Should I Buy a Horse for My
Owning a horse can be an enjoyable experience
for parent and child alike; however,
many factors enter into the initial decision to get involved with horses.
of this publication is to acquaint prospective horse owners with
and possible alternatives to owning a horse. It discusses such concerns as
your child's real interest in horses, alternatives to buying a horse, how
to decide what
kind of horse to buy, horse-related activities for your child, horse
and costs, as well as the benefits your family can gain from horse
ownership. Once you
decide to purchase a horse, there are numerous sources of more detailed
concerning horse management.
How Can I Determine My Child's Level of
Because you are reading this, your child has probably talked about
getting a horse.
After you, the parent, become more knowledgeable about horse ownership,
should have a serious, heart -to- heart talk with your child. Ask
* Why do you want a horse?
* Are there other ways to enjoy riding, especially to begin?
* What kind of horse do you want to get?
* What do you want to do with a horse?
* How much time do you have to spend with a horse? Could you
time from other activities?
* Where would you keep a horse?
* What costs are involved, and how will you pay for the initial cost
maintenance of your horse?
* What will you gain from owning a horse? How will the whole family
* Will you be willing to sell your horse in 1-4 years?
After having this talk and letting your
child get some exposure to horses through
lessons, camps, or using someone else's horse, you will have a better
of your child's interest. Many youth want a horse because they know
who has one, so encourage spending time with this friend's horse and see
long the enthusiasm lasts. Don't say "no" because you feel you
don't know enough
about keeping horses; rather, find a way to help your child learn more
Your child may decide he or she really doesn't want all the work that goes
Are There Alternatives To Owning a
There are many alternatives to owning a horse that may prove to be
feasible and still satisfy your child's desire to ride. The alternatives
are also good
prerequisites to actually owning a horse because they allow you and your
child to gain
experience that will help you manage your own horse better.
Lessons are almost a necessity for riding or owning a horse. Some
people learn to ride
by trial and error; however, this method is not only dangerous, but can
riding habits. By taking riding lessons from a competent instructor, the
or adult) can learn to ride in a safe and controlled environment. Remember
that no one
is too accomplished to take lessons and learn more about themselves and
Often people make the mistake of thinking that, by taking a few lessons,
competent equestrians. The cost of structured riding lessons is well worth
investment when you consider how much safer the activity will be.
Riding lessons are also an alternative to
owning a horse. You can expect to pay
between $8 and $20 for 45-60 minutes of instruction, depending on where
whether the lesson is group or private, and the type of barn involved. If
does not have a lot of time to devote to riding (consider school,
sports, etc.), it would be cheaper to take lessons than to pay for the
upkeep of a horse.
Lessons also may help determine your child's level of interest in horses.
Either way, if
and when you decide to buy a horse, lessons will have been a worthwhile
Instruction could be gained through once or twice per week programs or, to
through one of the horsemanship camping programs.
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Leasing a Horse
Leasing a horse may satisfy your child's desire to ride and still cost
less than owning
a horse. Leasing is also a good way to determine your child's level of
interest in horses
and to make sure he or she is serious before you get stuck with a horse.
a horse you are thinking about purchasing is a good way to see if the
child and horse
are compatible and to make sure that the horse is everything you thought
Lease arrangements can include anything
from paying a leasing fee, paying all of the
upkeep and assuming all of the responsibilities tor the horse, to paying a
portion of the
board or upkeep of the horse in trade for riding time on the horse. Many
these two examples can be designed to fit the needs of the owner as well
as the leasor.
One thing to remember when comparing
alternatives is that, when you own a horse,
as you increase the riding time, the cost per hour decreases. However,
this decrease in cost does not occur with increased riding time.
What Kind of Horse Should We Get?
The type of horse you get depends a lot on the type of riding your
child wants to
participate in, e.g., Western, pleasure, hunting, jumping, etc. The skill
of the rider is
also a major factor in choosing a horse. Most importantly, you want to get
a horse that
the rider is able to handle. There is nothing worse than seeing a
terrified novice rider on
top of an unmanageable horse. A novice rider should opt for an older, well
that is experienced in many types of situations. This type of animal can
be one of the
best teachers a novice rider ever has. The more skilled and experienced
the rider is, the
more he or she may become involved in the actual training of a younger,
horse. Don't buy a young horse for a novice horseman to train: This is a
invites accidents. Your child should grow up with an older, well broke
horse that can
teach the child.
