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New Horse Starter Pack

Owning a horse is single-handedly one of the most rewarding and financially draining things a person can do for themselves. It is my hope with this “New Horse Starter Pack”, to shed some light on some of the things I have personally experienced that may be helpful to someone else starting their horse journey. The first bit of advice I can give you is that learning how to have and own horses are not something you can take a course on or read a book on. Learning about horses and caring for them is something you can only do by being around them and other people who can teach you. Below are some things I think are pertinent for someone to know when getting into the horse world.

Your New Horse Starter Pack

Know Your Horse Breeds

This is CRUCIAL. Regardless of what kind of horse you end up with, is it so, so important to know the difference between horse breeds so you know what you want and what you don’t want. You might be wondering why it makes difference, well, the difference is energy level. Do you have time to lunge your horse for half an hour before you ride every time? Do you want a horse you can ride only once or twice a week and be level headed each time? Do you want a reactive horse that will be harder to handle when out and about or something easier going? Some breeds have tendencies towards being higher energy than others, this doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Here some popular breeds to know.

  1. American Quarter Horses & Paints: Quarter horses and paints are known as a “warm-blooded” breed. They can be calm and collected or they can be higher strung due to breeding. It might be important if you are leaning towards these breeds to do your research on genetics and lineage. For the most part, you will be okay, but some genealogy lines carry diseases and strong personality traits. Overall these horses are stocky, well built, and are good for lots of different things.
  2. Thoroughbreds: It shouldn’t be surprising to say that this breed is hot-blooded, and are bred to RUN. Typically these horses are used for racing, English riding, jumping, endurance, and much more. If you want a fast, energetic horse, then maybe this might be one to consider. Also, know that these guys are on the taller side, so be ready to stretch before hopping on.
  3. Arabians: Much like thoroughbreds, Arabians are a “hot” breed. Also bred for racing, they are a little more diverse and can do several things. In general, this is not the type of horse you can just throw a saddle on and go, usually, they need some work beforehand to work out any excess energy. They are also extremely smart, so don’t be surprised if they attempt to outsmart you.
  4. Mustangs: The American mustang, a horse that represents our western heritage. They are sturdy, resilient, smart, athletic, and can go one of two ways. They are either super amazing or you will always have a horse that some quirks you have to work with. Mustangs can make amazing horses, but I highly recommend you have a professional work with you if you want to go this route. The BLM strongly encourages people to adopt mustangs, but make sure you are ready for the time commitment of one.

Find a Local Mentor

This goes back to my first bit of advice in the opening paragraph. Owning horses is something you can only learn by doing and being around it. Finding a mentor or even new friends that have been in it longer than you would be a huge help in your new journey. You are going to have questions, your horses will worry you and act funny, you will have training questions and it’s important you have a support group you can lean on when you need it.

Take Lessons

This goes along with the tip above. If you are brand spanking new to having a horse, then lessons are a must. Both for riding and learning how to be around them. You don’t need to specialize in anything, actually, I don’t recommend specializing in anything until you are confident in your riding and skills. You are never too old to take lessons or ask for help.

Make a “New Horse” Checklist

If you are noticing a trend, all of these tips and tricks play into each other and depend on having a community you can lean on. This tip is no different. These are just things from personal experience that I find useful when shopping for new horses. Take it with a grain of salt, find other opinions, and TRUST YOUR GUT.

  1.  Always make the seller ride the horse first. Just go ahead and walk away if they make you get on first. The only exception is if you know the horse personally.
  2.  If the horse is saddled and already lathered up when you get there to see him/her then just turn around and walk away. You should be able to see how a horse is when he is caught, saddled and before he is worked in any capacity.
  3. Bite the bullet and get a vet check. Trust me, it’s worth it.
  4. Take a trusted horse person with you for a second opinion. Getting a horse is exciting, but having a sounding board is CRUCIAL to your buying process.
  5. Don’t be afraid to do all the things you’d do with your own horse. You should touch the horse all over, pick up his feet, touch his ears/head, and ride him like you’ve been taught.
  6. Ask the seller for references, it’s important to talk to people who have bought from your seller before.
  7. Ask about history, how the seller obtained this horse, the training its had, vices, quirks, how it trailers, how it is with other horses, there’s never too many questions!

Calculate Your Costs

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, horses can be and at some point will be financially draining and you have to be prepared for that. Costs ultimately can be separated in two ways, if you are keeping your horse on-property or off-property.

On Property Costs

  • Hay/Grain/Supplements
  • Regular Care: Farrier services, worming, vaccines, chiropractor/massage work
  • Arena use fees (if you don’t have your own)
  • Transportation (trailer, truck, gas, or hauling fees)
  • Emergency money for vet visits, new tack, misc.

Off Property Fees

  • Board: Monthly upkeep (varies from barn to barn)
    • Some include feed, stall cleanings, water, grain services, turn out services, and much more.
  • Regular Care: Farrier services, worming, vaccines, chiropractor/massage work
  • Transportation (trailer, truck, gas, or hauling fees)
  • Emergency money for vet visits, new tack, misc.

Hopefully, this guide will help someone who is considering getting a horse. If you have any questions or have tips of your own, comment on them below!

CLN Community & Event Sponsor

Hi everyone! I'm Krysta Paffrath, I am a proud Arizona native who has a passion for everything business and rodeo. I am beyond thrilled to be the Editor in Chief for Cowboy Lifestyle Network. With my background in digital marketing and rodeo, this was a natural fit for me to join the team. My adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit has guided me to work in many places like the WYO Quarter Horse Ranch in Thermopolis, Wyoming, a working cattle ranch in Seligman, Arizona, and many places in between. I am passionate about preserving the western way of life and working with different brands and rodeos to make that happen. If you're looking for a write-up, please shoot me an email at Learn more about me at Looking forward to hearing from you!

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