A Horse In My Back Yard
- Do I have at least two acres of decent pasture? (A rule of thumb is two acres for the first horse, one acre for each additional horse.)
- If I don't have pasture, will my property at least provide a paddock so my horse isn't standing in a stall all day?
- Do I have shelter for a horse?
- Does the pasture and/or shelter have electricity for a water tank heater in the winter (if needed)?
- Do I have somewhere to store hay?
- Is my property securely and safely fenced, and will I be able to maintain it as such?
- If I have barbed wire, do I realize that horses have an uncanny ability to put their foot, leg or head through a barbed wire fence (even the single, buried, or hidden strand that you would have sworn wasn't there) and do a little dance until the barbs are deeply embedded into their flesh?
- Am I willing to traipse around my pasture with print-outs from my local extension service to look for plants that are toxic to horses?
- Do I understand that if my horse escapes from my pasture and causes an accident or any damage, I may be held liable?
- Do I understand that if my horse nibbles the fingertip off the 3 year-old child next door while I'm at work, I may be liable? (Called an Attractive Nuisance.)
- Can I keep any grain or horse chow or sweet feed locked very securely away from my horse at all times? (Horses can, literally, eat themselves to death. Do an Internet search on colic or laminitis and see what can happen if your horse gets into a 50 lb. bag of feed.)
- Do I have somewhere to ride my horse?
- Is there someone nearby with whom to ride?
- Am I willing to buy two horses, or at least a horse and a mini, or a horse and goat, or a horse and a donkey? (Horses are herd animals. They are rarely happy or content to be by themselves. In practical terms, that means your single horse will spend most of its day trying to get out of your pasture and into a pasture with other horses-- horses that may be several miles away. We have also seen single horses pace the fence line and fret until they are so thin that casual observers call a humane investigator to report a starving horse! )
- Am I willing to go out twice a day to care for my horse(s), rain or shine, sleet or snow, or blazing heat?
- Do I know someone who can look after my horse during holidays or emergencies when I'm unavailable?
- Can I afford the upkeep for a horse? (They will need any or all of the following: hay, grain, dewormers, supplements, medication, dental care, vaccinations, hoof trimming and/or shoes.)
- Can I have additional money socked away for the inevitable equine emergency?
- Can I afford the goodies I'll need to enjoy my horse? (You will need any or all of the following: halter, lead rope, bridle, bit, saddle blanket, saddle, winter blanket, fly sheet, fly mask, grooming supplies, an approved riding helmet, proper shoes for riding, rubber boots for mucking, a wheel barrow, a pitchfork, a rake, and more.)
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