Experiences of a beginning rider

A journal of the continuing experiences of a new horsewoman and beginning rider ... sharing my experiences, hoping to educate, encourage, and help others who are considering undertaking the same path.

Friday, February 17, 2006

It Doesn't Have to Cost a Fortune ...

It doesn't have to cost a fortune ... your first horse that is. Now I'm strictly speaking of a starter horse, one you want to learn on, one you'll use primarily as a riding companion, perhaps participate in some amateur competitions. In my part of the state they have weekly and monthly horse auctions. Not all the horses found there are broken down, unruly animals with behavioral problems. There are some fine horses that come through there. And you can get a good animal in the $1,000 - $2,000 range. The problem is, if you're new to horses like I am, you won't be able to tell which ones those are. You'll have a chance to examine and ride the horse before you bid on them. But what you don't get is a feel for the horses disposition. While my horse was purchased by her previous owner at one of these auctions, she was boarded at The Windy Brush for 8 months before I purchased her.
You'll find many of these horses are less expensive because they are "green" ... broke, with just basic training. They've been through "kindergarten" and have finished the 1st and 2nd grade. If you are lucky enough to find someone who will work with your horse as well as you, this could turn out to be a bargain.
I began and continue with hour long weekly lessons, while most other riders at The Windy Brush take half hour lessons. It's worked out well. It's given us time to work with me and my horse. For the first 8 months, what training Dusty had when I bought her was adequate for a new rider like myself. When I progressed beyond the point of the horses knowledge and training, I took a "month off" of riding, and my instructor worked with my horse only. It was her "boot camp". One hour a day, five days a week, four weeks of intensive training. I was present at 90% of those training sessions even though it meant a 4a.m. wake up call to travel to the barn in time to beat the summer heat - and my instructor expected me to be there. It was, afterall, a chance for me to learn as well as the horse. Yes, this training session for my horse cost me $240.00 above what my normal monthly cost of lessons would have been - but boy, did it produce results.
There are advantages and disadvantages to a new rider purchasing a "green" horse. I find the biggest advantage is I've learned more about horses than I ever would have with a "turn key" horse. It hasn't been an easy road and I've had the help of my instructor/trainer - we'd "fix" one problem and Dusty would "develop" another. Like a child, she challenged me every step of the way. But the experience gained has been invaluable! I don't think there is a problem she can develop, a trick she can pull, that we couldn't resolve. It's made me a better all-around horsewoman.
The biggest disadvantage is that you can easily get discouraged. Many people would get frustrated and just give up and then - yup- the horse goes up for sale. As a rider you will be eons behind the person who bought the "turn key horse", but as a horseowner you'll be miles ahead. So, if you aren't very patient and very determined, if you arn't willing to rely upon your instructor/trainers judgement and advice, this isn't the route for you.
Remember your first car? Chance are it didn't cost you a fortune. And you probably sunk some bucks into it just to get and keep it running. But boy, did you have fun with it. Has any car you've owned since been as much fun? Probably not. And so it will be with your first horse.


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