Getting Started With Horses
How to Get Started With Horses
The following words of cowboy wisdom have been passed down for generations: "One white foot--buy, two white feet--try, three white feet--be on the shy, four white feet--pass him by." Like most old wives' tales, there is a bit of truth for someone who is buying her first horse. So saddle up and follow the steps below to get started with horses and riding.
Things You’ll Need:
Feed and containers
Tack and grooming aids
Shelter and turn-out area
Water source and containers
First aid kit
Riding clothing (boots, hats, gloves)
Decide what kind of horse is right for you. Go to local shows, browse the Internet, check out magazines, television and books to learn the characteristics of the myriad of different breeds. Visit local stables and look at the breeds or attend an auction to discover horse prices.
Call breeders of horses you are interested in and arrange to visit their farm. Most breeders have horses for sale at all times and will let you take a test-ride. Ensure you test ride any horse you are serious about buying.
Keep a list of all the horses you look at and test ride and make notes so you will remember certain horses. Buy the best horse you can afford that is compatible with your skill level or invest in riding lessons to bring your skill level up to match the horse.
Make living arrangements for the horse, including a steady supply of water, feed and shelter. At a minimum, horses need a small shelter or 10-foot by 10-foot covered stall with a turn-out area of at least 1/4 acre per horse.
Arrange transportation for the horse. Buy your own vehicle and trailer or hire someone to move the horse. It's best to have your own means of transport in case you need to make an emergency trip to the vet.
Purchase tack and grooming supplies. Get a sturdy halter and lead rope, bridle or headstall, saddle and blanket, hoof pick, brush and comb, along with fly spray, shampoo, cloths and sponges. Put together a small first aid kit with vet wrap, non-stick pads, gauze, tape and ointment.
Spend time with your horse every day, if possible. Groom her and pick out the hooves, provide food and take a ride. Horses need at least twenty minutes of exercise daily and they eat a lot. Feed your horse at least two percent of her body weight in good hay or forage each day.
Schedule regular farrier visits and vet services. Have a farrier trim or shoe the horse at least eight times a year. Horses need vaccinations twice a year and deworming on a schedule prescribed by your vet. The vet will also prescribe teeth floating (cleaning and grinding) periodically.
Enjoy your horse, but practice equine safety. Ride with a friend. Start entering shows when you feel confident in both your own and the horse's ability. Most boarding stables have riding and training facilities, including indoor and/or outdoor arenas and round pens, so utilize those or find public lands and horseback riding trails.
Tips & Warnings:
Read books and magazines before you buy your first horse. Take horseback riding lessons to ensure safety and confirm your interest level in horses.
Take a friend who is experienced with horses when looking at horses to buy. Little things like old injuries or other unsoundness can escape the untrained eye.
White hooves really do require more maintenance because they are softer and more prone to bruising, chipping, peeling and cracking. Black hooves are best.
Horses are very social animals, so it is best to keep them in close proximity to another horse. Buy two horses, board one for a friend or board yours at a stable. Do ride your horse alone at times so she doesn't become too herd bound.
Never buy a horse you have not ridden first. Even at auctions you can request to test ride a horse before you buy.
Always wear a shoe with a heel while riding with a saddle. This prevents your foot from slipping all the way forward through the stirrup if the horse bolts or bucks. If you fall, you are less likely to be dragged.
Don't feed too much grain. Horses in the wild do not get a lot of grain, so their digestive systems are not designed to handle it. Too much grain can make a horse hyperactive. Give it only occasionally as a treat unless the horse is being used heavily or is old and needs extra energy.