What’s It Like Owning A Horse?
If you’re thinking about becoming a horse owner, there’s much you should know before you purchase one. Having a clear understanding of what it’s like to own a horse is important if you don’t want to unintentionally commit yourself to more than you’re ready to handle.
So, what’s it like owning a horse? Owning a horse is both rewarding and challenging. Horse owners must be knowledgable, responsible, and have enough time in their schedules to take care of the daily needs of their horse. When done properly, owning a horse is a fun and therapeutic experience that greatly improves your life.
If you’re still uncertain about what your life might look like when owning a horse, here are the things you should consider that will have the greatest impact on your life as a new horse owner.
Factors That Impact Your Experience As A Horse Owner
Regular Horse Routines And Time Commitments for Horse Owners
When you purchase a horse, you’re responsible for maintaining its health and giving it a happy life. Horses require consistent care and should not be left for weeks at a time without being checked on.
If you’re new to horses, you’re likely unfamiliar with the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks required by horse owners, so I’ve put together a brief overview for you here to give you a better idea of what horse life is like:
Daily Horse Owner Routine
Your horse needs to be checked on every. single. day. With work, holidays, and other time commitments, this can be very difficult for some people. If you have a tight schedule but you still want a horse, make sure you have horse savvy friends that can help you out by checking on your horse when you’re not able to or choose a full-care boarding stable for your horse.
Here are some of the things you need to be checking and doing on a daily basis:
- If your horse is in a stall, clean out the stall each day to prevent thrush and other hoof problems.
- Horses in stalls should be turned out or exercised every day. No one wants to live their life in a tiny stall!
- Check that your horse has plenty of clean food and water readily available.
- Inspect your horse’s hooves for any damage and clean them out. (Here’s my instruction video.)
- Be mindful of your horse’s appearance and be on the lookout for any wounds or other physical indicators that something isn’t right.
- Make sure they have adequate and well-maintained shelter.
Weekly Horse Owner Routine
In addition to daily tasks, there are a few things you should do on a weekly basis:
- Clean out your horse’s feed and water buckets.
- Remove manure from your horse’s field if they’re kept on a small amount of land.
- Inspect the property where your horse is kept, looking for damage to fences or anything that might cause harm to your horse.
- Check your food supply to make certain you’re not running short. If you are, you should arrange to get more before you run out of your current supply.
- Give your horse a bath.
Monthly Horse Owner Routine
- I like to thoroughly clean and inspect my tack on a monthly basis to keep it in good condition. Damaged or faulty tack can be dangerous, so implementing an inspection into your routine can prevent issues down the line.
- Pay board! This doesn’t apply if you’re keeping your horse on your own land, but if you’re boarding your horse, be diligent about paying board on time or you might be asked to relocate your horse.
Other Recurring Horse Owner Tasks
Here are a few other recurring tasks you’ll need to take on if you decide to get a horse:
- Have your horse’s feet trimmed every five to eight weeks. If they wear horseshoes, those should be replaced as well. (Here’s my hoof trim frequency guide.)
- Deworm your horse every two to three months.
- In general, have your horse’s teeth floated on an annual basis. Depending upon your horse, they might require more frequent floating.
- Lastly, horses require annual and bi-annual vaccines to keep them safe from equine illnesses. They should also be tested for Coggins and have a general health exam from a trained veterinarian each year
Owning A Horse: What It’s Like Paying For Horse Expenses
Do you have to be rich to own a horse? The answer is no! But horses do require quite a bit of money each year in order to care for them properly and keep them in healthy condition. In addition to the general care costs of owning a horse, there’s the cost of tack and competing in horse shows or events to consider. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect to pay for when you get a horse. For a full breakdown of these horse expenses, check out my guide here.
- Shows, Events, and Lessons Fees.
- Boarding Your Horse. Depending on the type of board you get for your horse, you could be paying a couple of hundred dollars a month or a couple of thousand dollars a month on board alone.
- Vet Bills and Farrier Bills. Enough said.
- Feed for Your Horse.
- Tack. It takes quite a bit of gear to ride a horse, so it will be an investment getting everything you need. (Here’s everything I recommend.) I receive an affiliate commission when you make a purchase after clicking one of my product links, so thanks for helping me pay for my horse. 😉
- Various Equipment. See below for more detail.
