6 Reasons You Should Not Buy A Horse

Are you wondering if a horse will make a good pet for your family? You’re probably having visions of your children playing with their new pony, braiding his mane and riding him doubles in an open field. All horse lovers have visions of galloping down a beach in the surf and bonding with their best friend!

While all of these things sound amazing and can come true, the truth is, there is a lot more to horse ownership. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, and while those moments do happen, many hours are spent caring for your new friend. The work is much harder than you think and there’s a lot of it. Loving horses just isn’t enough. And, if you don’t have the skills to care for a large animal who is prone to injuries and illness and will eat you out of house and home then a horse may not be for you.

Here are the top reasons you should NOT buy a horse. And, if you’re still horse crazy after reading these reasons then you can always consider riding lessons and leasing for now. Here are a couple of helpful articles on these topics.

Should You Lease A Horse Before Buying? Complete Guide

How Often Should You Take Horseback Riding Lessons?

How To Choose A Riding Instructor

Once you have the budget, experience and available time for a horse you can buy one then!

Horses Are A Lot Of Work

I’m just gonna give it to you straight. Horses are a lot of work. Like, a ton! Now, I’m not saying it isn’t worth it, it is! I have several horses and have owned them for many years. So, clearly the work load does not dissuade everyone.

But, let’s be honest. Even if you don’t feel like it, your sick, the weather is crap or any other reason you may not feel up to it, it doesn’t matter. Your horse needs you no matter what. There are no excuses, no outs and no pardons for not showing up. I have trudged through snow storms to get to the barn to feed and clear ice from water buckets. I have even powered through morning sickness to get stalls cleaned, horses fed and all the other chores done. And, every equestrian has their own battle stories of days they didn’t think they could get through but some how did.

There are chores to be done every single day even on holidays. It’s not all fun trail rides with friends and summer horse shows.

There is stall cleaning, grooming, exercising, veterinary care, first aid, hoof care and more that your horse needs. In fact, there are so many tasks that need to be done each and every day, I wrote a whole article all about it. You can check it out here: How To Care For Your Horse: Daily Checklist

In addition to the day to day tasks there are also other chores that don’t have to be done as often. Here are a few:

  • Unloading and stacking hay
  • Removing and cleaning under rubber mats in the barn
  • Re-claying stalls
  • Repairing fencing
  • Cleaning Tack
  • Loading and unloading the horse trailer for events
  • Blanket wash and repair
  • Cleaning grooming equipment
  • Dragging the arena
  • Manure removal
  • Removing rocks from paddocks

None of these jobs are a breeze, many of them require a certain level of strength and stamina. And, not only will they make you sweat, they might make you itch and you could get injured. If you’re not into manual labor, horses aren’t for you.

At some point, you will have to help with some of these tasks unless you have the luxury of unlimited funds and staff to do them for you. But, what’s the fun in that?

Horses Require A Huge Time Commitment

This may be the top reason not to buy a horse for equestrians who have families, other hobbies or other priorities. Horses take up tons of time! You’ve probably seen the memes about barn time vs. reality. The wife walking out the door telling her husband she’s running to the barn real quick and will be back in an hour or 2. She then shows up 4 to 6 hours later.

Time has a way of escaping right out from under you when you’re in the barn. ( Wow, that was poetic wasn’t it?)

But seriously, by the time you groom, ride, cool out, chat with your friends, help the barn manager feed, clean your bridle, help care for your friend’s injured horse, clean your stall, scrub your water buckets, so on and so forth, time just flies by.

There is no such thing as a quick trip to the barn.

And, if you should be so lucky to make your quick trip actually quick, you’ll likely spend the rest of the night worrying that you forgot to do something. Or worrying about your horse and if you may have hurt his feelings. Sounds crazy, but this is a sneak peak into the mind of a real horse person. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Besides time lost in the barn, there are also horse shows that take a whole weekend or week away. Organized trail rides, hunter paces and beach rides take up full weekends too!

owning a horse is a wonderful experience, if you know what you're doing.

The Cost Of Owning A Horse Is Very Expensive

You may have heard the not so funny joke, “How do you make a little fortune in the horse world?… Start with a big one!”

