The basics?

Pearlsasinger

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After reading a few threads over the last couple of weeks or so, I began wondering 'What are the basics that any-one buying a first horse/pony should know?'

My thoughts are,
That all equines require trickle feeding, whatever you decide to feed yours on.

At optimum weight you should be able to feel but not see the horse's ribs.

Owner should be able to put on whatever tack they are going to use, without hurting/causing discomfort to, the horse.

Horses need company.

I feel that these are the absolute minimum but other people may want to add more.
 

touchstone

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As above, but also recognise the signs of illness, when to treat at home and when to call a vet.

Understand a worming routine and when shoeing/trimming is needed.

Be able to condition score.

Also that horses need regular turnout or plenty of exercise if stabled 24/7.

Have the capabilities to fully control the horse if ridden. (ie not over horsed)

Know which plants are poisonous.
 

Pearlsasinger

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Yes, I did think after I'd posted that any-one buying their first horse should make sure that they have the phone number of a good equine vet, farrier, feed merchant and, a bit morbid but vital, a means of disposal if the worst comes to the worst.
 

YorksG

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Someone to look after the horse if you are ill. One decent dose of flu can knock you off your feet and make it impossible to look after the horse, so a back up plan is essential.
 

rockysmum

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LOL good thread, the ones I can think of at the moment:

To register with a good equine vet not the local farmers or cat and dog one

That its better to phone the vet than come on here if there is obviously something seriously wrong with the horse

Dont take advice from feed merchants, they are in business to sell, same goes for feed companies

Rugs come in different weights for a reason, one is not enough

Saddles should be fitted by a saddle fitter even if you bought it off ebay

Tack is not always suitable or fits, just because the last owner used it

Buy your own equipment, dont just borrow everyone elses

Screaming kids and loose dogs aren't always welcome on livery yards

Farrier should come every 6 to 8 weeks, not just when shoes fall off.

Herds have a pecking order, trying to get your horse through a crowded gateway without considering that will most likely result in injuries to you or your horses.
 

orangepony

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Good post!

In addition, I would expect that they know or have:


Regular access and support from a qualified instructor or proven knowledgeable friend.

knowledge of the natural behaviours of the horse and that it is a 'flight rather fight' animal unlike a dog for example!

Know or be shown by vet or above person how to take temp., respiration and pulse correctly.

Horses do not require "comfort food". Good quality forage, ad lib if required, and a vit & min supplement is quite sufficient for most animals in light work (which is the level of of hacking, schooling and light competing most first horse leisure equines undertake!).

That buying gadetry and equipment to tame your errant horse is often a watse of money unless you have the knowledge of the correct way to use such equipment. The money would be better spent on lessons.

Understand that the horse is a half ton of animal; treating it like a "baby" will cause confusion and boundaries become unclear.

Appreciate your farrier, vet etc. Shoeing your horse is not the same as having your nails done and it is not a good idea to change 'salon' too often!

Know how to properly groom; not just flick over with a brush. good grooming gives a bloom that cannot come out of a bottle.

The ability to ask for help- nobody knows everything about horses; and anyone who tells you they do should be avoided like the plague!!
 

YorksG

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Good post!

In addition, I would expect that they know or have:


Regular access and support from a qualified instructor or proven knowledgeable friend.

knowledge of the natural behaviours of the horse and that it is a 'flight rather fight' animal unlike a dog for example!

Know or be shown by vet or above person how to take temp., respiration and pulse correctly.

Horses do not require "comfort food". Good quality forage, ad lib if required, and a vit & min supplement is quite sufficient for most animals in light work (which is the level of of hacking, schooling and light competing most first horse leisure equines undertake!).

That buying gadetry and equipment to tame your errant horse is often a watse of money unless you have the knowledge of the correct way to use such equipment. The money would be better spent on lessons.

Understand that the horse is a half ton of animal; treating it like a "baby" will cause confusion and boundaries become unclear.

Appreciate your farrier, vet etc. Shoeing your horse is not the same as having your nails done and it is not a good idea to change 'salon' too often!

Know how to properly groom; not just flick over with a brush. good grooming gives a bloom that cannot come out of a bottle.

The ability to ask for help- nobody knows everything about horses; and anyone who tells you they do should be avoided like the plague!!
Absolutely agree with this, also would add The OWNER us responsible for the horse, it is expensive and the professionals who help to keep the horse well are in business, you do have to pay them, they wll not work for free!
 

noblesteed

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That horses need calm consistency from day one and chance to settle into their new routine. You will need to build trust in each other. The steady dobbin you bought will NOT be the same dobbin when you get it home!
 

fidleyspromise

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fab thread.

