Protein-Rich, Moisturizing Horse Shampoo Still Showing Up In Human Showers

Image result for horse bath

First created in 1970, horse shampoo became popular in stables from coast to coast. The special formula would rid the horse’s tail and mane of split ends and make their hair smooth and shiny instead of rough and dull.

Horse shampoo became the rage because it was hypoallergenic, contained no additives in the formula, and was not perfumed. It cleaned while moisturizing, and made horse hair thicker. It worked so well, though, that horse owners decided to try it and see if it would work for their hair as well.

They were pleased to see that it did. In the horse-owner’s world it became a secret to lush, healthy hair — for both man and beast. The secret didn’t last long, though, and horse shampoo for human use became more widespread, with products such as Mane N Tail selling well in mainstream stores.

Human hair and horse hair are not very different. They are both comprised of the same types of proteins. This means they will most likely react to shampoos the same way. The type of hair, though, makes a difference when horse shampoo is used. Not all hair will react the same way to this product.

For individuals with dried out hair, this product may moisturize and bring life back to a dull mess. Those with oily hair, though, may find the product too heavy for their hair type. Almost all individuals will experience a decrease in the daily amount of hair loss.

Many of the ingredients in commercially available horse shampoo marketed to people are the same that were used when it was designed for horses.

Most people who make their own horse shampoo do so to save money and reduce the number of chemicals that would end up on their horses. Horse shampoos made with natural ingredients can clean your horse without exposing him to chemical products. You should check with your veterinarian before using any homemade products on your horse, to prevent potentially negative side effects.

Here’s a simple recipe to concoct your own horse shampoo. Where you use it is up to you:


Horse Shampoo

Mix together 1 cup of distilled water, 1 cup of liquid castile soap — an olive oil-based soap — 1 cup of aloe vera gel, 4 tsp. of glycerin and 1 tsp. of avocado oil. If desired, you can also mix in a small amount of essential oil. Essential oils are supposed to provide number of benefits, including pain relief and relaxation.

Alternatively, you can boil 10 bags of chamomile tea in water and allow them to sit covered for an hour after removing it from the heat. Remove the tea bags from water. Mix in ½ T. of glycerin and 1 cup of castile soap. Add essential oils, if desired.

Pour solution into sealable storage container. An empty, clean shampoo-type bottle is ideal. Close the lid tightly.

Place the bottle in the refrigerator and allow the mixture to cool down.

Remove the mixture from your refrigerator, when you are ready to use it. Shake the bottle well, then pour a small amount of the shampoo on a sponge or washcloth. Shampoo your horse (or yourself) as usual.

The Beautiful Art Of Dressage Can Be Traced Back To The Ancient Battlefield With A Fighting Man And His Horse

Dressage is more than an odd-looking sport with well-dressed men and women prancing around on immaculately groomed horses. It’s a mastery of horsemanship, an equestrian art in which horse and rider perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.



On international display now at the Olympic Games in Brazil, dressage made its Olympic debut in the 1912 games in Stockholm. At this point in history it was more of an obedience discipline derived from military tests and not as well known as it is today.

By the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, the standard rose dramatically to include most of the modern movements seen today. Riders were also predominantly male and in the military. That’s because the seemingly dainty and elegant sport of dressage is from the ancient art of riding and controlling a war-horse.

Throughout most of history, the horse and its rider have been a weapon of war — with speed, power and maneuverability far superior to the common foot soldier. In battle, the ability to move a horse quickly from side to side, or burst into a gallop, or change direction quickly were vital survival skills. The dancing-in-place thing, called “piaffe,” where the hooves paw the ground, may actually have its origins in the need to stomp a fallen enemy.

There is some evidence that many of the maneuvers used in dressage were developed by the ancient Greeks. However, it wasn’t until the Renaissance that dressage flourished. As horsemanship became an art, the first riding school was set up in Naples in 1532 by Federico Grisone, a Neapolitan nobleman. As the horses performed intricate movements, it was from his academy that the modern form of dressage evolved.

