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Equestrian Advice & Guides Beginners Advice
Here are five things I wish I’d been told when I bought my first horse…
1. There is no such thing as a stupid question! No, really. The wonderful thing about horses is that you never stop learning, whether you’ve ridden for two years or twenty-two. Asking knowledgeable, qualified people for advice is the best way to learn. Never feel silly for asking a question, the chances are your horse will probably thank you for it!
2. You don't need to splash the cash. Horses are expensive enough as it is, so don’t worry about having all the latest gear right away. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being totally Matchy-Matchy, but as long as your horse is loved and cared for, they won’t care what brand of saddle pad they’re wearing! When I got my first pony, he was stabled on a tiny DIY farm with no arena, I wore entirely unflattering rubber riding boots, and I had a single turnout rug which he came with. But we had great fun and learnt loads, which is all that counts!
3. Check what you're feeding. Often, we keep horses on the diet they had with their previous owner without a second thought. It’s quite easy to accidentally over-feed horses, particularly as we as humans love to anthropomorphise animals and think they must be hungry because we are, for example. Chances are if you and your new horse mostly enjoy hacking a couple of times a week, he doesn’t need the bucket of competition mix! Most large feed companies offer a free basic online consultation service to help tailor a diet to best suit your horse's needs.
4. Lessons are great! Having a riding lesson as often as you like, or even just someone on the ground offering pointers is a great way to stay motivated and keep learning. Don’t think lessons are only for beginners, even award winning dressage equestrian Charlotte Dujardin still has them! I find I ride better with another pair of eyes on the ground offering constructive criticism.
5. Let your horse be a horse. Having a new horse is incredibly exciting, but don’t fall into the habit of over-managing them. Having downtime to just be a horse, such as daily turnout in the field, is essential to keep your horse happy and healthy. They may come in with the odd nick or scrape from the field, but that’s okay! You aren’t a bad owner; your horse is just having the opportunity to exhibit natural behaviours.