If You Always Wanted a Horse, Today’s Prices Are Right
There are few little girls who didn't grow up wanting their own version of Trigger or The Black Stallion. Some would-be cowboys had the same fantasy. If you are one of those people (and many Baby Boomers fall into that category), now is the time to find your dream horse.
Sadly, the current horse market is suffering due the economy and the rising cost of horse care. Registered or quality grade horses can be had for just a few hundred dollars. Be aware that the cost of properly caring for a horse is not cheap. Some "experts" say horse care can run as high as $1,000 a year, a very laughable figure that probably assumes you own land, a barn, a hay meadow and work fulltime as a technician for a large animal vet.
Horses need quality food and water, good shelter, annual vaccinations, regular hoof trims and the occasional visit from the equine dentist. In order to ride, you need a saddle that fits your particular horse (many horse problems are caused by faulty fitting saddles), a saddle blanket, a bridle or hackamore and the appropriate clothing and boots. Horses also need grooming (brushes and combs), a little fly spray and treats now and then.
Be Prepared and Be Patient
The Number One problem people have with horses - and the reason that horse/people relationships sometimes don't work out, putting many otherwise good horses on the market - is that the horse is not properly trained and the horse owner doesn't know what to do about it. If you can't afford a professional trainer for a green horse, or if you are unfamiliar with using cruelty free training techniques yourself, you may want to skip the horse experience.
Before jumping off into the rewarding world of equines, read books and blogs and study what is going on in the horse community. Determine the kind of horse that fits your needs (competition? trail riding?) and pocketbook. Don't buy a horse for his looks any more than you'd choose a spouse totally on that quality (yeah - I know people do marry for beauty but they always end up pretty miserable about it in the end). Working regularly with your particular horse and practicing patience and kindness will go a long way toward building a positive relationship.
Hundreds of horses can be found on sites, such as http://www.dreamhorse.com/ or http://www.craigslist/. Many rescue organizations, such as the Second Wind Adoption Program in West Virginia, have horses available for adoption for a reasonable re-homing charge. Remember that horse ownership is not just an avocation; it is a way of life. Your horse(s) will be on your mind and in your heart day in and day out, and if you do it right, the rewards will be tremendous. Enjoy!