Tuesdays with Tony
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas horse shopping season. Three words: DON’T DO IT! Read on for wise words of wisdom from this cat before you buy a horse at Christmas time.
Know the cost
Just like there are no free lunches, there are definitely no free horses. The purchase price is a very, very small part of the cost of horse ownership. Horses require a place to live. Board for a horse can range from $250 to, well let’s be honest, the sky is really the limit here, but let’s pick $800 as our high number. The low number likely doesn’t include grain or hay, so add another $50-$80 per week for grain and hay. This is like your monthly horse mortgage payment. It gives them a place to live, but not much more. Plan on adding on the farrier every 4-6 weeks, and routine veterinary care (our Wellness Plans make this part easy). If you’re as smart as a cat you’ll also add on either an insurance payment or a payment to an emergency fund. Should I mention tack? Fly masks? Sheets and blankets? Water buckets? Go wander around the Tack Shack and make a shopping list, and get an idea of what you’re looking at there.
Put in the time
Horses require a lot of money and a lot of time. If you want to get good at horses, plan on spending a minimum of 15-20 hours per week doing horse stuff. I can hear it now, “It would be heaven to spend 20 hours every week riding!” Listen to the cat: I didn’t say riding. I said doing horse stuff. They require brushing, cleaning up after, handling on the ground, and all kinds of not-riding type of time. In fact, the more time you spend with them not riding, the better your riding time will be. Speaking of riding time, plan to spend some money on lessons. Based on my observations of humans, you guys don’t come equipped with horse sense. You’re going to need to learn that from a trainer, and lessons cost money.
We’ll sell him and make money
There are definitely people who make lots of money in the horse world. Here’s how that works:
- They started with a large fortune and now have a small one, thanks to horses.
- They have the knowledge to buy young, untrained horses and put their time and training into them to make them worth more.
- They have a leprechaun and a four leaf clover hidden somewhere giving them unprecedented luck. For every one that makes money, there are a hundred that lose money.
But I really want a horse
If you have read this and still really want a horse, keep reading. Some human once said, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a human.” It’s true. I watch it happen at Springhill Equine every day. They calm you crazy humans. They teach you patience, and confidence, and empathy, and all kinds of wonderful things. So here’s a few steps you can take to be sure you really, really want a horse:
- Take lessons. If you can commit to once-weekly lessons, and are still hungry for more after six months, you might be ready for a horse.
- Volunteer somewhere taking care of horses. In our area we have HOPE, The Retirement Home for Horses, and HPAF who will happily let you come groom horses and get a feel for being around them.
- Lease a horse. This is a short term commitment to horse ownership. You get to have a horse for a while to try it out.
Before you buy
If after all this you are ready to buy a horse, don’t skip my final, most important piece of advice: Never, never, never, ever buy a horse without a pre-purchase exam from one of my veterinarians. My Docs will go over your potential horse with a fine tooth comb to be sure there are no health complications you may not have noticed. These can range from eye sight issues, to heart problems, to subtle lamenesses. Pre-purchase exams can save you a lot of headaches!
Every horse-crazy kid has wanted a pony for Christmas. I’m not saying don’t buy a horse. Okay, I am, but if you are going to get a pony, at least be smart about it! That’s the wisdom of Tony for this week. Now go enjoy a long Thanksgiving weekend with your horses!
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Office Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!