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Archive for the ‘Buying Your First Horse’ Category

Bringing a new horse into a new environment can be stressful for the horse, and for you as well as you try to acclimate him to his new surroundings. Here are some tips to making the transition much easier and smoother for you both.

Have your horse’s stall ready
Before your horse comes home, have everything ready to go in your horse’s new pen or stall. Have fresh bedding or shavings ready. Also, have fresh hay and water ready. It will welcome him home and help him settle in.

Don’t change your horse’s feeding schedule
When you get your new horse home, do not immediately change his feeding schedule to fit in with your schedule or that of your other horses. Stick to the same type of feed, hay and supplements and feeding schedule that the seller was using. If you do plan to change any of these things for your horse, you’ll want to wait a few weeks before doing so to allow your horse to get used to his new home first. When you start to change his feed, it’s recommended to do so slowly, even by mixing in his new feed with his old feed so that it is not an immediate disruption to the feed he’s used to.

Changing the feed or schedule your horse is used to can cause issues in your horse, including colic. Colic is basically a stomachache that ranges from moderate to severe. Colic can be fatal for a horse. Some of the signs to watch out for if your new horse has colic are: not eating their feed, unusually standing alone, pawing at the ground for seemingly no reason, or rolling on the ground and biting at his stomach area. If you observe any of these signs and do not have any other explainable reason for them, contact your veterinarian to have him looked at and to see what can be done to help.

Spend Time with Your New Horse
After you bring your new horse home, it is important to spend some time with your horse. Handling your horse as much as possible and being around your horse will establish you as the primary caregiver for your horse as well as the master of the barn. When your horse sees you in the barn for more than just feeding, it will begin to establish a confident relationship for the two of you and get things started off on the right foot.

Getting a new horse is an exciting time for everyone, and when handled properly, it can be the beginning of a great relationship. Taking the time to establish the bond between you and your horse will ensure your horse feels comfortable and safe with you, and will make the process of acclimating him to his new home as stress-free as possible.

Photo courtesy of lrargerich.

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If you’ve ever moved to a new home, you know the feeling you have as you adjust to your new surroundings. It may take some time for you to get used to the feel of the house, where the rooms are and where all of your belongings fit before you dive into everyday life. The same is true for your new horse.

When you first bring your horse home, take him directly to his new stall or other enclosed area where he will be spending a lot of time. Let him see and get a feel for his new area. Turn him loose and let him explore as well, but do not let him stay out for too long or leave him completely unsupervised so that he does not get into mischief or injure himself. After about half an hour, give him some water and a little food. Give him time to settle in to his new home.

After you bring him back in, take some time to slowly groom him. Give him a piece of hay or feed and then begin to brush him. Start from the front and work your way to his tail so as not to stress him out – and leave his legs and feet for last until he seems more comfortable and relaxed. As you groom him, chat with him in low, soothing tones. You can even sing songs to him in the same manner or play the radio softly.

After grooming, take him out for a walk around the area where he’ll be living. Keep the walk slow and leisurely. Let him take in his surroundings, see the sights and get used to the new smells. If you come to a place where he seems nervous, make sure the lead rope is short and stop. Give him a few minutes to look around and sniff. You may even want to go back to where he last seemed comfortable and start walking again from there. Be prepared for this walk to take a long time, especially if you need to stop and stand in one place for a while as he gets used to things.

After your walk, take your horse back to his stall or pasture and let him have some time to adjust to his new home on his own. Check on him every hour or so to make sure he’s doing well. Try taking him out for a short ride the next day, but be sure to take things at his comfort level – don’t push him too hard too fast. Grooming your horse before and after rides will help the bond between the two of you grow, too.

The most important thing is to take things slow with your new horse. Don’t expect to start out immediately going on long rides or being able to turn him out or leave him alone for long periods of time. Be reassuring and let him know that his new home is a comfortable one where he will be loved and taken very good care of while he is there.

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I want to give children and adults horseback riding lessons. Do I need insurance? It all depends on whether you want to run an official business. If you do, it would be very, very wise to have insurance. At the very least you need to look for insurance that can cover injuries to people that ride your personally owned horses.

Do I need horse insurance?

