Q: I have ridden a few times and have developed a true love for horses. Now I’m contemplating taking the next step: buying a cheap horse so I can train and care for it myself. I realize it’s a major decision, but it is something I would really like to do. I’d like some advice on the easiest and least expensive ways to become a horse owner.
To put it bluntly, horse ownership is not something to consider if you’re already pinching pennies. While it’s true that cheap horses are readily available in this economy, feed, farrier and vet bills cost just as much as those for a more expensive horse. In other words, it’s not the purchase price you need to worry about; it’s the everyday maintenance fees.
So rather than buying your own horse at this point, I’d encourage you to continue your introduction to riding. Since you’ve ridden only a few times, you’ve got plenty to learn about basic horsemanship. There are several major riding disciplines as well as dozens of breed associations, each with their own set of ideals and long range competitive goals. You have so much to explore and appreciate! The kind of horse you ride—in fact the type of saddle you sit in—may change in another year or so as you discover new yearnings.
While you continue in your riding lessons, ask your instructor to give you pointers on basic horse care and grooming. Combine earning money for lessons with advancing your knowledge by offering to muck stalls, bathe school horses and clean tack. At some point, try leasing a horse (lesson horses are often available for lease at large riding schools) just to get a true feel for what it’s like to be responsible for a horse’s welfare.
All of this preparation will help you decide when—and if—the time is right for you to buy your own horse. In the meantime you’ll ride a lot of wonderful horses and make a whole bunch of barn buddies.