Are you ready to own a horse?

It seems to me that everybody I meet has always dreamed of having a horse. Often, when they find out that I do in fact own a horse, they immediately begin quizzing me. They’re not typically seeking actual answers to any questions of substance, but rather reassurance that surely, by now, their childhood pony-dream could become a reality.

(First lesson for the prospective horse owner: Don’t treat every horse-owning yahoo you meet as an expert. They usually aren’t. And you probably haven’t learned yet to distinguish knowledgeable advice from complete nonsense.)

Don’t get me wrong: I get it. I can’t say I ever had a particular attachment to dreams of horse ownership, only because I never imagined myself being able to afford a new pair of jeans, much less an equine. Instead I sort of woke up one day and had one in my possession. It wasn’t the ideal situation: I was young and stupid, she was still half-wild, and I’d only recently decided to quit my job and go back to college. It’s not really a combination that leads to a great deal of financial security. We made it through some very lean times, and there were days when I spent my last dime on a bale of hay and ate pancakes with mustard because it’s all the food I had.

It’s not a lifestyle choice I’d generally recommend.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re rich enough to maintain a horse, but not quite rich enough to hire a full-time staff to take care of it for you. You’ve wanted a horse since you were just a tiny wee person, and though you’ve never really learned much about horses, you want to buy one. You spend all your free time fantasizing about cantering down the beach with your hair streaming behind you, and your horse running to meet you in the field Shadowfax-style, and all of the marvelous adventures and exploits you’ll get up to when you finally, at long last, have a pony of your own. So, are you ready to own a horse? I have some helpful questions for you which may help you come to that decision.

Are you ready to pluck embedded ticks from your animal’s body with your fingers? Are you ready to clean smegma from your horse’s teats (or his sheath, if your horse is a male)? Are you ready to scrub water buckets, even when they’re thick with algae, drowned insects and horse slobber? Are you ready to spend a good chunk of your time smeared with horse snot, covered in a fine layer of dust and horsehair, with manure on your boots? Are you ready to haul water into the field, bucket by bucket from the kitchen sink, because the barn pipes are frozen? Are you ready to stay up all night trying to nurse him through a colic? Are you ready to take rectal temperatures, shovel manure, engage in all-out warfare against flies, and get up in the middle of the night just because you heard a strange sound and you want to make sure the horses are okay? Are you ready to funnel all of your money into feed bills and vet bills and equipment and trailers and trucks and boarding and supplements and farriers and trainers and transporters and more vet bills? Are you ready to be frustrated, kicked, bitten, ignored, bucked off, or otherwise defeated?

Are you ready to challenge yourself, to learn new things, to discover exactly how emotionally fit — or unfit — you are? Are you ready to put your own ego aside and ask for help? Are you ready to always push to better yourself for your horse? Are you ready to throw yourself into becoming a better rider, a better horseman and a better human being?

If you can answer yes to all of those questions, congratulations! I still wouldn’t recommend getting a horse. Not yet, not if this would be your first real horse experience. Here’s what I would recommend, first.

Take horsemanship lessons. Whether you’re going to a local hunter/jumper barn, taking clinics with your local natural horsemanship trainer, or joining the Pony Club or 4-H, you really should spend some time with horses in general before you even think about getting your own. If you’re thinking about getting a horse and you’ve never been taught how to pick up a hoof, how to lead a horse without being run over, how to tell if your horse is unhealthy, and how to ride (or drive, if that’s your sport of preference), what exactly are you planning to do with your own horse when you acquire one? You need to be prepared to keep up on your horse’s training, exercise and general care before you bring one home. If you’re thinking about an equine that doesn’t have a lot of training, you need to have more skills than it does in order to progress with it. (And do not even say the words “we’re going to get the kids a baby horse so they can grow up together” in my hearing, or I may have a coronary.) If you don’t have those skills, you’re best off with a horse who does have skills, who can make up for your lack of same. Take this from someone who didn’t do that. Horses can be great teachers, but they can’t stand there and explain to you how to take care of them. A good lesson barn or other organization can help you go into horse ownership with much better preparation.