 Every time we train our horses to carry us with more ease, and respond to subtle aids, we are training them in basic dressage. After all, dressage is teaching a horse to be supple, balanced and responsive.

The goal of dressage training is to develop a horse’s flexibility, responsiveness to aids and balance. This makes the horse stronger and more pleasurable to ride. If you compete you will always be competing against yourself, as well as others taking the test. The goal in competition is to always improve on your own score.

You don’t need much equipment for dressage:

  • Any sound horse or pony of any breed can be ridden at the lower levels.
  • An English snaffle bit.
  • An English-style saddle.
  • Braiding equipment for your horse’s mane.
  • Gloves, shirt, jacket, breeches, boots and approved helmet.

To find out more about dressage, and how to attend a clinic, visit

Wild Mustangs Still Roam Free, But Many Of These Magnificent Animals Need A Safe Home

Wild horses embody the mythic Old West, and free-roaming painted mustangs — original descendants from colonial Spanish horses — still live in the tens of thousands on federal land.

At the turn of the 20th century, feral mustangs (because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they are properly defined as feral) numbered in the millions, but most were rounded up, slaughtered, and used for pet food or fertilizer. By 1970, only 17,000 of these magnificent horses remained.

Today, mustang herds vary in the degree to which they can be traced to original Iberian horses. Some contain a greater genetic mixture of ranch stock and more recent breeds, while others are relatively unchanged from the original stock, mostly among isolated populations.

In 1971, Congress passed a law that declared wild horses “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” and made it a crime for anyone to harass or kill them on most federal land. The law tasked the Bureau of Land Management with protecting the animals still roaming the range.

Protected horses naturally began to reproduce and by 1983 there were an estimated 65,000 horses and burros on the range, competing for resources with cattle and native wildlife.

To help create a sustainable balance, the BLM began removing horses from the wild (nearly 10,000 a year) and the wild population has numbered around 35,000. The captured horses are put up for adoption (the BLM hosts monthly Internet auctions on its website Almost anyone can adopt a Mustang for as little as $125 as long as they sign a contract promising not to sell it to slaughter (something that used to happen quite frequently).

Investigations in the late 1980s and 1990s showed that many adopters, including several BLM employees, had turned a quick profit by selling the horses to slaughterhouses. To discourage such re-sales, the BLM began holding the title of sale for a year. Today the agency visits almost every adopter for a “compliance check” to ensure the horse’s well-being.

The restrictions, unfortunately, discouraged adoptions, and today only one in three captured horses finds a home. The rest go into a warren of taxpayer-funded corrals, feedlots and pastures collectively known as “the holding system.” Since horses often live 20 years after being captured, the holding population has grown steadily for decades from 1,600 in 1989 to more than 47,000. There are now more wild horses living in captivity than in the wild.



A key approach to placing excess animals has been advanced by Madeleine A. Pickens, former wife of oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, who seeks to create a private sanctuary in northern Nevada. There are also increased efforts to assist with finding appropriate adoption homes. One example is a promotional competition, The Extreme Mustang Makeover (, that gives trainers 100 days to gentle and train 100 mustangs, which are then adopted through an auction.

So far EMM has taken more than 48,000 mustangs off the range, and has arranged more than 5,000 adoptions.

Today’s High Fashion World Full Of Equestrian Influences

When it comes to fashion, both luxury labels and heritage brands are responding to a renaissance in classic equestrian chic. From Hermès and Gucci to heritage British brands Swaine Adeney Brigg and Hunter, there is a worldwide rise in sales, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, equestrian classicism is back on the style radar.

While most customers are not actually riders themselves, it’s what the equestrian lifestyle represents that lures shoppers. Horses have forever been symbols of power in history and literature. And think about it, the horse, after all, was the first athlete clothed by the house. Founded in 1837 in Paris to kit out European noblemen and women with harnesses, bridles and saddles for carriages, Hermès reflects these traditions with its current “A Sporting Life” ad campaign.