The reason I say, not so funny is, well, it’s kind of true. Horses cost a lot of money to feed and care for each month. Even if you find a horse whose purchase price is well within your budget, you need to be aware of the monthly expenses. And, the unexpected expenses! The cost of dealing with an injury or illness can add up very quickly!

In this article, How To Know If You’re Ready To Buy A Horse, I break down the costs in more detail. But, here are the highlights:

  • Board
  • Feed and Bedding (if not included in board)
  • Supplements
  • Wellness: Chiropractor, Massage, Magna Wave Therapy etc.
  • Veterinary Care
  • Farrier
  • Dentist
  • Major Medical and Mortality Insurance
  • Unexpected cost of injuries or illness

On top of the cost of a horse and horse care, there is also the cost of supplies. Horses need a lot of stuff. Tack, equipment, first aid kit, blankets, fly protection and more. Check out this article about the essential supplies you need for owning a horse.

You Should Not Buy A Horse If You’re Not Experienced

Horses are one of the most high maintenance animals out there and for that reason they do not make good pets. If you’re thinking it might be nice to have a horse because you have a property with some land or maybe you’re starting a homestead. Stop right there. You can’t just learn to care for a horse on the fly or after a few hours of googling horse care and watching YouTube. Horses take real world experience and lots of it.

If you are not an experienced equestrian, do not buy a horse. Of course, if it’s something you really want to do you can learn. But, it’s not a quick or easy process. You need to take lessons, you need to understand horse care and when you do buy your first horse you need a professional to help you.

Rookie equestrians can get themselves into very dangerous or at a minimum, expensive, situations by purchasing the wrong horse. Whether the horse turns out to be too young, too green or unsound or maybe has some deep rooted problems like aggression. On top of that, feeding your horse incorrectly, not maintaining his feet or providing adequate care could land you a ginormous vet bill!

Even those of us with years of experience and know how, and the type of skills that allow us to hold off on calling the vet until absolutely necessary make mistakes and pay for it. And sometimes, even experience isn’t enough to stop things from happening. So, you really need to know when there is or isn’t an emergency.

Buying a horse because you have successfully owned goats, chickens or a dog is a no no. I can’t state it any more clearly than that. If you want a horse, spend the time to learn about them (in a barn) first!

There Are Always Unexpected Problems

Not only are there unexpected problems occasionally, horses have a knack for picking the absolute worst time to have or cause a problem. In a rush to feed your horse dinner and get home to clean up for date night? Your horse probably broke the fence in his paddock. It’s Christmas Eve and you want to spend time with your family? Well, your horse may injure himself anyway.

And my absolute favorite (yes, sarcasm) it’s a very cold winter night and you’d like to be home staying warm and dry? Well, this might be the time your horse starts to colic and you get to spend a nice frigid night in the barn. Don’t worry, on top of freezing your butt off, you’ll also be worried sick because you love him so much and can’t imagine anything happening to your best friend.

As mentioned above, for many people, and die-hard equestrians, this does not matter. Our horse takes priority anyway and this really doesn’t stop us from wanting to own, love and care for lots of equine friends.

You Should Not Buy A Horse If You Don’t Have A Trainer

Ok, there’s no easy way to put this, you need a trainer. No matter how good you think you are, you still need a trainer. You need a trainer, I need a trainer, professional trainers need a trainer and in fact, even Olympic equestrians, need a trainer.

Everyone runs into trouble now and again or needs help. Even if everything is going smoothly, being an equestrian means continual learning. There is more information out there than anyone could possibly absorb alone. You can learn something from anyone, even those you disagree with. Having another set of eyes to objectively analyze your horse, your riding etc. will be invaluable.

I highly recommend finding a good quality trainer to take lessons with, help you find the right horse and help you move in the right direction once you own a horse. If you do not have a good trainer, or don’t have one at all, you should not buy a horse. So, get out there and check out some barns, take some lessons and consult with trainers in your area. When you find the right match, let them help you choose the right horse.

Reasons why you should not buy a horse as a pet and what you should do to prepare for horse ownership.

I hope you found this article helpful, if you did, please share it!

And, if this article did not convince you that you should not buy a horse (because you meet the criteria), then please check out this guide to buying a horse to help you get started!

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