Owning a horse can be very exciting, especially for kids and teenagers, but it is important to look at all of the pros and cons before taking on ownership of a horse. It is a lot of responsibility, requiring much time and money.
Below are some of the most important pros and cons of owning a horse:
1. It keeps kids and teenagers out of trouble (and adults too)
Since owning a horse requires so much time, it will help keep your kid out of trouble. If you own a horse, expect to spend every other day at the barn feeding them, brushing them, taking care of any injuries that they are sure to get, and riding them. If you are a first-time owner, you should also take regular riding lessons and work regularly with an experienced horse person who can help guide you to proper care and management.
2. It builds responsibility
Having a horse is a lot of work. When a kid owns a horse, they should be required to take care of it as much as they can. They are responsible for another living creature, and they should realize the significance of that. The horse depends on them for their food, to have their stall cleaned daily, for exercise, for water, for baths, and more. This will instill them with a great sense of responsibility, which they will realize is more important than spending all day every day with their friends messing around.
3. Horses keep kids and teens humble
Horses have their own mind, and they let you know that at the best of times. If she ever gets overly confident while riding and asks her horse for too much or does something she knows they don’t like, they may let the kid know by throwing them off or trying to bite them. Learning to ride is hard and falling off is expected. Even the most advanced riders fall off, so no one is perfect.
4. Horses keep kids and teens physically active
You can’t just sit around at home watching TV all day when you have a horse. Horses require time and attention, which means riding them for exercise, training them on the ground, going out to the pasture to get them, and cleaning their stall or paddocks. All of that takes physical work, which will help keep them healthy and fit.
5. It builds confidence
Having a horse builds confidence, which is very beneficial while growing up. Learning new riding skills and how to successfully take care of a horse gives a great sense of confidence when talking to others, especially about horses.
6. Sense of community and variety of role models
Owning a horse and boarding it at a barn can give you and your kid a sense of belonging to a special community. The relationships you make at barns are often unique as there are a variety of people from all walks of life who all share the common interest of horses. Your kid will have a variety of role models at the barn that they might not be exposed to otherwise, which will mostly be women of all ages with all kinds of different jobs.
1. They are very expensive
Horses are very expensive pets. The cost of purchasing a horse, if any, is only the first of many expenses. They also need regular trimming and many require shoes, depending on their environment and the type of riding you do, which is usually every 4-8 weeks. Horses need annual shots like other pets, but the biggest expense is when they injure themselves. Horses are prone to getting injuries, whether from riding or just being out in the pasture. This is where the vet bills can really rack up fast.
Most horses also require a lot of grain and hay, but there are some easy keepers out there that get fat on just good grass. Most people cannot have their own horse farm and so have to board their horse, which can range anywhere from $100-$2,000 monthly depending on the location and services.
2. Need daily care
Most horses need daily care, including morning and/or evening feed, water refills, and hay refills. Daily grooming keeps their coats in good condition. If they stay in a stall or small paddock, that should be cleaned daily to prevent the development of thrush in their feet.
3. Time and patience to train
Horses require lots of time and patience to train them. All horses should be properly trained to ensure that you and others are safe around them. This can also be a pro as it may develop your patience, but it can be a con if you are too busy with other things already.
4. They are a huge commitment as they can live as long as 30-something years
Do you know where you will be in 20 or 30 years? Taking on a horse means taking on a big responsibility and commitment to them. If you are buying a horse and plan on keeping it through all of its days, then be ready for them to live to a good 30 years or older, if you keep them healthy.
5. It can be dangerous
Horses are very large animals at an average of 1200 pounds, making them potentially dangerous. Horseback riding is a dangerous sport, as falling off is common. The old saying goes that you aren’t a good rider until you’ve fallen off at least 10 times. Expect to be kicked, bitten, and thrown off at some point in your horse ownership life.
If you love horses, then the pros will by far outweigh the cons. If you cannot afford to own a horse quite yet, there are many options available to you. You could find a horse to lease, or if you are a good rider, find a horse to exercise and train for someone in exchange for getting to ride. There are also plenty of working student opportunities around to work at a barn in exchange for riding lessons and/or riding time.