Hi everyone, my name is Katie! I'm 16 years old and have been riding and working with horses since age 5. I know first hand how it is to be that child begging her parents for her own horse. I am one of the lucky ones, who's dream came true. 5 years ago, I adopted my beautiful arabian cross, Romeo. I want to share my experience in earning the privilege of owning a horse, as well as suggest some tips for other young equestrians dreaming of purchasing their own horse. This is for young, aspiring equestrians much like myself, as well as the parents who make their dreams possible.
First and foremost I want to stress how important it is to actually take some time working with horses before you decide to purchase one! Experience with these animals is an absolute must before you jump into owning one!! Maybe you have friends or family who have horses and would be willing to share some knowledge and experience with you, and if not there are many good riding stables that offer riding/horse care lessons. I have ridden at 3 different stables since I started, and having the experience with different horses (and trainers) is priceless.
I strongly suggest trying a few different disciplines (western pleasure, jumping, dressage, or even just trail riding) and figure out what you enjoy the most. I started riding western and switched to jumping and finally switched to dressage, which is what I focus on now with my horse. This will be huge when it comes to buying your dream horse because different horses are more suitable for specific disciplines.
Now, I also think it's important to stress how much work really does go into owning a horse! Lets say you've been taking lessons and you are still convinced you need your own horse. My suggestion is this, ask the barn owner if you can come help do chores for a few days or help with some basic maintenance around the farm. It's important to remember that owning a horse is not all fun and games. There's always work to be done. You have to decide if the benefits are enough to make it worth it for you. The unfortunate truth is that horse ownership really isn't for everyone.
If you're young and stubborn like me, then there's nothing that could convince you to let this dream go. One thing that I found to be a very beneficial investment was leasing my first pony when I was 7. I also leased a lovely arabian gelding when I was 10. Parents, I highly recommend this for your horse-crazy children. Leasing a horse is a wonderful opportunity to learn all about the work and care that goes into horse ownership but it is also fairly simple to get out of in case things don't work out. My leasing experiences reinforced my eagerness to own a horse, and I am so very grateful for the knowledge I gained from it.
I am afraid to even speak of the financial investment needed to own a horse. Being 16, I don't yet carry this burden. I am sooooo very lucky to have parents willing to support my passion! I know this is one thing I didn't think about when I was 10 years old and buying Romeo. I did, in fact pay for him with my own money that I had saved from pet-sitting and chores over the years. However, it hadn't occurred to me that this horse would one day be living out of my own wallet. Vet bills, farrier bills, feed bills, equipment, board, lessons, training it all adds up so quickly! Be ready to share your money with your horse!
I believe it can be very valuable for a child to take on a huge responsibility like this, however I know it is not for everyone. I hope you or your child will invest some time learning before taking on the commitment of a horse. It really can be a rewarding lifestyle.