I didn’t realize until I became a horse owner just how many myths there are about horses. Many of those myths I thought were true until I actually gained experience riding and working with horses because I didn’t know any better! So here are my top three horse myths that I believed until I had a horse of my own.
Horses do all the work when you ride them
I remember watching old movies where some rich, old, overweight man would say “The doctor prescribed horseback riding for exercise,” and I would think that made no sense. Surely sitting on the back of a horse and letting it run around couldn’t possibly be exercise for anyone but the horse! It didn’t make any sense to me at all when I was younger.
Then I started learning how to ride and I realized just how wrong I was. Horseback riding is a full-body sport that develops strength, provides cardio, improves balance and flexibility, and requires a lot of coordination to do well! Even riding at a walk requires a lot of balance, lest you slide right off and hit the ground. Posting a trot is a leg workout plus cardio for me as well, and oh boy do my thighs let me know if I’ve done a lot of trot on my ride the day before. Riding canter has improved my core and back strength as well, and I’m always out of breath and my heart rate is up after a good ride. So yes, horseback riding IS a workout and the horse does not do all the work!
On a related note, I also had no idea how much work I’d have to do and how long it would take to be able to walk/trot/canter. I was three years into my riding journey before I did my first canter!
Only the super-rich can have a horse
Don’t get me wrong: horses are EXPENSIVE. Between feed, hay, farrier, vet, dentist, tack, blankets, grooming supplies, and everything else you need for a horse, they are definitely not a cheap animal to have. However, there are ways to make having a horse more affordable for a regular person, so they aren’t just for the extremely wealthy (as I used to think!).
One of the best ways to reduce your horse expenses- and your carbon footprint- is to buy some items second-hand. The internet has made this much easier, and I’m part of several Facebook groups where people can sell, buy, and trade tack and apparel they no longer need. If you choose to blanket, you can find all sorts of blankets being sold online, and second-hand saddles can be much more affordable than buying one new.
My first riding lessons were ones that I paid for by volunteering at the riding school. When Glory first became mine and I wanted to move her to a boarding facility, I worked out a deal with the owners so that I could exchange my board fee for stall mucking five days a week. I have exchanged custom horse portraits for tack or other items that I needed. These trades all made having my horse possible, even on a budget. There is a great blog and YouTube channel called The Budget Equestrian that has a ton of ideas for keeping a horse on a budget as well!
Something that we never skimp on, however, is hay. Our horses get the best quality hay we can find. We do save a little money per bale by going to pick up the hay ourselves though instead of having it delivered.
Horses Don’t Lay Down Unless they’re Sick
This myth is so prevalent that I’ve even heard it from people who don’t have horses or have never been around horses! Some people just think that horses sleep standing up all the time and they don’t lay down unless something is very wrong. This is very wrong, apparently!
Horses can sleep standing up, but they do also lay down to sleep. They lay down to sleep only when they’re very comfortable and feel safe, though. Glory likes to have an afternoon nap if she has something nice and soft to lay down on, preferably in the sun. I have also caught her and Raven napping in their stalls as well when they’re bedded nice and thick and they can get comfortable.