First-time horse owners, learn how to save time and money when buying a horse. Be prepared to provide the best possible care for your horse with proven horse care techniques.
Horse Shopping? Learn the Secrets that will Save you Time and Money If not careful you will buy a horse that is not suitable for you. The horse may be more than you can handle, he may be lame or unsound in another way, or he may not be trained to do the work required of him. Imagine the frustration of buying a horse that you are unable to ride and enjoy.
When you are horse shopping following some basic techniques will help you find a suitable partner. A horse that will be fun, safe and a great addition to your family. If you are buying a horse for your children, their safety will be your first concern. Many first-time owners get caught up in the excitement of buying a horse and make an impulse purchase. Here are a few things that are commonly overlooked.
~What type of horse to look for. Narrowing your search saves time and money. The ideal horse will be fun, safe and a constant source of pleasure.
~Where to look for a suitable horse. Knowing where to find a suitable horse will save you time by maximizing your search.
~How to evaluate prospects. Save time by eliminating horses that are unsuitable.
~Final selection. When you find the ideal horse, take the right precautions to ensure that you are buying a healthy suitable animal.
Once you have found your ideal horse, his well being will be your prime concern. If he is boarded, how will you know he is receiving the correct care? If he is at home, can you provide the necessary care to keep him happy and healthy? Common concerns include: Finding a suitable boarding stable. Knowing your horse is well cared for provides peace of mind and is a great place for you to learn more about horse care and management. A good stable will provide for all your horse's needs.
Planning to look after your horse yourself? What will you feed him? Selecting the right feed for your horse will provide him with good nutrition. Feeding the correct quantities will save waste and save you money.
Selecting Veterinarians, Farriers and other equine professionals. A good support team will ensure that your horse is fit, sound, and healthy. Your Horse's Health. Know the signs of good health. Learn the basic health care routines to keep your horse healthy.
Grooming. A horse that is well groomed is a thing of beauty. Save time by doing it right the first time. These are just a few of the concerns you will have as you start your search for your first horse.
Some questions to ask yourself: Whether you are looking for a horse for yourself or your child, there are many questions that need to be answered before taking the plunge!
~Why do I want a Horse? Horses are a source of enjoyment for many people. Not only is riding fun, it is a great form of exercise. Horse ownership is often a lifelong dream which can finally be realized. Social and competitive opportunities become available with horse ownership, and frequently your own horse is a confidant and close companion. Being able to ride whenever you wish is one of the many benefits of horse ownership. Many horse lovers simply enjoy spending time with horses, and caring for them as another member of the family.
~Are you buying a horse for your child? If so, ask yourself if a Horse Right for my Child? What will my Child gain from Owning a Horse?
There are many benefits from owning a horse. Caring for an animal teaches a child to be responsible. The routine and regiment of caring for an animal teaches children discipline. As with many interests, the rewards are the direct result of hardwork. Children will learn that hard work pays off, and develop a good work ethic. When children contribute towards the cost of keeping a horse they develop an appreciation for money and finances. A nervous or shy child will gain self-confidence from being able to handle a large animal. All these qualities will carry over into the child's life. Riding and stable chores develop strength, agility, balance and coordination. A family horse encourages teamwork and sharing. A competitive child will gain a healthy sense of sportsmanship and a good competitive attitude. (Horses can be very humbling!)
~A parent? What are the Benefits for Us? Horse ownership can bring the family together when everyone takes a part in the day-to-day care and riding activities. Parents can be involved, and experience the joy of watching their children developing new skills. Skills which will provide pleasure throughout the child's life. Watching children enjoying their horse may encourage moms and dads to join in the fun and learn a new skill!
~Disadvantages? Keeping a horse can be expensive. The animal must be cared for every day, twice a day, 365 days a year. If you pay someone to take care of the horse this is not such a problem. A horse that is cared for by the family must be provided for during holidays, vacations, and family crisis. Your child may lose interest or find another pastime. Horses are time consuming. Make sure that your child's other activities will fit in with a horse.
Do you or someone in your family have the experience to care for a horse. If not, are you willing to learn? If you have any doubts about your chills level of interest, try other options before committing to a horse full time!
