When thinking about horses and riding, it can often be beneficial to have a list of "non-negotiables," whether on a paper or simply in the back of your mind.
Riding with a helmet, in my opinion, should be non-negotiable. If you get on a horse, you wear a helmet, period.
Looking for a Horse to Lease or Buy
Before you can look for a horse to lease or buy, you have to know what you want. You need to chose what your non-negotiables are going to be in your selection process. Most likely, one will be a price range.
Other non-negotiables will be things like this: is it appropriate for the discipline you want to do? Is it sound without shoes? This might be on someone's list because they can't afford the extra expense of a horse that needs special shoeing.
If you plan on showing or trail riding, one of your non-negotiables will be that the horse needs to be able to load and travel safely on a horse trailer.
If you want to compete in a certain breed show circuit, you'll obviously have to buy a horse of that breed in order to participate, which does narrow down your options. But if that is the goal you have in mind, then it's worth the extra time looking.
Non-Negotiables When Looking for a Boarding Barn
When selecting a boarding barn, you should have certain things on a list of non-negotiables. Of course, each person's list will be different.
If you don't get off work in time to ride during daylight hours, you need a barn with a lighted arena, or better yet, an indoor. If you are a pleasure or trail rider, having access to places to ride directly off the property might be non-negotiable.
Maybe it is important to you that someone lives on the property and will be able to check the horses at night if they hear something odd or in the event of a weather emergency.
If you are an adult amateur or a parent who purchased a horse for your child, being at a farm with a trainer or instructor may be non-negotiable for you. At very least, you might need to look for a barn that allows you to bring in a trainer or instructor. Unfortunately, not all barns allow that.
Are You Looking for a Social Circle at the Farm?
If you are looking for a social circle of people to ride with, finding a farm with like-minded individuals that have similar goals to your own might be non-negotiable.
There Are Even Some Not so Serious Things You May Consider Non-Negotiable
Is your dog the sidekick that you want to be able to bring to the barn with you? If so, I'm sure a barn that allows dogs is going to be one of your non-negotiables.
Maybe you have always had to carry your tack and equipment back and forth from the farm, so one of your non-negotiables would be that you either get a tack locker or a place to keep your tack trunk.
Having List of Non-Negotiables May Seem Like Overkill, But It's Not
Whether you are horse shopping, looking for a barn to ride at, looking for a boarding facility, or trying out a new discipline, knowing what's important to you will help you find the right place or horse or trainer, whatever the case may be.
Knowing what is most important to you and the things that you are not willing to budge on will save you a lot of time and energy in the horse world.
The Horse World is a Big World to Navigate
The horse world can be an intimidating place. If you're not sure where to start, we encourage you to begin with a list of your non-negotiables and use that to navigate the horse world. You might find you like something different along the way. Or, you mind find that if everything else lines up, you're willing to give in on one of the things from your list.
Starting With a List of Non-Negotiables is a Good Place to Start
Even if you end up changing your priorities, it's better to have a firm starting point to go on. You can always adjust from there as you continue to learn and grow in your horsemanship journey.
And as always, never stop learning! That should definitely be a non-negotiable.