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Equine Resources | Horse Ownership

Taking Care of Horses

horseThe most important function of horse ownership is taking proper care of your horse or horses. While each equestrian wants to improve their own horsemanship, the proper care of the horses is job one. Horses are entirely dependent on their owners and can only perform well while being kept in a favorable environment and receiving the appropriate diet, vaccinations, and hoof care.

Environmental Emergencies

We are seeing more frequent and more severe natural disasters such as wild fires, flooding, hurricanes, and tornados, all of which threaten our own well being and that of our horses. While not every natural disaster is foreseeable, there is planning that can be done to protect ourselves and our animals. For example, having an evacuation plan to move our animals out of harms way. This may include access to a horse trailer and determining a safe place to temporarily house your animals.

It also means planning on feed, hay, and water for humans and animals whether staying at home or traveling. The more you plan ahead the more likely you will be able to care for your animals during and after a disaster.

Horse Ownership Chores

Horse ownership brings with it many responsibilities and not a small amount of expense. Horses need to be fed, watered, mucked, and sheltered which entails at least twice a day chores.

Horses hooves must be attended to every six weeks or so and this chore is usually performed by a farrier, but alternatively can be done by a trained person.

Horses must get shots four times a year as prevention against equine diseases and rabies. To ignore these vaccinations is to place your horses at risk. While some horse owners prefer to give these shots themselves, many arrange with an equine veterinarian for a regular schedule of shots.

Horses also require grooming in the form of brushing, washing, clipping, and trimming manes and tails.

Challenges of Horse Ownership

Horse ownership presents two challenges to the owner. First is the performance of tasks associated with keeping a health horse, and second is the expense involved. The chores take time and physical stamina or someone else must be paid to perform the chores. Not performing the chores of horse ownership is not an option. Thus, horse owners must be constantly evaluating their financial and physical ability required to own a horse.

The Horse Owner's Well Being

Horse ownership usually involves some sacrifices in terms of time and money. However, the horse owner's obligation is to themselves in terms of maintaining their own health and reasonable financial stability. Using all resources to support horses is not a lasting life style or in the best interest of the horse or owner.

When its Time to Give up Your Horses

When a horse owner can no longer take care of a horse for whatever reason, it is the obligation of the horse owner to seek other arrangements for the good of the horse. Emotions must be put aside and the horse's well being put first.

Since rehoming a horse takes time in terms of a sale or otherwise, the decision should be made as soon as the horse owner sees problems with continued horse ownership. Too many horses end up in poor condition from lack of proper care and become rescues or put downs that didn't need to be.

Horse Will

Since most horse owners cherish their horses, it makes sense to have a plan in the event of the owner's serious illness or death. What do you want done with your horses if you are not around to care for them anymore? Making a special Horse Will that describes how you want your horses treated after you're gone makes a lot of sense. It is not fair to leave that task to your horses without survivors knowing your wishes.

Backyard Horses

Many people like to keep their horses on their own property, and thus have all the chores everyday. While most horse owners perform these chores themselves, many also have help in some form. Its also a good idea to have someone who can back you up in times of emergencies or vacation.

Along with backyard horse comes the cost of hay, feed, and pest control not to mention the tools of the trade such as water buckets, feed storage containers, and muck forks.

Stabled Horses

A popular alternative to keeping horses on your property, is boarding the horses at a boarding barn. This entails finding a suitable barn and budgeting for the boarding expense. Horse stables offer different levels of service that can help the busy horse owner. You will want to check the reputation of any barn before making a decision.

Testing Horse Ownership

One way to get started as a horse person is to lease a horse. Depending on the terms of the lease, you will have a fixed cost every month and not have the stress of dealing with unforeseen emergencies. You also do not have to come up with the purchase price.  If you don't like the horse or want to move on, you can terminate the lease without having to deal with finding a new home for the horse.

Alternatives to Horse Ownership

If you love horses, but feel you can't afford the time and money involved, there are several ways you can be around horses, including riding horses for someone else. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities at horse rescue and horse therapy organizations that will help you learn what you need to know about horses. And you can commit only the amount of time you can afford.

Working with Horses

Many horse lovers choose careers that will keep them in contact with horses even if they don't own a horse. Since the skill levels of equestrian jobs vary from unskilled workers up to Equine Veterinarians, there are horse jobs for everyone. Many people work as grooms and exercise riders in the horse racing business. Others become specialists such as farriers, veterinarian assistants, or barn managers. Some are professional riders who compete on the show circuit riding other people's horses.

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