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Horse Owning from a novice perspective

Published: 6/23/2015
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Editor's Note: Most of us start our horse owning journey with a certain degree of cluelessness. We rely on friends and family with more knowledge and experience, as well as more formal educational devices, like books, classes, DVDs.
Sometimes, sheer passion and commitment will boost us to higher levels of wisdom. Sometimes, mistakes are made.
Jill Carr, of Michigan, was one of those beginner horse owners. What makes her unique is her willingness to document her mistakes. Think of this article as a pink flag, waving caution with cheer.
Read more about horse ownership here.

By Jill Carr
 
Getting into the horse scene is a whole different world. You watch movies and see horses on television with their beautiful muscles in motion. They seem to be connected to the rider on their back and the two become a magnificent machine together, cantering through tall fields of grass. The freedom they possess seems effortless and obtaining it looks like something that even a novice can possess, right?

Well, that is not the case.

When I first agreed to let my daughter purchase her first horse, an 11-year-old quarter horse that hadn’t been ridden in years, I was excited at what the future would bring. The horse was not only stunning and beautiful, but also seemed to instantly bond with my daughter, just as I had seen on television.

That prompted me to buy a second horse, so that my youngest daughter and I could also ride.

Not knowing a single thing about horses besides the fact that they are beautiful, we began our search on the internet. I was tossed into a world of words:
How many hands was the horse?
Is the horse gaited?
How often does the farrier need to come to trim hooves?

Instantly, I knew I was over my head. Not only did I need a course in horse slang, but lessons in riding and horse care as well.  Read more about horse ownership here.

My daughter and I came across a Tennessee Walking mare that was estimated at about three years old. She was absolutely beautiful and I had to have her. The owner was selling due to lack of time, stating that the horse was young and needed a lot of riding time. It sounded perfect for us because my daughter was young and vowed to spend all of her time with her new best friend. Little did I know at the time, but this purchase would be a giant mistake for my wallet and my body.

We named the horse Sundance because her mane and tale seemed to be dipped in the sun, coloring it with all shades of color. She was beautiful, young and wild. Not a horse for a beginner.

I hired a trainer to come out several times a week. Read more about picking a trainer.

Although the mare was young, she never showed signs of bucking or rearing. She seemed to get along well with the other horses in the pasture and always came when called. I started riding her right away and rode on a daily basis.
Everything seemed great at first. Sundance responded well to my daughter and I. Although she was young and full of spunk, she never showed signs of disrespect or defiance. She seemed to be learning along with us.

One afternoon, I was riding in our pasture. Everything was going well. The kids were watching, the other horses were grazing. Suddenly, the neighbor fired up his lawn mower right next to the gate and Sundance spooked.
I was unaware that some horses spooked by doing a quick 360-degree turn on a dime. Slipping to the side, I immediately squeezed my thighs to try to climb back on, which signaled the horse to run.
All I remember was flying through the air and landing on the back of my head. I had no helmet and it knocked me out cold. When I woke, everyone was standing around me and the world was spinning. My body ached, along with my pride.

A trip to the hospital revealed I had broken my pelvis. I was lucky that was the only injury I acquired that afternoon, especially since I had no helmet on. Read about Helmet Use here.

I was angry at the horse at the time and eventually sold her. I realized shortly thereafter that the horse was only reacting to my commands, but I still decided that an older horse was needed since we were new to the whole scene.

I learned so much from that experience and now, five years later we have three horses, all over the age of 12.
So many people fall into the trap of buying horses with no idea of what they are getting into. Cowboys on television make it look easy. In reality, horse ownership is a very difficult chore.
I'd never go back and have learned so much. Even when I am knee deep in dirt, covered with sweat, mucking out the barn and pasture, I would not trade a day with my crew for all the money in the world.
My horses ground me and give me something to look forward to. There is nothing better than the deep whinny your horse lets out as she sees you walking toward the pasture. Although I have been injured, horse ownership has changed my life.




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6/23/2015 Angie Marsh
Good article! Yes it is trying and sad, and angry at times, but in the end staying focused and open minded you will find your way! Now look at how accomplished of an owner you are!!
6/23/2015 Nina ybarra
I learned to ride on my Grandfather's buggy horse when I was 7years old.It must be a lot harder when you know nothing about horses. They are sure wonderful beasts.

   
"If the horse does not enjoy his work, his rider will have no joy." - H.H. Isenbart