By Jerry Tardif
So, you've taken the plunge and purchased your first horse — CONGRATULATIONS!
The relationship you develop with your own horse can be one of the most satisfying experiences of your life.
To achieve that, it'll mean spending lots of time with him.
The time in the ring or on the trail will be important, but equally so will be the time you spend caring for your horse and even just being with him/her while grazing.
Grooming and care takes time and involvement with your horse.
It'll be faster, and more satisfying if you have the proper tools.
You don't actually have to spend a lot of money, especially at the beginning where you're forming your own habits and learning what works best for you and your horse.
You don't need to get everything at once.
Some barns provide or will let you use some tack, such as lunge lines, lunge whips, leg wraps, first aid items, etc.
Grooming tools, in particular, are best not to share amongst horses because they can transfer diseases, such as Strangles.
So, I won't let anyone use my brushes or combs on any other horses — this helps to protects MY horse as well as theirs.
Nor will I allow others to groom my horse with anything other than his grooming tools.
While the bacteria causing Strangles can also be transferred by our clothing or the sharing of tack, there's no sense in increasing the transfer chances by also sharing very inexpensive items, such as grooming tools.
Even for those items you can share, there are definitely some items that you should own and have for your own horse.
Start with the following:
- His own halter;
- His own lead line;
- Fly spray;
- A salve you can put on wounds caused by flies that will keep flies away so it can heal;
- A pail and sponge for washing/cooling your horse;
- A hard and soft brush for grooming your horse;
- A curry comb or loose hair scraper;
- A hoof pick;
- A mane/tail comb or brush; and
- A mane/tail detangling agent.
This is a good start.
If you can avoid it and can borrow them, don't buy a saddle, pad, and bridle at this time.
Just make sure the ones you borrow properly fit your horse and are clean when you use them.
It's good to take the time to try many different saddles to get one that truly meets your needs before putting down your money for one.
I spent a very involved, full year trying and shopping for saddles before finding the style and size I wanted for my current horse.
But it paid off because I absolutely LOVE my saddle (see The Saddle Search)!
Once you've selected it and its color, you'll likely want a bridle that matches it.
Similarly, you'll want to add tack and other items, such as a fly mask (or fly ears), several first aid items, possibly a breast plate, cantle bag, etc.
But because you don't need these other items right away, it's best to wait and get to know your horse and your own needs before spending your money.
Of course, you should already own a good quality riding helmet and riding boots, whatever your riding discipline — you do have those, RIGHT?
Besides being an avid trail rider, Jerry Tardif is a technology consultant and a horse and nature photographer in SE Connecticut — see his work at: www.jerrytardif.com.
He is also co-founder and President of QueryHorse.
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