So your son or daughter has been bugging you to buy them a pony for months. Is this just a passing fad, or are they serious about wanting to learn to ride? Here’s a suggestion that can help you find out. Tell your child that you are going to buy them riding lessons for X months. If they stick with it you will consider buying them a pony.
Have your child join the US Pony Club:
You can also join a local 4-H horse club. These clubs are designed as family activities and as a parent, you can volunteer and learn along with your children. You don’t need to actually own a horse to join either of these organizations.
If your child sticks with lessons and you find that weekly riding lessons do not provide enough “horse time” for your child, consider a full or partial lease of a horse for at least six months. Leasing is an arrangement in which you pay either a fixed fee or a portion of the horse’s expenses in exchange for riding time on that horse. In the typical full lease, you take over all of the horse’s expenses and care responsibilities, and in a typical partial lease, the owner remains primarily responsible for these items.
If even leasing a horse doesn’t satisfy your child desire to ride, then should you consider actually purchasing a horse or pony. Deciding to purchase a horse or pony is a huge commitment and one that you shouldn’t take lightly.
How much should you spend on a horse for your child? The answer really depends upon what you want your child to achieve with that horse. If your child just wants to go out and have fun, and compete at a local level, you should be able to find a suitable horse for $5,000 or less. If your child has more serious aspirations, consult with your child’s instructor regarding what you should expect to spend for a suitable horse. Keep in mind that your family’s first horse can be a starter horse – a horse that is safe for your child and will help them learn basic horsemanship skills. You or your child can always ‘upgrade’ later and buy a horse that could potentially take them to the top.
An important thing to remember is that the initial purchase price of the horse is just a small fraction of the ongoing expenses you can expect to incur. Here are some of the items you should budget for on a monthly basis, in the approximate order of magnitude: Board, Lessons, Competitions, Shoeing, Vet, Equipment, Food and Bedding.
Here’s a video on how to choose your first horse on a budget: