Being a first time horse owner can be very stressful. Horses are very sensitive, large, powerful and expensive to own as pets. How do you know if your horse is colicky, and then what do you do? What do I feed my horse? Is my horse drinking enough water? What do you do for lameness issues? When is it serious enough to need to contact a veterinarian? Without the proper support, knowledge and experience owning a horse can quickly become a disaster. Boarding your horse at a reputable boarding facility is not always economical. Surrounding yourself with experienced equine owners, having a qualified trainer, and being willing to read and learn on your own are a few steps that can help reduce the stress of first time horse owners.

Surround yourself with experienced equine owners. One of the most valuable things you can have as a horse owner is having experienced horse-owning friends. You can meet these people from local equine organizations such as 4-H horse clubs, United States Pony Clubs, various horse show organizations or events, and even at your local feed store. The following are some benefits to surrounding yourself with experienced equine owners:

• Not only can they give you advice when you need it, they can be an incredible source of support if something is negative is going on with your horse.
• In a situation that is new to you, it can be much more comfortable to contact a person you know rather than a veterinarians office right away.
• Sometimes an experienced friend’s opinion can help you to feel more at ease about a decision you have made with your horse, or about something that is going on with your horse.
• Experienced horse-owning friends can direct you to the best veterinarians, farriers, trainers, feed stores, and tack stores in your area.

Get a qualified trainer. If you plan on riding your horse at all, this step is key to your success.

• Even if you don’t plan on competing with your horse, proper riding instruction is vital for your and your horse’s safety and well-being.
• Using your equipment incorrectly or using ill-fitting equipment can seriously create health and safety issues for both you and your horse.
• Qualified trainers know how to properly condition and work horses so that you can avoid injuries to your horse.
• Just knowing that you are working with a qualified and educated instructor can be a huge peace of mind and help avoid some stresses related to horseback riding.

Be willing to read and learn on your own. Properly educating yourself can help relieve the stresses related to feelings of ignorance.

• Buying and reading some basic horse care books from your local bookstore is a great way to educate yourself and boost your confidence.

• Internet searches can also provide valuable horse care and maintenance information. Be careful what you read though. Make sure it is a credible source, and not an opinion site. Agricultural University websites and local extension office websites are always good sources from the Internet.

• You can also call your local extension office for advice on caring for your horse.

• Do not be afraid to call your farrier or veterinarian if you have any questions about your horse’s health. These professionals care and want to help you learn to properly care for your horse.

Take advantage of these steps in order to reduce the amount of stress that can come along with caring for your first horse. Owning a horse should be fun and rewarding!