A horse is a very special animal that feels and thinks closer to a human being than any other species. Not only can a horse be an excellent companion, but shows its personality in its movements, gestures and affection. Because a horse is such an amazing animal it is extremely important that you understand the requirements and responsibility of ownership before deciding to become a horse owner.
Many factors need to be considered prior to purchasing a horse, including the amount of time a horse requires, the cost of not only purchasing a horse but also paying for food and supplements, where the horse will be boarded, what kind of horse is best suited to your needs and personality, and what is required to maintain a healthy and happy horse both mentally and physically. It is important to not only research this information, but to also speak with other horse owners to fain a full perspective of horse ownership. If in the end you choose to become a horse owner, the rewards this animal can bring are priceless.
Above all other factors, time is one of the most important things to consider before purchasing horse. These animals require care 465 days a year without exception. In addition to this, a horse is routine oriented. It relies on a schedule for feeding, cleaning, and exercise, and can become very flustered if its schedule becomes disrupted. Therefore you need to make sure that you will be able to work your schedule around the horse and not vice versa. Are you willing to push a dinner date to later in the evening, or earlier in the afternoon in order to feed and ride your horse around the same time every day? Is there someone available to you who can care for your horse on the same schedule if you leave for vacation? Understanding the level of commitment involved in maintaining a horse’s schedule, and the amount of time that will be needed to care for the horse is imperative for these reasons.
Believe it or not, the cost of purchasing a horse is minimal compared to the cost of caring for the animal, especially if you need to board the horse away from home. Depending on what breed you choose to purchase, you could spend anywhere from $200 to $1 million with the initial purchase. The cost of boarding a horse can range anywhere from $200 to over $600 a month. Boarding is typically the largest expense if you own a healthy horse; sweet feed is only about $10 for one month (100 pounds), and hay should only cost roughly $100 for an entire winter. Medical expenses can be costly, however, running about $30 twice a year for tetanus, $15 on medications if the horse becomes ill and about $15 for de-worming. This may not seem like a large expense on paper, but over time it adds up, especially when you consider that it is an ongoing expense. Also remember that these prices only include food and health-related costs; items such as shoes, bits, bridals, and other equipment can be very costly. So before purchasing a horse you need to be confident that you will be able to afford the cost of constant health and upkeep of the animal.
Another important aspect of owning a horse is where you plan to board it. If you own a stable with enough land for them to exercise and roam then this task becomes easier than boarding the horse. Unfortunately not everyone is able to do this. If you have to board the horse at a stable, then you need to understand the terms of the lease, know what is included in the boarding fee, the cost of boarding, and ensure that the owners of the stable are experienced in horse care. Even though you will still need to visit daily to groom, ride and exercise the horse, the horse will be in the care of the stable owner the majority of the time. For this reason you need to make sure your horse will be in a safe, comfortable and secure location with a knowledgeable staff.
It is essential that you choose a horse that is compatible with your style, temperament and fits your use. For example, an anxious owner should not buy an anxious horse; this can lead to all kinds of behavioral problems. Also, looking for a horse that will jump obstacles, perform in shows or compete will be different than searching for a horse that will be used for trail riding and fields. Unless you are an experienced trainer or willing to have your horse trained, it is important to make sure the horse you purchase suits your needs.
Probably the most important thing to consider when buying a horse is health. Not only is it essential for the horse to be given a full exam by a veterinarian who specializes in reviewing health for purchase, but it is important to understand what a horse needs in its daily life to stay healthy. Things like a balanced diet, exercise, immunizations and mental stability all play a part in the well being of your horse. Know what signs to look for if you think your horse is ill, understand the responsibility you have to the horse’s health, and make sure that you have a good health provider for your horse before you make your purchase. Having these things in place can make owning your horse much less stressful in the long term.
Understanding these five key areas (time, cost, location, breed and health) are an integral part of owning a healthy and happy horse. A large amount of time and research must be invested in deciding if owning a horse is right for you. If after considering all of these areas you feel that you are ready to be a responsible horse owner, are able to care for the horse properly, and can provide it what it needs to be healthy and strong, then you are on your way to becoming the owner of a truly incredible animal that can bring years of joy into your life and family.