January 9, 2007

Purdue Extension DVD helps horse owners start on right hoof

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Many are fascinated by a horse's beauty and the idea of owning one, but Purdue University Extension specialists say potential owners should first know what they are getting into.

DVD cover
Download photo

"It is important to go into horse ownership with your eyes wide open in order to create a positive experience for everyone," said Colleen Brady, Purdue Extension horse specialist. "Learn the capabilities of you and family members, and this will allow you to provide the best atmosphere for both the child and the horse."

Horses have special nutrition, training, exercise, hoof and medical care needs that are often left up to the owner.

Purdue Extension's "Our First Horse: Considerations Before you Buy" educational DVD introduces issues such as horse terms, facilities and basic care. Horse ownership resources and video clips from the DVD are available at the "Our First Horse" Web site at http://www.ourfirsthorse.info/. The DVD also can be ordered for $15 from the Purdue Extension Education Store online at http://www.ces.purdue.edu/new/. The DVD offers advice from Extension horse specialists that can help you and your family make the most out of owning your first horse.

Many Americans keep horses as companions. According to the American Horse Council, in 2005 nearly 4 million horses were owned for recreational purposes, and one in 63 Americans is actively involved in the horse industry.

"The relationship between a child and a horse can be so rewarding," Brady said. "The emotional bond developed, a sense of accomplishment and responsibility, the decrease in stress, and a source of physical exercise all benefit children involved with horses."

Before buying a horse, however, Brady suggests testing your child's commitment. Enroll the child in riding lessons that teach both riding techniques and general horse care. This will give parents an idea of the child's interest level. On a more practical level, these lessons introduce children to all aspects of horse ownership, like mucking stalls, saddling, grooming and exercising.

"If your child is that interested in a horse that you're ready to buy one, sign them up for riding lessons," Brady said. "If they lose interest, they just quit going and you don't have to find a new home for a horse. But if the lessons go well, you know the child is serious and you could consider buying a horse."

Brady said that choosing the right first horse is critical because the experience will have an impact on the family's future involvement with horses, especially if this is their first exposure to horses.

"If you're a beginner, you want a safe animal that is reliable," said Mark Russell, Purdue Extension horse specialist. "It maybe doesn't have to be the most gorgeous, most sound or the most athletic. Safety is the real issue here."

A good rule of thumb is to add the age of the child and the age of the horse; this value should be 21 or higher. Older animals are more likely to be calm, trained and predictable. Brady said that it is difficult for a young or inexperienced rider to provide the consistency and knowledge a young horse needs, so they don't make a good match.

Research a horse's needs before buying one to help ensure a good match that will provide a positive ownership experience for the entire family, Brady said.

Writer: Becki Francis, (765)496-1050, rfrancis@purdue.edu

Sources: Colleen Brady, (765)494-8441, bradyc@purdue.edu

Mark Russell, (765)494-7677, mrussell@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page

Related Web sites:
Our First Horse: http://www.ourfirsthorse.info

Purdue Extension Education Store: http://www.ces.purdue.edu/new/

 

To the News Service home page