Getting My First Horse
Thinking about getting a horse?
I love horses. Always have. Owning a horse was a dream I had since toddlerhood. A few years ago I was working hard and decided that if I didn't start thinking about getting a horse soon, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I would be too old and wouldn't be able to enjoy riding and the years were going by so fast. It was time to either live it or forget it. Here's my story about my horse Flash along with a few tips if you are thinking about getting a horse.
For more information about what you need for a horse, click here.
Do You Have a Horse?
Everyone Knew About My Love For Horses
Since everyone knew how much I loved horses, I would get calls every now and then when someone heard about a free horse. This time it was my riding instructor. She had heard about a free horse but didn't have any details. She told me the farm name and thankfully they had a website. I checked it out right away. It was called Painted Hollow Farm. I searched the website and didn't find the free horse but there was one horse for sale that really caught my eye. It was a black and white paint horse. I had to go see him.
Free Isn't Always the Best Deal
They always say that purchasing the horse is the least expensive thing about owning a horse and I've come to realize that's a true statement! I've also been warned many times that free horses can end up costing a lot more than a purchased one. I looked at quite a few free horses before I ended up buying Flash.
Was your first horse a free horse?
I called the farm and made arrangements to go see the horse. It was an hour and a half drive and I was hoping that he was a naughty three year old. I wasn't really ready to get my own horse so I wanted there to be something wrong with him, anything, so that I wouldn't feel bad when I had to make the decision not to get him.
At first sight, I thought he was pretty ugly. He was underweight and not very big. I wanted a big horse. His hooves were all cracked and his coat wasn't shiny. His head was too big for his body. But what he lacked in looks, he made up in personality. And a great personality he had! He was very calm and when we walked him, he would put his head at the same height as ours. He was a quiet horse and that's what I was looking for.
Video From the Day I Met Flash
Here's a video from the day I met my horse Flash. It's not very good quality but at least you can see him a little bit.
Going to Meet Flash
Buying a Horse can be Challenging!
Since I wasn't really looking to buy a horse, I had to come up with some money quick. It took some juggling of finances but I got him home! First I had to come up with the purchase amount. The farm owners were willing to take payments but they also wanted me to pay board while he was still there. I would make the hour and a half drive every weekend to see him while I saved up. When I finally decided that I wanted to get him home, I had to get a vet over there to do a coggins test and I had to find a way to trailer him home. The trailering alone cost $200. I'm not sure how I ever managed to do it but I pulled it off and got him home!
Trained or Untrained?
I've heard both sides of the coin on this one. What do you think? Is it better to buy a trained horse? One that has been there done that? Or is it better to start with a young horse who only has the training that you or your preferred trainer has given it?
Which would you rather buy?
The First Year
I bought Flash as an untrained three year old so I had to start from the beginning. I spent the next year pretending like I knew what I was doing. I taught him to lunge but couldn't get him to canter on the lunge line. I managed to get on him but couldn't get a bridle anywhere near his head. I could walk around on him but couldn't trot for more than a few seconds. I knew that the next spring I had to get him some professional training.
Find the Right Training Program
There's plenty of programs out there to help you train your horse. You just need to find the one that fits your personality and your horse's personality.
Once you find the right training program, you will know what you are looking for in a professional trainer and you can save everyone some time by only calling trainers who prescribe to that method.
It will be worth it in the long run.
If you want to train your horse to drive, check out this book! It is full of all the information that you will need! From the cart to the horse.
Flash is a 6 year old Tennessee Walker Paint. Tennessee Walkers are known for their special gaits - the running walk and the flat footed walk..
The Training Experience
Who would ever think that finding a trainer could be such a daunting task? It took me months to find a trainer that Flash and I agreed on. We finally picked Stephanie and she was so wonderful! She did a great job with Flash and helped us come a long way. She kept Flash at her place for 2 months and he came back a totally different horse.
In fact, he was so different that it was quite a challenge getting Flash back into the herd. The same three horses were there when he got back but they just wouldn't accept him. It took almost another 2 months to get him back in with them. It was so stressful.
Flash was very well trained when he came back and I spent the next couple of months trail riding with him. We had a great time until one terrible day in October.
Flash and I had been trail riding for months and he was getting quite comfortable with it. We had even started doing some cantering but every time we went, I could tell he was getting more and more wound up. Then one day in October, one of the other riders took off and Flash took off after him. I hadn't ridden in almost two weeks so he was feeling good and right after he bolted, he bucked and I went flying up in the air, did a mid air somersault and landed smack on my back, knocking the wind out of me. Wow that's a scary feeling!!
Once I caught my breath again, I slowly stood up to make sure nothing was broken. I could walk and someone had gone to catch Flash. We finally met up with them but I wasn't letting Flash get away with that so I got back on him and we finished our ride. Back at the trailer I started coughing up blood so I made a stop at the hospital after getting Flash back to the barn. Everything ended up okay, except my nerves. To this day, I'm terrified to ride my own horse.
If you have your own horse, how many times have you fallen off?
The Third Year with Flash
This has been a hard year with Flash. I've been too scared to do much riding and the weather hasn't been very good for it anyway. He was shown at the county fair and did great in showmanship, winning two blue ribbons, but not so great in riding. We finally went on our first trail of the year and it was great. I could feel him tensing up every time he got next to the other horse, as if to race again, but I was able to keep him calm enough that nothing crazy happened. He's a six year old and he's really filling out. He's looking really good and each year he looks more and more like a Tennessee Walker.
Flash In the State Horse Expo Show
On September 13, 2012, Flash was in the Wisconsin 4-H State Horse Expo Show held in Milwaukee. My daughter showed him in English Showmanship and they came in 7th Place. Way to go Flash!!
Flash with his friend Jester
This is our favorite trail riding buddy right now - Jester. He's a very levelheaded Kentucky Rocky Mountain Spotted Horse. He's absolutely beautiful and is a very good role model for Flash.
Trail Riding with Flash
These trails are in Wisconsin. They are especially beautiful in September and October. In this video, you can really see Flash's head bobbing. That's another trait of the Tennessee Walkers.
Fall is a great time to ride in our area.
My Goals for Flash in 2015
I like to start the year out by having a goal in mind for the things that I would like to teach Flash that year. Last year, it was showmanship and he proved he could do it. This year, I would like to keep working on showmanship and cantering.
Aside from showing, I would like to get Flash trail riding again this year. I'm thinking of getting a trainer that specializes in bolting horses and nervous riders. I have to save up a little bit but then I know exactly who I'm going to call!
More Pics of Flash - He loves showing off for the camera!Click thumbnail to view full-size
All Dressed Up
Notes on 2013
This year hasn't gone very well. We haven't gone trail riding at all and there was no state show for Flash. Fair was terrible this year. It was so hot and humid that we were all grouchy the whole time.
We have a regular trainer now who's coming on a regular basis. We're hoping that by next year, things will be going better.
Buying a Horse
Before you run out and buy a horse, make sure that you have some idea of what you are looking for. There are many conformation faults that horses can have and knowing which ones to look out for can save you lots of money in the long run. It's best if you can take a professional with you.
Once you are serious about a horse, you should have a vet come out and do a thorough check of the horse. The few hundred dollars you spend doing this could end up saving you thousands over the years.
If you're getting your first horse, this book is a must read! Great information for the novice horse owner!
Please share your stories about getting your first horse. Were you a child or an adult when you got it? Were you ready? How old was the horse? Was it trained?