Before You Buy

Horse ownership is wonderful! 
Horse ownership is a long term commitment
Horse ownership is expensive

The UHC promotes RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP and asks that all prospective owners do some research (and even lease a horse) before making a big decision.  The following short handouts can get you started on the journey.

Is Horse Ownership Right for Me?

What are the Costs of Horse Ownership?

Alternatives to Buying a Horse

How to Pick the Perfect Horse (coming soon)

The Pre-Purchase Exam (coming soon)


OTHER ARTICLES AND RESOURCES

Pre-Recorded Videos and Webinars

Horse Shopping? Better Ask Some Questions (2012)
University of Maryland Extension Office / Maryland Fund for Horses
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Horse Ownership 101 (2012)
University of Maryland Extension Office / Maryland Fund for Horses
Requires Adobe Flash

Selecting the Right Youth Horse (2007)
My Horse University

The Real Cost of Horse Ownership (2014) 
Equine Guelph

Links to Articles

What to Expect When Owning a Horse

So you have decided that you want to take the leap and the join millions of others who own a horse? Much like any large animal, horses rank high in the category of responsibility. With improvements in nutrition and health care, horses are living longer, productive lives…

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Selecting a Horse

Horses and ponies are important parts of American culture. Your horse-owning experience will be most enjoyable if you carefully consider if horse ownership suits your family, home, and lifestyle. Make an informed decision. Take time, involve your family, and give careful consideration to the following questions...

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Questions for prospective horse owners

Am I planning to relocate?
Moving with a dog or cat usually isn’t too difficult, but moving an animal that weighs 1,000 pounds can be. If your lifestyle requires multiple relocations, you must be prepared for the expense and logistics of moving a horse. Leasing is a good option.
Can I afford to own a horse?
Over the years, the demand for horses has run in cycles that frequently follow other economic trends. In 2008, the American Association of Equine Practitioners estimated that the minimum yearly cost to care for a horse, not including veterinary and farrier care, was $1,825. Add in veterinary and farrier costs as well as boarding expenses in some cases, and the minimum yearly cost for keeping one horse can easily reach $5,000 or more.

Potential horse owners should be aware of the associated costs that accompany ownership before purchasing a horse. These types of costs will vary due to the diversity of the use of the horse and the way that it is managed. Expenses for feed, hay, board, veterinary care, and farrier care varies greatly depending on quality, degree of care, and geographic location.

Some expected costs to consider include:
  • Grain/feed
  • Hay/forage
  • Bedding
  • Medications and dietary supplements
  • Pasture/turnout
  • Farrier service (required every six to eight weeks)
  • Veterinary care
  • Utilities
  • Tack & supplies
  • Training/riding lessons
  • Insurance
  • Truck/trailer
Depending on whether you house the horse on your own property, boarding costs may also be factored into the added expense of horse ownership. Also, if you plan to travel with the horse to various horse shows, trail rides, etc. these fees should also be considered along with any breeding costs if you plan to use the horse as a breeding animal at some point during your ownership.

Typically the purchase price of the horse is the smallest amount of money an individual will invest in a horse.

If you aren’t sure if you can afford a horse or if you are ready for one, leasing and/or lessons are good options. Leasing a horse allows you to experience what it will be like to own a horse without actually owning one. Many leasing options exist. Taking lessons allows you to ride horses and be around them without the extra cost and responsibility of owning one. Volunteering at an equine rescue is another way to gain experience with horses and to get an idea for how much time and care they require.
How long will I own my horse?
Many horses live for 20 years and some can live for more than 30 years. If you cannot make at least a 20-year commitment to a horse, you should have a plan to provide for your horse or investigate ways to sell your horse when you can no longer take care of it.
Is my child going to leave home soon?
If you are considering buying a horse for your child, you must consider what will happen to the horse when your child goes off to college or moves out of the house. Will the horse be left at home? If so, will there be someone to take care of it? If your child is close to an age that he or she may leave home soon or his or her interests might change, leasing is a good option.
What will I do if my horse becomes sick or injured?
Illness and injury are more common with horses than most people realize. Despite their size and substance, many factors can affect a horse and cause mild to very serious conditions, from a minor cold to acute colic. Some illnesses and injuries can be remedied by a single visit by your veterinarian, and some can be career or life-ending.

Few horse owners are equipped to handle a sick or injured horse on their own, and the best course of action is often to contact a veterinarian. If your barn does not have a regular vet on call, it is wise to have you own regular vet. This way you are always working with someone with a history of your horse’s health. To off-set major veterinary expenses such as surgeries and special treatments, some companies do offer health insurance for horses.
Who can I consult about caring for my horse?
A certified vet and a skilled farrier will be invaluable resources when it comes to your horse’s heath, happiness, and soundness.

An experienced trainer, instructor, or barn manager should be able to answer many questions regarding your horse’s day-to-day care and training.

There are countless books, magazines, and websites available that will offer tips and ideas for managing your horse. Use these resources to educate yourself but be sure to consult with a trusted equine professional before trying anything new.