Is Horse Keeping Right For You?

| 4/14/2014 9:06:00 AM

Renee-Lucie BenoitPart 1 – The Horse Itself

I have a different attitude about horse-keeping than a lot of people. I don’t glamorize it or romanticize it. A lot of people relate to a horse as if it’s a symbol of freedom and majesty, and it certainly is, but the truth is that horse-keeping is like having a 1,200-pound dog with its own unique set of problems and challenges.


I have ridden horses since I was a kid. My parents never allowed me to own one. It was much too easy to just go over to the local farmer and borrow the horses that lived there. Maybe my folks knew something but they never shared it. It wasn’t until I was fully grown that I came to own my first horse. Now I’ve been in the “business of horses” for more than 30 years. I've bought and sold horses, taken all the natural horsemanship clinics that I could afford, and I’ve done it all on a shoestring budget. Maybe being on a shoestring budget is what helped me form my perspective. If you’ve got deep pockets and can have someone else take care of your horse, you usually don’t learn much about horses.

Horse ownership in the best of all possible worlds should be a hands-on proposition. For example, when my daughter was in Pony Club years ago, one thing they expected was that we got to know our horse’s bodies extremely well. Sometimes the littlest change can spell big trouble for a horse, and, if you don't know what it's supposed to look like, you won't be sure if you have a problem. One time we did not notice a tiny cut on our pony’s hock. Because the pony lived out on a big pasture it was too late when we finally noticed. The pony had quickly developed a terrible infection from an imperceptible wound, and it had to be euthanized.

Of course, if you can afford to have someone else be responsible for your horse, you would hope that the person will take enough care to notice small things before they get too big. However, I have found that no one takes care of your critters better than you will.