Exquisite leatherwork, tailoring and practicality makes equine-inspired style sexy and timeless, as shown in Le Monde d’Hermès, a glossy spring/summer brochure produced by the quintessential equestrian-inspired luxury brand.

The Italian luxury fashion label Gucci, founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921 and specializing in luggage for aristocrats, has in more recent years returned to the equestrian world, recruiting Charlotte Casiraghi, a 26-year-old show-jumper whose credentials also include being fourth in line to the throne of Monaco, as the face of the company.

Last year Gucci launched a new 15-piece equestrian collection, characterized by house signatures such as the horse bit and green-red-green webbing stripe. Although the gabardine jackets and velvet-covered riding cap could be worn sitting in their Guccissima leather saddle, they would not look out of place outside the paddock.

A large part of today’s popular fashion trends is full of equestrian influences. On almost any runway you’ll find an outfit that has a distinct hint of horseback riding style. The following popular fashion trends owe their inspiration to equestrians:

  • Tall boots: Within the last few years, fashion tall boots have grown to closely resemble those worn by hunter, jumper and dressage riders. Some of today’s fashionable tall boots so closely resemble riding boots that it can be hard to tell them apart. From fake spurs to spur rests to accent brown leather at the knee, you can’t deny that tall boots were inspired by equestrians.
  • Cowboy boots: Now a fashion statement, a major part of a Western rider’s wardrobe make a perfect pairing with jeans or a skirt for a night out. Not just for work anymore, men’s and women’s cowboy boots are a popular fashion accessory. Today fashion western style boots, made out of artificial leather (some even with high heels), are available at a lower price point than the cost of a genuine pair.
  • Western shirts: These plaid, collared button-downs were inspired by those shirts popular among Western riders. Today’s trendy western-style shirts often sport decorative embroidery and accent buttons, and can be a versatile item for layering.
  • Polo shirts: This makes up perhaps one of the equestrian world’s greatest influences on popular fashion. Polo shirts were originally favored by polo players because their collars stayed in place. Today their popularity is widespread, and the shirt owes its name to players of the past. One of the most notable designers of polo shirts, Ralph Lauren, still pays homage to the polo’s origin with its embroidered logo of a polo player and horse.
  • Breech-style tights: Female fashion reflects the recent trend of tights styled to resemble breeches. These tights feature the form-fitting breech style, and many sport accent pockets and even artificial knee patches. Most commonly styled with sandals or another type of minimalist shoe, these breech-style tights are a distinctive nod to the fashion of the horse world.

Hold Your Horses! Here Are The Top 10 Books With Equestrian Themes

No one can deny that horses are majestic creatures of beauty, and have inspired writers through the ages. Few have not been awed by the sight of these powerful, independent beasts galloping through a field. This can inspire us to live our lives at a higher level, and that theme has run through books old and new.

Following is a thoughtful list of the Top 10 books ever written (for adults) about horses:

10) “The Horse and His Boy,” by C.S. Lewis

This classic is for those who loved the “Chronicles of Narnia” but thought they needed more talking horses. “The Horse and his Boy” tells the story of young Shasta and his companion, the talking horse Bree, who journey together to Narnia in search of freedom. This tale is the only one set entirely in the world of Narnia and featuring only Narnian characters.

9) “Black Beauty,” by Anna Sewell

This quintessential horse book may be more geared toward children, but the life of Black Beauty, the cruelty he suffered and his unbreakable spirit will tug at the heartstrings of adult readers as well. First published in 1877, the book holds up well in modern times, especially among those who value animal rights.

8) “Horse Heaven,” by Jane Smiley

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Smiley describes the world of horse-racing in almost anthropological detail. She sheds light on a world full of intrigue, danger, risk, and gambling, and while the people may be fascinating enough, it is her loving description of the horses that makes this book a keeper. You’ll be cheering for every horse and will never watch a horse race in the same way again.

