By Howard J. Cormier, LSU AgCenter Southwest Regional Equine Agent
Many people, young and old, dream of being a horse trainer. Images of rearing horses or an equine friend racing up to the owner waiting at the fence have wide appeal. The reality is that horse training takes years of learning, tons of patience, and the ability to overcome frustration when the horse just doesn’t “get it.” Buying a horse and teaching it to be a good riding partner is challenging for any level of experience. There is an old saying that goes “green on green makes black and blue,” meaning that an inexperienced “green” rider and an inexperienced “green” horse results in bruising and more serious injuries. Sadly, getting a young horse that can grow up with a young child is foolish, to say the least, and dangerous, to be more realistic.
So, what is a parent, adult or youngster to do if they have a passion for horses and want to get involved? My best advice is to find a reliable friend or trainer whom you can trust. Trainers can certainly fit that bill, but remember that not all trainers are reputable, so shop around.
It’s wise to start with an older “broke” horse. The term signifies an equine that has been used for years and has proven that it will not buck, rear, run off, spook or become aggressive with an inexperience rider. Those horses can cost more, but it will be cheaper than a hospital visit or long term medical bills.
There are many sources of help in the internet. YouTube is full of video clips about horse training, but you still need someone to interpret what is being shown. I suggest that a person visit horse shows, trail rides, auction barns, ranch sales and trainers to get some ideas before they commit to buying their first horse. Learn all you can to protect yourself, and limit your investment. Start slowly with a modestly priced horse, and accept the fact that you will trade up as your skills improve. 4-H horse shows will be coming up this June, and that’s a good place to talk to parents and kids about how to get involved. Remember and understand that all horses kick, bite, step on you, and can push you out of their way. That is simply their nature, so don’t hold it against them for doing what Mother Nature has instilled in them to survive. Safety is important for all, but more so for small children that are more easily hurt.
Prepare for the first horse by studying. Know how a horse thinks, how it defends itself, what it eats, how much shelter it needs, what health care needs are, and the cost of tack and equipment. Consider the cost of saddles, halters, buckets, waterer, hay, feed, pasture, and trailer and truck. What about fencing? Barbed wire is inexpensive, but can be deadly if a horse runs into it at a full gallop. So many things need to be considered that it might be overwhelming, but if you have a real passion, it can be a lifelong love that is truly enjoyable.
Facebook has many pages and groups that can provide much information. Check out sources of information, and use whatever means will help you make informed decisions. Contact me if you have specific questions, and I will be happy to try to help you.