Many children are attracted to horses. There are many factors for an adult to consider before purchasing a horse for a child. Cost, upkeep, size, temperament, readiness and facilities should all be considered to ensure the horse’s health and child’s safety.
The child should take lessons before purchasing a horse is considered. The child should learn to catch a horse in a pasture, halter the horse, lead a horse, tie a horse up, groom the horse, care for the horse’s hooves, clean a stall, saddle, bridle and mount a horse. Select a reputable trainer or instructor that will provide a safe and encouraging environment for the lessons.
Temperament over size
The horse’s temperament is more important than the horse’s size. Adults often believe a pony to be size appropriate for a child. The child may be assisted onto the horse’s back or use a mounting block. The child may eventually become too heavy for the pony. A large horse may have a very gentle temperament, while the pony could bite or kick.
A horse with the right temperament will allow the child to lead the horse, saddle, lead, mount, ride and groom the horse with ease. The horse should never attempt to bite or kick the child. The horse should stand still for grooming. The horse should not prance ahead of the child; rather gently follow the child’s lead. Draft horses, American Quarter horses, Morgans and Paint horses are gentle breeds; however, every breed contains some high spirited horses. Grade horses should also be considered. A Grade horse has mixed breeding or may be a pure bred that was never registered. A gelding is a better choice for a child and less likely to exhibit bad personality traits. A pregnant mare should not be considered a good purchase prospect for a novice.
The horse should have experience with children grooming and riding. A horse that is 10 to 20 years old is generally a better fit for an inexperienced family than a young horse. Some older horses have spent their lives in the pasture and not been ridden very often. Avoid a horse that has spent most of its’ latter years in a pasture. The vet may determine the age and health of a horse.
Cost and upkeep
The family should set a budget for the upkeep of the horse as well as the purchase price. The upkeep budget should consist of boarding expense, feed, veterinarians, supplements, tack and equipment and bedding. Additional expenses may include horse trailer, lessons and competitions. Do not purchase a horse without a check by a veterinarian.