Taking the next step.
Once they get started, many kids develop a lifelong passion for horses and horseback riding. If your child is one of them, there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually want to add a horse to your family.
The most important thing you can do is enlist the help of a professional horseperson, such as your child’s riding instructor or a horse trainer that you’ve come to know and trust. It’s essential that you have an objective third party who is familiar with your child’s skill level and what he or she wants to do with the horse to help ensure you find a good match. You want a horse that will help your child increase his or her skills and confidence. So, while a little colt might be adorable, in most cases a horse with little or no training and a first-time horse owner are not a great combination.
Leasing vs. Owning
Some people start by leasing a horse instead of an outright purchase. Many lesson barns offer opportunities to lease a horse on-site, so your child can experience everything horse ownership entails without making a significant long-term financial investment.
Many horses are looking to make “career transitions” as they get older. They may have been a competition horse looking for a slower pace of life, or perhaps the teenage owner is off to college and the horse needs a new person to love. These “been there, done that” horses are often a great choice for a first-time owner. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Right Horse Initiative are examples of organizations focused on helping horses transition to new careers.
Horse ownership can open a whole new lifestyle. Your child will get plenty of exercise, grow as a rider, make new friends with similar interests, and learn more and more about horse care. Best of all, he or she will come to know the sheer pleasure of seeing their horse’s heart and soul in those big beautiful eyes—and seeing theirs reflected back.