Lesson horses are particularly great teachers because they’ve been there and done that, and most of them won’t kill you. (The ones that will are good teachers, too, and they’ll make you question whether you’re really up for the task of horse ownership.) And a good lesson barn won’t just teach you how to climb on and ride; they’ll teach you how to catch, groom, and tack up as well, at the very least. They’re also usually more than happy to have volunteer labor doing chores around the barn, so you can gain more horse experience that way. And the more you take lessons, the more you’ll begin to get a feel for what sorts of pursuits you’d like to engage in, and what kind of horse you’ll need to do that. If you want to compete in endurance, you don’t want a draft horse; if you want to learn to do farm work with horses, you aren’t going to be shopping for an Arabian. Before you go horse shopping, you need to know all of that.

If you don’t have the money or the time for horsemanship lessons before getting a horse, then you don’t have the money or the time for a horse of your own. Period. I wish I’d been able to afford many more years worth of lessons before I got my own horse; I’d be a better rider and better equipped to deal with the completely unstarted horse I was adopting, and if I’d have been smart I’d have recognized my lack of money for that pursuit as a sign that I was going to have serious financial trouble ahead trying to maintain my own horse.

If you do take lessons but lose interest after a few months or a year, then you’ll probably lose interest in your own horse, too. The nice thing about discovering that before you buy a horse is that you can stop taking lessons. You can’t just stop taking care of a horse of your own, and in the current horse market, you might have a hard time giving away a horse that you’ve decided you don’t want anymore.

Attend meetings and events of local horsemanship clubs. Groups like the Back Country Horsemen, Pony Club, and other riding clubs have regular meetings, playdays and events. These are great to attend just to see what’s going on in your area, and to start acquiring knowledge about horses. They’re also good resources if you want to ask around about how much it might cost to keep a horse in your area, what boarding and feed options are available to you, and what sort of things you might be able to do with a horse when you do have one. You’ll also often find people willing to let you ride their horses, though if you want to keep your brains in one piece I’d generally advise doing your riding in a controlled environment under the supervision of a qualified instructor.

Again, if you don’t have time for this, you don’t have time for a horse. The time spent on working, riding, training and maintaining a horse of your own is (or should be) an even more significant output than the amount of money you’ll spend.

Volunteer at a horse rescue. Horse rescues can be tremendous places to learn all about horse care and training. I learned most of what I knew before I got my own horse by volunteering at a rescue. I also learned first-hand what happens to the horses that people decide they don’t want anymore; it’ll keep you from making this decision lightly.

Rescues can be tremendous places to learn and they can also be good places to look for a suitable horse for yourself. Before I adopted Juno, I was also the one who worked with her at the rescue, and I did most of her training myself (after having learned quite a bit working with other horses there). So by the time I did decide to adopt her, I could be pretty certain of three important things: that I’d be able to continue making progress with her (our challenges weren’t completely beyond my skill level), that she and I were very well-matched in personality, and that her temperament and breed were suitable for the sort of things I would eventually want to do with her. Mind you, when I brought my horse home I was still pretty clueless, but I can’t imagine how screwed we would both have been if I had simply walked in, adopted a horse and walked out again.

(I’ll add a caveat to the volunteering idea, though. A lot of rescuers are a little crazy, in over their heads, or just clueless about how to properly care for horses. There’s no harm in being selective about where you’re going to spend your time, and it’s no use learning very bad horse management skills. A person doesn’t have to have any particular qualifications in the US to run a rescue, and I can’t even count the number of times that animals have had to be rescued from rescues; just because a rescue exists doesn’t mean it’s a good one. I recently visited a rescue which had too many horses for its non-existent resources, and worse, several horses that had been there for months but were still emaciated. The rescue owner’s explanations for this were appallingly inadequate. That’s a person you don’t want to learn horse husbandry skills from. If none of the rescues in your area give you a good feeling, just go for a good lesson barn or another local horse organization instead. I posted a few tips about how to recognize a rescue that is perhaps not worth your time over here: Horse Rescue Warning Signs.)