Parents often ask whether a small pony is a
better choice for a young child than a
large horse. The animal's disposition, and the child's ability to control
the animal, are
more important factors than size. Keep in mind that your child will
a pony, and that selling one animal and buying another could mean
The goals of the rider may also determine
the type of horse you want. A rider who
wants a pleasure horse for trail riding could be happy with a grade horse,
usually rather inexpensive. However, if a rider wants to show a horse and
be the very best, he or she will probably want a registered horse with
training, and this animal will be more expensive. The higher the goals of
the higher the cost for a horse of the proper quality. It is often
advisable to purchase
a mature inexpensive horse initially, and then, as the child's goals
become higher, a
better horse can be bought. It does not cost any more to maintain a high
than an inexpensive one.
What Horse-Related Activities Are
One of the main considerations in choosing horse-related activities is
The more time your child has to give, the more involved he or she may
horse-related activities. However, if a child is not willing to sacrifice
time from other
activities such as sports, music, clubs, and other social events, he or
she may not be
able to become too involved with horse activities. For example, horse
extensive preparation and usually takes up many summer weekends. If your
not willing to give up other summer sports, he or she may not be
successful in horse
showing endeavors. However, you may modify the depth of your activity in
or shows to fit your lifestyle.
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Horse clubs are often a good way for a novice to be introduced to the
basics of horse
management and horsemanship in the friendly atmosphere of his peers. Clubs
have riding clinics and small shows that usually cost less than the
average open horse
Many areas also have family-oriented saddle
clubs. These clubs usually have a variety
of activities such as organized trail rides, open horse shows, pitch-in
dinners, or other
social activities. Other club programs also offer horse riding programs
Each of the horse registries has state youth organizations that sponsor
related to the breed.
Many people become interested in horse shows soon after purchasing a
Besides providing a lot of fun for the whole family, horse shows help
competitive spirit in a child. There are many different types of horse
shows a person
can go to depending on the style of riding and how well the horse is
trained. It is not
the purpose of this publication to elaborate on the different styles of
riding and showing,
but merely to suggest horse shows as another activity for the family.
Horses are mainly for enjoyment. Some people do not need to take their
competitions to enjoy them. They get their fun by riding on trails or in
an arena or
wherever they feel comfortable. Their horse is often their companion and
is not to say, of course, that if you show your horse, you cannot enjoy
it. The point
is that many people have no desire to compete. They merely enjoy the
riding on trails or across open country brings them.
As your child's interest and experience
grows, he or she will become exposed to a
variety of activities for which horses may be used. In time, your child
will be able to
choose the style of riding and specific activities in which to
participate. Many things
such as competitive trail riding, jumping, racing, driving, polo, cutting,
and training may be undertaken with further experience and training.
Where Will We Keep a Horse?
There are many ways to board your horse. When you pay for "full
board," the stable
will take care of all of your horse's needs (shelter, feeding, stall
cleaning, and, perhaps,
exercising your horse). Depending on the stable, however, they may have
their own set
of guidelines with which you must comply. For example, they may provide
but you must provide the labor.
If you decide to keep your horse at home,
there are several considerations. Do
you have the space to keep a horse comfortably and, also, do the zoning
permit horses? If you have at least one or two acres and some type of
you could consider keeping a horse at home. However, this puts a lot
responsibility on both you and your child. The animal must be fed
must be secured for at least part of the year even if you have pasture.
or shelter must be cleaned regularly and the manure removed so that it
become a nuisance. Also, a water source must be available at all times.
Your decision to get a horse may be
partially based on the availability of housing
for your horse. Whether on your own land, a private stable, or a farmer's
you can usually find a suitable place if you put some time and effort into
How Much Will It Cost To Have a Horse?
