“I want a horse! “Almost every child has said this at one point. I was really lucky, I grew up in houseful of horse lovers. My Dad trained Olympic hopefuls and loved racing and I grew up on a reining horse on 1600 acres in California. There is nothing quite like the thrill of riding a horse, whether your first Jump or running full speed across the open land.
Horses are wonderful companions, especially for kids. Children in dysfunctional families often have some of the deepest bonds with their horses. However there is a world of responsibility in owning one , also. Before taking that jump, here are a few things to be think about.
What do you want the horse to do for you? Companion, working horse, trail riding ? The horse for each of these has very different training. The price can also vary.
What level of rider are you? Learner, daily rider, ranch hand? These all affect which horse you will buy. It also can help you decide which of the many great breeds there are available. Most breeds were developed for specific uses. For instance, the Missouri Fox Trotter is one of the most popular breeds right now for trail riders. They have a fast, easy gait- very smooth and comfortable to ride.
Can you afford the maintenance? Horse eat. A Lot. They need Vet care, Farrier (the guy who trims their feet and shoes them) Housing and tack (saddle, etc.). Training and lessons enter into it too, especially if you hope to compete.
Have you got the time to do justice to the horse? If you are only going to go visit the stable one day a week, please don’t buy a horse. They are affectionate creatures, with a herd mentality. They would suffer if your idea of riding is one day a week.
Have you a way to haul you new horse home? The higher dollar bracket will usually include delivery in the price of the horse. Be sure to ask about it when you bargain. There are also laws about transporting horses over state lines. Certain blood tests and the paperwork have to be in your hands.
Take the time to get your hands on the horse you are hoping to buy. Ask a horseman whose opinion you value to go with you to look the animal over for any flaws in makeup- watch how the horse moves, listen to it’s breathing, etc. No reputable seller will object to any of this. If you ask your riding instructor , you will be expected to pay them a fee for doing this.
A very important part of buying a horse is being sure they have had a Coggins test. A Coggins test is a test that checks for Equine Infectious Anemia. EIA is spread very easily from horse to horse by flies.
If you travel to any shows or trail ride, you MUST show a clear Coggins taken with in the last three months. The test is just a simple blood test. If the test is taken and the horse is shown to Equine Infectious Anemia the horse would have to be put down. Any neighbor who has fence line contact with your animal can ask for proof of Coggins. Anyone you meet on a trail ride can also demand the paperwork. Ordinarily the Seller pays for the test. It is “acceptable practice”. It takes about two weeks to be returned , and costs about $50 in our area. Don’t buy a horse with proof of Coggins- the penalties can cost you.
Now, if you are not terrified, owning a horse can be the most incredible experience you’ll ever have. It can often be life changing. I know for me it had been a lifelong addiction. Happy Trails!.