7) “National Velvet,” by Enid Bagnold

This is a classic underdog story that touches upon wider themes of family loyalty and ambition. Largely eclipsed by the 1944 film, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Velvet in the novel is a little grittier and less glamorous, but her determination is just as inspiring as she fights to win England’s Grand National Steeplechase. It’s a fun read for kids and adults alike, full of general horse knowledge, action, and a charming coming- of-age story.

6) “Summer of the Redeemers,” by Carolyn Haines

For readers who are a bit older and ready for a little mystery, romance and danger with their horses, this is a fast-paced, gripping read. Set in a small Mississippi town where several suspicious newcomers — including a mysterious young woman who seems to love horses more than anything else, and a secretive religious group — have arrived to shake things up, this creepy, well-written tale is a page-turner.

5) “Horse People,” by Michael Korda

This New York Times Notable Book is part memoir and part non-fiction examination of horse people and their culture. The author takes the reader through the horses in his life, all over the United States, from English to Western, broken-down nags to expensive show horses, and everywhere in between. Using knowledge, dry humor and rich portraits of horses and their people, this book will appeal to everyone. 

4) “Seabiscuit, an American Legend,” by Laura Hillenbrand

The underdog always wins us over, and Seabiscuit is no exception. The unlikely trio of the little crooked-leg horse, the half-crippled jockey, and the mysterious cowboy horse-trainer makes for an unexpected success story. Hillenbrand creates a gripping nonfiction tale that will have you on the edge of your seat cheering. 

3) “King of the Wind: the Story of the Godolpin Arabian,” by Marguerite Henry

Everyone knows that Thoroughbreds are lightning-fast horses we see on race tracks. But not everyone knows that they are descended from a handful of Arabian horses, including Sham, the star of “King of the Wind.” Sham was sent from the Middle East to England as a gift, and considered worthless for most of his life. This underdog story will worm its way into your heart. 

2) “The Black Stallion,” by Walter Farley

The series chronicles the story of an Arab sheik’s prized stallion that falls into the possession of teenager Alec Ramsay. In the series’ first book, Alec, returning from India and a visit to his uncle, becomes stranded on a desert island with an untamed, apparently wild black stallion, after their ship sinks. Dependent on each other for survival, the boy and horse learn to trust and love each other as they establish an amazingly strong and close lifelong emotional bond. 

1) “The Red Pony,” by John Steinbeck

While at first glance this short novel may seem like just another children’s pony book, Steinbeck’s will prove just as mesmerizing to adults. One of Steinbeck’s earlier novels, the story is broken into four distinct parts following a period in the life of young Jody, a boy growing up on a ranch in California. Jody loves horses, and he learns some of life’s hardest lessons from them, a hallmark quality of Steinbeck’s work.

Taking Care Of A Horse’s Coat Essential In Overall Health Approach

The condition of a horse’s coat and skin are generally a reflection of its overall health. A healthy horse will have a shiny, even haircoat without excess oiliness or dryness. Its winter coat will be longer and thicker, and should shed out completely in the spring.

The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the horse’s body, making up 12-24 percent of its total weight. It varies from 1½ inches thick on the lower back and rump, to less than ½ inch on the head and underbelly.

Since the skin and coat are so visible, disorders are readily detected during an examination. Dry skin or a dull haircoat can be caused by a number of conditions including:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Parasites, both internal and external
  • Allergies
  • Poor nutrition (e.g., low protein, diet poor in fatty acids)

Managing dry skin and dull coats

If your horse has an unhealthy coat or skin condition, work with your veterinarian to find the underlying cause. Once diagnosed, you can develop a management plan that may include:

  • Treating any underlying medical condition
  • Starting a regular and/or parasite prevention program
  • Grooming your horse regularly; removing the dead hair and skin flakes and distributing the natural oils through the coat
  • Shampooing with the appropriate product for your horse’s particular condition
  • Supplementing or correcting the diet and balancing your horse’s ration to include at least 12 percent protein and ensuring adequate amounts of fat

Common ingredients in skin supplements include Vitamin A, B and E, biotin, lysine, zinc and methionine. But, oddly enough, a horse also needs copper to help maintain a healthy coat.

