We have recently been offering a series of classes entitled Horse Ownership 101. These classes were designed to give people who know little to nothing about horses an introduction to what is involved in owning one. Topics covered in the classes included Horse Breeds, Conformation, Costs of Owning, Purchasing Your First Horse, Tack and Equipment, Training and Behavior, and Health Care and First Aid.
Preparing the materials for and teaching this class has reminded me of just how much there is to learn about horses. Many people get thrown into the world of horses without any formal education and get overwhelmed by the amount of information that is out there, especially when it seems like everyone has there own opinion and no one seems to be able to agree on anything.
So how do you handle all this information? Here are some basic tips:
Find a network of professionals you can trust
Finding the right professionals can be difficult but these people will be your biggest asset in learning to care for your horse. These professionals include your barn manager, veterinarian, farrier, and trainer. Good professionals will work with each other to help find the best solution to any problems that may arise with your horse. These professionals have experience working with a variety of different horses and have the training and knowledge to give you the guidance you will need.
Stay off Social Media
Social Media is the worst place to get information. Ask one simple question and you will get at least 27 different answers many of which will have nothing to do with your original question. While most of these people mean well, it is difficult if not impossible to give correct advice over the internet without having seen the situation first hand. Horses are individuals and each situation is unique. Just because something worked for one horse in one situation does not mean that it is the best course of action for you and your horse.
Learn as much as you can about the care and training of horses. Read books, take lessons, attend clinics, watch dvds, whatever you can to learn more. There are many different opinions out there and learning about each of them will help you determine the route you want to take with your horse. It is important to note that reading something or watching a dvd is very different from actually being able to do it so it is always best to work with someone experienced when trying something new.
There is always more to learn about horses. A while ago I attended a clinic held by Marius Schreiner, a trainer from the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna. At 34 years old, Marius had already been with the SRS for 19 years (wow!) but even he willingly admitted that there was still more for him to learn. If this 19 year veteran of one of the most prestigious riding schools in the world still has more to learn, how much more do the rest of us need to make sure we continue to learn so that we can provide the best possible care for our horses.
To learn more about how to develop a better relationship with your horse, visit our website or blog, where we feature information about classical dressage and liberty training, as well as care and maintenance of the horse!