You probably don’t need much prodding to expand your family of pets if you’re a horse enthusiast or just an animal lover in general. Owning a horse can be very exciting and rewarding. It might look like a very boring endeavor, with the rider doing nothing but just sit. But there is far more than meets the eye in riding and owning a horse.
In the olden times, the main purpose of owning a horse is for toil and transport. Centuries later, people have come to realize that’s not all there is to it. There are actually a lot of positive benefits you might be interested to know when it comes to owning a horse. The obvious benefits of horse riding are relaxation, companionship, enjoyment, physical and mental fitness, and a chance to experience the open countryside. Let’s go in-depth and know more benefits of riding and owning a horse.
One of the benefits in owning a horse is you get a lot of fresh air and physical activity. Horseback riding is definitely one of the best forms of exercise. It improves your balance, coordination, flexibility, muscle tone, and overall core strength. It is also great cardiovascular exercise. Riding is not only a physical exercise but a mental one too, as it requires a great deal of focus and awareness.
But horseback riding won’t be the only activity that gets your heart racing—tacking and untacking, cleaning stalls, mucking out, grooming, feeding, raking hay, pushing wheelbarrows, and carrying heavy items back and forth are calorie-burning activities. You’ll definitely not have a sedentary lifestyle when you have a horse.
Horse riding, being an independent sport rather than a team sport, requires you, the leader, to be in partnership with your horse, the one you are leading. The connection you can make with a horse will be a strong and special one. They are not the most trusting animals. They are selective about who they trust. To earn that trust is an accomplishment in itself that probably costs a great deal of patience on your part.
You get a sense of accomplishment when your horse listens to you, moves in a certain direction you want, and follows your commands. Knowing how to control a 1200 lb. animal with just your legs and fingers is definitely a great confidence builder. You are responsible for instilling discipline when your horse doesn’t comply. You will get empowerment out of working with large animals. It is worth the effort, and is a great self-esteem booster.
Owning a horse opens up a world of possibilities for you. You can take riding lessons, meet new people with similar interests. Watch your social network grow when you get a your own horse. Your horse will usher in new relationships with other horse owners and enthusiasts. You’ll be surrounded by a lot of new people as you get involved in the various equine groups by way of riding lessons, events, and other clubs and activities that bring horses and their humans together. A shared love of horses is always great icebreaker and a conversation starter, helping you make strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie.
It is important to teach kids the concept of teamwork and sportsmanship at an early age. Horseback riding accomplishes just that. Respectfulness and dedication are qualities of a good sportsman (or horseman!). Owning a horse teaches kids these qualities and make them well equipped for other sporting disciplines. Kids learn the art of losing gracefully in competitions when they don't get the blue ribbon, and how to congratulate those who do.
All pets, whether big or small, entail commitment, but nothing like the horse. Horses require independent care that takes you out of the house once or twice daily. They demand even greater time management and planning, compared to a dog, which you can easily integrate into the family, celebrations, holidays, and days out. Horse care is often handled by one person. Being there for your horse everyday, all the time, is a huge commitment. It will teach you the importance of prioritizing and investing. It also teaches you the value of routine and good habits.
Owning a horse can be expensive, and we’re not talking about some measly change. They can cost around $3,000 up. They are as expensive as a car. We haven’t even factored in maintenance costs like feed, vet, farrier, tack, riding attire, supplies, barn upkeep or boarding, lessons, and inevitable unexpected costs. Part or full livery is usually the best option for people who don’t own their own lands. This can set you back a small fortune every month, depending on your situation. You inevitably gain a better understanding of the value of money.
When you have a horse, you are forced to prioritize your time and put the most important aspects of your horse's care first. Taking care of them daily takes time. They require a great deal of care—daily feeding and exercising, shoeing or trimming, teeth floating, and vaccinations. It is not surprising to spend 2-3 hours a day, 3-6 times a week at the barn, spending time taking care of your horse. You’d even spend more time with them if they are sick or you have more barn work to do.
For example, you need to walk your dog but at the same time, you want to go into town with your friends. You can easily do both activities simultaneously. The same thing couldn’t be said of horses. You have to set a dedicated time for your horse. You have to take care of your horse duties first before you can go and see your friends. There will be many times when your horse life and social life seem to merge, like when you go hacking with friends, attend horse shows, and attend social events for your equine clubs and associations.
Science has proven that interacting with animals decreases stress levels by lowering blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Animals are natural mood boosters. Nothing beats the feeling of sitting on a horse, and fresh air caressing your face. You can find comfort from the pressures and obligations of everyday life that often times weigh us down by spending ample time with horses. You can’t put a price to the calm and peacefulness it gives. One can get this sense of purpose and fulfillment in life when you bond with your horse because working with horses is not a walk in the park—it requires patience and a good attitude. It is a great way to relax and take some stress off.
So you’ve decided to join the millions of other people and finally buying a horse. Keep these simple guidelines when buying a horse, especially if its your first one.
Like all worthy endeavors, keep in mind that raising and maintaining a horse has its pros and cons— they can be expensive, require a lot of attention, and require plenty of land for the horse to roam. In short, it is not easy at all. As a responsible horse owner, it is prudent to set up an emergency fund for the unexpected injuries or illnesses that may occur in horse ownership.
But usually, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It pays not to forget that the horses are living beings whose life and welfare are in your hands. All the hard work, time, and dedication you give them are worth it because owning a horse is a rewarding experience.