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First Time
Horse Owner:


Back Next Terminology Breeds Conformation



For the beginning rider, the first horse can be a willing partner in helping you develop a solid and safe foundation.  Unless you are learning so you can trail ride for pleasure, this first horse often needs to be replaced.  For others the first horse will be a partner they select once they have learned the basics of riding and are ready to pursue one of the disciplines in depth.  Riders who have learned to ride in a riding stable or school often fit into this category.


Questions to Answer

What is your riding Goal?  Choose one of the following: Learning to ride, trail riding, showing (western, hunter, equitation or jumper), eventing, dressage, pony club or 4-H.   If you decide you want to compete, the next question is where do I want to go; there are levels in each sport. Is my long-term goal local, national or international competition?

What is your riding skill evaluation at the time you plan to purchase your horse?  This very important question is often missed with a resulting unsafe decision.  Ideally it is great to find a horse who is experienced a few levels above your level. YOUR HORSE IS YOUR GREATEST TEACHER.  Too little education will not be safe for you and can put you in an unsafe situation.  Too much education can also put you at a disadvantage. The more educated the horse is, the more finely tuned his control panel will be. Small position problems or loss of body control, can be misinterpreted by the horse, often causing an unexpected or undesired reaction. It takes riders quite a while to learn to become balanced and relaxed on a horse and then develop independent use of aids (hands, seat & legs) which is our form of communication with the horse. We must have independent balance and use of aids to ride a highly educated horse.

What temperament horse is best for you?  You and your horse have individual personalities and temperaments. Each influences the other. I feel your instructor’s advise is essential in this area, as the match is one of the most important and takes experience to determine.

How much can you afford? Read the next section, Budgeting For Your Horse.  Take a look at your finances. Decide how much a year you can devote to your hobby.  Budget it and stick to it.  If you get in over your head financially, it will take the pleasure out of your activity.  There are many ways to enjoy a horse, some more expensive than others, all waiting to be matched with your interest and financial situation.  Keep in mind that it is not always easy to sell a horse, so plan your budget by the year.

What size horse do you need? You want your horse to be able to carry you comfortably. You don’t want to be too tall or too heavy for your horse’s comfort. You want to feel comfortable, so you want to have a horse that fits you and your sport. A horse that is too small will make you feel out of balance, and a horse that is too big may cause you to feel insecure.

What conformation do I need?  See the area on basic sound conformation. It is good for all horses to fit into this category, as it will be the basis of soundness for years to come. How pretty or 'typy' the horse is important if you are going to compete. This takes time to learn, so your instructor may need to help you evaluate conformation related to soundness and what you want to do.

What sex do I want? Geldings are the most dependable, but some mares are fine as well. The advantage of a mare is the fact that if she is of good conformation and becomes unsound, she can be bred. Stallions should be avoided for all first time horse owners.

What breed is best for me?  There are many breeds and types of horses.  Click on Breeds to read about the different breeds and their uses.  A pure bred horse is often more expensive and not necessarily the best first horse. The only advantage of a purebred horse is that you are certain about his past ownership and age, and sometimes it is easier to sell if and when necessary.

Once you have answered the above questions, you need to decide whether you will keep the horse at home, the costs to prepare your property, the time required, your basis of knowledge for his wellbeing or to board him at the stable where you are taking lessons. If you choose the local stable, you will have a support system to help you get started. This is sometimes very useful.

Answer the questions, discuss with your instructor and prepare to start your journey!


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