Are you interested in learning to ride? Great! You’re about to embark on a wonderful new adventure. However, I want to issue one word of wisdom. Do not even think about buying a horse right away. All too often, people think they need to own a horse to learn to ride, but you’re much better off putting your money into the learning process and spending it on the horse when you are good and ready. Also note that the cost of horse ownership is considerably more then one will ever expect. You need to factor the cost of a farrier, vet bills, board, feed, emergency expenses and potentially a trailer if you want to be mobile.
All too often, people buy a horse without knowing anything about horses. They buy a saddle (which may or may not fit), hop on and think that they will be able to ride off into the sunset. When they fall off, they begin to believe that they got a lemon of a horse, and take little responsibility for their own actions.
My advice is to take at least 1 year of lessons. Before buying a horse, your minimum skill set should include Walk, trot, canter, back, riding alone, and catching a horse alone. You need to be comfortable picking up the feet of a resistant horse, as well as bridling. I would try out several disciplines because different personality types and body types excel at different disciplines. Lease several different horses for a few months at a time. Ride alone. Learn what you like and dislike about each horse. You may even be able to lease/purchase a horse, but if not make sure you take a more experienced person with you when you look at the horse. If you find something you like, be sure to have a vet look him over. Sick horses can be very expensive. The vet will not “pass” or “fail” a horse. That decision is still up to you, but he will tell you if the horse has any type of debilitating disease or problem that you as an inexperienced person would not know to look for.
I suggest boarding at a public boarding facility as you transition into horse ownership. This means that you will have help along the way and people to ask if you have any kind of trouble. If you plan on taking your horse home, only do so once you are comfortable with the horses’ basic needs and make sue you keep a knowledgable horse person’s number on speed dial.
When it comes to calling the vet, always err on the side of caution. If my horse stops eating, I will always call the vet right away. Horses can’t throw up and when they experience intense abdominal pain will begin to kick at themselves. They can kick hard enough to break open their GI track and spill out the contents, leading rapidly to sepsis and death. They call this colic… and it’s nothing to mess with. The other thing I always watch are eye problems. Be sure you treat any problem asap, because prey animals can become very skittish if eyesight is lost.
Good luck on your new equestrian endeavor. Be smart about your decisions, learn everything you can, and have fun!
Located just 45 miles from Rolla, MO and nestled in the Ozark Mountains is Brushy Creek Lodge. This location sports 3 rental cabins, a rental teepee, and number of campsites. While the cabins are not fancy, they are clean and maintained. On some weekends, food is provided in the main lodge for a moderate cost. The food is mostly hard-fried with a salad bar. If you can’t eat heavy while riding, be prepared to bring your own meals.
Whether you are looking to buy a new horse trailer or a used one, it’s easy to be influenced by fancy options and shiny construction materials. But, for a horse owner who wants to promote safe and stress free hauling for the horse, choosing a trailer from the horse’s point of view is very important. Since many horse trailers are built to appeal to the human perspective, this may not be as easy as one may think.
Considering the nature of the horse as a species, it’s a minor miracle that our equine friends get into a trailer at all. Horses are creatures of the prairie who are designed for life in wide open spaces. Because they are prey animals, they have a highly developed “flight or fight” response. When danger threatens, horses run away. That is how they survive. Feral horses who don’t run fast enough end up as dinner! They also have to watch their footing so they don’t fall into a hole or quicksand!
Galloping a horse can be an amazing stress reliever, but before you do this, there are several things I recommend doing to prepare:
1. Be sure that you can trust your horse. Make sure that your horse is not “spooky” or overly reactive, and that he will listen to your stop at both the trot and canter.
2. Be sure that you are confident with the canter, have a balanced seat and well conditioned legs.
3. Teach yourself 2-point.
To speed up, you can either squeeze harder and/or smooch again. Make certain that your hands are soft. Just as you should follow his movement with your hands in the canter, it becomes a necessity in the gallop.
What I have found is that when most horses gallop, you will find a “sweet spot”. The forward/back rocking motion should diminish as he reaches for a larger stride and flattens himself out. At this point, I find it very easy to be balanced, and sometimes even use this pace to regain my balance. Please only do that if you are very advanced.
I do have once comment. If you are riding on a trail and you have a barn sour horse, practice this while traveling away from home. You don’t want your horse getting carried away and racing al the way home. If your horse does start racing in the direction of home and refuses to slow down, pull him into a circle by lengthening the outside rein and shortening the inside rein.
Before you go on that big trip, there are a few legal things you will need to know:
- In the United States, you must have a coggins test done before you can enter any publically available horse facility. Coggins tests are taken yearly by the vet and are only good for 1 year. This document will be requested at shows, trips and anywhere else you might take your horse. Some states also require a test for piroplasmosis. If you pass through the state and do not unload, you will not be required to have it. If you unload at all, be sure to have this document.
- If you leave the state with your horse, you will need a health certificate from your vet. These certificates are generally accepted for 30 days from the date of issue.
- If you travel to a state with documented piraplasmosis, you will also need to have a yearly piroplasmisis test. If you are traveling through the state and do not unload from the trailer,you may not need the test. If you unload in a piroplasmosis state, you will need to have documentation of that test. Contact your state’s agricultural department for more information. Whatever you do, be sure to be informed about this before you travel.
- Be sure that there is drinkable water where you are going. If not, bring water from home for your horse. Also, bring your horse’s own hay and grain. Horses can colic and in severe cases die from changing feed sources abruptly, so only change feed gradually.