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Buying a horse is different from buying any other pet. Before you run out and buy your very first horse, consider a few things that could save you a lot of time, energy, money and heartache- not to mention an unwanted horse. Find out if buying a horse is a true desire or just a passing impulse. Decide the best place to keep a horse based on experience and responsibility.

First you need to decide if you are really ready. Many people make the mistake of jumping into a situation they later regret. For centuries, many people have been mystified and magnetically drawn to these magnificent creatures. They should use that love to motivate them to learn everything they can about horses. Find out what it takes to care for a horse. Take horseback riding lessons with a professional trainer. Get dirty in the barn. Learn as much as possible about every horse-related issue you can imagine. Read horse magazines such as Horse Illustrated or Horse & Rider. These magazines focus on the details you may not have considered, and can help to remind you of the need to constantly improve your horsemanship skills. Talk to others about your desire to buy a horse and get their feedback. Find out if your horsemanship experience is good enough to go to that next level.

If you decide that owning a horse is what you really want to do, you will need to consider where you plan to keep the horse. The two most common options are: at home or boarding at a stable. To make the best decision about this, you will want to consider your prior experience riding and handling horses. Have you ever taken a horsebackriding lesson? Would you be able to handle a horse without any supervision? Do you know how to buy and fit tack? Have you ever cleaned a stall or determined feed for a horse? The more you know, the better owner you will be. Unlike buying a dog or cat, a horse is much bigger than you and will not be as forgiving if you learn by trial and error. The last thing you want is to be afraid of your own horse. The less you know, the less your horse will trust you and the more dangerous the situation can become.

If you have little to no experience, the best start is to take riding lessons or lease a horse at a riding stable. Get as much experience with different personalities and breeds of horses. Find out what you like and what you don't care for. If your experience is enough to make you feel comfortable with horses in and around a barn, you might consider boarding your horse at a stable. There are many advantages to this. You are paying someone else- who probably knows more than you do- to care for your horse. Feeding, watering, cleaning stalls, and turning out to pasture are just a few of the chores you will not have to do. Your horse would also be in the company of other horses. Since horses are naturally very social animals, this would be the better choice if you only plan to buy one horse. Loneliness is a common psychological problem in single horse barns. Other advantages to boarding at a stable may include: having the opportunity to ask others' opinions about problems, opportunities for riding lessons (everyone can learn something to improve their riding skills), places to go on trail rides, social activities with other riders to keep you motivated, and group vet and blacksmith visits. Boarding can be expensive. But for many circumstances, well worth the money.

If you have a great amount of experience, a lot of grassy land, and are looking for a challenge and real work satisfaction, try keeping your horse at home. It is much more work to feed, water, clean stalls, treat for worms, plan vet and blacksmith visits, find the time and place to ride, keep up a green pasture, and occasionally hire a professional trainer to work on your riding skills and your horse's problems. But it is also less expensive than boarding, and can bring a bond between you and your horse that paying someone else cannot bring. It is extremely important that experience preceeds the sale in this instance. You will also need ample space for grazing pasture-preferably divided into two areas. Switching between the two pastures will allow grass to replenish after it has been depleted. And it WILL deplete. A barn or stable is not absolutely necessary, but strongly advised for use in bad weather and for storing horse-related items. Find out as much as possible about all of the responsibilities and details necessary for a healthy horse.

Too many people make the mistake of buying a horse before they are really ready. Many horses have been ruined by bad habits they develop from inexperienced owners. Horses are not like other pets- they are much bigger and just as unpredictable. They require a certain amount of experienced care and handling for safety measures. So think before you buy. Review responsibilities and true desire. Make sure your horse-buying experience is well thought-out and planned. Choose a place to keep your horse based on experience and your desire to do barn work. Whether you board or keep your new horse at home, you can develop a relationship that can bond you for a lifetime.