Everyone knows it: horses aren't cheap. And if you want something more than a large animal that eats and sleeps all day you will need to invest money in training your horse.
You already know the initial outlay for a horse can be anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000, with a well trained horse in its middle-age running somewhere in the middle of that range. You may already expect the costs of feeding, shoeing, and horse health care to be around $2,000 per year, assuming the horse lives with you. If you plan to board the newest member of your family, expect to pay another $2,000-$3,000 a year totaling up to about $4,000 - $5,000 in yearly horse-related expenses in addition to the initial price.
If you are planning to ride your horse an average of 350 hours over the course of the next year (either an hour a day or a couple of long rides each week), you might want to add in the costs of your health insurance including deductibles and work lost time. Why? Simply stated statistics - 1,000 people each year suffer horseback-riding related injuries with about 25% of the injuries occurring to children age 16 and under. Interesting enough, most horse-related injuries happen in recreational riding and nearly 80% of fatalities happen at normal horse speeds - not in rearing or bucking. It is astonishing to know that riding a motorcycle is up to 20 times safer than riding a horse, especially one that has not been trained or has been improperly trained.
Related Article: Commonsense Horsemanship >>
The best injury prevention is education. It's common sense that a properly trained horse is less likely to misbehave. He will be a safer animal having been taught not to bite, kick, run away with the rider, or engage in other dangerous activities. A well-trained horse is also more likely than an untrained one to deal patiently with the oddities of untrained people.
An untrained horse is like a car without brakes: you can take it out, and maybe have a really nice time, but you might just get killed or kill someone else. Your horse may have the best of intentions, but without experience you're barreling around with a creature that weighs over a thousand pounds and likes to do whatever he wants. As an investment he can be a liability. His potential for hurting someone is high and his resale value is nothing. A horse that hasn't been trained is worse than useless; he's dangerous.
Obviously no one invests in a horse just to watch him get fat and lazy: you plan to ride him, work him, and maybe even compete. If your horse can't be ridden safely either he's going to spend a lot of time in the pasture or someone's going to get hurt. Training makes your horse accessible to you and you have three options for making sure your horse is trained to be as useful and as safe as possible:
- First, you can buy a horse that's already been trained. This is a good option but it does raise the sale price by thousands of dollars and it doesn't do anything for your education.
- Second, you may pay to have your horse trained by a professional at a cost of around $600-$800 per month. Depending on the type and amount of training required, it may take a couple of months up to over a year for training a working horse. The other drawback is that although the horse may receive an excellent education, the rider (you) doesn't get to participate. This may be a fine option for experienced riders who just don't have the time to train their own horses, but for a novice it means having to find a way to train yourself as well.
- The third option is to train the horse yourself acquiring skills and understanding together. You can do this at a fraction of the cost of options #1 and #2 by investing in training videos. The third option is preferred if you are wanting to learn together with your horse.
Horse Safety For You:
- If you aren't up to speed on horse training or selecting a horse, pay a professional trainer to help choose the best horse for your needs.
- Always supervise children around horses. Make sure children do not stand or play behind or within kicking distance of the horse.
- Teach children about horse safety.
- Wear a properly-fit equestrian helmet that meets ASTM standards.
- Make sure saddles have release catches to prevent a fallen rider from having a foot caught in the stirrup and being dragged.
- Do not allow even young horses to nibble at or kiss you. Nibbling can become biting; a hard habit to break and very dangerous.
- Do not wear loose-fitting clothing as it may catch on tack, branches, fences, etc.
- Never sneak up on a horse from behind.
Now that you have the facts, go have fun with your horse!