Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Horse for Your Child?

A friend told me yesterday that after attending my class on raising horses and chickens on a small acreage, she decided that I work very hard and she's not so sure that she wants chickens after all.

True, animals are a lot of work and money.  I estimate that keeping one horse for a year costs about $1000 per horse.   There are moments in the dark of February's cold that I have to steel myself to going outside to muck stalls.  So why?

Animals remind me to slow down, to enjoy the gift of sunshine, to take a moment to lay down and feel it.  Etta always reminds me to give her a hug after her grain is eaten, chuckling softly to me.  Come here, she says.  It was a hard day, but I'll give you a hug.  You give one to me.

We have learned invaluable lessons of life and death, of hard work and dedication, of handling crisis and of loving unconditionally.  The horses are my meditation.

Questions of the week:
"What horse (breed) would you buy for a young child (wanting to have their own horse)?

Buying a horse is a long-term commitment to an animal.   Before buying a horse, the child should take riding lessons with a qualified instructor for a year.   While learning to ride, they should also learn basic care of the horse, safety, health issues and how to tack their own horse.  If that child still wants to go to their riding lesson when it is February and very cold, then the child may be ready for their own horse.  If it is too cold to ride, it is still important to take the student to the barn, brush or lead the horse.  If dedication wanes in the cold, then owning your own horse will be difficult and parents will end up either fighting with the child or feeding the animal themselves in the coldest months.

If after a year's time, you think proceeding with buying your own horse will fit your family, consult with your instructor as to horses available in your area.  Buy a horse with the most training you can afford or have the horse in training before coming to your barn.  It is expensive to buy a horse, but that is only the beginning of the expense.  The true cost of a horse is in the yearly upkeep.  Many times I have heard of a "free" horse.  There is no such thing.  Horses begin costing you as soon as you own them, and a free horse eats just as much as a $3000 horse.

Too many horses are purchased because they are inexpensive, yet "green".  Don't ask me how I know, but I'll show you my cracked helmet.  Unless you are a horse trainer, you need an experienced, older and trained horse for your child.

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage: Designing and Managing Your Equine Facilities
Natural Horse-Man-Ship: Six Keys to a Natural Horse-Human Relationship
How to Be Your Own Veterinarian (Sometimes): A Do-It-Yourself Guide for the Horseman


Laura said...

As a certified instructor and Senior Judge (and mother!) I agree with your advice regarding a) take lessons for a year before purchasing a horse and b) allow the instructor to help you find a horse.

This is always a concern when parents are looking for a horse for their kids. Some dis-reputable horse dealers can and will take advantage of unsuspecting parents willing to part with their cold hard cash.

I hope your post gets read by parents and children alike.

Cloudia said...

You are a repository of wisdom that has become rare in this country today. Brava to you

Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral



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