Copper an essential trace mineral

Copper plays a vital role in many processes within a horse’s body. For example, there are copper dependent enzymes involved in the synthesis and maintenance of elastic connective tissue. Copper is necessary for the mobilization of stored iron in the body and also detoxifies superoxide, a compound deployed by the immune system to kill invading microorganisms.

Also, coat color is determined by the presence and proportion of melanin pigments. As it turns out, the enzyme responsible for melanin production — tyrosinase — is copper-dependent. This enzyme derived from the amino acid tyrosine results in brown and black pigments. Many coat colors have some level of brown and black in them, including buckskins, chestnuts, bays and blacks. The latter two colors are also influenced by zinc.

Depigmentation of the coat may indicate low copper or zinc status. Typically, when copper is low, chestnut coats will appear to have a yellow tone to them and black coats will have a rust appearance. You might especially notice this color shift in a horse’s mane. Coats appear to fade over time due to ultraviolet light causing damage to the pigment leading to color change. If pigment levels are high, coats have greater resistance to damage.

Dietary sources

Common feedstuffs that are fed to horses vary widely in their Cu content. Can molasses has one of the highest concentrations of Cu. Due to this, its inclusion in feeds in a minimal amount can be beneficial. However, due to its high sugar content, if it is included in large amounts, the negatives outweigh the positives.

It is vital that a horse owner talk to a veterinarian or qualified large-animal specialist when it comes to maintaining the proper diet, and the minimum daily requirements of important supplemental vitamins and minerals.

Strategies To Pull Your Kids Off The Couch And Onto A Saddle

Getting kids into horses isn’t as easy as it used to be. Many factors — economic constraints on families, competing youth activities, ever-more-enticing online distractions — combine to make horse involvement a less-likely choice for youngsters than it was just a few decades ago.

Horses are good for children, and there are many reasons why a child should learn to horseback ride. Pulling children away from the TV, cell phone, game console or computer is the first step toward a lifelong activity that benefits both body and soul.

Benefits of horseback riding

There are many reasons kids are attracted to horses, and good reason why we should introduce them to the world of horses. There are many benefits of riding. Sure, it’s recreational and good physical exercise, there are also many intrinsic benefits, such as keeping kids active in an outdoor environment.

Here’s what you do to introduce your child to the world of horses:

Join a club

Help your child become a member of the local 4-H horse club or local chapter of the U.S. Pony Club, among the largest equestrian organizations in the country, with more than 14,000 members in 600 clubs spread across 49 states (

Get information about your local 4-H horse clubs by calling your county’s cooperative extension service. Both 4-H and Pony Club offer a wealth of opportunities for you and your child to learn about horses and develop their horsemanship and leadership skills in a safe, encouraging environment. And you need not actually own a horse to join either of these organizations.

Enroll in a horse camp

Horse camps can bring many rewards beyond horse handling and riding experience. In addition to horse handling skills, participants learn skills such as how to work with a wide variety of people, the relevance of science to everyday life, respect for and understanding of another species, responsibility and organization, and consequences of actions.

Buy them a book

There are many good horse books that stimulate interest in horses while teaching at the same time:

  • “A Wild Ride: The Adventures of Misty & Moxie Wyoming,” by Niki Danforth (girl detective and her horse; mystery, ages 6-8 and 9-12)
  • “Horse Crazy!: 1,001 Fun Facts, Craft Projects, Games, Activities and Know-How for Horse-Loving Kids,” by Jessie Haas (practical information about horses; ages 8-up)
  • “The United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship: Basics for Beginners,” by Susan Harris (required reading for every Pony Club member; ages 8-up)

Riding lessons

Enrolling your child in regular riding lessons (at least once a week) with a reputable trainer or instructor will show parents if their child really is committed to a horse life. Most instructors will take students as young as age 7, but make sure your child has the appropriate maturity level.

Aside from saddling up and riding, even young children should be taught to move safely around a horse on the ground, and help groom and tack up as much as they can.

