital importance.
#3 Age of the horse is important
When getting a horse, you will need to consider its age. Contrary to popular belief, getting a younger horse is not ideal for most first-time owners. Young horses, especially stallions, can be wilful, energetic, challenging to maintain, and in need of training. All this can be quite overwhelming for a first-time horse owner. An older, trained, and experienced horse, however, is much more docile and easier to bond with. These horses are “established” and used to the daily routines and the company of humans. Of course, it is also important to check if the horse is “spirited” or “broken in”. A spirited horse can be full of extra energy, aggressive, and disobedient. Such horses can be dangerous in the wrong hands, as they can buck and kick unexpectedly, causing grave injury. Observe the behavior of the horse and make a detailed inquiry with the previous owner.
#4 Owning a horse will take up all of your time
This can’t be stressed enough. If you want to get a horse, consider the time that is needed to care for them. If you have a regular 9 to 5 job, then caring for your horse won’t be easy. In fact, it could be impossible. Horses require feeding and fresh water several times per day, preferably at the exact same times. Their stalls need to be cleaned often, and bedding changed routinely. Horses need to be groomed, preferably daily and taken out of their stalls as well. Then there is the work related to the horse: cleaning out the stalls, removing manure, preparing feed and hay, taking care of horse riding equipment, vet visits, training, bonding, and farrier work. All this requires your 24-hour attention and plenty of work. So, before getting a horse, make sure that this is what you want and what you can achieve. Otherwise, bad results can ensue.
#5 Horse ownership is a long-term obligation
Out of all the basic things to consider before getting a horse, this is one of the most important. This is a long-term obligation. Once you actually get a horse and begin caring for it, you can’t just stop one week later and take them down to the shelter. It doesn’t work like that, and it is unethical. If you acquired a horse, you made a major step, one that can be life-changing. This magnificent and powerful animal now expects your help and requires your care. You will have to devote plenty of time and resources for this, and over a number of years. It is not only a long-term obligation but also a long-term expense. Horse care requires a lot of money. Before getting a horse, you will have to be certain of your income. You cannot be out of money when something urgent happens.
But still, as much as horse ownership can be time-consuming and challenging, it brings with it a number of wonderful things. Horses are marvelous creatures, very intelligent and friendly, and elegant to boot. A bond between a horse and its owner can be unbreakable and mirror even the strongest human friendships. Devoting your time and resources to cultivate such a bond is the least you can do.
A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.
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