Lease a horse before buying. This is a tried and true way to get the horse ownership experience without going all-in. Depending on where you live, what sort of horse you’re looking to lease and what owners are leasing in your area, you could get anything from a half-lease on a high-dollar show horse to a free lease on somebody’s tried and true trail horse. Particularly in this economy, many people are willing to lease a horse out to someone who will pay for its care — feed, board, shoes and the like — so the owner doesn’t have as much of a financial burden and doesn’t end up having to get rid of the horse. If you do like the horse you end up leasing and it seems like a good match, it’s not uncommon for people to end up buying the horse they’ve been leasing, and you get a sort of extended test drive of the relationship to make sure it’s going to work out before you commit.

I’d also recommend, before you start this whole process, that you really ask yourself exactly why you want a horse. The answer, for too many people, seems to be merely, “Because I’ve always wanted one.” I’ve known plenty of horse owners who’ve had horses just to go hunting, or to stand in the yard, or to pack around the grandkids once a year, and are no more interested in their animals than they would be in a moped, which really is the sort of mode of transport they should’ve invested in in the first place. And I’ve known tons of people who’ve gotten a horse “because they’ve always wanted one,” without realizing that horses are big, and they can be scary, and a single trip to the vet can bankrupt you. In all of these scenarios, it’s the horses who end up on the losing end of things.

I absolutely love being a horse owner; I find all the work that I put into it very rewarding, and I get a huge kick out of constantly learning more and more about training and animal behavior. My horse has been an anchor for me, whether she knows it or not, at times when if I hadn’t had her to care for, I would’ve been in a very bad place indeed. I find just being around her to be the best brand of stress relief there is. If you had asked me before I got her why it was I wanted her, I would’ve told you it was because I couldn’t imagine not having her around. If you had asked me what I wanted to do with her, I would’ve said everything. I got a horse because I loved that specific animal, not because I wanted a horse. But that’s just me. It’s turned out well for me, for the most part. I wouldn’t change it.

I offer this advice not as an expert in the field of horse ownership, but as a person who has made a lot of these same mistakes. And if you’re going to get a horse of your own, I’d love to help you avoid some of the stupider things that I’ve done in my life.

I would merely advise you, if you are thinking about getting a horse, to really understand yourself first. Know what your priorities are and make sure that your horse will be right up at the top of the list, because they’ll give a lot back to you, but they demand a lot too. Do some soul-searching. If you want to do your horse justice, you’re going to have to do a lot of it later, so you might as well start getting used to it now.

If you’re a horse person, what advice do you have for all those people out there who are considering getting a horse of their own? And if you’re one of those people, what’s your deal? Let’s hear from you in the comments!


30 thoughts on “Are you ready to own a horse?

  1. *sigh* I happen to know of some lovely horses who do not deserve the owners they have, and it breaks my heart. I can’t even begin.

    What I’d love to see: Every potential horse owner should have to pass a test, get a license, report to someone, and have $5000 in a “horse expenses” bank account – per horse, annually. Ownership of stallions and youngsters is prohibited without a specialized license.

    Neglect needs to be categorized as more than physical malnutrition and should include emotional and mental neglect.

    While I have LOTS MORE ranting to do, I’ll stop here.

    Ok, I realize that my dream is crazy-impossible, but I’d settle for horses having to be licensed by the city or county like dogs and cats. They aren’t considered livestock, they aren’t considered pets. Therefore they slip through the cracks and suffer for it. They deserve better.

    • Tina, I totally commend your ranting skills. :D I often feel the same way you do, though I think if horse ownership was that restrictive, very few of us would have horses… me included. I can’t remember the last time I even saw $5000 all in one place. :D I’d also hesitate to see things really legislated to that extent because it would probably extend to legislating what styles of training or horsekeeping are “proper” and humane. We should definitely strengthen existing humane laws (like the ones that require feed, water and shelter), but I’d hate to see the law say that horses are required to be kept in box stalls or that it’s illegal to ride without a bit, you know what I’m sayin’? It is interesting to look at how other countries handle horse ownership, though… I met someone from a Scandinavian country (I can’t remember which, unfortunately) who told me that breeding a horse without proper approval in her country would result in a jail term.