Ask yourself these questions:

Could your horse kick someone or cause property damage to others

Do you give riding lessons or train horses

Do you own a horse farm, and need to protect buildings

Do you have horses you do not own in your care

Do you belong to a riding or hunt club

Do I need to protect my saddlery and tack

Protect yourself and your horse

Read the contract thoroughly before you apply for coverage.

Ask the insurance company to explain any words or phrases you do not understand completely.

Know your responsibilities. What is required should your horse fall ill, become injured or die.

Understand any specific guidelines for emergency situations. A crisis is not the time to be trying to interpret your policy’s fine print or to look for contact phone numbers.

Make a list of questions to ask your insurance company.

Shop around for comparisons

Besides cost, buyers should look at the longevity and reputation of the agency and the insurance company.

If you have any questions about your insurance or your coverage, check NOW.

Don’t assume you are covered because you may be in for a shock if something happens.

Read your policy (every word of it) and let your agent know about your horses and horse activities. You may also want to check if riding accidents are covered by your health insurance company. Some companies are starting to exclude coverage for accidents due to risky activities, such horse riding.

A horse can be a large financial investment and it is important to have insurance cover in place should anything happen.
Think carefully about which type of insurance you need and, as with all insurance policies, read the terms carefully and compare quotes.

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If you are having a new baby, you prepare by buying the crib, blankets, diapers, clothes and bottles. A new pet can bring litterboxes, leashes, food and toys. A new horse is no different, but how do you know what you’ll need? Here’s a list of some of the essentials to have for your new horse:

Blankets
Horse blankets are necessary not just to keep the horse warm, but also during cool downs after rides during the colder months. Blankets can also help protect your horse from insects, especially those irritating flies, and can help keep your horse clean after grooming.

Saddle
Having a good saddle when you’re just starting out with your horse helps establish good riding technique and gets the horse into the habit of wearing a saddle. A bridle and bit are also needed to control the reins and give your horse commands when riding. Be sure to take care here also in selecting riding equipment that fits the needs and levels of both you and your horse.

Grooming Kit
A basic grooming kit is essential in keeping your horse clean and shiny. The kit should include both soft and stiff bristle brushes, a face brush, a rubber mitt or curry, a hoof pick, a towel, and a mane/tail comb.

Supply Kit
Your supply kit will be different from other people’s supply kits due to the specific needs for your horse, but some good items to have on hand, either out of necessity or for just in case, are: hoof dressing, in case your horse’s hooves become dry and cracked during the dry months; wound treatment, which can be applied in a variety of methods, including spray and salve; aloe-based veterinary cream; thrush treatment; linament for relief after a hard workout; and a digital thermometer. For some of these, you’ll want some guidance from a professional or veterinarian on use and when to use them. It’s also a good idea to consult with a professional on supplies needed specifically for your horse.

These are some general guidelines for equipment you can acquire in preparation for your new horse. For your horse’s specific needs, consult with your veterinarian or other experienced professionals to see what is best for your horse. Making sure you have some good, basic equipment in place when your horse comes home will give caring for your horse a smooth start.

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If you’ve decided to add to your equine family, or even start a new one, there are many factors you want to take into consideration before going out to find your perfect match. If you are honest with yourself, owning your horse will be much easier and more enjoyable for you both. Taking a few minutes to read through this list can help you decide if you are ready to own a horse or bring in a new addition.

Time
One thing to realize is that horses like routine, and it takes a lot of time to care for them. It’s much more than just feeding them twice a day and brushing them now and then. There’s mucking out stalls, grooming, exercise… it’s a lot of work. And if you start out feeding your horse at 6am for a couple weeks, you’ll need to continue that routine in order not to disrupt your horse, even when it’s darker out in the morning or you had a long night the night before. Disrupting your horse’s feeding schedule can cause your horse to be upset or even become ill.

Keep
Deciding where your horse will stay can make an impact on your financial situation. Do you have enough land and a stable to house your horse? If so, the financial impact may not be quite as much. However, if you have to keep your horse at a livery, the impact will be moreso. The amount of time you spend taking care of your horse will also be affected. If you have land and a stable for your horse, you most likely will be spending more time taking care of the horse as well. Whether you choose a livery or your own land, both have pros and cons to take into consideration.

