Buying Your First Horse

Howard Cormier, Depew, Clinton G.  |  10/4/2004 4:25:13 AM

Horse ownership can yield companionship, recreation and relaxation. Many young people have developed their confidence and self esteem through horse ownership. Additionally horse projects tend to be a family activity and many positive benefits result from family interaction. Therefore, horse ownership is a very desirable and positive self-enhancement activity.

The responsibility for daily care and management of the horse comes with ownership. Horses need to be groomed, exercised, and fed daily. Additionally, stalls and surrounding areas need to be cleaned and maintained. The initial investment in the horse is only a small portion of the actual cost of ownership. Therefore, when considering purchase of horse, weigh the benefits against the cost and responsibilities carefully.

Before purchasing a horse, it is advisable to take riding lessons and learn the work at a riding stable. This facilitates the assessment of your interest and commitment. Spending time with horse trainers and attending horse clinics will give you an opportunity to learn the skills needed to care for horses and evaluate your desire for ownership. Additionally, you should talk to horse owners, trainers and county agents about the cost of maintaining a horse. The average horse will need a minimum of 2 acres of pasture to provide adequate forage to meet his nutritional requirements. Some type of shelter is needed and facilities for tack, feed, and hay are necessary to care for a horse. A wash area is needed for grooming and a trailer will be required for transportation. By assessing the cost of horse ownership and gaining experience with horses, the potential owner can make an informed decision.

When buying a horse, it's important to consider the rider and the rider's goals. For example, new riders should purchase an older, experienced horse that will make fewer mistakes and tolerate more errors. Young horses are less predictable and require a more experienced rider. Generally, geldings are steadier and more reliable than mares. If trail or recreational riding is the desired goal, an experienced trail horse should be purchased. Look at the horse several times preferably in different situations to assess ability and temperament. It is also always advisable to obtain professional help when purchasing a horse. 

After the purchase, take regular riding lessons to improve your skill and knowledge. You'll need good equipment and tack to have a safe riding experience. Establish a rapport with a veterinarian, a farrier and local trainers to have an appropriate support team for your horse project. For information about horse care and feeding, contact your county extension agent.

Buying Your First Horse
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