      As far as licensing, it’s kind of a nice idea, but I haven’t seen licensing really result in better lives for dogs and cats, at least where I’ve lived. Licensing isn’t even required where I am now.

  2. Mac. my kids & I lived in a caravan in a field so we could have horses…. If its important enough, its do-able!

    • Agreed! Plus, living in a caravan in a field seems like a totally viable option to me some days. I have considered living in my truck full-time, though now that I have an enormous dog that’s not so much a possibility anymore. ;D

  3. Great post Mackensie!
    I think you have put everything into perspective and I am really happy to say that I did what you suggest before I got a horse. I learned to ride (kind of), I helped out at the riding school. I loaned a horse, then bought her. That’s when the ‘problems’ started lol. Nothing that Parelli didn’t solve and give even more to me and my horses.
    I would like to add that for me, having a horse, is a little like having a child. I put my horses care and welfare before my own. Her needs are my priority just like my children’s were when they were young. She comes first, everything else follows once she is cared for. That’s how seriously I take the responsibility!

  4. Rant on Mac..rant on. You are totally right. I was a pony mad kid, first job was cycling 12 mile round trip as a 13 year old at 5.30am 7 days a week to shovel poop in return for and hour ride on an Saturday. (think there is a law against that now). I’m pretty sure my parents could have paid pony bills with ease as a kid but I was ‘bound to grow out of it soon’ well here we are. I’m 45 and still sucking up all the knowledge I can get my hands on and sniffing strangers horses whenever I get the chance. They totally understand for the most part, and I always ask first!
    I didn’t actually get my horse until I was in my 30s, I was pretty darn sure I knew what I was doing. How wrong was I? I actually had a massive panic attack 3 days later when the full scope of what I had done sunk in. We battled on and got through several bouts of colic, whiteline disease, cuts, bumps, strained ligaments, and Anhidrosis, not to mention a couple of hurricanes. At one stage she hurt her back (or maybe I did) and my vet who didn’t think bedside manner was needed told me ‘well at least she’s beautiful, she’ll make a great lawn ornament’. A chriopractor soon put her right.
    She streached my wallet to it’s fullest extent. I went without so she could have new shoes. She taught me more than I thought there was to learn and I wouldn’t change a second of it. I do however warn anyone I hear saying they are ‘thinking’ of buying a horse. 24/7 commitment, heartache and pain are guaranteed.
    A woman approached me last week after hearing of my horsey obsession and asked me what type of pony she should get for her 12 year old. I spoke to her for about 20 minutes and they are now going with ‘tap’ lessons instead…..

    • Wow, sounds like you’ve been through the wars! :D I honestly don’t understand why parents with horse-mad kids leap straight to getting the kid a pony… join the Pony Club or something and let them ride without the huge personal investment! There are so many options, and most of them don’t involve sale ads that start with, “Daughter has grown up and discovered boys / gone away to college / lost interest”. Those are the sale ads that depress me the most, honestly… especially when they’re accompanied by a photo of the beaming kid on the pony in question.

  5. Great post, but I have to say if we all waited until we were “ready” by definition of this post…..there would be no horse owners. And for many this is unfortunate because it ends badly, but for many they muddle through until they figure it out and become pretty good horse owners.

    I leased for several years before buying my first horse, then boarded..during boarding I added one more and then we brought them home where we have now added a third. I’m still not sure I’m “ready” but we tough it out through those late cold nights, we live without so everyone eats and we don’t have a stitch of clothing without hay, poop or dust on it…maybe all three and we sweat through summer to make sure all the stalls are clean.

    BUT….I would not trade it for anything. As Tucker carries me up that last crest of the mountain so we can view the valley below, it is all worth it. As I walk to the barn in the morning and hear them call to me for breakfast, it is all worth it. As I share a quiet moment in that yet to be mucked stall with my pony laying in my lap, it is all worth it.

