Many things to know before owning a horse

By Anne Kennedy
Welcome to the world of horses!
Before you enter this equine universe, there are many questions to be considered, studied and answered. What are your goals? What is your riding level? Will you need to learn about horse keeping? Do you have the time and resources to care for a horse?
My goal in this first series of articles is to introduce you to horse ownership. Whether considering a horse for yourself or for a child, good decisions at the start of your journey will make the trip so much more enjoyable.
There is something so very magical about horses. From fantasy winged Pegasus to Secretariat or the beloved backyard friend, horses have long been known for forming special relationships with humans. So what is your dream? Do you want a horse to ride miles of trails to enjoy the great outdoors, one to take on camping trips with friends? Do you want to ride dressage, the beautiful classical moves that partner the equine and rider in union of dance. Are timed events your thing? Would you like to race around barrels at top speed? How about jumping high over fences then galloping to the next obstacle. Do you see yourself as an English rider in breaches or do cowboy chaps and cowgirl jeans fit your life style? Close your eyes and picture yourself on your horse. Would you be performing in front of an audience with you trick horse making young and older eyes twinkle with amazement? Where are you and what are you doing?
With approximately 267 different breeds of horses and ponies, you will have another choice to ponder. So many of these breeds are rare and without the sacrifice and hard work of many people, they would vanish. The Rocky Mountain Horse, a gaited breed, is one of these rare breeds that we specialize in at our farm. There are horses that are called warmer or colder breeds, the draft breeds, ponies and the miniature horses. Mules before the tractor was invented, were indispensable to the farmer. The mule is the offspring of a Jack, or donkey and a female horse, a mare. Each breed of horse offers it’s own unique way of moving and suitability for the task , or discipline. You can understand now that it is a good idea to know exactly how you would like to enjoy your horse before you obtain one. Would you like the trotting breed with a two beat intermediate gait that you “post” on, or a gaited breed that has a four beat foot fall that is smooth and preferred by people that cannot take the bounce of a trotting horse because of age or back problems. That opens a new area of consideration for you. Horseback riding is a wonderful way to get fresh air and exercise and to meet new friends but also you must consider your physical abilities. Choosing the right horse can make all the difference in your enjoyment and safety. Some of the more common breeds that are found in our area are the Thoroughbred, Quarter horse, Arabian and Tennessee Walking Horse. Often you will find crosses of these breeds, where they have been breed together to produce an animal that hopefully will have the best of each parent’s talents. With all the breeds, for the beginner you need to consider the temperament of the breed and of the horse itself. Some breeds are known to be hotter, more reactive, and are more suited for experienced riders . To further complicate matters within the breed, just like humans, there are horses that are more nervous and those that are more laid back. A lot to ponder but if you are able to find that special partner, just like in marriage, the ride is a blast!
I could have written this quote by Gunther Gebel-Williams myself: “Once you become involved with animals, they become a part of you.”

Anne Kennedy owns Camelot Farms Equestrian Center and The Gift Horse Shop on Saint Helena Island. Please let us know if you have training questions, problems with your horses or have an event that you would like to announce. Camelotfarmshorses@gmail.com.

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