-10 rules of feeding and also keep feeding as simple as possible
-ensure you have a good instructor so you have help for the first few months.
-ensure there is someone experienced (not just the yard know-it-all) that you can ask for advice.
-know the basics of grooming - which brush to use - no body brush in winter etc.
- know the most common ailments and symptoms - colic, laminitis etc
- speak to YO / Vet and have a worming program in place
- get to know tack - types of bits, saddle types - GP, Dressage so you know what you're getting with pony but getting it fitted rather than taking owners word, martingales etc so if a horse you view has this on, you know what it is.
- rugs - know various types, sizes and how to fit a rug. Also IF the horse NEEDS a rug.
- Know how to care for tack. - clean and check for repairs

rockysmum said:
Dont take advice from feed merchants, they are in business to sell, same goes for feed companies

Rugs come in different weights for a reason, one is not enough
I agree with the rest of your post :) but not necessarily with these 2.
Advice depends on the feed merchant. I went in to have a chat with mine when I bought new pony, and they recommended no feed and plenty of grass. - this was for a Native that was just under weight.

Riding school I was at, horses all had 2 rugs (same weights - medium), so that they had a spare while one was drying. They were all in fab condition (from Shetlands, Highlands and Welshies to Arabs, TBs, Hackneys and Clydesdales), rugged or not depending on individuality/breed and some were out 24/7 and some stabled at night.
Some horses may require different weights but I've found we've managed to keep horses successfully and comfortably with one weight :D This was on a hill in North-East Scotland.
 

rascal

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The idiots who used ride our pony would have done well to know that you shoudnt let your little tots run up to a horse and throw its arms around said horses legs!! Luckily for kiddie it was our old boy not one that would panic or boot it over the hedge.
 

Kat

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I think if a new owner keeps the first horse on full livery or at working livery at a riding school many of those things become irrelevant.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I think if a new owner keeps the first horse on full livery or at working livery at a riding school many of those things become irrelevant.
I'm afraid I disagree with this. IMO the owner should be able to take full responsibility for the horse (not saying that they must as a matter of course, if circumstances dictate otherwise) and should know WHY their horse is being fed a particular feed/rugged in a particular way/turned out with a particular group etc., and recognise when things are not being done correctly. I know some livery yards where the owner knows less than most first time owners.

Some excellent ideas, thank you. I certainly agree that every-one should be able to recognise when tack doesn't fit properly

fidleyspromise I'm not sure I know 10 rules of feeding, can you enlighten me please?
 

rockysmum

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I agree with the rest of your post :) but not necessarily with these 2.
Advice depends on the feed merchant. I went in to have a chat with mine when I bought new pony, and they recommended no feed and plenty of grass. - this was for a Native that was just under weight.
QUOTE]

I think you have been very lucky. Most people I know who take advice end up overfeeding horses for their workload and/or paying through the nose for expensive mixes. Far better to take advice from an instructor or experienced yard owner in many cases.
 

Amaranta

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I'm afraid I don't agree with you either Rockysmum, most retailers do not want to give bad advice and lots of them have studied nutrition too. Whilst experienced people on yards can give good advice, some of them also come out with hair raising stuff! Take it from someone who has had to pick up the pieces of this bad advice regularly.

One instructor, who did not realise that I worked in equine nutrition (freelance btw :) ), advised me to feed competition mix to an already well covered mare who put weight on by sniffing compound feed!

As owners it IS our responsibility to know the basics of horsecare and feeding, for those who want to learn the info is out there. If you cannot afford an actual course, there are numerous books on the market to help you.

It seems to me that these days, people buy horses before they are ready to, and this is the real problem, gone are the days when kids could help out at the riding school whilst gaining valuable knowledge.
 

Technique

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Routine and boundaries are key to success - when they merge into each other you are halfway there.

No foot, no horse is an age old saying for a reason, as is you can't put a price on patent safety (for a beginners horse).

Just because you have the same tack, accessories and clothing as the lithe blonde equine goddess, it doesn't mean you will be able to ride like her - its called all the gear and no idea for a reason. Master the basics THEN concentrate on looking/paying for fashionable...

Horses are quite complex animals, but their needs are simple.

These be the harsh truths, a novice horse owner would do well to heed them. :)
 
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Ladydragon

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After reading a few threads over the last couple of weeks or so, I began wondering 'What are the basics that any-one buying a first horse/pony should know?'
After being told a pony was going to be kept stabled for the next few weeks (on its own) to fatten it up because the pony is for sale, I'd be inclined to think it's less about what a 'first horse' owner should know and more 'any horse owner' full stop...

Said pony is in good shape and has been on 24/7 turnout and in regular work till now... Pony owners have owned horses for yonks...
 

rockysmum

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I'm afraid I don't agree with you either Rockysmum, most retailers do not want to give bad advice and lots of them have studied nutrition too. Whilst experienced people on yards can give good advice, some of them also come out with hair raising stuff! Take it from someone who has had to pick up the pieces of this bad advice regularly.

One instructor, who did not realise that I worked in equine nutrition (freelance btw :) ), advised me to feed competition mix to an already well covered mare who put weight on by sniffing compound feed!

As owners it IS our responsibility to know the basics of horsecare and feeding, for those who want to learn the info is out there. If you cannot afford an actual course, there are numerous books on the market to help you.