    • I don’t think anything I’ve said is terribly restrictive… and all of the “are you ready to” questions are more reality checks than check-list. :D The real question is, are you ready to do what you need to do for your horse’s health and well-being? If the answer is yes, then people will learn the things they need to learn. We certainly don’t all go into it very well-prepared, but I think a lot of people who are seriously considering horse ownership aren’t seriously considering the actual reality of it.

      • MacKenzie: Don’t know if you are still interested in replies to this article, but here is my story. At 65 years old my husband and I decided to fulfill a dream of owning a horse. I fell in love with a 4 month old Arabian X. She was beautiful. Great head, little compact body and the most expressive eyes I have ever seen. I bought her for $500.00. We didn’t know one end of the horse from the other. We weren’t even riders, but this was going to be my pet. At the barn there was another 4 month old and they were tied to the hip, so we bought him too. We had just learned that horses were herd animals and should have a companion. So, here we are the owners of two 4 month old babies and don’t know “diddly squat” about horses. Long story short, it is almost 5 years later and we have experienced everything that was in your article and more. Our finances have been stretched to the limit with vet bills, feed, lessons, etc. Because we couldn’t find a suitable boarding facility to take care of them the way we wanted them cared for (filthy, sparse pastures grass, little feed, some abusive treatment observed, crazy “know it all”, but really knowing very little people, we bought a small house with land (still own the other house with the bad real estate market). Over $100,000.00 worth of investment in remodeling, barn, fencing, etc., we have invested much of our life savings into them. My husband has suffered many injuries in novice training and riding, including a overnight stay in the hospital for a concussion, post trauma amnesia and a broken shoulder. I don’t care if I ever ride them. OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY THINK WE ARE CRAZY! What do we think? We wouldn’t change a minute of it. They are the loves of our lives. We spend, at least, 5 hours a day with them, feeding, grooming, cleaning stalls, exercising them, picking up pasture manure. While our friends who think we are crazy become “couch potatoes” we remain healthy and active with a purpose to our lives. After almost 5 years, we, actually, know one end from the other, but realize if we live to be 100, we will never learn all there is to know about horses. Our biggest fear is that they are, probably, going to out live us (something I did not think of in the beginning). Who is going to care for them as we do? Who will groom two times a day and put Desatin on their noses so they don’t burn, put their fly masks on, wipe their butts when they are dirty, make sure her grain is soaked (had choke 3 times) and all the other things we do for them? We have decided that if we can’t find a suitable owner, We will take them with us to the great beyond and put them down. Thanks for listening. Thought you might like to hear a story that did work out, because, like you, I have heard and witnessed the horror stories. Carolyn

        • Thanks Carolyn! I’m glad it all worked out for you… like you said though, there are a lot of people who came into the situation like you did and it didn’t turn out so well! I’ve recently had to rehome my own horse because I couldn’t afford her any longer (and could really never afford her in the first place), but I’m relieved that being as much of a novice as I was when I got her, that in my ignorance I didn’t get either one of us seriously hurt or killed. It could’ve gone in another direction, that’s for sure.

  6. Freakin’ awesome post. You’ve covered it all. Horses are not a hobby – they are a lifestyle, and unless you are prepared to live your life around their needs, you should not bring them home.

    • Thanks! I get a little worried when I keep hearing from people saying, “I want to get a horse!” when they don’t really know the head from the tail. :D A little reality check can go an awfully long way to avert a disaster. :D

  7. My advise to people who dream of owning a horse? Don’t. Start collecting stamps instead, it’s cheaper, much less dangerous, won’t keep you up at night crying and you can still show it off to your friends ;)
    Brilliant post, there is not much more to say, really.
    I bought each and every one of my horses, not because I wanted a horse, but because I wanted THAT horse… I have said to myself over and over again, “No more. I am never buying another youngster or taking on another problem horse…” But well, when the right horse comes along, what are you going to do? ;)
    I disagree with you Tina, though, about the bank acount ;) I have been dead broke since I bought my first horse, but that does not mean that my horses suffer from it ;) I pay all of my bills, my horses tend to be looked over one time too many by the vet’s, just to be sure and allow me to sleep at night ;) When I call them up, I don’t have to say my name, they all have me coded into their phones… (No doubt attached with warning lights and a sirren, “crazy horse” alert)…
    So, yeah, it would be nice with 5000 in the bank, for each horse (wow, I would be rich), but they would spend it before I even got them through the stable door… ;)

