General Horse Care

BUYING YOUR FIRST HORSE
by
Cathy Rowberry

Congratulations! You have made one of the most exciting decisions in your life-you're buying your first horse. 

Many people grew up dreaming of the beauty of horses, watching movies, or reading stories about horses. If you find you are saying strange things such as; my what magnificent animals they are, and things like oh, if wishes were horses you may be certifiably horse crazy. And it is true, horses are fun to ride, nice to watch, and a wonderful way to enter a whole different world. But horses are more than whims, it takes a great deal of commitment and care to not neglect the animal, and a lot of money to support these horses as well. 

If you are lucky enough to have the time and necessary funds to spend on this hobby please take a moment to read a few guidelines before you get out your checkbook.

1.RESEARCH (WHAT DO I REALLY WANT AND WHY?)
There are numerous books and videos out on the topic of horse care and riding. Although all knowledge can not be learned from a book it is a very good way to learn the "language" of horses. Visit local stables, feed stores, and saddlery shops to ask what the horse community is like in your area. Realize that there are very many styles of riding, and types of horses and all them are sometimes worlds apart even though horses are the common factor. Decide on the breed of horse you desire based on what you have learned. Define your goals and make darn sure this big animal has a place in your life.

2. WHERE TO PUT IT
A very important factor in horse ownership is "where shall we put it". If you do not have acreage you will have to find a stable that will look after your horse for you, or a boarding stable. There are many different kinds of boarding facilities ranging from a friend's farm to a big fancy stable with show facilities. Here you must consider your budget and mostly the well-being of the horse. Safety is a major factor and research can help you find a suitable place for your needs. If you have your own land, you will need safe, sturdy fences, and some kind of shelter from the weather. This depends on the climate of your location. Feed storage and availability must also be considered. Keeping a horse is expensive, they require a lot of food, they need care from a veterinarian periodically, and they have other costs such as blacksmith and a long list of equipment that is needed too. All in all, horses are expensive.

2.FINDING THE RIGHT HORSE: ( From Minis to Shires)
Horses come in many different shapes and sizes. Horses are classified by breeds and types and can be purebred, crossbred, or grade. Don't buy the first horse you go and see. This decision should not be rushed into as without knowledge of horse conformation, (the way the horses body is put together), disposition (the horses innate" goodness or badness"), and soundness (refers to health, especially of the legs and wind). Someone could be badly hurt or the horse may not be suitable for your needs. A person without riding experience should never even consider purchasing a young, untrained horse. An older, well-trained mount will be much safer, especially for a youngster. Letting a child and a young horse grow up together is just inviting disaster. An older mount, ten years or older, is usually the ideal for a first horse.

The sex of the horse is a major fact to consider as well.
Stallions should only be handled by experienced horse persons.
Mares are used as breeding and riding animals. They can sometimes be moody depending on hormonal levels.

Geldings are well suited for a family horse or friend.
Breeds of horses and sizes vary greatly too and choice is depending on the discipline the horse will be used for. It now comes down to personal preference, you must really like this horse to consider spending all that money, and hard work on.

There are many classified ads in newspapers, or horse magazines, listing horses for sale. Hopefully you will have met someone in your search for this horse that you can trust, and you can use he or she as a mentor. When you have found the horse of your dreams have a veterinarian perform a soundness exam or have the horse "vetted". This can save heartache in the future, should the vet find anything wrong with the horse, before you decide to buy.

This is a very brief outline of things you should consider before purchasing a horse or pony of your own. Take the time to gain knowledge and experience and your choice will be better than just jumping into the saddle.



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