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Horse Cents: Ponying Up for Training

By Lori Covington.

Thinking of buying a horse? Or maybe youíve already bought one and arenít sure what to do next. Whether you are still at the considering stage of horse ownership or have moved into the "Oh my gosh, thereís a horse in my pasture" arena, there are a few things you need to know.

You already know the initial outlay for a horse can be anywhere from $1000 to upwards of $20,000, with a well trained horse in it's middle-age, running somewhere in the middle of that range. You may already expect the costs of feeding, shoeing and horse health care to be around $2,000 per year, assuming the horse lives with you. If you plan to board the newest member of your family, expect to pay another $2,000-$3,000 a year, totaling up to about $4,000 - $5,000 in annual horse-related expenses aside from the initial price.

Now, if youíre planning to ride your horse an average of 350 hours over the course of the next year (either an hour a day or a couple of long rides each week), you might want to add in the costs of your health insurance, including deductibles and work lost time. "And, why is that?" you may ask, bridling. thousand people each year suffer horseback-riding related injuries, with about 25% of the injuries occurring to children age 16 and under. Head injuries, some leading to lifelong brain injury, make up 12% of the injuries. Weíre not talking rodeo mishaps here: most horse-related injuries happen in recreational riding, and nearly 80% of fatalities happen at normal horse speeds Ė not in rearing or bucking.

Because, as it turns out, you would be safer riding a motorcycle. Twenty times safer, in fact, as research has shown that while motorcyclists average 7,000 hours of riding time per serious accident, horseback riders may expect a serious accident for around every 350 hours of riding. In the U.S., between seventy and eighty

The best injury prevention is education. Itís common sense that, a properly trained horse, is less likely to misbehave. He will be a safer animal having been taught not to bite, kick, run away with the rider or engage in other horselike but dangerous activities. A well-trained horse is also more likely than an untrained one to deal patiently with the oddities of untrained people.

An untrained horse is like a car without brakes: you can take it out for a spin, but you might just get killed. Or kill someone else. Your horse may have the best of intentions, but without experience, youíre barreling around with a creature that weighs over a thousand pounds and likes to do whatever he wants. As an "investment", heís a liability. His potential for hurting someone is high, and his resale value is nil. A horse that hasnít been trained is worse than useless; heís dangerous. No one buys a horse just to watch him get fat and lazy: you plan to ride him, work him, maybe even compete. If your horse canít be ridden safely, either heís going to spend a lot of time in the pasture, or someoneís going to get hurt. Training makes your horse accessible to you, and you have three options for making sure your horse is trained to be as useful and as safe as possible.

First, you can buy a horse thatís already been trained. This is a good option, but it does raise the sale price by thousands of dollars, and it doesnít do anything for your education.

Second, you may pay to have your horse trained by a professional at a cost of around $600-$800 per month. Depending on the type and amount of training required, it may take a couple of months, up to over a year for training a working horse. The other drawback is that although the horse may receive an excellent education, the rider (thatís you) doesn't get to participate. This may be a fine option for experienced riders who just donít have the time to train their own horses, but for a novice, it means having to find a way to train yourself as well.

The third option is to train the horse yourself, acquiring skills and understanding together. You can do this at a fraction of the cost of options #1 and #2. First check out these horse training videos by Larry Trocha, noted trainer of champions. Train your new horse with "Colt Starting Magic". This video takes you through the first three months of training an unbroke horse, at a cost of $69. Hiring a professional trainer would cost 26 times that amount!

For more specific, progressive skills such as stopping and backing-up, turning and circling, trailer loading, check out the videos that cover each of these skills. Or buy the 4-video "Foundations" package for $156. (The "Foundations" package can be used to train or re-train older horses as well). These videos show horses in the process of being trained, so you can see the horse making mistakes (like your horse will) before getting it right. And every video comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, If youíre still horse-shopping, thereís a video that covers the aspects of choosing the right horse for you. Right now you can get "Teach Your Horse to Rollback and Spin" (usually $49) at the promotional price of just $9.

Videos are great training tools. You can watch and re-watch them, use them to predict problems before they surface and let them inspire you to learn new skills. Best of all, with 3 months of professional training costing around $1,800, even if you buy the whole "Foundations" package, you will save over $1,600. With the hours of highly specific training and the money-back guarantee, itís smart financial choice and a risk-free investment.

Horse-Sense Safety Tips
  • If you arenít horse-savvy, pay a professional trainer to help choose the best horse for your needs.

  • Always supervise children around horses. Make sure children do not stand or play behind or within kicking distance of the horse.

  • Teach children about horse safety.

  • Wear a properly-fit equestrian helmet that meets ASTM standards.

  • Make sure saddles have release catches to prevent a fallen rider from having a foot caught in the stirrup and being dragged.

  • Do not allow even young horses to nibble at or "kiss" you. Nibbling can become biting; a hard habit to break and very dangerous.

  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing as it may catch on tack, branches, fences, etc.

  • Never sneak up on a horse from behind.

Is It Important to You to Have a Well Trained Horse?
California cutting and reining trainer, Larry Trocha has created the ultimate horse training videos. In each video, you'll see proven, easy to learn methods that are guaranteed to work. Also get Larry's online training tips newsletter and video clips, Free! Click here to check out horse training videos by Larry Trocha, noted trainer of champions.

Read the next horse training article on Right Saddle For Reining and Cutting.
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