    • Hah, I don’t know that I’d go that far! I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage people from horse ownership, I just think it’s incredibly important that people know what they’re getting into. When I first started volunteering at the horse rescue I mentioned, their adoption policy gave the trainer free rein to adopt out completely wild horses to inexperienced horse people. It was a total train wreck. One year we adopted out something like 6 horses, and had around 30 returned. And usually people would take the horse home, realize they were in over their heads, and just let the horse sit for months or even years. When they finally returned them the hooves were horrifically overgrown, the horses were thin, and they were even more wild than they started. All because somebody couldn’t admit that they didn’t know what they were doing.

  8. The one thing I can think of that would maybe make inappropriate future horse owners think twice, is to tell them straight out that purchasing the horse is the cheapest part of ownership. It only goes up from there, and if you don’t have the “fever” (that’s what I call my all-encompassing devotion to the welfare and well-being of my horse) and a family that can put up with being second in your life, then just settle for a lease or regular riding lessons or any other way that will be painless to both you and the animal if you have to bail out of the arrangement.

    • No joke; as the saying goes (and my experience bears out :D), there’s no such thing as a “free horse.” :D And it’s impossible to know what kind of changes your life will go through over the 30 years or so that your horse lives. You could have kids or become unemployed or be deployed or… the list is endless. That doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t do it just because they can’t map out the future, but to think about those things and how having a horse is going to change their lives or restrict what they can do. I love having a horse and a dog but it also means that I can’t just drop everything and take a European vacation. (I can’t afford to anyway, because I own a horse. :D)

    • I like the part of Alli’s reply about having a family that can put up with being second. I’d LIKE to say my kids come first (and in a serious emergency they would), but the reality is that my horse probably tops the list. My poor husband has resigned himself to the fact that he’s a distant third…and he’d definitely agree that the cheapest part is the initial cost of the animal. We’ve easily put thousands of dollars into my $300 horse! I wouldn’t give her up for the world, but when potential new horse owners approach me, I tell them to save their time and energy (and often heartache) by finding a different hobby.

      Great post!

  9. Please submit this somewhere … anywhere … as a magazine article. It doesn’t even have to be in a horse magazine either, almost any mag will do. It’s wonderfully written (with NO arrogance) and covers every angle.

    A little story of my own. My “real” job used to be working for a (human) dentist. We had a very sweet mother/daughter combo who lived near my farm and I got to know them well via the dentist office. The young daughter (age 8) took up riding lessons at a very high end dressage stable nearby and since they knew I had horses, they loved sharing stories about her progress. It wasn’t long before the parents were seriously considering selling their gorgeous home so they could buy a small farm and get their daughter her own horse. By they way, neither parent had any equine experience. Ug ….

    One day I sat down with the mother and offered a suggestion. Knowing how many children go through a pretty intense horse “phase” and knowing they were thinking about making some very serious decisions, I asked her if she might consider bringing her daughter over to my farm to learn the REAL scoop about owning your own horse. (At the stable, you just show up, get on a tacked horse, ride, then leave. Nothing more) The daughter would not get paid … because nobody pays you to take care of your OWN horse … but she would get a lot of supervised experience learning about horse ownership.

    The mother talked it over with her husband and they agreed that their daughter should see what the day to day responsibilities of owing a horse would be like. They made a one-year commitment to come to my farm once a day, 2-3 times a week. If, at the end of that period their daughter was still begging to get her own horse, then they would make it happen.

    I should mention here that although they lived only a few minutes drive away, one of the parents would have to accompany the child at every visit. So it was just as much of a responsibility for them was it was for their daughter. (And it provided the parents with a little horsey education too!)

