Good Reasons Not to Get a Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   22nd Nov 2016   •   906 views   •   0 comments

A friend of ours has moved several hours away, having purchased a beautiful new home on substantial acreage. The last time we talked he asked how much work it was to keep a horse. Judging from the number of pasture potatoes I see around here, the temptation to own a horse is great once you have a few acres you think could serve as pasture. While you certainly have the right to fill your land with critters, it might not be the right choice for everyone. Here are few good reasons you probably shouldnít get a horse.

Do you have the time for a horse? Even if you keep your horse outside all the time you have to check it at least daily, if not more often. You will need to check that it is healthy and that it has all it needs to stay that way. This means you have to be sure that the pasture grass is adequate, or that it has enough hay. Water needs to be checked to see if it has run out or become soiled. While this doesnít sound like a lot, you may not be suited to become a horse owner.

If you dislike the idea of spending an hour pulling burrs from a horseís mane and tail. If you loathe the idea of walking out to check and feed your horse in the winter cold when youíd rather stay in where itís warm. If you work long hours. If you have a very busy social life or do anything else that takes you away from home for long hours, or even days, horse ownership is not for you.

Can you afford a horse? Yes, you donít have to look far to find a free horse. But, anyone with some experience will tell you that there is really no such thing as a free horse. If youíre like many of us who live where pasture only lasts a few months of the year, youíll have a substantial expense in buying hay. Horses need their hooves trimmed about every six weeks. And trims can cost up to $50. Horses need vaccinations and parasite control medications.

And there is the gear, which if you donít ride the horse isnít a huge expense, but will still have you getting out your debit card. You canít just turn your horse loose on fifty acres either. You'll need some fences and at least a shed for shelter. Even the most economical fencing can be pricey.

Vet bills are another expense that comes with the territory. Horses get sick. Horses hurt themselves. One vet call can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the treatment the horse needs. And, you can end up with a horse that needs ongoing care. A horse with COPD may need medication. A horse with hoof issues may need vet care and shoes, which are a regular substantial expense. If you donít have some money to spare, just keeping a horse can be an expensive endeavor.

Are you willing to learn and listen to advice from people with more experience? There are things you can safely learn on your own, like knitting, baking bread or painting a room. But, going it alone when youíre new to horses might be unhealthy for the horse and unsafe for you. You wonít be able to own a horse and then never touch it. Youíll have to learn to feed it, clean its hooves and check its health. Have you considered how youíll learn to safely lead and tie your horse, which are essential basic skills even if you never ride?

Think about why you want a horse. If you want to ride fast over the countryside, you might be better off with an ATV. If you want to feel powerful, maybe get some gnarly looking stickers and a cool helmet for your ATV. If youíre looking for a companion, a dog or cat might be a better bet. If you want the grass trimmed on the back forty, a bush hog on a tractor might be more efficient. If you think horses look nice, a print or painting is a lot less trouble and a good painting might even appreciate in value--unlike an idle horse.

I would never dissuade anyone from owning a horse if they are very determined and willing to do what it takes. But horse ownership isnít for everyone and itís a decision that should be made carefully. What do you think?
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