Owing a horse can seem quite glamorous, especially for those who have never owned one before. Who doesn't dream of flying across the desert sand like the star of the Black Stallion, or racing through the open fields on a pure white steed? A love and affinity for horses stretches back to our caveman ancestors, and horses have been our partners for thousands of years.
1. Horses Need Training
Horses are not big dogs; they are large powerful animals that demand your respect. A poorly trained horse can be quite dangerous, especially for an inexperienced owner. Even if your horse is already well trained, you will need to reinforce the lessons and make sure you are doing the right things.
It is a good idea for new horse owners to seek help from their more experienced counterparts, either through formal lessons and training or more informal arrangements. If you plan to pay to agist your horse, the barn owner may be able to arrange riding and handling lessons. If you plan to keep your horse a home, seeking hands-on help from a more experienced horse person would be a smart move.
2. Horses Need Plenty of Exercise
You can safely stash your dog in a fenced yard, but your equine companion needs space to roam. Horses are grazers by nature, and they spend a good portion of their day foraging for food and moving from place to place.
If you own some land and the zoning allows for it, you might be able to keep your new horse at home. A good rule of thumb is that each horse will require a minimum of one acre of grazing land. You can get away with a bit less if you plan to feed hay, but that will increase the costs of owning the animal.
3. Horses Need Constant Care and Attention
Horses require a great deal of care and regular attention to stay healthy. You will need a farrier to trim your horse's hooves every 4-6 weeks, and a veterinarian to administer vaccinations several times a year. You will also need to budget for emergencies and potential injuries; horses are remarkably good at hurting themselves even when no obvious hazards are present.
Horses are also large animals, and that means they eat lots of food. An average sized horse can easily go through half a bale of hay each day, and several pounds of grain as well. Those costs can really add up, and you need to budget accordingly.
4. Boarding and Agistment Costs Keep Going Up
If you cannot keep your horse at home, you will need to find a good boarding facility. Boarding your horse can be a good option, especially if you are a new horse owner. Many boarding stables provide riding lessons and training in addition to a clean stall, and that ca be a big help to the new owner.
That convenience does not come cheap, however, and you can expect the price of board to rise over time. The owners of boarding stables need to cover the cost of hay and grain, as well as maintenance for pastures and fences. The cost of board varies according to location, but you can expect to pay a minimum of $200-$300 for a quality facility.
5. Hiring a House Sitter to come and stay when you Travel
If you need to travel, you will need to look at hiring a police checked, insured, house sitter to water and feed them daily while you are away.
6. A Horse is a Lifetime Commitment
Horses can live up to 30 years, so horse owners need to be ready for a lifetime of care and commitment to the animal. There are plenty of unwanted horses flooding the market right now, so re-homing an older or unsuitable horse is not always easy. It is very important to choose your first horse carefully. Finding a beginner-friendly horse is not an easy proposition, and it is a good idea to bring a more knowledgeable friend along as you shop.
Owning a horse can be extremely rewarding, but it is important to understand what you are getting into. Fortunately, you do not have to give up your love of riding even if you decide horse ownership is not right for you at the moment. You can always take riding lessons, growing your skills and knowledge until you are confident buying a horse of your own. Some boarding stables and horse trainers will even allow you to lease a horse, giving you a set amount of riding time and saving you money. These options allow you to enjoy riding and spending time with horses, without the high level of expense and commitment that horse ownership often entails.