Recently a young girl who is reading “It’s for the Horses” emailed me with this question; “I know it all depends on the horse and its personality, but do you have an opinion on what someone's first horse should be?”
I assured her I do, and that opinion is a first horse should be one who has been around awhile and has a lot of experience. I think a horse around 18 or 20 years old who has “been there, done that” would be the best teacher someone could ever find.
Perhaps one in their twenties, don’t back away from a wise old boy because there’s a nick or two. The wisdom a senior horse can impart can’t be overlooked, or treasured too highly. For anyone just starting out the very best teacher, confidant and friend will be their horse.
Too often folks will be steered to a young horse for reasons that seem to make sense; you can learn together, you’ll be together for years to come, young horses are more healthy, and on and on. The problem with these seemingly sound rationales is they can set a beginner up for disappointment—or worse.
Any horse at any age can develop a nick, sickness or other health issue. A 20 year old horse has a lot of great years to go, and they will be safe, educational and precious years. Learning as a beginner with a young inexperienced horse can not only be frustrating and expensive, it can also be dangerous.
Learning from, and with, a wise old horse will be a fun life changing, course setting experience. We all fall in love with our horses, and our horses develop affection for us. Older horses tend to be thoughtful, more solidly aware and will recognize a heart offering love and support. They have years of wisdom, experience and adventures to draw on—and these experiences he can translate into learning for their new person.
Yes older horses will have baggage as well, but if we keep our hearts and minds open we can navigate our way around any difficulties. An experienced horse will guide their person through troubled waters—that knowledge and understanding which comes from having a history. And they will share their wisdom, if we listen.
I also hope folks looking for their first horse, or any horse, will have a look at rescues in their area. There are a lot of horses out there just hoping for someone to adopt and love them. And the folks at the rescues will often know a lot about the horse, and be able to offer a bit of advice.
So there you have it, I believe a beginner’s first horse should be a wise old boy who can be a teacher as well as a friend.
Gitty Up, Dutch Henry
To have a look at my book, "It's for the Horses: An advocate's musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care," go to www.itsforthehorses.com