Are you looking to purchase your first horse? How exciting! Horse ownership is an exceptionally rewarding endeavor that truly feeds your soul as you connect with your new equine companion. However, owning a horse also comes with some challenges. Here are six things to know before getting a horse and making the leap into horse ownership.
1. Horses are Herd Animals
If you plan to purchase a horse, it is important to think about their emotional and social well-being. Horses are herd animals and do their best with a friend. While they will certainly bond with you, you cannot be around 24 hours a day and they will need additional social stimulation. This can be done by purchasing more than one horse or adding another animal, like a goat to your herd.
2. Horses Need to Eat Throughout the Day
Unlike cats and dogs, which only need to eat once or twice a day, horses need to eat frequently over the duration of the day. This is because, unlike carnivores and omnivores, herbivores have smaller stomachs and fast digestion. They also secrete stomach acid continuously in anticipation of their next meal, so ulcers may develop if they are not fed frequently enough.
3. Horses Thrive on Forage
Evolving as grazing animals, horses are the healthiest when they eat a diet that is predominately forage products. While commercial grains are becoming a part of many horses’ diets, is it essential that your horse has consistent access to pasture and/or high-fiber hay for horses.
4. Horses Need Exercise
Before purchasing your horse, you will need to have a plan in place for your horse’s need to move their bodies, either in turnout or being worked. Some horses are happy in a stall with a few hours of turnout each day, but the vast majority prefer ample time to run, jump, play, and enjoy time outside of their stall. Depending on your setup, many horses love to live outside with a free-choice shelter, such as a run-in shed.
5. Horses are Delicate
Horses are large animals, but they are surprisingly delicate. Horses need consistent care, a high-quality diet, and a stress-free environment in order to live a long and happy life. Be sure to speak with a veterinarian about ways that you can promote health and wellness in your horse.
6. You Will Never Stop Learning
No matter how much you know about horses, there is always more to learn! Find a mentor that can help you navigate through the world of horse ownership and tackle the various challenges that come with it.