Lease a horse

If your child demonstrates a sustainable interest in horses and you find that weekly riding lessons do not provide enough “horse time” for your child, consider a full or partial lease of a horse for at least six months. Leasing is an arrangement in which you pay either a fixed fee or a portion of the horse’s expenses in exchange for riding time on that horse.

If even leasing a horse does not provide enough “horse time” for your child, only then should you consider actually purchasing a horse or pony. This is a huge commitment, a lot like going from owning a dog to having a baby, so make sure you investigate all the costs, from feed to vet bills.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy A Powerful Tool In The World Of Behavioral Health

The healing power of horses continues to astound scientists and medical professionals, with new information on the human-horse dynamic coming forth all the time.

Using animals in human therapy sessions is not a new idea. Psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud believed dogs helped his patients relax. In the former Soviet Union, dolphins were used to treat people with mental health disorders. And the emotional benefits of interacting with horses, even for non-riders, is now well documented via equine assisted psychotherapy or EAP.

This type of therapy incorporates horses for mental and behavioral health therapy and personal development. It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals. Because of its intensity and effectiveness, it is considered a short-term, or “brief” approach.

Clients learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviors, and patterns. This approach has been compared to the ropes courses used by therapists and treatment facilities, but EAP has the added advantage of utilizing dynamic and powerful living beings.

The focus of EAP is not riding or horsemanship, but rather setting up ground activities that require the patient to apply certain skills.

Being natural herd animals, horses are constantly looking to form bonds and relationships. This can be with other horses but also people when they are introduced into their environment.

Some mental health patient have deep attachment issues, and don’t know how to fit with a group or how to really bond with another human being. And if they do bond it’s in an ambivalent way. When horses begin responding to a person, it can help a patient identify and confront these issues. It can also give therapists supervising from the sidelines an insight into the emotional state of the individual.

EAP implements the power of equine-assisted principles and exercises to introduce patients to themselves in a modality that has been found to be more efficient and less threatening than traditional talk therapy. 

Clients dealing with mental health issues that are often dealt with in traditional counseling practices, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, addiction and behavior modification, may be excellent candidates for EAP.

The client participates in a variety of activities that require interaction with the horse. The activities may range from simply being in the horse’s presence to asking the horse to navigate an obstacle course. The closing process often involves giving the client the opportunity to “set the horse free” either metaphorically or literally by turning the horse back out in the field. Then they are afforded the opportunity to verbally process what happened during the session. Most clients report that they develop a new sense of self-awareness from working with horses that is transferrable to other areas of life.

To find a program in your area, contact the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association at


Equestrian-Inspired Details Create A Rustic Yet Elegant Wedding For Horse Lovers

For centuries brides-to-be have dreamed of majestic horses, rustic-glamorous ranches and country dining under the stars, with elegant equestrian-themed weddings satisfying that cowgirl fantasy.

There are numerous stylish and elegant ways to incorporate a love of horses into the big day. Whether you choose to add layers of rustic, Western-inspired charm, or go for a classic and preppy look, you can’t go wrong with details inspired by your other tall, dark and handsome companion.

The trend for equestrian chic rears its beautiful head season after season, and a subtle nod toward horse-inspired detailing creates a unique wedding theme.

Horseshoes have long played a role in weddings. An ancient symbol of good luck, a horseshoe is traditionally given to a bride on the morning of her wedding. Modern brides have been known to carry a lucky silver horseshoe with their bouquet, or go one step further by using the symbol as a print throughout the wedding. Invitations, menus, programs and napkins (among other accouterment) can be dressed up (or down) with a horseshoe motif. Horseshoes also make an easy, unique wedding day flavor for your guests.

