The Innocent Horse Owner
It will be no surprise that everyone at Intelligent Horsemanship is on the side of the horse! But I also want to stand up for another often innocent party – The Horse Owner. If you are asking yourself ‘Is it sensible for me to buy a horse’ or even ‘can I afford to own a horse?’. Read on for helpful information as in my opinion there are many innocent horse owners who have had a very bad deal.
I’m getting too sad hearing stories of people who have at last saved up for their life’s dream to own a horse but I’m sure that dream didn’t include this much loved horse having weeks of box rest, maxing out their credit cards on every treatment possible and then that horrible time when one has to go through ‘would it be kinder to have him put to sleep?’
Hence there’s only one strapline on this issue of the Spring IH Magazine 2023 and that’s ‘How to Have a Sound Horse for Life’. This issue is very much inspired by my thoughts on not just being fair on horses but being fair on horse owners as well.
Should I Buy an Ex-Racehorse?
At Intelligent Horsemanship we’re often asked ‘should I buy an ex-racehorse?’ or ‘should I buy an ex-competition horse?’ and the answer isn’t a simple one because even if this horse was successful and with a good temperament in his past life, it’s not only horse behaviour that’s important but still very much depends on the wear and tear the horse has endured. For the most part racehorses are bred to run fast at a young age. Racehorses are not bred to last a long time. Racehorses are not bred to have good feet… and those that run on the flat will most likely have been shod as yearlings which will compromise how their feet develop.
It really concerns me that there are horses bred with no chance to stay sound beyond a few years. Also is it fair to get the most out of a competition horse and then sell it to some innocent so they get none of the pleasure and thousands of pounds of vets bills? You also hear of horses being sold for £1 only to lumber someone else with the bills and problems.
If you’ll allow me to advise you the first step to having a sound horse for life, it’s to buy/acquire a sound horse in the first place. Ethically, it has occurred to me – so who is going to look after these poor broken horses? And yes, you and I are going to take on horses, (dogs, cats) at the end of their time – but that needs to be a conscious decision. As a horse owner it can be financially and emotionally draining to be naïve.
How do Equine Professions Go About Buying a Horse?
The professionals know the importance of the breed, conformation and background of a horse as these all impact on horse behaviour. The amateur is more likely to fall in love with the first horse they see, with no awareness of the physical and temperament issues that may lay ahead.
The best of the best professionals (certainly not all ‘professionals’ have the horses welfare in mind) but the best, will have a great team of practitioners including top class grooms, vets, equine physiotherapists, farriers, nutritionists and more to keep the horses at their best. It’s no good relying on other people though. You need to learn as much as you can about all things equine so you can judge for yourself who the best people are.
Let’s face it when most ‘experts talk on a subject they sound very convincing. And in the horseworld you’ll have the farrier says it’s all about the feet. The equine dental technician says it’s the teeth. The ‘backman’ says it’s the back. The nutrionist says it’s the feed… and then you can get someone else come along who says what they say makes no sense at all. This of course, happens in all professions – it’s not exclusive to horse people!
So my answer is you need to learn as much as you can about horse care so you can have a clear understanding of what people are talking about and know the right questions to ask.
The aim of Intelligent Horsemanship is to explore all the areas of horsemanship, horse behaviour and horse care to help every owner do the best for their horse. We want to be the place where you’re guaranteed to have the best horsemanship advice. On the equine psychology side we very much look at things from the horse’s point of view with an appreciation of how horses learn. However, we’re aware that we need to find the best equine practioners in every field so you can do the best for your horse.