While more people than ever seen to understand the need to work with a professional when adding a horse to their lives these days, the truth is the message still needs repeated and spread.
Rarely does a week pass that we fail to hear from a will be horse owner that does not feel lessons and training on their end is important.
If you’re not certain how important education and a foundation is before you buy or adopt or accept that free horse, we hope, after this article, you will be better prepared.
Our story begins. . .
You would not put your 16 year old into a car and tell her to head out to drive the German autobahn if she has never driven before, would you? Even if she had driven some in other different situations, wouldn’t you want to be sure she had quite a bit of qualified training in that type of situation before you allowed her to take off?
Imagine now the autobahn is actually full of cars with their own minds and emotions, and you need her to be in one and hope for the best. . .would anything about sending her unprepared seem wise? Would you tell her hop in and hope for the best?
That is what new horse owners do sometimes, though, with their kids and themselves. It causes damage to the horses they offer a home to almost always, and it actually helps fuel the neglected horse situation we work on daily.
Problem horses are frequently created as a result. Horses are neglected, even mistreated, without intent. A lot of, if not almost all, problem horses are created by either new owners or owners that have had horses a long time but never thought to learn about the animals they offer a home.
We should never be willy-nilly with horse ownership or riding, folks.
Our biggest concerns with would-be-owners are:
Concerns over lesson and trainer costs, as well as the time needed.
As soon as HOP mentioned lessons and trainer involvement, some interested future owners balk at cost and time, but the truth is, if you do not have time and money to afford lessons, you will do a horse a disservice by purchasing or adopting one. They are expensive in every single way, and they are a massive time commitment.
You can enjoy horses in other ways if you don’t have the schedule or/and the income for ownership through volunteering and leasing, though! Horses can still be part of your life (and you can learn through these options, too).
If you can afford a horse, and if you have time for a horse, you definitely will be able to take the time and purchase lessons to build a great foundation. It is simple economics, but it is a process to help people stop and think about it this way:
So, what kind of costs are involved with lessons and training?
$215- $500 a month, depending on location, for twice a week hour long lessons for a full month.
Ideally, you should expect to take lessons at a barn that really teaches horse care and horsemanship, including ground work, for 6-12 months, before you consider becoming a horse owner.
You are now building an invaluable relationship with a person in the industry, or perhaps, many people. A support system you cannot be without during your future ownership journey.
Once you’re ready, you still need to consider investing in 6-12 months of training, lessons and board with the instructor, if possible, you’ve come to know through lessons, with your new horse. This typically will run $500-$1,000 a month in most areas.
Your trainer or instructor is almost always going to help you find the right horse when you’re ready, too.
The odds you will purchase a healthy, sound and good match with the help of a year of lessons and a good trainer by your side are incredibly high at this rate, so actually, in the long run, you are saving money, not spending more.
During the time you took lessons, you would otherwise have incurred a higher cost in equine care of a personal horse, but instead, you invested that money wisely. You set yourself and a horse up for success.
During the time you had your new horse in training, you could have been struggling to figure out care, have wasted time on forums, possibly spent some time in the ER and having called your new farrier and vet for things you would have understood about, if you’d have had care training before hand. . .to say nothing of the harm you may do to the animal in this “learning phase.”
Otherwise, as someone jumping head in without a background of knowledge, your journey to buy as a newbie could look like this:
Travel to see 4 horses, unaware of what really to look for: $200
Purchase a lower priced horse with some potential from run of the mill , private seller = $1,500.00
Hire a hauler or pay seller to pick up/ deliver selected horse: $200
Cost of Health Certificate for travel, coggins and bringing a horse up to date on vaccines, dental, de-worming within the first day to first 3 months: $500
Cost for full care board is $350 – $800 a month, depending on where you live, plus dental, farrier, supplements, vaccines, de-worming and incidentals through out the year.
Cost for on site care at your home: $150-$400 per month, plus dental, farrier, supplements, vaccines, de-worming and incidentals through out the year.
Emergency vet call for colic because you did not realize you overfed your horse: $1,000
7 months in, someone mentions they notice your horse is actually lame. You didn’t know, though. He has probably been lame since day one or maybe you caused it with lack of understanding of care. Sure, you could have spotted if you had received training or have taken a trainer, but that seemed expensive. You purchased without enough knowledge. Now you pay a high price.
You sell horse for 1/5th purchase price, you are out months of care, and now, the horse may face possible abuse, neglect or slaughter, even though you asked someone buy that is a “good home,” you aren’t really able to market effectively, just want to move on to a new, better horse, and while you mean well, this horse is now sold without diagnostics at low cost to another unsuspecting horse lover with less manners than he/she had before, more issues and the new buyer likely is without a foundation of horsemanship. The cycle continues with the new buyer and that same horse until the horse is used up, confused and never treated fairly.
And what about you?
You have lost a tremendous amount of money, and you still have no horse.
You repeat steps above. You may or may not be successful the next time. Some newbies give up a few years in. They never looked for help. They couldn’t find the magical “bomb” proof horse, and they throw in the towel.
Now the horse community has lost a possible life long home due to lack of education alone. We can’t afford that – as horse people – we need to harness new interest, cultivate education and life long knowledge, so our horses have good homes and continue to become better horses through out their lives, friends.
Are some of these figures not going to apply to you? Sure. Sometimes. If you’re fortunate. On the flip side, the mistakes and costs as a result can actually cost far, far more, too.
If you’re new to horses, you cannot really afford – not in time or money – to not have a trainer involved and lessons.
The truth is . . . NONE of us, no matter how new or old we are with horses, can really afford to decide we do not need to learn.