It seems to me that these days, people buy horses before they are ready to, and this is the real problem, gone are the days when kids could help out at the riding school whilst gaining valuable knowledge.

I agree about researching for yourself. Perhaps we are unlucky with a couple of our local feed merchants. They might have staff who actually know what they are doing, but they have a lot that dont. I have often stood behind people in the stores and cringed at the advice they were giving to novice owners. Some of these staff might be from an agricultural background, some aren't, but they obviously dont know one end of a horse from the other.

Its not just feed either, one notable example was a local tack shop giving someone advice on turnout for showing, show jumping perhaps, but they were selling this person entirely the wrong turnout and not bargain basement stuff. Think black jacket, stock and white jods for a ridden showing class.
 

Littlelegs

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Agree with most of what's been said. I think common sense & the desire to learn have to be a priority tho. Eg.1 best mates dad. Knew sweet fa about them till he retired & started hanging out at the yard when his dog died. Got both of the above, after a few months could be trusted to care for a horse with experienced back up. Eg 2, woman with neither qualities, after 3 years of horse ownership still wouldn't trust her with the care of a horse without someone shadowing her & even then is likely to say things along the line off 'i don't care, I think its ok to leave ragwort
 

Pearlsasinger

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Its not just feed either, one notable example was a local tack shop giving someone advice on turnout for showing, show jumping perhaps, but they were selling this person entirely the wrong turnout and not bargain basement stuff. Think black jacket, stock and white jods for a ridden showing class.
I agree. I was in a local tack/feed shop, which runs a bit hire service. One of the assistants, who has her own horses and plenty of experience, tried to give me a Dr Bristol bit, when I was asking if they had a French link. She truly didn't know the difference, I had to explain it to her.
I must say, though, that the owner is very knowledgeable and has occasionally suggested alternative feeds to me for our oldie, which would be viable for her needs.
 

little_critter

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It seems to me that these days, people buy horses before they are ready to, and this is the real problem, gone are the days when kids could help out at the riding school whilst gaining valuable knowledge.
Unfortunately even helping at a RS doesn't seem to teach you much.
Before I got my first horse I went back to help out at an RS (in my 30's) to get some practical experience.
Unfortunately all you learn is how to muck out, tack up and poo pick.
You don't learn the why's and wherefore's of feeding, you're not involved in any decisions ref the treatment of horses (and I wouldn't expect to be really). You don't have to source feed / forage, you don't have to consider a worming program and all the other decisions you have to make when you become responsible for your own horse.
I don't blame the RS - they're there to provide lessons for their paying clients, not give stable management lessons to me.

I learnt a lot over that last year from this forum and also I selected a livery yard that did assisted livery (although I was DIY) so I knew there was a 'professional' on the yard that I could always ask.
 

Achinghips

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As well as all the above: How to lead effectively and how to install ground manners in and out of the stable. Such basic but vital safety. If you get this bit wrong ................
 

Pearlsasinger

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Unfortunately even helping at a RS doesn't seem to teach you much.
Before I got my first horse I went back to help out at an RS (in my 30's) to get some practical experience.
Unfortunately all you learn is how to muck out, tack up and poo pick.
You don't learn the why's and wherefore's of feeding, you're not involved in any decisions ref the treatment of horses (and I wouldn't expect to be really). You don't have to source feed / forage, you don't have to consider a worming program and all the other decisions you have to make when you become responsible for your own horse.
I don't blame the RS - they're there to provide lessons for their paying clients, not give stable management lessons to me.

Well, you had a better experience than me.

I went to a RS (with a good reputation) not so long ago, when my horse was off work. I was amazed when I untacked and went looking for a brush, to have the staff falling over themselves with gratitude.

I agree that a RS doesn't prepare you completely for horse-ownership. Sis and I had ridden at an excellent RS, which did teach stable management to a degree, when our parents bought us our first horse. Dad, in particular, was very conscious that this animal would be his responsibility as much as ours. He made sure that we had reference books to consult and consulted them himself, particularly when deciding what to feed. I can remember to this day, sitting reading the charts, comparing dry feed weight/wet feed weight and horse's body weight, in the week before putting the deposit down and the horse being delivered, even though it was almost 40 years ago.
 
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Abbeygale

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This thread is good.

Tbh I have had horses all my life, and all the "basics" are now second nature to me - I know I'm very lucky.

Reading through all of this has reminded me of all the little things that I just do, that someone buying their first horse has to learn. There's soooo much stuff tI know!

Well done to OP for starting Such a helpful thread :)
 
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I dunno. The minimum I think I;d love to insist anyone who buys their first horse should do is help out for 6 months or so at their local yard. I agree with Pearlasinger, in that you don't do much more than sweep, muck out and hoof pick, but you do get to be round horses, handling them, getting used to them.

Also, I would insist every new owner read the Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship cover to cover before they buy their first horse. It's not a very taxing read for adults, and yet it covers pretty much everything they need to know.
 
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