If you’ve ever wanted a pet, you probably went to a shelter, pet store, pet rescue, or breeder. You probably knew exactly what you wanted; dog or cat, hamster or bunny. You also probably had a price point in mind, and factored in food and other necessities. It took you a long time, sitting down with family and discussing all the traits you were looking for in your new furry family member. You eventually came to an agreement and went to find the perfect friend. But what if you were looking for something a little different? What if your idea of a forever family member lives about 30 years and can give you rides around your property? What if your family needs a horse?
Horses aren’t your typical pet. Unless you adopt a pygmy horse, he or she won’t be sitting in your living room, sleeping on your bed, or waiting at the front door for you to come home. Horses live in barns, in stalls of their own, and are left out to graze and play in a pasture or field. They are prey animals, and they weigh on average between 840 to 2200 pounds. They range in height from 4.7 to 6 feet, but they are actually measured in hands, which equal about four inches versus the 12-inch foot. This means that an average horse will stand about 15 hands high. So, why would you want this large, lumbering prey animal? Statistics show that ownership of a horse has many significant benefits.
Let’s get physical!
Horses require exercise in the form of being ridden. Horseback riding, even if you’re not riding for competition, is physically demanding. You won’t need to work out at the gym when you’ve got your four hoofed friends to ride and play with. Yes, horses play. You can purchase large toys for them from companies like Horsemen’s Pride. These giant balls and other toys can amuse you and your new companion for hours on end. Furthermore, tacking and untacking your horse, along with grooming, mucking out stalls, and feeding as well as watering the animal are very physically demanding. Your equine friend will have you physically fit very quickly.
Horses help you develop self-confidence and time management skills
When you ride horses, you’re not on an athletic team. The team is you and your equine partner, and nothing feels more amazing than taking that first jump, or riding a trail together. As you grow as a rider, your confidence will soar. However, with all that work comes responsibility. You’ll learn how to schedule your day to accommodate for exercise, feeding and other daily care tasks.
Maintain mental and emotional health through bonding with nature
Horses need to be outdoors. Luckily, so do humans. We require the sun to stay healthy, and by caring for a horse, that becomes easier to obtain. Riding exposes humans to all kinds of natural elements from streams to rocky inclines. You’ll experience it all with your horse. Fresh air and sunshine have been scientifically linked to longer life and better mental well-being. The same is true for owning an animal. Combine horse ownership with the ability to interact with nature, and you have the perfect recipe for inner peace and a sense of calm.
Long live the horse!
Horses live on average between 25 and 30 years. However, many live well in to their 30’s. The bond that can be created over that length of time is unimaginable. They can grow up with children or offer an adult a lifetime pet companion to experience the joys and sorrows of life with.
I’m convinced, how do I adopt a horse?
When looking into horse adoption, an owner must consider many factors. There are, for example, horse breeders. Pure bred animals cost more than a rescued horse, but they offer the stability of health testing and registered bloodlines. If that’s the route a new owner wishes to go, then they should research breeders in their area. They should also know which breed they are looking for, and search the association of breeders for that breed to find someone reputable. If you’re not looking for a show quality animal, rescuing or adopting is the best option. You get to save a life, while also bettering your own.
Adopting through the Bureau of Land Management
In the United States, the Bureau of Land Management has a program to preserve and protect America’s wild Mustangs. This includes adopting some of these animals to new owners. Owners may then gentle the animal, and use him or her for pleasure riding or competition. To apply, visit the Bureau of Land Management online and submit an adoption application.
Chincotaegue Island in Virginia
Readers of Margaret Henry’s beloved horse books will likely remember Chincoteague Island. This Virginia island has a yearly Pony Swim, where prospective owners can view and adopt the much-loved Chincoteague ponies. Only the foals (baby horses), are auctioned off. Buyers will help save a life, provide money for the veterinary care of the wild adult ponies, and will be participating in a longstanding American tradition.
Finally, there are horse rescues across the world that offer horses for adoption. Some rescues are breed specific, others take horses from abusive or neglectful situations and rehabilitate them. This is with the end goal of placing them with loving humans. These beautiful animals need the care and love offered by people. Adopting one of them will enrich your life, and will ultimately save theirs. What better way to give back than by loving a beautiful creature who desperately needs it?
Saving lives to change lives at Yarcort
Yarcort, an equine assisted learning facility, specializes in saving and changing lives. Owner Gina Yarrish, adopted herself, knows first-hand how amazing the love of an adopted family feels. That is why Gina prides herself on adopting and rescuing every horse who comes to live at Yarcort. These horses, though they may have started out in difficult circumstances, come to Yarcort and heal. They then pass that healing on to the humans who come to learn, grow, and rediscover themselves at Yarcort!
Author: Crystal Lynn
Editor: Judy Conti
Graphics: Apple Perez