Horse Ownership Basics

Yes Horses are amazing creatures full of grace, beauty and strength.  True there is nothing quite like the bond between a horse and rider, the amount of trust shared is one that can only be experienced not described.  I will also agree that the mere thought of being around a horse makes my heart beat faster, I can almost smell my Patriot as I write.  However, all that being said horse ownership is not for everyone, its a challenge perhaps ranking up there with raising kids; I have two boys I speak from experience. The main difference being you cant put a horse in time out and its a bit easier to go toe to toe with a forty pound toddler then a fifteen hundred pound thoroughbred.  This blog entry is just an overview of things to keep in mind when looking at taking on this fifteen plus year commitment.

When looking at buying a horse, cost is a huge factor.  Weather boarding a horse at a stable or having him on your own property.  Basic board can run anywhere from #200 on a very low end to $600 a month.  Some barns include feed in the cost as well at turn out, that is very important to check for obvious reasons.  If the horse will be on your property, hay and salt will run around $150 a month and grain another $50 a month, as well as making sure he has grass to graze on and supplements at an additional cost. Veterinary care can run between $500 and $3000 a year depending on your horses health and needs, keep in mind if your horse goes lame or colics you are looking at a bill upwards of $2000.  Shoes will run about $80 every two months, if you choose to have a barefoot horse it will be about $30 for a basic trim.  Bedding will run about $300-$500 a year, if the barn doesn't provide it or if you are adding more, a different brand or have the horse on your property.  Keep in mind that these are very basic estimates and does not include the price of tack.

You must also decide if you are going to adopt or purchase a horse.  There are many ups and downs to both.  If you are an experienced rider with good horse sense(had to say it) then adoption might be a good option for you.  There are many horses in need of a good home that may have ended up at a rescue simply because the owner didn't have the funds to care for him any longer. Keep in mind though that a lot of rescue horses do have health issues and some might be a little green and will take extensive work.  I love the reward however once you and your horse accomplish a goal together.  Also sometimes a rescue may have several people work with or ride the horse so they will know the temperament and with whom the horse would make a good match.  When purchasing a horse from an individual or barn, the cost will be more but the horse may have more training, and experience as well as be registered.

Regardless of where you get your new friend from you must always without exception have your vet check him out.  Do not just take the word of the seller, don't be afraid to offend someone, its in not only your interest but the horses as well. Make sure to check the eyes, teeth(teeth will give a great age estimate), and for any signs of lameness or injury.  Sometimes an injury might prevent a horse from jumping or hard riding, if you are just looking for a trail horse or companion horse this may not matter.  Also check hooves to see if they are cracked or have been neglected, thursh is not life altering but is a nasty thing to deal with. The other thing to look for is vices.  By this I mean does he load wee?  Is he a cribber?  Will he stand for the farrier or for tacking? Also how is he with other horses?  If he is a kicker or a biter you can never have him out with other horses no just because it is a huge liability but your horse can cause serious injury or even death to another horse or person. Make sure you have a written list of questions ready when you go to see the horse so you don't forget anything.

Also when the day comes to bring him home make sure you have all your tack and food ready. Always keep a first aid kit on hand just to cover all bases.

I know it seems overwhelming but lets face it, so is owning a horse! I wish you the best in all you have to look forward too.  Happy Riding!



"When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk; he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical then the pipe of Hermes"

_William Shakespeare, Henry V