“Can I have a horse?”
That plaintive plea has probably been pestering parents since Paleolithic times when horses were painted on the walls at Lascaux. It seems to be a rite of passage, especially for young girls, to long for a horse of one’s own. It’s also been traditional for parents to “just say no” and hope the equine jonesing (horse lust)passes sometime before their offspring heads off to college. In many cases, this might just work.
If you can keep the child distracted with horse books, My Little Ponies, puzzles, games, pony rides and (for the uber-serious) riding lessons; and the begging slacks off in a year or so – you’re in the clear. But what happens if your offspring has more of a passion than a passing fancy? Hints to this condition will include all trips to the library resulting in horse books being checked out (until the library’s collection has been exhausted and you’re pestered with requests to go to the New York Public Library for a better selection), and all birthday or Christmas wish lists starting with 1. My own horse, 2. A saddle, etc.
If this scenario is still playing out a year or two (or three for the parent who refuses to read the writing on the barn wall) from the original request – it’s time to face the fact that your child is serious about this whole horse thing, and you may just have to try to find a way to help make it happen.
Now before you panic, notice I didn’t say you might just have to run out and buy the first horse which meets with the approval of your offspring – hint: they’ll all meet with approval if the possibility arises of them being brought home.
There are plenty of ways to bring a horse into your family’s life without actually purchasing one – the pony pictured at left was a “hand-me-down” – a lesson pony we gave to friends when we moved to Virginia who went on to another family when their girls outgrew him. There are also plenty of things to consider if you do decide that horse ownership is for you. Over the next several posts, I’ll give you an overview of the things you need to consider. I’ll even include reading suggestions (for both you and your offspring) as we go along.
To give you a bit of background on why I’m qualified to help you with this subject: I’ve been an equine professional for over 30 years and during that time have helped dozens of families make the equine-related decisions that best suit their needs. I’ve taught workshops and classes in horse care as well being a horse trainer, therapeutic riding instructor, and an internationally certified riding instructor. I have bought many horses, sold a few and adopted several others. I’ve kept horses in my backyard and owned and operated a large boarding and training barn. I’ve taught 4H and Pony Club (both in the US and the UK).
Please note that while I have a great deal of expertise, my advice should not take the place of consultation with local professionals and officials regarding your own insurance coverage, zoning regulations, etc.
So, with your child begging in the background – let’s get to it – and maybe the pleading will stop – at least until the next major gift-giving holiday when you may hear “Can we get a horse trailer?” Let the fun begin!