Horse care - what are the essentials before(6 Posts)
Hello horsey people,
I'm recently coming back into the world of horses after a fairly long absence. I used to own a Fell pony years back and we ambled happily around the lanes together. He mostly lived out and was very low maintenance. Afterwards, when we'd retired him to just live out his days I shared the care and riding of my friend's rescued thoroughbred Stanley until issues with his back sadly meant he was retired too. Since then over the years I have lessons sometimes and the occasional ride on friend's horses.
Then work change happened and recently I have been considering getting a horse again - or having one on part loan first. My friend is on a yard, but she has two warmbloods and they are not horses I would ride as they are high level dressage horses. I am more the happy hacker, giving an older, steady horse a home type at the moment.
However, I am not going to do anything without checking it all out first. What would you say are the most important elements of horse care? What would you like to say to people is important in the day to day care of their animal? What are the obvious mistakes? Am I silly for even wanting to get back into this properly? Time it takes? Equipment that is a first?
Sorry for the barrage of questions! I hope you understand what I am asking! It is because I had a straightforward pony myself years back kept on an old farm with only a couple of other ponies and no real arena or anything, and then shared with someone. I'm looking for starting points of what has changed or is essential for me to know, or good places to look?
The main question is what kind of livery do you want?
If you pay for full livery the yard will bring in, turn out, muck out, feed, hold for vet/farrier/dentist, health check for obvious problems, etc. All you need to do is groom, tack up and ride, and clean your tack. If you pay for rides, you can even get a groom to help exercise your horse.
If you pay for DIY livery, you will need to do all of the above or pay for a one off service.
If you rent a field you will need to do all of the above plus field and stable maintenance, which includes poo picking, fence repairs, ensuring water to the fields and stables, etc.
Picking a yard is important
There is one I used to keep my horses at that did full at the week and DIY at weekends which was popular.
One of the best things I did individually was brave going barefoot (with an ex racehorse!!) really sorted out loads of niggly lameness issues we had.
I think firstly decide if you want to loan or buy a horse. If you want to loan, would you part loan, or fully loan?
If you're part loaning, I think a lot of the questions will have been answered for you. E.g. the horse will probably be staying at its current yard, it will already have all the equipment, so you'll only need to worry about kitting yourself out.
Once you know that, then you have a starting point. If you're going for your own horse, then Booboo's question is the one to answer: what kind of livery do you want?
Not all yards offer Full Livery near us, so perhaps your options will, to some extent, be restricted to what's on offer in the area in which you aim to keep your horse.
Hacking seems a must - again, near us, there are several yards with no hacking at all. If I were buying, I'd probably suss out all the local livery yards within travelling distance before I even looked for a horse, and work out budgets, etc.
But tbh, I would part loan, or fully loan before buying, just to test the waters.
By the way, I definitely do not think you're silly for wanting to get back into it. Unless you're solely after a happy hacker again, though, I'd factor in the cost of some lessons, and budget for that accordingly.
I do know someone who fell in love with the idea of owning their own DHorse though, and really struggled when she finally made the decision to buy one.
Having ridden & mucked out twice a week for a year or so, she thought she was well prepared, and that she knew what owning a horse would entail, but it came as a massive shock.
Good luck, OP.
Off the top of my head, the 'basics' anyone wanting to loan, share or own a horse are: catching, bringing in and turning out from a field safely, grooming, tacking up and untacking (including the basics of what tack a horse should wear e.g. the differences between different types of bit and nosebands, plus how to spot broken or badly fitting tack), how to spot common injuries, lameness and signs of illnesses like colic and what to do inc. when and who to call for help, basics of feed and weight management (not lots of detail but e.g. when horses should and shouldn't have hard feed) , spotting common poisonous plants like ragwort and how to do the basic yard jobs like mucking out. I think you also need to be a confident enough rider and handler to overcome common behavioural issues like spooking, napping etc especially out hacking, as a minimum so that you can stay on board and get home safely (even the quietest horse can be startled and the roads are much busier these days than they used to be), although you should also make sure you have access to lessons from a good instructor for any ongoing problems. Of course you don't need to be a brilliant rider to have your own horse, happy hacking is great, but you do need to keep yourself and other road users safe IMO. A course of lessons at a riding school is a good place to start if you aren't there yet. You can also take a course in stable management, the BHS used to do a 'horse owner's certificate' which covered what a first time owner needs to know, worth looking into?
As others have said, getting a part loan or share, ideally at a nice busy livery yard with people around to help would be a great starting point back into ownership, you can build your confidence without committing finance and practically to your own horse and also build a local horsey network that way which is invaluable. Good luck!
Thank you all for the sound and detailed advice. There is lots to go through and think about. I use to do DIY livery but I would certainly search the area and ask around.
I think the part loan/ full loan is definitely a good idea for now, re what you are all saying about the commitment side and seeing what it's like getting back in and getting to know the routine of the yard over a longer term. Always need lessons too! Thanks again.
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