    The young girl did very well and she came in all kinds of weather. She more than held up her end of the bargain. In the mean time however, the stable where she was riding had moved her up from the sweet (read as: dead broke) pony she’d started on and she was struggling to progress with a slightly more challenging mount. She attended their horse camp that summer and she didn’t win every class or bond with every horse she rode. I know she was disappointed and several times she mentioned wanting to buy the pony she rode her first year. Sadly, she had outgrown him and besides, he wasn’t for sale.

    By the end of the one year the girl’s passion for ponies had diminished significantly. Oh, she fulfilled her commitment with me and was happy to do it (she was such a delightful child), but her desire to spend every waking moment of the day with a horse was a fast fading memory. Her parents sighed a huge sigh of relief that they hadn’t traded their comfortable home for a more rural setting and that they weren’t “stuck” caring for a horse their daughter might no longer cherish.

    It’s EASY to get sucked into wanting your own horse when you ride at a stable. You feel somewhat … less than or left out of the loop when you’re limited to a lease or just riding the lesson horses. I think this blog has some great suggestions for anyone thinking about getting their own horse, whether you plan to board it or keep it in your own back yard. I suggest anyone thinking along those lines print this out and stick it some place where they can read it again … especially when you’re on your way out the door for a day at the beach or planning your weekly vacation or considering some new splurge that will deplete your savings account … because Murphy’s Law says that’s when your horse will pull up lame ….

    Well done!

    • Thank you! It sounds to me like you seriously saved that family’s bacon… I was really glad to hear that the little girl did indeed stick with it, though. I thought I knew where that story was headed but you totally surprised me on that one. :D I certainly have my days where I feel like maybe I’m not dedicated enough either… where I can’t help but think if I didn’t have animals, it’d be a lot easier for me to do a lot of things I’d like to do (and be better able to afford them, too!). But then it occurs to me that I’d be an entirely different — and, I think, less happy and less balanced — person without them. And there are certainly ways to still do other things like trips and whatnot, you just have to be more disciplined and more serious about them to organize all that around your animals, too. ;D

  10. Nope, don’t think I’m ready at all. Haha.

    But I would still love to own one someday :D

    Have a good week!

  11. Pingback: To have a horse or not to have a horse. That is the question. |

  12. I have owned horses for many yrs., and it is without a doubt an expensive hobby. That’s just the regular maintence, annual shots, worming on a regular basis, farrier costs, (horses should have their feet done at least every 6 to 8 weeks), teeth need to be floated. Everyone who owns horses needs to be prepared for the unexpected illnesses that can happen, horses are also good for hurting themselves occasionally. Don’t forget about the grain, hay, and supplements.

    Needless to say people should do their homework before taking on the responsibilty of horse ownership. If your not prepared to make owning a horse a lifetime commitment since horses can easily live into their 30’s ( I know because one of mine is 31 yrs old), please think long and hard before you buy one. I always tell people who say they want to get a horse for their child, only get a horse if you want it as well. We all know that the newness often wears off, and the child often loses interest. That goes with any animal. The parents are often left to take care of the animal, or they end up getting rid of it. That’s not fair to the animal, unless you find a good home, who knows where it could end up, and it’s not always in a good place.

    • That’s great advice. I also liked rontuaru’s story above where she gave a child a taste of the work involved in horse ownership before the parents would buy her a pony… and she also made the parents be involved and inconvenienced by having to deal with running out to do horse chores all the time. I’m always cruising the horse sale ads (because I like to punish myself with all the horses I can’t have :D) and the ones that say “daughter lost interest” and things like that just kill me. It’s one of the many reasons why good lesson barns are so vital to the whole industry… it’s so easy to help prevent unwanted horses by giving kids access to horsemanship without making it a lifetime commitment.

  13. I come from the extreme end of the spectrum having lived and worked full time at a large horse rescue for 4 years. I’ve seen hundreds of horrible, sad and scary stories. I guess this blog was hard for me to read because I don’t need any more reminders of how to fail as a horse owner. I could write a book on the subject. In the end, just like with any relationship, you never know what it’s going to look like until you do it. You can study, learn and immerse until the horses come home, but there’s something that changes once you put the ring on your finger that’s nothing like dating. It really does test the human condition.

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