~How will a horse affect my family? If the whole family is involved in your hobby, a horse can bring the family together. If however, everyone has separate interests, your horse will have to fit around their schedules, and might take time away from other family activities. If other members of the family are interested, it is a lot of fun to spend time together doing chores around the barn as a family.
~How time consuming is owning a horse? This depends upon your individual situation. If you plan to board the horse and pay someone else to care for it, your time commitment can be whatever you choose. Your horse care costs will be higher and your worries less. (You will also miss out on a lot of the fun of your own horse.) If you plan to have the horse at home, you will be committed to feeding and other chores at least twice a day. These can take 20 minutes or more than an hour depending on your circumstances.
This is 7 days a week, 365 days a year, rain or shine. The horse will require grooming and other maintenance procedures that at a minimum will take half an hour a day, often more. You will also need time to work with the Farrier and the Vet. Between these two extremes, are numerous variables. You can board the horse and have someone else feed, and muck out for you. This will save you money but still give you time with the horse for grooming etc. The options are many, but it is usually possible to find an arrangement, which fits your schedule and budget. Some boarding stables offer a discount on your board if they can use your horse for lessons. Of course, the horse must be suitable for the type of riding that they teach. This can work in some situations, however an agreement in writing is advisable.
~What are the Alternatives to Horse Ownership? If you are not sure if you are ready for a horse of your own consider these options.
*Lessons If you don't already take lessons, improve your riding skill and horse care knowledge by investing in a series of lessons at a reputable stable. This will boost your confidence and knowledge and give you a better idea of your equestrian ambitions.
*Camps Around the country there are camps for both adults and children dealing with all areas of horsemanship. Sign up for a camp and you will receive an intensive course in your chosen area.
*Leasing This a great option. Leases are often affordable and can be for varying amounts of time. A leased horse offers the responsibility of horse ownership without the long-term commitment. It has the added advantage of allowing you to upgrade to a fancier model as your skills improve!
*Sharing If you have a friend who is also considering buying a horse, think about sharing. With a sharing agreement, everything is shared the chores, riding and expenses. For some people this is a great arrangement, just make sure that the sharing is equal!
*Volunteering For people who simply love to be around horses and do not want to ride, there are opportunities to help others. The Riding for the Disabled Association needs volunteers to help with their programs, as do other organizations. Helping others is a great way to make new friends with similar interests and may lead to other horse related opportunities.
*Do I have enough Experience to Care for a Horse? Only you can answer this question. How much actual hands on horse care have you done? Do you know how to clean a stall effectively, groom a horse, recognize a healthy horse, and know when to call the Vet? Are you comfortable with health maintenance routines and hoof care? If you don't know something is there someone you can call for help? Will you be comfortable handling a horse at home without help? Horses are large animals, and if you are alone you must be confident in your abilities to deal with any situation. Evaluate your level of experience, and decide how much you are capable of doing and how much needs to be left to someone else. Be honest. It is fine to learn, but it is also important to have help when you are not sure. A friend who has horses is a valuable asset. If you are a complete novice, board the horse until you are more experienced and comfortable around horses.
*What will it cost? This is the question most frequently asked by potential horse owners. Unfortunately, it is also the hardest question to answer. Horse prices vary greatly as does the cost of keeping them. The price of the horse is probably the largest figure involved, however there are several expenses, which at first glance may not be obvious. The following table summarizes the expenses involved. The figures listed here are at best estimates. Prices around the country, from area to area, and within the different disciplines vary greatly. The table is meant as a guide for first time horse owners to assist them in the decision making process. Roughly, the expenses can be divided into four categories purchasing expenses, horse care expenses, equipment and supplies, and competitive expenses. Pick out those which apply to your situation. The figures given in the following examples are the low and high ends of the price range.
*Price Horses can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. A horse intended for trail riding and pleasure can be found for $500-$5,000. Of course, you can pay a lot more. As expectations for the horse rise, so does the price. If you wish to compete you will need a horse that has been trained in your discipline. This adds to the purchase price. Experience, training and breeding all add to the purchase price.