Financial
While the cost of owning any animal can be high, the cost of owning a horse can be substantial. While there is initial cost to owning a horse, including the actual purchase of the horse, tack, grooming kit, rugs, blankets, and other supplies, the cost of keeping a horse can be high, sometimes comparable to maintaining a car. There are veterinarian fees, feeding, worming, teeth, hooves, bedding… the list goes on and on, and if you plan to compete with your horse, there will be fees there as well. You need to take a good look at your financials to ensure that you can afford to keep your horse healthy and happy.

Long-Term Commitment
Having a horse is a long-term commitment. Horses have the potential to live to be over 30 years old. If you’re buying one for your children, will you be able to continue to take care of them once your children are grown? Have you considered what it will take to care for an elderly horse? Or the inevitable decision of how to humanely care for your horse at the end of its life? What about if major life or financial changes occur – are you sure you will be able to still care for the horse? If you are not able to provide care for the horse for the next few decades, you will need to make that decision now rather than in the future when troubles come up.

Many times, selling or rehoming a horse can be a long, drawn out and difficult process, so you need to be realistic about your abilities before you make the commitment. Taking the time to think about and through the above sections will help you make the right decision and ensure you are ready to add to your equine family.

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When buying a new horse there are several pre-purchase exams you must conduct. Are you looking for a trail riding horse? a horse for endurance or horseracing? or a horse for team roping? Read our tips before you purchase a new horse, such as arranging a veterinary exam.

First, decide how much you’re willing to pay for the new horse. You can save time by looking only at horses in your price range. Next, list the things you want and the things you don’t, and put them in order of importance.

For example, you’ll probably want a horse that trailer loads easily and safely, doesn’t have certain bad habits that hinder a good trail ride (such as being herd bound), and will tolerate hoof trimming and/or shoeing. You might also want a particular color, gender, size, and age. Make your list, then look only at horses that fit your list, and score each prospect. To determine score, rate each horse on a scale from one to five for each item on the list. Knowing which horses are top scorers will help you make a final decision.

Once you find a horse that meets your criteria, perform a thorough health and soundness evaluation. Here’s what to check:

Eyes. Make sure that the horse can see out of both eyes by doing a flinch test in front of each one. Be careful that the wind from your hand doesn’t cause the flinch. Look for any differences between the eyes.

Mouth and lips. Check for lesions or sores. Check that the teeth are normal and aligned. If possible, watch the horse eat and check for normal chewing.

Ears. Look for excess accumulation of ear wax or excess sensitivity when you touch the ears.

Head, neck, and chest. Look for symmetry of the head, and check the neck and chest for muscle and balance. Check freedom of movement of the head and neck.

Feet. Pick up all four feet. Look – and feel – for any swelling. Flex and/or extend all the joints, and look for any pain responses, such as resistance or lifting of the head. Swelling can be fine as long as the horse doesn’t exhibit pain when you feel or manipulate the area.

Anus. Look for good tone, and any signs of diarrhea or other discharges.

Lameness. Have someone trot the horse out and back, in medium circles in both directions, and in a figure eight. Watch for irregular head bobbing, hip hiking, or just sloppy movement that can indicate pain.

If the horse looks good to you, ride on a trail, if possible. Make sure the horse has stamina, and is alert and not excessively nervous. Try to do this without a riding partner.

If you find any problems, either walk away or discuss a conditional purchase based on a pre-purchase exam by a veterinarian. Conditional purchases are common and fair. You may have to pay a nonrefundable deposit, but it’s often better than buying a dud. (Note that some trail horses are priced so low that a professional pre-purchase exam isn’t economically practical. You may ask the seller to absorb some of the cost.)

The vet you choose to do the exam should be yours or a neutral party – not the seller’s vet. (No dishonesty implied; it’s just that unbiased opinions are helpful.) He or she will be able to pick up on some things you did not. He or she can also do a parasite check, a Coggins test for equine infectious anemia, and general health profiles. He or she can look deep into the horse’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Keep in mind that the vet doesn’t guarantee your new horse is completely healthy and sound. He or she will just tell you either that the horse appears to be okay at the time of the exam, of if anything is wrong. Then he or she will make a prognosis. You’ll still be the decision maker.

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