So You Want to Become a Horse Owner…

Horse ownership isn’t all rainbows and blue ribbons and gallops into the sunset. Karlie Mitchell sets the record straight.

Top: Illustration by Lindsey Kahn.

From Karlie:

I really love my equine crew and my horses are my life. However, I will admit being a horse owner is not always rainbows and sunshine. There is a lot of commitment needed. Here are points I make clear to all people who tell me “I want a horse” or ask for my help finding their first horse.

• You know when people get married and they say how they will love each other through illness and health etc., etc.? Well, getting a horse is taking a vow as well: “Horse, I promise to love you through vet bills, injury, bad days, and everything else that arises.” A lot arises through horse ownership that can be stressful and you have to stick through it.

• The horse is the cheap part. Oh, you found a quiet gelding for $1,500 and you have $1,700 saved up? Don’t forget about farrier bills, vet bills, board, feed, hay, tack, truck, trailer… and the list goes on and on.

• Seeing horses on TV and thinking they look like fun is not an appropriate reason to get a horse. Yes, I once had someone tell me that the reason they wanted to ride was that the show Heartland looked so cool. I enjoy the show, but sorry, it’s a TV show–they do not always show all aspects of owning horses. Plus, do not expect to be jumping on a horse bareback and galloping around like Amy Flemming in six weeks of lessons.

• Yes, lessons. You are going to have to learn to ride, tack up, and care for that horse. By the way, add these to your expense list.

• If you gag at the thought of having to take a rectal temperature maybe reconsider your new hobby.

• If you hate getting up early and having chores before/after work or school then reconsider horses.

• It took me 12 years of riding and A LOT of miles to get where I am and I still have not reached my goals. Expect to be in it for the long haul if you want to go far.

• Buying an expensive horse will only take you so far. A horse can really only be as good as its rider at the end of the day so do not expect to buy talent.

• You get back what you put in. Give it 30% expect that; give it 100% expect results.

• Poop happens. A lot of it actually.

Go Riding.

About Karlie: I am from Alberta, Canada and live on a farm with my equine crew (a Paint, QHx Arab, and two OTTBs). I mainly do English and jumping, but also enjoy western and trail riding. I love riding, training, learning about Equine Science related topics, and having a great time with my horses.



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