Have you been thinking about purchasing your first horse but need a little help making your decision? Here is a list of things you should consider before diving into the world of horse ownership.
1. How much it will cost
The answer is A LOT! Buying a horse is not like buying any other animal. A common misconception people have is that purchasing the horse is the costly part but it isn’t. In fact, it’s the easiest part. When buying a horse you must factor in the following costs. Sale price of horse which could be anywhere between $200 and $200,000 depending on what breed or discipline, feed bills, boarding costs and the cost of someone to care for your horse if you ever go on vacation. Horses need their feet trimming every 6-8 weeks by the Farrier and if you get shoes on their feet, it will cost even more. You’ll also need to think about Vet bills and not just for their annual shots and teeth floating but also if there is an emergency (The emergency call fees can be killer). Additional things such as fly sprays, medication, medical supplies, grooming kit, tack and riding gear also add up!!! Don’t forget the cost of riding lessons too. If you’re buying a horse to compete then you’ve entered a whole other world of expenses. There’s a lot to think about. I recommend writing it all down and figuring out what it would cost monthly. Remember, there are no cutting corners when it comes to horses.
2. Do you know how to keep one healthy?
This one is very important to me. Do you know enough about nutrition or how much food you should be feeing a horse per day? Do you know about the different feeds and types of hay? Do you know how to treat Colic? (Which is one of the most common illnesses in horses that if not treated in time leads to their gut twisting and needing to be put to sleep). Do you know how to spot lameness in your horse? (Limping) If any of the answers to these questions are ‘No’ then I would recommend holding off on purchasing a horse and start hitting the books. You’re not going to know everything when you get your first horse just like I didn’t, but I see a lot of ignorance in the horse world. People buying horses when they don’t know the basics on medical care or nutrition which ultimately can be the difference between life or death in an emergency situation. Besides books, you attend summer camps, take lessons and even volunteer at barns to educate yourself and rack up your experience.
3. Determine what horse to buy
Before you buy your horse, you should ask yourself what do I want this horse for and what kind of horse should I get? For example, if you want to jump you’ll probably want a taller breed of horse like a Thoroughbred or on the more pricey range, a Warmblood. If you have less experience with jumping and want something a little less spunky, you could even purchase a draft cross or I even learned to jump on a Cob. If you want to do Western Pleasure or Barrel Racing, a Quarter Horse would be more your style. If you’re looking for something to just trail ride on, you want a breed of horse that is calm and not spooked easily so you would probably rule a Thoroughbred out because of their hot temperament. If you’re just looking for a companion horse, you might want to adopt an older horse that is in need of a home. Do some research and ask around. Go to local farms, ask your friends who own horses for their opinions. Take lessons on different horses and find which horses you like or dislike. Other things to take into consideration: Age and experience of horse. If you’re not an experienced rider, you will want a more experienced horse. Do not aim to purcase a ‘Green’ horse if you are nervous or inexperienced.
4. Make sure you have enough room for a horse
If you have your own land, you might wonder how much you need to keep a horse. You will need a minimum of one acre per horse. Horses are grazers and grass disappears quickly so I would recommend giving your horse more than an acre and resting and rotating your fields during the right seasons to enable the grass to grow back. You may need to re-seed your field.
5. Make sure you have somewhere safe for your horse
Horses need access to clean water and shelter. Do you have somewhere that can provide those things? You’ll also need sturdy fencing. Horses will get through anything they can. They are trouble.
6. Give them a friend
You also want to consider the fact that horses are indeed herd animals meaning they feel safer and protected in groups. If you are taking a horse to your land, you might want to think about buying or adopting a friend to keep him company. Many people use goats as companion animals but your horse will be a lot happier with another horse.
7. Make sure you have the time
Horse ownership is time consuming. They need to be fed in grain every 12 hours. Breakfast and dinner. Their stables need mucking out, water buckets cleaning, barn sweeping and also field and fence maintenance is important too. It is a twice a day thing unless you’re lucky enough to have help or pay for help. Vacations will take a back seat for a while. Are you ready for that?
8. Do not impulse buy
If you decide that buying a horse is something you want to do, don’t rush the process. It can get frustrating. You may try a number of horses out before you find the right one. Take your time and don’t rush it. Impulse buying can lead you to getting a horse with health issues or behaviour problems that in the long run can cost you more money and cause you more stress than needed. Take an experienced horse person with you to look at the horse so they can help determine if the horse is right for you.
When I bought my first horse Cassie, I tried out 11 different horses before her. I almost purchased a little Thoroughbred called Hattie. I fell in love with her and I so desperately wanted her but we got her Vet checked and it turned out she had a bone problem in her leg which would have cost my family a lot of money to treat and caused me more heartache. I waited for the right horse and I got her. I’ve had her for 15 years and I’ve never had an issue with her. Patience!!!!
If you think I have left off anything important from this list, please feel free to comment on the page.
Thank you for reading and I hope this has helped.