Many people think the initial purchase price of a horse is the major
is not; the cost of keeping and maintaining a horse usually will exceed
price. It is not uncommon for the initial cost to be compounded several
during the course of one or two years of maintaining your horse.
The first expense is the price of the horse or pony. Factors such as
the breed, the
level of training, age, health, and soundness all contribute to the final
price of the horse.
gain, the novice should steer away from young, untrained animals and
opt for an older,
more experienced veteran.
The next expense is tack (saddle, bridle, grooming equipment). Prices vary
depending on the type and quality of items purchased. To start, a novice
used equipment in good repair. This helps to keep the initial investment
used tack in good condition is easier to sell at cost than new items.
price ranges for basic horse equipment (new):
Saddle (depending on style) $100 -1000
Grooming supplies (brushes, hoofpicks, combs), per item $1-50
These are just the basic necessities for equipping your horse. There are
optional items that you may want to add later.
The cost of feeding your horse and providing shelter may vary
on whether the horse is cared for at home or boarded. Boarding is
expensive, but you do receive other services such as feeding and stall
home care, your only cash outlay is for feed, bedding, and repairs, but
responsible for all of the daily barn work. Based on average monthly
costs, you can
expect to spend anywhere from $700 -3000 annually to feed and house your
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Hoof care is an important, but often overlooked, aspect of horse care.
A horse's hooves
grow continuously and need to be trimmed regularly. Depending on the
amount of work
your horse does, and the surfaces on which it is ridden, shoes may also be
Hooves need to be trimmed or shod every 6-8 weeks or about seven times per
The work should be done by a qualified farrier. As you see, the costs add
the course of the year.
It costs about $70 to keep your horse's hooves trimmed throughout the
about $100 more to have shoes put on. It is not unusual to spend $175 +
on hoof care.
Regular health care is needed to keep your
horse healthy. One important health care
procedure is deworming, which should be performed at the minimum of two
year, and, normally, four times. Your horse also needs to be vaccinated
for some of
the more common diseases. Horses also require tooth care called floating,
needs to be done yearly.
Last, accidents or emergencies do happen,
and there must be money budgeted just
in case some sort of accident does occur.
What Will My Child Gain From a Horse?
Children can learn a great deal of responsibility from owning a horse
because all of
the animal's needs must be provided by its owner. Children may also
confidence because they are handling an animal much larger and more
than themselves. As they develop a new set of skills to deal with the
also develop greater coordination, strength, and agility. If your child
decides to show
his horse, he should also develop a sense of sportsmanship as well as a
competitive nature. The social skills and the personal discipline that are
with horse ownership go far beyond the horse. The child will also become
the economic side of owning an animal and often will learn to be more
earn money to pay for at least part of the hobby.
What Will I, As a Parent, Gain from
Many parents find that owning a horse can be a good family activity.
It can bring
about family unity, since it is a hobby in which all family members can be
especially if the child is younger and cannot do all of the work alone.
child will learn to work together as a team, and this will help to develop
stronger relationship between them. Visit with families that own horses
will find a bond that has formed within the family that is hard to define.
Parents may also gain a great deal of
satisfaction from watching their child grow as
an individual due to the increased responsibility and development of a new
set of skills
obtained from owning a horse. Also, when a child does become successful,
tend to feel overwhelming pride in their progeny.
The parents may also develop an interest in
horses, allowing them to refine a new set
of skills and bringing a new hobby into their leisure-time activities.
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It is hoped that this article has answered some of the commonly asked
well as provided insight about horse care. It must be remembered that
constant care. Provisions must be made for the animal when the family goes
vacations or when the child is unable to care for the horse. It is not
uncommon for the
first horse purchased to be sold either because the child has lost
interest or because
his or her goals have been raised, requiring a better horse. Plan from the
the possibility of selling this new family member.
As you can see, horse ownership requires a
lot of work, but it can also be very
rewarding. If the right decision has been made for you and your child, you
forward to years of fun. As your interest grows, you will become more
the entire family will benefit from horse ownership. In today's society
there are very
few hobbies that involve the entire family and create such a working bond
family members than horse ownership.