January 2007
Featured Articles

Horses, Horses, Horses!


In January everything is new……..it is a New Year, a fresh start, a new beginning. It is a time when many people are evaluating their lives and making New Year resolutions to let go of old habits and to move forward with new commitments.

These usually include commitments to God, to family, to friends, and to themselves……..all of which are good. It is good to have a time to focus on perpetuating what is right in our lives and remove what is not. Therefore, January is a gift of recommitment to ourselves every year.

Sometimes, for those who are interested in horses, January can be the time when you decide to buy your first horse. Talk about commitment!! Owning your first horse can and should be one of the most wonderful experiences of your life, but it is definitely a big commitment of your time, resources, and emotions.

For someone who is taking that big first step of horse ownership, there are several things to be considered. First, you must have a suitable environment in which the horse is to live. For some people it is better to board their horse at a reputable riding school or stable.

Depending on how well versed you are with horsemanship and what your goals are with your new horse, a reputable riding stable is usually the best bet for a novice horseman. The riding stable will provide instruction in riding, training, horse care and others who are interested in horses with whom you can pal around. Also, it provides other horses for your horse to buddy up with, which is important to a herd-minded creature such as the horse. There are many reputable riding schools and stables in Alabama, and to find one in your area you can check at your local Co-op or feed store, check the local horse related magazines or papers, or even go on-line to search the Internet.

If you have more experience around horses and have your own place to build a barn and some pasture acreage, then it would be wise to build a barn and house the horse at your own place.

Just be aware that your first horse purchase may quickly turn into your second horse purchase, because as I stated before, a horse is a herd-minded creature. In the wild, their survival directly coincides with their ability to stay with their herd, and this instinct is still very strong in domesticated horses. They just do not do very well alone, so you might want to have another horse in the pasture with your horse if at all possible.

A second consideration is what breed or type of horse would be right for you. There are so many wonderful breeds……..some are very specified in what they are bred to do, while others are very versatile in the range of activities they can accomplish well. For instance, the Tennessee Walking horse is an excellent trail horse as he can walk on forever and never tire himself or you, as he is bred to have that smooth, fast walking gate.

If you are wanting to do stadium or cross country jumping, then you would be better off buying an English Thoroughbred or an Irish Hunter, both of which are bred for and known for their speed and jumping abilities.  If you want to cut cattle, do reining or working cow horse competitions, the American Quarter Horse is the breed for you, as the Quarter Horse is bred specifically for working cattle. Of course though, the American Quarter Horse is one of the most versatile breeds, as Quarter Horses are used successfully in hunter competition, dressage, and combined training or eventing.

Whatever your goals or aspirations are will determine what breed is best for you to purchase, but then it is also wise to consider what stage of horsemanship you are in to decide what type of horse to buy. A green horse and a green rider do not make the best working team to say the least.

In fact, it is down right dangerous for a novice rider to be on a novice, green-broke, or young horse. It is best to get the help of a trainer or instructor that you trust to find a horse that "knows the ropes," so to speak.

If you have been around horses for a while, then a young horse may be a nice challenge for you to train. You just really need to be honest with yourself as to what your current skill level is and make the appropriate choice with that knowledge in the forefront of your mind.

Number three would be consideration of where is the best place to purchase the horse of your dreams. There are many fine farms and ranches all over the country that sell quality horses.

Here again, it really depends on what breed or type you are looking to buy, but I would say always enlist the aid of an established and reputable trainer or instructor to help you find the perfect horse for you, preferably someone established within the discipline that you are interested in pursuing. They will be invaluable in helping you.

There are many different venues through which you can search for horses for sale……..such as asking at local stables if any clients are selling their horses, reading through the sale ads in horse magazines or newspapers, reading flyers posted at your local Co-op or feed store, or even, once again, going on-line.

Whatever way you choose to search, please always show your prospects to the trainer or instructor that you have picked to help you. Their advice could save you from making a very costly mistake, and help you purchase the true horse of your dreams.

The fourth, and very important, consideration is having the animal you are interested in purchasing "vet checked." In other words, have your veterinarian do a pre-purchase exam on the horse.

Yes, it will cost something to have this done on an animal that isn’t even yours yet, but in the long run it can save you a tremendous amount of pain, heartache and money. Unfortunately, there are those in the horse business, as in any other line of business, that would take advantage of your lack of knowledge to make a dishonest profit. One of the best ways to avoid that sort of thing happening to you is to have a reputable veterinarian that you trust do a thorough exam on the animal.

The vet will be able to test for any kind of drugs in the horse’s system that could be masking lameness or severe behavioral problems. A thorough exam would also uncover any physical problems or conformational defects that could lead to physical problems down the road.

Well, January is here, and so are the times of new beginnings. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year! If you are purchasing your very first horse, I hope the information that I have listed in this article is helpful to you. God bless you all, and thank you for reading.

Once again I would really like to know what horse people want and need to know about their animals. Please feel free to send suggestions, questions, and comments to the mailing address: Cooperative Farming News, P. O. Box 2227, Decatur, AL 35609-2227; fax 256-560-2605 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Janet Bryant is a freelance writer from Oneonta.