By Sue Palmer
I’ve long said that there should be some kind of exam taken before anyone is allowed to own a horse, or at least laws that a first time horse owner should keep their horse on some kind of recognised livery yard that keeps an eye on them and supports them in their learning. This recent post from a FB group has reinforced this opinion. Horses are completely dependent on us, and I find it quite scary that you can buy one so easily, without even a basic knowledge of feed and other care.
A few years ago I stopped to help a young girl who had fallen off. She was with her mum out riding, and they’d been for a canter across the field when her pony took off. I caught the pony and got the girl back on. The bit was hanging down in the horse’s mouth, and so I went to adjust it to a better height. The buckles on the bridle were so rusted that there was no way I could do it. Thankfully they kept their horses just half a mile down the road so I led the girl home safely. It continues to greatly concern me though that the tack was in such bad condition. These two horses were kept in a paddock rented by the mum, as opposed to on a livery yard, and I’m sure that had they been surrounded by other, more knowledgeable owners, that someone would have advised them earlier of the dangers that tack posed.
I know it’s not always great being on a yard with all the politics involved, but at least there is some kind of over seeing with regards to the welfare of the horses. Having said that, I treated a horse a while ago who still bears the scars of the whip marks to his quarters, where he was tied up and whipped – and that was on a livery yard.
The British Horse Society has a great scheme called the Essential Horse Knowledge Certificate which would help in many of these situation. In the grand scheme of things though, I still believe that first time horse owners should have some kind of supervision for at least the first year. I know this is never likely to be a reality, but I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the subject?
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