How many of you spend 1 hour a week teaching your children to drive your truck, and then at the end of 6 months decide that they are ready and perfectly capable of buying a truck of their own?
Mind you, in this scenario, you have just taught them to drive the truck and maybe adjust the seat, punch some buttons to change the radio and the mirrors, and showed them where to put gas in it. One hour, for six months, you do stuff with your teen and the truck. Oh yeah, and perhaps they have just driven in the giant grocery store parking lot.
So they know nothing about the maintenance of it, not even as basic as changing the oil, or how to recognize when something seems “funny” with the truck. You haven’t talked to them about needing to have the brakes redone, or the importance of liquid in the radiator, or how to drive the truck as safely as possible in the snow, or even what to do if a tire is flat. They don’t even know where to go to find someone that knows what is going on with the truck.
Eh, there is no need to do these things. When the truck is no longer functioning well enough to be useful, you can just get them a new truck right? If it dies for lack of clean oil, no biggie. It is fine to drive around with a flat tire, and bend the rim all to heck.
Well how ludicrous is this scenario? Of Course trucks need regular maintenance, of Course your child should know how to recognize worn out brakes and flat tires and he/she should understand how vital clean oil is to a vehicle. Of Course they should know who to ask for help when things aren’t going well.
So why do humans think that after 6 months of 1 hour per week riding lessons, they are ready to own a horse? They have NO idea what it takes to properly care for one, how to recognize when something is not right with the horse, or how to ride outside of an arena or round pen area.
Recently a meme went around Facebook that said, ” Teaching someone to ride without first giving them a foundation of basic horsemanship is the same as building a house on top of quicksand.”
If this isn’t one of the truest things we have ever read, we sure don’t know what is. This principle, if nationally recognized, would cut down the need for the rescue of a horse by at least 40%…and that would be a significant number!
Horses are complicated, the species as a whole has weird “rules” about how it wants to interact with each other and other species, horses try to kill themselves regularly, they are expensive to maintain properly, they take a team of you, the vet and the farrier to do it well, and they are capable of seriously harming a human without having any intention of mayhem whatsoever.
In short, they are remarkably like trying to operate a truck without knowing much of anything about what it takes to keep a truck running well or how to avoid getting into a mess with one.
Folks, if you are taking riding lessons and you want to own a horse someday…do your homework. Follow the Heart of Phoenix Facebook page with our educational posts, ask a million questions, volunteer for a boarding barn and learn how to do more than just tack up, pick feet and trot. Work at a local rescue, help your neighbor care for her horse, and read, read, read. And then perhaps consider boarding a horse with a knowledgeable horse person before being responsible for it all on your own.
We don’t want to discourage horse ownership. We want to encourage excellent horse stewardship.
If you want something that lasts, then you have to know how to do the proper maintenance!