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The Benefits and Responsibilities of Horse Ownership

adapted from  Horse for Sale, How to Buy a Horse or Sell the One You Have
  1995 Cherry Hill

Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Your Pony, Your Horse
Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

Owning a horse requires a substantial investment of money, time, hard work, and sincere dedication. The initial purchase price of a horse is just the beginning.

You must be willing and able to spend time attending to your horse's needs every day at least twice a day. You will have to tend to feeding, grooming, and exercise every day as well as buying feed, cleaning and repairing tack, maintaining facilities and much more. Many parts of horse ownership require hard physical labor: shoveling manure, toting bales, carrying water, training and riding. Sometimes you will have to make trade-offs. You might have to give up something you'd like to have or do to ensure that your horse receives proper care. You might have to interrupt your sleep, work schedule or love life to take care of a foaling mare, injured or ill horse, or to meet with your veterinarian or farrier. During the winter, when you are least likely to ride your horse, your horse requires just as much care as he does during the summer. Horse owners also have legal obligations to their horses, neighbors, and to other horse owners in the area as well as to pedestrians and motorists that pass by the property.

However, for all this hard work, horse ownership provides many benefits. A relationship with a horse can be very fulfilling. A horse doesn't talk back but does tell you, using body language and other non-verbal communication, how he interprets your actions. A horse reveals your tendencies and provides the opportunity for you to become a better person. Caring for and interacting with horses can make you more reliable, thorough, trustworthy, honest, and consistent. People who have difficulty working with other persons often find that a horse can teach them the meaning of teamwork. When you work closely with a horse, it is more like a partnership. Both of you have certain obligations to each other and when those are met consistently on both sides, there is the potential for a successful relationship.

An honest, trustworthy horse can provide invaluable therapy for you if your life is hectic. Riding can help you reduce stress and stop the mental conversations which often causes it. Few experiences equal a trail ride in the fresh air, especially if there is gorgeous scenery. However, riding down a road or in an arena can also be enjoyable and beneficial for both you and the horse in many ways. A rein-swinging walk can lull you back into natural rhythms; a brisk trot with its metronome-like quality is invigorating physically; a rolling cross-country gallop can rekindle the sensations of freedom within you.

The exercise associated with the care and riding of horses can also add to your fitness. Grooming, cleaning, health care, and riding involve many muscle groups and types of activities.

While some people may consider care-giving as a responsibility which must be fulfilled, others see it as more of an opportunity to nurture. Taking care of a horse's needs can help you establish good habits and routines and bring order to a chaotic life.

Horses are a feast for the eyes. But then, you already know that. They are beautiful to watch resting, grazing, playing, and moving with energy and grace. They provide a valuable opportunity for learning about animal behavior. Their reactions and interactions are fascinating and provide you with stories to tell your friends.

Being involved with horses can provide social benefits too. There are many local, regional, and national organizations which are designed for family participation. Groups are available for all types of horse involvement: trail riding, lessons and clinics, competitions of all levels and types, and groups for "back-yard horsemen" of varying interests. Besides providing a great place to share experiences, horse groups are a good place to exchange ideas, form friendships, and create a network for group purchases and business transactions.

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