How many times have you heard “Can I have a pony?” from your children? Of all the animals they can pick out, of course they would go for the one that’s most expensive and difficult to care for. But one of the great draws of owning a horse is that they’re not just for petting or playing, but for riding too. We have several friends who own horses and, had we continued with our plans to move to Ireland, a horse was definitely on our ‘to consider’ list. Unfortunately, as things stand, that is no longer the case for us at the moment. However, if you’re starting to come around to the idea yourself, you’re going to have to think about some important issues first. Before you buy your first horse, check out the following tips.
Tally Up the Costs
Owning a pet can always be expensive. You might think it’s cheap to keep a cat, but if you ever have to pay any vet’s bills, you’ll quickly change your mind. Owning a horse, however, is expensive from the get-go. Unless you own enough land, you need somewhere to keep your horse. It’s not going to fit in your house! It also needs food and bed, grooming tools, and also veterinary care. You could be paying for anything from simple medications like wormers for horses to huge operations if anything goes wrong. Plus, there’s the cost of buying the horse in the first place and transporting it. Before getting a horse, it’s essential to be aware of how much it will cost.
Ensure You Have Time to Care for a Horse
Another thing that a horse will cost you is time. They need daily care, either from your family or from someone you pay to look after them. You either need to factor in the time they require (can you muck out their stall every day?) or the cost of paying staff to do the job.
Plan on Getting the Kids Involved
It’s the kids who want the horse, even if you would like one too. If you’re going to get one, you have to ensure that they will be involved. Both you and they need to understand the reality and the responsibility of owning a horse. That might mean getting them up early so they can feed and muck out the horse before school. It could be spending the school holidays at the stables or going for a ride after school.
Think of the Length of Your Commitment
Remember, a horse is not a short-term commitment. They can live for many years, and will become part of your family. Of course, you could sell a horse if you no longer wanted to care for it. But could you easily sell any other family pet, such as a cat or dog? You should think about some important things, such as whose responsibility is the horse when the kids leave home?
Learn All You Can
Of course, before you get a horse, you need to get educated. If you don’t know much about horses, you have to learn about them. As well as learning about how to care for them, it’s a good idea to get everyone riding lessons. Your horse needs to be exercised, and it’s great if you can get some exercise at the same time.
Getting a horse isn’t something to do lightly. If you’ve made a decision to buy one, don’t rush into it.