So often I hear a laundry list of things someone wants in a horse they are looking to buy/adopt.
It puts me in mind of the TV shows that feature a couple w a specific budget and amenities they want in their new house, and when they go out looking, most of it is out of budget. So the question is, do they do with less, go over budget, or just keep looking?
When adults are about to embark on buying their first horse, or their first horse in many years, the goals are often lofty.
Maybe they want to jump, or start taking dressage lessons or maybe they even want to do a local show or compete on a higher level.
I have seen many people get horses or start leasing horses and 6 months or even a few years in, really not go their original direction. Its not uncommon to see people pick a discipline and a trainer, maybe switch trainers a few times, maybe switch disciplines, maybe fall or get hurt, perhaps lose confidence, or their horse gets injured, and that thing they wanted the horse for, is not longer a thing they want or can do.
They send the horse to a trainer
They may sell the horse and get a new one or not get one at all
They keep the horse as a companion and no longer ride
They search for a rescue to take the horse
Those are some common options, I am sure there are more!
When we as humans, imagine the future, we generally see it a bit lopsided. Mostly pros, with maybe a con or two thrown in there for good measure. But quickly we forget about the cons, push them aside, and forge ahead. The issue is that many of the cons materialize, and rear their ugly right from the get go. If we are busy, have jobs, have families, soon the time required to care, ride, train, take lessons, gets tough to fit in, for what we actually need to do. It can become a bit of a weight and stress with all of the responsibility and a little less of a joy if you don’t have a great set up or support system. And don’t get me started on the costs that can be underestimated. That first time that horse sticks his leg thru a fence, colics, or just decides to get a mysterious illness, well all I can say is you will learn soon enough. So horse ownership can become tough early on.
Example – someone is hoping to get back into jumping after a long time off, and now has taken the leap into horse ownership, they are now also responsible for the horses care and training – thats a big commitment. It’s no longer the instructors horse, or the friends horse, or the lease. horse. Pretty much 100 percent of how that horse goes now falls under your responsibility. Even if you board the horse, you are still responsible for picking the right boarding facility, ensuring the correct stabling and diet, correct well fitting tack, veterinary care and farrier work. It’s no longer just showing up to ride. If they are at your house, times a million
Now they realize that it really has been a long time and lessons are in order. For them and for the horse. But to be serious as a jumper, that might be 3-5 lessons a week. Your instructor now requires of a certain number of lessons per week, and for a certain number of months etc. So you are now locked in. Some instructors may require you to show. Thats a big chunk of change. Now you need even fancier tack and fancier clothing, and by fancy I mean expensive. Do you need a trailer to haul your horse? Do you need a hotel room and food to be gone for multiple days? Show fees? Trainer Fees, I mean you just wanted to get a horse and learn to jump, so how did you get to where you are spending more than a mortgage on a waterfront mansion?
And that is assuming the horse is actually fit and sound and able to jump. We get so many calls from people who have gotten horses that are not what they were told. Previous injuries, older than expected, a lot less training than advertised, so now they have a horse that can’t physically do what they want- maybe ever. Most horse are sold “as is” So I would say – Now what? Refer to that list above!
Maybe if you could do it all over again, you would just want a horse you could ride. And have fun. And still be able to eat more than Ramen. Less structured goals and more actually enjoying your horse. However that looks to you. Its certainly different for everyone.
The horses we have are just those horses, the ones that are suited for the casual rider. They won’t go on to compete, they can’t jump, they can’t barrel race, and no high level dressage, but rather a horse that you are happy to have, and maybe with some lessons, you might find that you get a long just fine. A horse you are comfortable with. That horse that you go for a sunset ride on, the horse you meet friends on trail with, that horse you go swimming with, that horse you learn to do some obstacles with, or liberty, or scent training or any million of things where you just have fun.
That doesn’t mean you don’ have to know what you are doing, or that the horses we have require no training, but rather with some common sense, time spent learning what the horse knows, what they might need to learn, and what you might need to learn right along with them, its totally possible to just have an amazing horse that loves to go for a ride and enjoy your time together
It’s much more rewarding to get the horse that you love. The horse that stirs your soul, that makes you laugh every day, and fills your life with joy. Life’s too short for anything else. Go ride, or don’t ride, but have fun, and love the horse that ends up being yours. It might not be the journey you expected, but it still can be really one of the most wonderful things you have ever done.