Monday, August 15, 2011

Will a Horse be the Right Pet for Your Child?

Children love horses. That is a fact. Most parents are asked at some point if their child can have a horse no matter where you call home.What do you need to know when deciding on a horse for a family pet? Here are some things to think about when your child asks for a horse.

Fact: A horse can make a wonderful pet. If your child is old enough to read and research books in the library, have your child find some basic horse care books and study what it takes to care for these animals. Armed with this research, sit down and think about these 5 questions before commiting to a horse.

1. Where will the horse be kept? City dwellers often have a horse but this requires boarding the animal at a local stable. How far is your home located from a stable? The cost to board a horse may run from 150.00 dollars a month up to 800.00 dollars a month depending on your state, the type of boarding facility, and the time and attention your horse will get from the stable employees. Will the horse be stalled or let out to graze? Who will pay for the horse's vet bills if sick or injured at the facility? How often does the vet come to the stable? All of these questions and answers may add to the monthly expense.

If you have acreage and a barn, do you have fencing up or will that be an expense? Do you have pasture or will you still need to purchase hay? Consider where your horse will be kept and if now is the time to become a horse owner.

2. How much time does the family have to devote to the ownership and care of a horse? Is the child who wants the horse old enough to care for the animal without adult assistance or will it require an adult to be there for morning and night care. Is the horse to be a show horse or a family pet? Showing horses requires much time and practice as well as extended attention to the animal. Consider the purpose of a horse as a pet for your child.

3. What is involved in the care of a horse? Your child should know from reading about basic care that a horse must be brushed, hooves must be cleaned, stalls must be mucked out frequently, and that the horse needs clean fresh water daily. The horse should also be fed twice a day to keep it healthy and free from colic. Family members must understand the care required before commiting to a horse as a pet. Horses love attention too, and human contact is a must to keep your horse from developing bad habits.

4. What is the financial responsibility for owning a horse? Hay can be 2.00 dollars a bale up to 7.00 a bale depending on what kind of growing season the hay farmer has had during the past months. A horse may go through a bale of hay a day or every other day if no pasture is available.

Bagged feed can run 12.00 - 22.00 dollars for approximately 50 pounds and that would be a weekly or bi-weekly cost. Vet bills, the initial cost of the horse, and quarterly worming medicine and vaccines is also an added expense, as is the boarding fees.

5. Now the best part, the benefits of owning a horse. Horses are by far the sweetest and most loving animals available if you have the time to spend developing that relationship. Horses love and nuzzle beyond words and as a horse owner, I can say they are worth the cost to me. But for most families who don't live on acreage, a horse may not be the best pet for your child. And keep in mind, horses can be dangerous as well. Young children must be supervised.

Alternatives to horse ownership could include taking riding lessons at a local stable. Older children and teens may consider volunteering at a stable to learn more about the care of horses. Another place to consider volunteering for teens may be horse rescue barns. Most states have farmers and horse owners who work with rescued horses. Many times they are in need of volunteers to groom horses and clean stalls for the rescued animals.



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