Here are other fun horse-themed ideas for the big day:

  •  To really win the race, add colorful rosettes, ribbons and cup trophies to the wedding-day decor (the cups make great flower vases), or choose to arrive at the ceremony by horse and carriage.
  •  Forget the country club, get married in a barn or similar outdoor space. For the reception, go the extra mile by using hay bales as extra seating and/or decorative items.
  • Lay down a wooden dance floor, and hire someone to teach impromptu Western-themed dance lessons to liven up the party.
  • Whether the other love of your life joins you for portraits, or down the aisle, dress up your four-legged steed with a stunning floral wreath.
  • For the best couple in the room, horse show ribbon chair signs are a cute way to add a touch of derby-inspired details.
  • Use custom, monogrammed horse show ribbons as escort cards, with each ribbon adorned with a fun superlative that is customized to each person.
  • Incorporate a pretty equestrian touch to your wedding cake, such as a sparkly horseshoe or sculpted models of a pair of horses.
  • For a derby-inspired wedding, use roses as the themed flower, and serve mint juleps as the signature cocktail at the reception. And dress up that drink with personalized drink stirrers.
  • Offer pony rides for kids to keep them busy and active beyond the main venue, or provide a horseshoe pit for some spirited action for both kids and adults.
  • Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley is perfectly suited for a horse-themed wedding. It’s elegant and sophisticated, yet charming and cozy, with a rugged, beautiful landscape. Get married at the ranch, outdoors with a breathtaking 360-degree views of the Santa Lucia Mountains, or perhaps in the Carriage Room with its dramatic lofty ceiling and barn like doors that swing open to help greet Mother Nature.

Finding The Right First Horse Means Searching With Your Eyes Open

Buying a horse can be both emotionally and financially draining. It can take months to find the perfect steed — only to have your heart broken when it doesn’t work out for one reason or another. Before you trot down this road, it’s vital to understand that owning a horse is a life-changing event, and you need to proceed with your eyes wide open.

Slide 2

Gather your thoughts

First and foremost, it’s important to determine exactly what you’re looking for in a horse. You may want to go so far as to write down some qualities that you expect in a horse. The basic features of size, height, breed and sex are excellent starting points, but you need to be more specific. For example, do you want a show horse or a horse that you can ride on the weekends? Are there certain characteristics that are deal-breakers, and what imperfections can you accept? Once you’ve organized your thoughts you will have a better description of your horse.

Dreams vs. reality

It’s critical that you don’t let your horse dreams blur reality. Many times horse buyers don’t think through their requirements and jump right away at a flashy horse they see friskily moving through a corral. It’s important to look at your riding ability to make sure the two match up, and realize that the dream of owning Black Beauty was a childhood fantasy.

Horses have personalities

Above all else, temperament may be the most important factor to consider when choosing a horse. You can always educate a young horse or tune up an older horse, but it’s hard to change a horse’s temperament.

Temperament can be evaluated both by asking the seller questions, as well as your own observations. If you are a more experienced rider, a bad attitude may be a factor that can be overlooked. It all comes down to finding qualities that are acceptable to you.

Observe your prospective horse

  It’s also important to observe the horse’s general appearance: Is he relaxed, does he stand square? Look for obvious disfigurements, check for balance and look for overdevelopment on one side. Does sudden movement or sound distract him? Look for a horse that is bright, alert and responsive.

  Observe the horse’s movement and attitude under saddle. Watch the horse for attentiveness: Is he relaxed or tense? Watch for head tossing, which could indicate resistance or mouth problems. At the lope or canter look for smooth rhythm and make certain he/she takes the correct lead in both directions easily.  

Get an expert’s help

Once you have found a horse and are ready to hit the buy button it’s important to get a veterinarian’s opinion about the horse. Although a horse may appear healthy it doesn’t hurt to get a professional’s opinion. A seemingly healthy horse can fail the vet exam in the first five minutes if the vet checks its heart rate and finds out it has a heart murmur. Vet checks can range from well horse exams to comprehensive exams that x-ray all the leg bones and joints.

 At this point it may be time to make a decision. Say your new dream horse is showing signs of joint wear and tear: Are you willing to spend money to manage its health and upkeep? Remember maintenance care doesn’t have to be a deal breaker when it comes to buying a horse, you just need to get all the facts and make sure it’s a match made in horse heaven.