Horses are magnificent creatures, and many people have dreamed of owning a horse since they were children. If you love to ride horses as a hobby, whether that is entering into competitive shows or for more leisurely activities like hacking in the countryside, you might have been considering purchasing a horse to care for yourself, rather than paying to do this at the local stables. However, horses are not the average pet and they require a lot more care than, for instance, a dog or a cat. If you do want to get a horse, you need to carefully consider the following before you move ahead with your purchase.
Just like you would with any pet, it’s sensible to get insurance for your horse to help cover the cost of medical expenses should they get sick or injured. It is not a legal requirement, but any vet bills can be expensive and horses will be even more costly due to the size of the animal and the kind of care they will need. You can get cover that will help you cover circumstances such as the death of your horse, theft or straying, personal accident cover and public liability cover too in case anyone is injured by your horse or caused damage to their property, as well as vet fees. The factors that will impact your horse insurance include the age of your horse and what activities you use your horse for. You can speak to an insurance provider to get more information on the type of cover you want for your horse and you can use comparison websites to find the best rates for what you need.
Where to Keep Your Horse
If you have space to build stables on your property, or you already have stables existing on your property, this would be an ideal place to keep your horse. However, if this is not possible, you will need to find a livery near you that leases space for your horse to stay in. You should always visit these liveries before you agree to keep your horse there to inspect the quality of the stables and see how the other horses are treated. You might also find looking at reviews left by other horse owners or reaching out on forums to ask for recommendations is beneficial to give you a better idea of which livery is right for your horse.
Caring for Your Horse
Every animal requires love and care to live a happy and healthy life, but horses can be more of an undertaking than other animals. You will need to make sure that your horse is being groomed regularly, taken out for exercise, eating nutritious food, and even things like having horseshoes put on. You’ll also need to know how to place their saddles and other riding equipment on properly so that you are safe when you’re riding your horse and that they are comfortable too. Furthermore, you will need to clean out the stables and lay down fresh hay for your horse to remain comfortable. All of this work can take up a lot of your time, and if your horse is being kept in a stable that is not on your property, you will also need to factor in travel time to and from that location. If you are someone who has a busy schedule due to work or other commitments, horse ownership might not be the best fit for you, unless you can afford to hire someone to help you with these tasks.
Transporting Your Horse
Another important consideration you need to make before owning a horse is how you are going to get the animal around. Although they might spend most of their time at the stables, if you will be traveling to shows or even relocating to a new home, you’ll need to think about how you can safely transport your horse. This will mean investing in a horsebox to be attached to your vehicle. You can find out more about buying a horse trailer and the insurance you will need for this by searching online. You should also check about what driving license you will need to legally use a horsebox; for instance in the UK, you need a Category C1 license to drive a 3.5-tonne horsebox.
As well as learning how to groom your horse and clean out the stables, you also need to be aware of the basics of horse safety. While these animals are certainly majestic, they can also be dangerous if they are frightened or become aggressive. Never walk directly behind a horse, you should always have at least 2 meters between you and the horse if you are going to be working behind them or walking in that direction. You should also make sure that if you are riding them out in public spaces, choose quiet roads with minimal traffic.
When you are riding your horse, always wear protective headgear and good riding boots so that you do not slip or risk significant damage to your head if you fall or are thrown from your horse. When you approach your horse, be calm and give them time to adjust to your presence. Gently petting them if they allow you to get that close can help soothe them or feed them a carrot. When you are feeding your horse some tasty treats, make sure that your palm is flat so that they don’t accidentally bite your skin.
The Overall Expense
As you can guess from all of the above, owning a horse is not cheap. While any pet is going to create additional expenses for you, horses cost a lot more to look after properly and maintain. On average in the UK, the cost of owning one horse can be around £4000 to buy a horse, with an additional £2,600 a year for keeping your horse in a livery. How much you will spend will depend on the type of horse you own and what you are using it for, as competitive horses can cost more to maintain and train. You will also have to think about additional costs of vet bills, riding equipment, food, and other essentials to keep your horse comfortable.
These expenses can seem expensive from the outset, but you’ll also need to think about how they are going to impact your finances in the long-term. Unless you are planning to keep your horse for a short time before selling them to another owner, you will need to be comfortable to cover these costs and your other living expenses for years to come.
Is It Worth It?
The answer to this question will always come down to your circumstances and how passionate you are about horses. If you are someone who loves these animals and are happy to put in the time to care for them and can afford it, then becoming a horse owner could be one of the best things you have chosen to do. However, it is a lot of hard work and expensive, so you do need to think carefully about how taking on a horse will affect your current lifestyle.
If you have always dreamed of owning a horse and are still interested in pursuing this, make sure you are keeping in mind all of the above before you make a decision.