Buying a horse
This question plagues a lot of beginner riders. With all the options out there, it can seem a little overwhelming! So I’ve made my top five list of what makes a good horse for a beginning rider, along with a little video of the list in case you get bored reading ;) These five traits hold true whether you’re looking to lease or buy a horse for a beginner rider.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “What equipment do I need when I’m buying my first horse?” Luckily, I’ve got most of your answers already in a couple of videos :) And the rest I’ll cover in this blog!
First, watch my video on Riding Gear. This video covers the basics of what you as a rider need. Next, watch the video on Grooming, as it covers what you need in a basic grooming kit. To summarize, you will need a helmet, riding pants, boots (with half chaps or chaps if you use paddock boots) and possibly gloves. In the grooming kit, you need a dandy/body brush, a hard brush, a mane/tail comb or brush, a curry comb, a hoof pick, and sponges or a rag. A tack box to hold it all is also very helpful.
The basic grooming equipment
So, you need your equipment to ride, and then basic equipment to groom the horse. What else do you need? Well, you certainly need a halter, or you’ll have no way to catch and lead your horse! His halter should fit him properly, so make sure you get the right size for the size of your pony. Usually, if you talk to someone at the tack store about how tall your horse is and what breed, they can recommend what size halter. Halters can come in different kinds of sizes, but will usually be something like “small,” “average” and “large” or “pony,” (small) “cobb” (average) and “draft” (large).
Next, you need a way to ride your horse. So you’ll need a bridle and a saddle. Again, these must fit your horse. Bridles come in similar sizes to halters, usually with “pony” and “horse” options. The saddle will be much trickier to fit than the bridle–I would recommend using a professional saddle fitter. Also, you will need to decide what kind of riding you want to do before you buy any tack (hopefully you decided that before you got the horse, as that will impact what kind of horse you get! See my first blog about buying a horse). You’ll also need a saddle blanket or pad, and a girth. Again, the girth with have to be sized with the horse–girths are measured in inches (or centimeters).
Keep in mind that all this stuff won’t be cheap. (If you need an idea of how much it actually might cost, check out my cost summary on my Horse Care-Beware blog). A great way to reduce expenses is to buy things used–many local tack stores carry used items (the chain stores tend not to). You can also contact local riding schools to see if anyone is selling saddles, etc. Also, online at places like Craigslist in the US or other used-supplies selling sites are great places to look.
If you’re planning on keeping your horse in your own stable, that will require a whole other list of equipment and supplies, which I’ll cover in a later blog. However, having your own first aid kit isn’t a bad idea either. Check out the one I have packed up for going to a show here.
Lastly, there are lots of “extras” you can get, like blankets, coolers, boots, wraps, crops/whips and so on. These all depend on your horse and what kind of riding you are planning on doing. If you’ve got the basics listed here, that will get you started! And don’t worry, the rest will come—horse people have a way of developing quite the passion for perusing tack stores :)
I get a lot of questions about where to start when buying a horse. Finding the right partner for your equitation adventures can be a daunting task! So I’ve gathered my top five most important things for you to consider.
1. Make sure that buying a horse is actually what you want to do. Many people mistakenly think that if they want to start riding, they need to buy a horse first. In fact, buying a horse should be the last thing you do! First, take some riding lessons. See if riding is something you enjoy as much as you thought you would, and if it’s something you’d like to stick with. Then consider leasing a horse. Leasing a horse will give you a great sense of what is required in horse ownership without the full commitment. Many of the suggestions below apply to finding a good horse to lease as well. Then ask yourself the following questions:
I think this question is one of the most common I get on my website. So today’s blog is all about answering it! First, let me just say that I know ALL about really, really, REALLY wanting a horse. I’ve been there. That said, I also understand the concern parents might have about getting their child a horse of his or her own.
As a child asking your parents for a horse, you need to remember what I said in the “Horse care, beware!” blog (maybe go back and read it if you haven’t). Horses are expensive, time-consuming, even potentially dangerous. In addition, how do your parents know that tomorrow you won’t wake up and decide that now you’re into tennis–or dancing, or art, or swimming–instead of horses?
So, if you really want to convince your parents to get you a horse, you need to do the following things (Of course, these pointers also apply if you just want to take riding lessons or work at a barn and your parents still aren’t interested):
1. Find out exactly why they don’t want to get you a horse. Is it because it’s too expensive? Is it because they are worried you won’t take good care of it? Is it because you have never even ridden before and they aren’t convinced that you’ll stick with riding? Is it because they are worried you will get injured? It’s really important when you ask your parents why, that you listen very closely and without any eye-rolling or arguing or sighing. You have to actually hear what they are saying–they want to be understood just as much as you do. Parents reading this, make sure you are honest and open with your child when he or she approaches you. Don’t be afraid to really discuss the concerns you have!
2. Once you know what their concerns are, find out ways to address those concerns. If the concern is money, brainstorm some ideas of how you could earn some money to help out. Or consider leasing a horse first (much less expensive than owning your own horse). If the concern is safety, look at safety gear together (liking riding vests) and talk about what things you could all do to minimize the risk involved with riding. If it’s because they aren’t sure you’ll stick with riding, make an agreement on how long you would need to take lessons before they will reconsider getting a horse–maybe weekly lessons for two years? Stay calm and honestly look at their concerns. Parents, you can help out this process by considering why your son or daughter wants so badly to be involved with horses, and what you would need to feel comfortable with the idea.
3. Consider taking it in steps. Instead of starting out asking for a horse, start with asking for weekly riding lessons. If these go well, and you are still interested, then you can talk with your parents about leasing a horse. If the lease goes well, then you can move onto buying a horse. In this way, you’ll show your parents how you are able to care for a horse and are committed to owning your own horse. For parents, be open to talking about possible compromises, like leasing. Clearly, this subject is important to your child. And here’s a chance for great lessons on planning, negotiation, responsibility, creativity and initiative!
Kids, remember that your parents aren’t just out to make your lives miserable by refusing to get you a horse. They want what’s best for you, and sometimes they just aren’t able to get you everything you want just because you want it. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you to be happy! If you work with them, often you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve together. So good luck, and here’s to a fabulous cooperation between children and their parents–and lots of happy ponies!
I first fell in love on August 11, 2001, one month before my 16th birthday. His name was Noah and he was in that awkward “still-growing” teenage phase, a little gangly and uneven. His hair was a brilliant red-gold, and he had the deepest brown eyes a girl could ever lose herself in. All I needed was my mom’s consent for us to be together… and four thousand dollars.
Whoever says you can’t buy happiness has never bought her first horse.
Of course I promised I’d ride him every day. And I did that, pretty much. I also said I’d take care of him.
Right. I’d just gotten my driver’s license, had four honors classes and AP Spanish at school, and I ran cross country. I cleaned stalls after school–you think it’s a chore picking up after a dog?! Try 50 pounds of poop. Per day. I also fed him whenever I could, but it wasn’t nearly enough. And you can guess who was picking up the slack. My poor mother was out there every day that I wasn’t, feeding and mucking (a glamorous horsy term for picking up horse manure).
Here’s the bottom line. Horses are a lot of work and cost a lot of money. If he’s your horse and no one else’s, there’s no one else to ride him if you don’t. And if you don’t have the time to care for your horse, you’ll need the money to pay someone else to.