Even if you have prior riding experience, owning a horse is a completely different story. Needless to say, having your own horse is a huge responsibility; one that you have to be fully ready for before you pick out your first horse. It’s impossible not to make mistakes, especially when you’re just getting the hang of horse ownership, but there are certain mistakes that can lead to big consequences that can cost you a lot.
Before buying your first horse, here are the common mistakes that you should avoid at all costs:
1. Picking the wrong horse breed
Choosing the right horse is a make or break decision for a first-time owner. It’s normal to fall in love with a certain breed because of their looks or reputation, but they may not be the right horse for you, at least not yet. As a first-timer, you are better off with an older horse that has already been trained. Doing so will help you learn how to ride safely. Moreover, a settled horse is often easier to maintain than a fiery young steed.
2. Not preparing for the other costs
You have to extend your budget way above the cost of buying the horse. There are lots of gear and equipment needed to take care of a horse properly, not to mention your tack (if you don’t have one yet). You may also need to upgrade your current tack, especially for parts that are crucial to your ride such as high-quality horse bits.
Apart from that, you also have to prepare your stable (unless if you’re boarding the horse somewhere else). Before you take your horse home, the stable needs to be decked out with all the basics, such as troughs, cleaning equipment, and grooming supplies, most of which don’t come cheap.
Furthermore, there are also veterinary fees, insurance fees, and trailering costs that you have to consider, among many other expenses.
3. Not learning how to ride
Buying a horse is not something you should do on a whim. If you want to own a horse, you have to be at least a competent rider for your own safety and the horse’s.
Take riding lessons before you buy your first horse. The time and money you invest will help ensure that you can ride your own horse safely and competently. Apart from formal riding lessons, you can also volunteer at a rescue facility to learn how to care for a horse so that you are ready to take care of your own when the time comes.
4. Underestimating the time commitment
Taking care of a horse eats up a good chunk of your day. You’ll have to spend hours on feeding and grooming your horse, maintaining your tack, and cleaning the stables; all these on top of riding and training and all the fun parts.
With that in mind, buy a horse only if you can commit the time required to take care of them. If you don’t have enough time to do all these tasks yourself, then you also need to factor in labor costs for when you hire stall hands to care for your horse.
5. Not researching proper horse nutrition
A horse’s diet will depend on her age, health condition, activity level, and environment. Hence, you shouldn’t guess what and how much your horse needs to eat–this is a mistake that can cost them their health, and is unfortunately very common among first-time horse owners.
Apart from grazing on hay, your horse may need supplementary nutrition. Ask your vet first before buying a feeding formula. They will tell you what type of formula your horse needs and how much they need to eat every day.
Owning a horse is a privilege and a big responsibility, which is why you need to be prepared for what horse ownership comes with–including the mistakes that you should avoid.