Even though it is a goal for many enthusiasts, buying a horse is n0t a decision to take lightly. There is a lot of preparation involved, and not having a thorough grasp of what you need makes things tricky down the line. Even if you are unable to purchase all the equipment your horse needs right away, you should at least have a few essentials. Below are the top five horse products you need before your new equine friend comes home:
The first question you should ask is where you plan to put your new horse. If the answer is your own property, you should have a large, grassy, fenced-in area for turnout and grazing. You will also need a sturdy, well-supplied barn for rest and to protect your horse during inclement weather.
If you plan to board your horse, make sure to have a thorough tour of the establishment before bringing her there. A good boarding facility has clean stalls, plenty of equipment and a safe field for turnout – meaning no holes or large boulders so your horse doesn’t injure herself. Your boarding barn should also have a safe area to ride your horse in.
2. Food and horse supplements
It is not a good idea to head to the shop and pick up the first brand of horse feed you see on the shelf. Horses thrive on routine, says the Human Society, so new feed should be introduced gradually and on a consistent schedule. Switching things too much could upset horses prone to colic.
Before buying your new horse, ask her owners when she eats and what sort of feed she’s used to. Purchase a few days’ worth for yourself, then feed him on his schedule. If you want to introduce a new type of food, gradually mix more and more in with the old until the original feed is completely replaced.
It’s difficult for a horse to get his complete nutritional needs through feed alone, so make sure to invest in some equine supplements as well. There are a variety of all-natural horse products for overall health as well as for specific treatments like joints and digestion.
3. First aid kit
You don’t have to have a veterinary degree, but owning a first aid kit ensures you’re never unprepared in the event of a minor medical emergency. Young Rider suggested you should have at least have bandages, padding, scissors, a thermometer and antibacterial cream on hand. You should also consider horse health products like shampoos, salves and ointments to help heal minor cuts, skin irritations or bruises.
4. Veterinary and farrier contacts
Don’t wait until your horse has an accident or falls ill to find a veterinarian. Time is often of the essence at this point, and vets don’t always have the freedom to take new patients. Find someone through your friends or local barn manager, then call that person’s office and ask if they’re accepting new animals.
In addition, finding a farrier now saves a lot of last-minute headaches down the road. You’ll likely have to rely on word of mouth to find someone local, so ask your riding community for suggestions.
Before your horse comes home, ask the previous owners if he has any specific medical or shoeing needs and pass this information on to your vet or farrier.
“You need specific equipment to help your horse safely navigate his surroundings.”
Even if you don’t plan to ride for show or sport, you need specific equipment to help your horse safely navigate his surroundings. Halters and lead ropes are two of the most basic horse tack. These are suitable for horses unused to riding, and they’re both sturdier and gentler than bridles.
If you plan to ride your horse, you’ll also need an appropriate saddle, a bridle, stirrups, a saddle pad, and a girth or cinch. The type of tack you buy depends on your style of riding – Western saddles are larger and heavier than English ones, for example. In addition, Western riders generally use thick blankets as saddle pads, Horse Channel noted. English riders use pads made of cotton, foam, felt, fleece or wool instead.
You’ll also need splint boots if your horse is going to jump or gallop to protect her from her own legs as she moves. Other essential tack includes blankets for cool weather, coolers for warm days, and a grooming kit.
Your horse’s needs depend on his or her age, health, experience, training and much more, but these five basic essentials will prepare you to bring your friend home.