Horse Ownership 101: What to Expect

Are you among the 4.7 million Americans who love to ride horses? Do you have the goal of owning a horse of your own someday?

Horse ownership can be a wonderful thing, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. From getting basic horse supplies to choosing the best horse veterinarian, there’s a lot more to owning a horse than spending time in the saddle.

Are you ready for the rigors and realities of horse ownership? Here are four important factors to consider.

Finding the Right Horse for You

Do you normally ride English or western style? Do you want a horse you can pal around with and enjoy some easy trail rides? Or are you interested in moving up through the ranks of the rodeo world or the three-day eventing circuit?

There are no right or wrong answers here, but you need to know your personal goals before you start horse shopping. Make sure the horse you choose is suited not only to your personality but also to your equestrian goals and lifestyle.

The Cost of Owning a Horse

Purchasing a horse is only the beginning of the costs of horse ownership. Before you take the plunge, make sure you’re financially prepared for all the costs of owning your horse.

These include:

  • Veterinary care
  • Farrier services
  • Riding tack
  • Grooming supplies
  • Feed, hay, and supplements
  • Boarding costs
  • Stall bedding
  • Pasture upkeep
  • Riding lessons
  • Training and showing fees

You’ll be able to save on some of these costs if you have your own land, but most horse owners need to board their horses at a farm or stables. This expense alone averages $200-$500 in rural areas and double or triple that in urban areas.

Caring for Your Horse

Horses require considerably more upkeep than a dog, cat, or other housepets. They need regular exercise, access to grass and water, and daily feeding of hay, grain, and other supplements.

If you keep your horse in a stall, the stall needs to be mucked at least once a day. Your horse also needs regular grooming and bathing for a healthy coat. And whether your horse goes barefoot or wears horseshoes, you’ll need a farrier to attend to his hooves about every 6-8 weeks.

Most horse boarding facilities offer these services as part of a package, so be sure to find out what’s included (and what isn’t).

Improving Your Riding Skills

Even if you’re not interested in competing, no doubt you want to become a skilled and confident rider. You can always take riding lessons to improve your skills or hire a trainer to help with your horse’s specific needs.

For example, is your horse heavy on the forehand? Take a course in horse collection to get him moving laterally with ease. Or, if you have the goal of competing in show-jumping or barrel racing, seek out instructors and trainers in your chosen niche.

Is Horse Ownership for You?

Purchasing a horse of your own may sound like a dream come true — and it is, in many ways. However, it’s also a huge commitment (to a huge animal) that you need to take seriously.

If you’re prepared for everything listed above, you’re well on your way to happy and responsible horse ownership.

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