Looking after a horse or a pony is hard work and a big commitment but it is also very rewarding and, if you have children who are at the age of responsibility, it is a great way to keep their minds engaged and (hopefully) stop them from going down the wrong path with wrong people when they become teenagers.
My middle child loves all animals and has ridden a fair few horses despite him only being three and I know he will take more interest in the horse he has as time goes on.
We are lucky living on the farm as we don’t have to pay for stabling and this is something worth thinking about if you are thinking of either getting a horse for yourself or your child.
There are options to either loan a horse rather than buy one and, if you do that, the chances are a lot of the equipment you need will already be with your horse.
Apart from a stable and somewhere to graze though, what do you actually need? I don’t pretend to be an equine expert but I wish when I first encountered ponies that there had been a no-nonsense list of what equipment was actually needed so I have come up with one myself.
1. Haynets and feed pans or buckets. Your horse will need to eat and this is one of the things you definitely have to buy.
2. A wheelbarrow. Horses need mucking out and you can’t do it with a dustpan and brush.
3.Rugs. These are not the type you walk on. Horses need rugs to keep them warm and protect them from the weather. Rugs also stop them from rubbing, being irritated by bugs or insects, or to cool them down in hot weather.
4. A broom. This is used either to aid mucking out or to keep the area around your stable spick and span.
5. A halter and lead rope. Even if you don’t plan to ride your horse, you will need to walk it to and from the field or tie it up outside the stable while you muck out.
6. A pitch fork. This is a great tool for getting muck out of your stable and for spreading straw when you put clean bedding in.
7. A manure fork. If you want to be really correct, a manure fork will be a big help along side the pitchfork. The prongs of a manure fork are closer together so it makes it easier to pick up the large (and small) droppings.
8. Wellies and good boots. For you rather than the horse. Winter and wet weather all year round can make for a horse keeping being a very mucky hobby. Don’t get caught out in flip flops.
9. A grooming kit. From a variety of brushes for different types of hair and hoof picks to keep your horses hooves clean, you can pick these up in any equestrian or country store as a set.
10. A first aid kit. Both for you and your pony. Accidents happen and a well stocked kit will make you the most popular person on the yard (chocolates help to).
What do you think? What are your horse keeping essentials?