If you decide to buy a horse, you will need to carefully consider all the things you need to do in order to look after the horse properly. It is not an easy task and requires commitment, but can also be incredibly rewarding.
Here are a few things that you need to think about before taking the plunge:
Get some Experience
Before diving head-first into horse ownership, why not loan or share first? This will give you the opportunity to see if you have the time and the finances needed to care for a horse/pony on a full-time basis. You’ll be able to assess whether those 6am starts, combined with endless mud and poo-picking are really meant for you.
If you enjoy sharing/loaning and can cope both physically and mentally, then you’ll have the confidence to buy your own.
While horses are quite happy to be outside all the time, they do need somewhere dry to take shelter in extreme weather. You’ll need to make sure your horse has a proper shelter, like a hedge, or a field shelter/stable – this will protect him against the harsh elements of nature. As well as shelter, good quality rugs will also keep him warm and dry during wintry season.
Horses need to stick to quite a high fiber, low starch diet to ensure they don’t become overweight and unhealthy. While the occasional treat is fine, you’ll need to make sure you don’t over-do it with sugary snacks such as polos and carrots.
Well-established pasture tends to suit most horses because it tends to contain a variety of grasses for horses to pick through. Bear in mind that you will need to supplement this in the winter with hay and possibly hard feed – depending on your horse’s condition.
Ensure your pasture has good access to clean water – horses drink anything between 25 and 55 liters of water a day, depending on their diet, the weather and how hard they’re working. If your horse is to be part-stabled, make sure there is a large bucket in the corner of the stable. You will likely need to Invest in a food store to keep spare buckets, sacks of food and other stable essentials safe and tidy – it’s amazing how much equestrian paraphernalia you can amass!
Exercise & Tack
Horses need regular exercise to keep them fit and healthy so ensure you have enough time to give them regular sessions – be that in the school, or out hacking. Try to keep exercise mixed – horses can become stale if they are schooled too often. Hill work is a great way of building muscle out of the arena and is fitting for both horse and rider!
Before you start regular work with your new purchase, it’s important to ensure his tack fits well. Always use a qualified saddler to check this – as they can often spot small fitting issues, before they cause problems. Likewise, it’s worth getting your horse’s back and teeth checked by qualified professionals every 6-12 months.