Most parents know the difficulty of one or more children begging to be able to get a new pet. My daughter has literally asked to get everything from a tarantula to a parrot to a puppy. She is pretty responsible and I am a huge animal lover myself so we have ended up with two parakeets gifted to us, a bearded dragon from a neighbor, and a cat and a dog from the humane society. We have quite a zoo already so when the questions arose about a horse I was not too surprised. Although, my answer was an immediate NO.
We do not live in a house with any land for such a large animal, horse boarding is very expensive for a nice place close to home, and the cost of the horse alone not to mention feeding and caring for the animal is way out of my budget. There are so many aspects to consider before jumping into being a horse owner.
I have never seen my daughter so determined though. She even started saving her own money to put towards buying a horse of her own. Once I sat down with her and explained all of the other costs of responsibly caring for such a large animal she understood but I could tell she felt defeated.
As a mother, seeing how badly she wanted to be around these beautiful animals that she adored and the lengths she was willing to go, I did a little research and found some great alternatives. I also found examples of horses that weren’t cared for properly that I could share with my daughter so that she better understood why it wouldn’t be fair to the horse if we went out and purchased one. Here are the most promising options.
As I was researching I immediately found several sites that needed volunteers on farms for malnourished and neglected horses. Explaining to my daughter the reality of what could happen if a person cannot take care of the animal is one thing. Her seeing for herself made much more of an impact and curbed the constant, “Pleeeease mom!”
Not only did it allow her to be closer to the big beauties but it made her feel useful, like she was making a difference, because she was. All the while she was learning great work ethic and compassion, free of charge.
This is another great alternative to actually purchasing a horse. Every summer I still have to work and the last thing I want is for my daughter to sit at daycare until I get off or be bored at home so I do my best to find interesting camps that last all day. This is a great choice for any child that wants to get closer to horses and learn to ride.
Through volunteering for the horses in need you help to nurse the horses back to health and learn how much work it is to care for and feed the horses but opportunities to ride the horses are slim. This choice is not free. Camps can run a pretty penny. They can run anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Shop around your area and find one that suits your budget best. A lot of them also have scholarships for funding so look for that as well.
I was pretty surprised when I’ve seen that this was an option. In fact I almost changed my stance on purchasing a horse but in the end it would still not be responsible of us considering how busy we are and it is still a pretty large financial investment. You can lease a horse and lease a horse with the option of ownership.
When simply leasing a horse you generally pay a monthly fee and cover monthly expenses. When leasing, if the horse were to get injured you would not be obligated to cover those expenses or have to worry about selling the horse if that is what it came to. Leasing a horse is also a good option to take before deciding to take the plunge and purchasing a horse. It will give ample time and experience enough to decide whether it really is something that everyone involved is ready for.
Leasing to own is a good option if you have the time, space and energy to care for the animal but don’t have the full purchasing amount all at once. This gives you the option to pay payments to own your own horse.
This is another great option for those who don’t have the immediate funds and do not have the space for the animal as well. Co-ownership allows you to split the purchase price and costs of feed and upkeep with someone else. If there is someone close to home that is trustworthy this is a smart option. Before going into co-ownership I suggest sitting down with the other buyer and going over details and creating a document of responsibilities so that there is no confusion or conflict in the future about who covers which costs.
I am sure a lot of parents like myself assume that horse ownership is an all or nothing deal but fortunately that is not the case. These are the best options that allow for less of a weight on you financially and generally give a cushion of time and experience before choosing to make the decision to own your own horse. They allow for ample time to make sure that it is really something that our children want and will stay responsible for or if it is a fleeting phase, which there are a lot of with most kids.
My daughter may not have been able to purchase her own horse but in the end she and I are both happy with the way things have worked out. Her ability to stay involved with horses year round is something that has created a space of compassion and responsibility in her that I could not be more proud of. Best of luck into your journey into horse ownership