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.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

There's Got to Be a Better Way ...

Looking back, the way I became a horse owner was just plain stupid. Stupid and risky. Yes, it did work out for me, but I'm willing to bet that for 75% of the people who purchases their first horse the same way, it just doesn't work out. There's got to be a better way ... and here are a few suggestions to help you make your decisions about entering the world of horses in a "smarter" manner than I did.
Take lessons first - minimum of 6 months to a year. Be sure this is what you really want. And realize owning a horse takes a lot more commitment (in time and money) than just taking a weekly riding lesson. Choose an instructor that insists on teaching you horsemanship from the ground up - and not just riding. You should start with grooming and groundwork. Don't be surprised if you don't even sit in the saddle for the first week or two. And when you do finally get to "ride" it wouldn't be unheard of for your instructor spends a lesson or two with the horse (and you) on the longe line doing "scissors" and "airplanes" and just developing a sense of balance. Congratulations if this is the case! For you have probably found a riding instructor who sees the whole picture and wants you to as well.
If you are taking weekly lessons and want more of a "feel" as to the time and commitment entailed in horse ownership, speak to your instructor or barn manager and volunteer for a few hours of barn help each week. Offer to clean and exercise the lesson horses prior to others lessons. Commit yourself to muck some stalls. Be there at meal times when the most placid horse begins to act like a starving, raving lunatic. But if you make a commitment to help out - stick to it.
So you really do want a horse of your own. Look for reference from the "horse save" friends you've made. You may find the diamond in the rough at a local barn, being ignored and unridden because their owner is just too busy or their kids have lost interest. Take your riding instructor or other trusted horse person along to get their input. Have a vet check the horse out or ask permission contact the vet who has been caring for the animal. Visit the horse a minimum of twice before purchasing her. Would the owner consider leasing you the horse for 6 months? The owner might be eager to have the "idle" horse earn it's keep. Although leasing may cost you a little bit more in the long run, some owners are willing to apply part of the lease amount towards the purchase price if you decide to buy. By leasing, it gives you a chance to get to know the horse and to get to know yourself as well. You'll see if the horse has the personality and abilities that you are looking for, and you'll see if you really want to make this huge commitment.


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