Don’t buy a horse if… You have not been taking regular riding lessons with a reputable trainer for more than six months.
The investment of owning a horse goes beyond the purchase price. I understand it is a very expensive endeavor to take riding lessons, and it is easy to want to rush into horse ownership. However, horses are very expensive animals not only requiring food and shelter, but also grooming supplies, regular medical attention, tack, supplements, and shoes every 4-6 weeks; not to mention any riding lessons and horse shows.
Don’t buy a horse if… You do not have the time and dedication.
To be healthy and useful, horses need to be handled regularly and ridden often. Horses have a knack for throwing a shoe in the dead of winter or colicing during a thunderstorm. You should be prepared to venture out to take care of your horse weekly, if not more often, even in inclement weather. Horses can live on into their thirties, and if you are not able to commit to the thousands of hours in a horse’s lifetime in which they need care and attention, horse ownership might not be right for you.
Don’t buy a horse if… You are hoping your kids will “grow into it.”
My entire show career I have stood at the in-gate with 10-15 other competitors who lack the excitement and passion needed to succeed in this very difficult sport. This sport takes work from every party involved and as much as it pains me to say this, you cannot force your dream into the hearts of your children. Many children absolutely thrive in the horse world, but if your child has become bored with their lessons, purchasing a horse will not remedy the disinterest. Consider changing disciplines or even ask your trainer for a change of pace, but purchasing a horse will not only be a waste of time, but money as well.
Don’t buy a horse if… You do not have a sense of humility.
If I have learned anything in my years in the horse industry, it is that horses are unpredictable, ever changing, intuitive, and have minds of their own. There will be a number of difficult and frustrating days in owning a horse. While trial and error is inevitable, you must have the ability not to lay blame, not to get angry, and to get up and try again.
Don’t buy a horse if… You do not love them!
Making the decision to purchase a horse is making the decision to welcome it into your family. Each horse is an individual and needs unique amounts of time and care. Like noted above, they require a lot of effort and patience. Horse ownership is full of wonderful days, but it takes love to get through the bad.
There are many other options out there that give the freedom and experience of owning a horse, but protect against the majority of the responsibilities:
Full Lease – Full responsibility, but the ability to send the horse back home if things do not work out. Partial Lease – You share some of the expenses with the owner but often have the freedom to ride your lease horse more than any lesson horses available, in addition to the ability to send him back if things do not work out. Lessons – The ability to ride a variety of phenomenal lesson horses and better yourself as a rider, with the understanding that some lesson horses may be sold or leased to other riders. Ride Someone Else’s Horse – If you are lucky, you may have a friend who already owns a nice horse and will let you ride their horse. If this is an option, it is always smart to see your friend ride the horse first, as well as sign a liability protecting you and the owner from any discrepancies.
Good luck and happy riding!
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