Horse Equipment You’ll Need
In addition to tack, there are some other items you should acquire to properly care for your horse. That said, here’s a handy dandy horse equipment shopping list for you to reference:
- Lead Rope.
- Lunge Whip. Not to hit your horse, but to serve as an extension of your arm when training.
- Water Trough/Buckets. If you live in a cold area, you’ll also need a water heater or a bucket that comes with heating built-in.
- Feed Pan. These are used for feeding your horse grain and supplements.
- Hoof Pick. Used to clean out your horse’s hoofs on a daily basis.
- Horse Brushes. (See the price on Amazon) Few things are as satisfying as keeping your horse’s coat healthy and clean, and you’ll need brushes to do that!
- Horse Brush Box and Stool. This is one of my favorite horse products I’ve found. It’s a box for storing your grooming products that doubles as a stool/mounting block. I haven’t ordered this yet, but I’m seriously about to!
- Horse Blanket. You might not need this if you live in a warmer area.
- First Aid Kit. Always good to have on hand for emergencies for yourself and your horse.
That pretty much covers it as far as equipment is concerned. Depending on where you’re keeping your horse, you may not need some of these items if your boarding stable is already providing them.
If you’re concerned about the costs of owning a horse, you’ll be happy to hear that it can most certainly be done on a budget. Here’s an article where I summarize all of my tips and tricks for owning a horse on a budget.
Owning A Horse Is Different Based On The Horse And Breed You Choose
Now that you have an idea of the time commitments and expenses of owning a horse, let’s look at a few other factors that will impact your experience as a horse owner.
First and foremost, your time as a horse owner will be impacted by the breed and horse that you choose. The number one thing I tell people who are considering getting a horse is that it’s vital that you choose a horse in relation to your skill level, and not just because they look a certain way.
You should never pair a beginner horseback rider with an untrained horse. This is just asking for trouble. If you’re a beginner, the best horse to get is one that was spent a great deal of time working with an experienced rider. Many beginners shy away from the idea of getting an older horse, but older horses often make the best horses for beginners because of their temperament and experience level.
In addition to choosing an experienced horse, you should also carefully consider the breed of the horse you’re considering. For instance, Arabians are usually very high energy horses that are better suited for riders with some experience, wild draft horse breeds usually have a very mild disposition that’s perfectly suited for a beginner.
When choosing a horse, the most important thing is to take your time and do your research. There’s a lot you should know before choosing your horse! You can check out my horse selection guide here.
Owning A Horse Will Be Different Depending On Your Experience Level
Something you need to be honest with yourself about before you purchase a horse is your experience level. Owning a horse, much like raising a child, comes with unique challenges and problems that you’ll need to overcome in order to maintain a good relationship with them and keep them happy and healthy.
If you begin your horse journey alone and with little to no prior horse experience, you’ll have nowhere to turn if and when things go wrong. I highly recommend that anyone considering owning a horse take formal horseback riding lessons, and spend a great deal of time studying up on how to properly care for them.
If you’re passionate about owning a horse, don’t let your lack of experience hold you back. Everyone has to start somewhere. But do things in a smart way by taking lessons and ensuring you have a support structure in place to help you overcome the challenges you might face. For me, owning a horse has been lifechanging and incredibly rewarding, so it’s well worth the time and effort it takes.
Where You Plan To Keep Your Horse Impacts Your Horse Owning Experience
Another area to consider that will greatly affect your time as a horse owner is where you’re able to keep them. If you don’t have sufficient acreage for a horse then you’ll need to look at other boarding options. Every boarding stable is different depending upon the management and the other boarders who keep their horses there.
There are three types of boarding stables to choose from. Full-care boarding, pasture boarding, and self-care boarding. It’ll be worth your time to familiarize yourself with each type so that you can get a better idea of what might be right for you. I go over the different types of boarding stables, along with other helpful information for choosing a stable in the article I wrote here.
To sum things up, owning a horse is a great experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world! But it isn’t right for everyone. Horse owners need to be responsible, patient, and knowledgable. If you’re still not certain whether or not owning a horse is right for you, here’s a complete decision guide I wrote that will help you weigh the pros and cons.
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