*Research This may be as little as a few phone calls or 15%-20% of the purchase price to pay an agent. There may also be travel expenses if you are forced to shop out of town.
*Pre Purchase Exam This is recommended for every purchase. For a pleasure horse, this should be no more than $100. For a more thorough vetting expect to pay $250-$500.
*Transportation Shipping is expensive. If you do not have your own trailer expect to pay 25¢-$1 a mile.
~Horse Care Expenses
*Board Another great variable. Depending upon the services provided ranges from $50-$2,000 a month. Full board may include feed, bedding, training and care, but may not necessarily include worming, shoeing etc.
*Healthcare Vaccines $20-$100 every 6-12 months Worming $4-$12 every 6-8 weeks Hoof care $20 - $35 for trimming every 4-8 weeks, or $40-$100 for shoes every 4-8 weeks. Dentist $20-$100 once a year.
~Equipment and Supplies
*Stable tools Stable forks $20-$30 each Brooms $10-$20 each Wheel barrows $50-$150
*Grooming tools Brushes $3-$20 each
*These include first-aid items, grooming products, etc. Budget $10-$100
~Tack Good second-hand tack can often be found at very reasonable prices. Prices for new tack. Saddle $500-$2000 each Bridle $50-$200 each Halter $10-$100 each Blankets $75-$200 each Bandages $20-$100 a set
*Lessons Lessons are important for everyone. Pleasure riders can improve their skills and maintain or improve their horse's level of training. Anyone wishing to compete successfully needs to continually practice and improve his or her skills. The quality of instruction varies greatly as does the cost, it is wise to shop around. Expect to pay $10-$200 an hour.
*Entry Fees For a local show the fee per a class may be as little as $5-$20. For recognized shows expect to pay $20-$200. Traveling A serious competitor will need his own transportation. Truck and trailer $5,000-$75,000. Horses that travel need health certificates and additional vaccines and tests. $10-$100. Traveling with horses involves other expenses such as stabling, hotels and eating out.
*Insurance An expensive horse is worth insuring. Policies vary greatly from a simple loss of use policy to coverage for surgery and other medical procedures. Insurance can be tailored to any circumstance.
~What else do I need to Know?
Now that you know the pros and cons of buying a horse, you are ready to go shopping! But where do you start looking for a horse? What type of horse should you buy? Where will you keep it? And how will you take care of it?
What is the most important thing a first-time horse buyer should do? Be patient!
It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a horse. Many people make an impulse purchase that they later regret. The horse turns out to be either unsuitable, not trained for the intended job, or in the worst case even dangerous for the new owner. If you take your time when you go horse shopping you will find a horse that is suitable and a horse with which you can have fun.
What type of horse is suitable for a first horse? Most importantly, the ideal first horse is safe and fun. He needs to have a pleasant attitude and he needs to be forgiving if his owner makes little mistakes. A first horse should be trained for his intended job and be comfortable with this job. Young horses and stallions are not suitable for first-time owners. A horse of at least 6 years of age that is well trained and has a pleasant disposition is most suitable for a first-time owner. How much does a horse cost? The price of any horse depends on several variables. Expect to pay from $0-$5,000 for a trail horse. If you are interested in competing, expect to pay more for a horse that is experienced in your chosen discipline.
The following represents some of the factors that control horse prices.
Training. A horse that is trained for a specific discipline will cost more. Competitive Record. A proven winner commands a higher price. Breeding. A well bred horse may cost more.
Defects. A horse with minor health problems will cost less and may well be suitable as a family or trail horse. The Seller's reason for selling. Frequently horses are sold because the owner is going to college, having a baby, or is getting married or divorced. In this case it is often possible to find a nice, well-trained horse for a reasonable price. The owner is in a hurry to sell and wants a good home for his horse.
What is the smallest stall that my horse would be comfortable in? The table below is the absolute minimum stall size. Ideally larger stalls would be more suitable. The sizes suggested here are for our less than ideal world. Size of HorseMinimum Stall SizePonies up to 12 hands8' x 8'12 to 14 hands8' x 10'14 to 16 hands10' x 10'16 to 17 hands12' x 10'17+ hands12' x 12'