For as long as I can remember, each year for the holidays I have asked for a horse. It’s every young horse lover’s dream to wake up to a pony under the tree on Christmas morning, or receive a horse as a gift on one of the nights of Hanukkah, or get a horse for their birthday or other special occasion. But what does it really mean to own your own horse?
Owning a horse can be really exciting, but it is a big responsibility. In their book Maryland Equine Law: A Legal Guide to Horse Ownership & Activities, MHC Executive Committee member Kathleen Tabor and her co-author Jan Berlage provide a wealth of information for horse owners. In chapter 2 entitled “Title and Ownership,” the authors state:
“In Maryland, as in most states a horse is considered “goods;” livestock that is either personal property or a business asset. This may be disconcerting for the horse owner who considers his/her horse a part of the family, but in reality, it is simply property….Whether a horse is obtained through breeding, sale, auction, adoption, gift, or transfer, it is imperative that a paper-trail of ownership be established to prevent any misunderstandings later on.”
If you are purchasing a horse, there are many important aspects to consider. Horses range in price from free to more than a car (or two, or three) - but even after the initial purchase there are many more expenses including boarding, vetting, and shoeing your horse. Also unexpected expenses can come at anytime.
There are also many other ways to enjoy horses, and even have some of the responsibility of horse ownership without committing to purchasing one. There are a variety of agreements that can give you the use of a horse. Leasing or equi-sharing can be a great way to try out having the responsibility of a horse in your life. Taking lessons on the same school horse regularly is another way to build a closer rider/horse relationship. Also, a more flexible arrangement might allow you the opportunity to more easily find a new horse if there is a problem than if you were to own the horse.
Another great horse ownership resource is “Safe & Sound Responsible Horse Ownership,” a guide for horse owners and prospective owners published by the Maryland Fund For Horses and co-sponsored by the Maryland Horse Council. This publication provides a great overview of what is involved in the ownership of a horse and discusses the decisions that horse owners face. It also lists a variety of organizations that can provide you with access to professionals as well as educational seminars. So you could say that a wish without a plan is just a dream; it takes preparation and commitment to be a responsible horse person.
From riding school horses to owning your very own animal, spending time around horses is a gift in itself for both you and the horse. Happy Holidays!
ABOUT OUR BLOGGER:
My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information on topics of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am also serving on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and loved seeing lots of Maryland barns represented at Barn Night!