There’s a fever that goes around in the spring time: horse fever. That itch in your legs when it’s time to ride. The dreamlike whinny that will come from the paddock when you step out the door. That beautiful saddle you’ll get to haul out of your custom built barn and the perfect ride you’ll have… If you’re an experienced horse owner, you know this is a totally ideal picture that’s been left to grow out of proportion through the long winter.
Having horses is way more than all that crap you see in the movies, but it can also be a lot less. Owning a horse is not like owning a machine or a vehicle. It’s like paying money for a toddler. Of course, there are pros and cons to this investment. Having kids can be a lot of fun, but also a big pain at times. Having a horse is similar.
- They cost a lot of money. A sound horse that has a good foundation often carves a hole in your pocket. Don’t be surprised to spend over $1,500 just for the horse. Then there’s tack (a good saddle could cost as much as the horse!) and feed, vet bills, farrier bills, bills bills bills …
- You are now responsible for another child. If you have children already, you may or may not want another one. When you own a horse, you are responsible for ALL of its needs. If your horse colics, you’re the one up all night. If he has behavioural issues, you have to deal with them. They don’t owe you for being their ‘parent’. It’s give, give, and more give.
- When a horse is sick, they’re really sick. Colic, founder, and other ailments that can come over a horse are no three day cold that you can cure with a cup of tea and a Tylenol. Preventing these things is a daily task for horse owners, and if there has been no preventative measures taken, the fall can be hard and fast.
- A horse won’t repay you for your efforts. If their needs are met, they’re content. But they don’t have the same sense of gratitude as humans. Just because you feed, water, and take care of your horse doesn’t mean he’ll feel like giving back. You have to earn his trust and companionship just like you earn the money to take care of him. Did I mention you’ll always be giving?
- There is no ‘one size fits all’. When it comes to getting tack, finding a training method and fixing behavioural problems, horses don’t come with a ‘one size fits all’ manual. You have to constantly be ready for change. For those of us who like predictability, horses aren’t such a good fit.
- There’s dirty work to be done. If you get a gelding, you’re in for a fun annual tradition called sheath cleaning. If you keep your horse indoors, there’s poop scooping every day of the year. Shedding season is also less than pleasant, especially when you seem to swallow more hair than you brush off your horse.
- If problems arise, it can be really scary! When horses get aggressive or frightened, it’s way more terrifying than a screaming toddler. Horses are large and have dangerous hooves. If you’re not equipped with skills to handle a spooking horse, you could very well end up in the hospital.
- There is never a day off. Being a horse parent is a huge commitment. You have to be on call every day. By the time all your chores are done, the dreaminess of riding could be out the window.
- Horses are herd animals. This means that being alone is not a good option for horses. But once you have two, taking one out for a trail ride becomes nearly impossible, so you end up with three… Hey! Why stop there?
- Horses make really great companions. They’re charming, intuitive, honest, and you can tell them anything.
- Horses can be useful. A horse can go places that quads and vehicles can’t. Riding is also great exercise.
- Training a horse can be really rewarding. With all the challenges we face on the way, being successful with a horse is one of the best feelings. It’s like completing a masterpiece when you’ve built a healthy relationship with your horse.
- A horse will tell you what your flaws are. Yes, this is a pro to horse ownership. If you want to better yourself, a horse is the animal to help. Because of their instincts and natural intuition, they are capable of perceiving everything about you down to the last tense muscle.
- A horse builds your confidence, trust, listening skills, and leadership skills. Building a working partnership with a large animal like a horse is character building, for sure! If you let yourself, you will be changed through owning a horse.
I know there are less pros than cons listed in this post, but I assure you that the pros far outweigh the cons if you let them. Here’s to having horses!