Is Owning a Horse Right for You?

Published: 30th May 2012
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You've been taking riding lessons at a riding school for some time, and have decided that you'd really like to take the equestrian sport a bit further and would like to have a horse of your own! Something you can ride whenever you want to, take to shows without asking permission, buy the tack, rugs and grooming kit that you want to use and spoil your horse as you see fit! In your mind you can see you and your horse riding off into the sunset and having a glorious future together.

But what is the reality of owning your own horse?

Being responsible for the full care of an equine is completely different to turning up once or twice a week to ride. Obviously no one will be thinking for a moment that owning a such an animal is cheap - buying the horse, paying for livery or renting a field and stable, shoeing, vet bills, dentists and saddle fitters may add up to more than originally thought, but most people will know they will need a realistic budget to afford their new hobby and will have costed all the elements before proceeding. If you own a horse you might end up poor and unable to afford other luxuries, but who wants to go out and party if you've got your life's dream waiting for you in the stable?

If you want to keep the expense down rather than full you might go for DIY livery, or rent a field and stable. But this does mean that you will be investing a vast amount of time in caring for your horse - mucking out and feeding morning and evening, changing rugs, clearing the muck from the field etc. Then you may need to take time off work for the farrier to visit or the vet. The actual time you'll spend riding is minimal compared to the time you'll spend caring for it.

Most riding schools will fit your riding ability and experience to the horse they give you to ride, and as you improve will change you to a different animal. Sometimes when you turn up to ride you'll be told you have to ride another horse, maybe for just that week, or maybe longer. But you'll soon get used to the new one and possibly enjoy riding it just as much, if not more. But have you really stopped to wonder why this is? Normally it's because the original horse has gone lame.

Having an inspection by a vet is vitally important when buying a horse, but it can provide no guarantee that the horse will remain sound after you have made the purchase. Being very delicate creatures they are liable to injure themselves in the field, out hacking or even just in the stable! Some horses seem to be particularly accident prone to the extent owners joke about keeping them in padded cells! Once you have your own horse you can't swop onto another when it goes lame, and if you are very unlucky you might have months when you are unable to ride.

When you've seen the previous owner doing flying changes and pirouettes on the horse you've got your eye on, you might imagine that you'll soon be winning all the dressage events around. But having a horse that has been well trained is far removed from you being able to ride it to that standard yourself. Horses rely on you asking them what to do, and if your level of riding skill is not quite up to expert level, you cannot expect the horse to perform that well for you. It really can be very discouraging when someone else jumps on your horse and immediately has it on the bit when you've been trying to do that for months and failing! You must be prepared to learn with your new partner, and not have expectations of too much progress too fast.

Your horse will need to be exercised - well of course, riding is what you bought it for! But this means when the weather is abysmal as well as during lovely sunny days. This will be particularly true if you have no winter turnout. You will need to have the commitment to ride even when you don't really feel up to it.

If you have spent your life longing for your own equine to love, care and cherish, then having a horse is right for you as long as you can afford it in both time and money costs, and have realistic expectations.

On the other hand, if it's an idea that you've had after a few riding lessons then you need to do some serious thinking. Once you own a horse it will take over your life.


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Trish runs the website for Limebrook Farm which not only describes the friendly livery yard in Essex, UK, but also has a well on information about horses and riding of interest to anyone whether they ride. The history of riding, horse facts and information about buying a horse along with tips on riding are all covered on the site.

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