Buying Horses: A Herdsman's Handbook for the Modern Homesteader

Dr. R.J. Holliday provides some practical advice from his homesteading manual for people thinking about buying horses, or a horse.

| March/April 1973

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    Along with your life circumstances, the purposes for which you intend to use it  should be your foremost consideration when choosing a horse.

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Beginning farmers usually do pretty well with gardens, chopping wood, and building outhouses. . . but the birth of that first calf or litter of pigs generally sets 'em back a couple of notches. R.J. Holliday DVM, a veterinarian in Missouri and MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributor, intends to remedy the situation. His tool? A new handbook precisely designed to explain all the animal facts of life in language that new back-to-the-landers can understand.

Get a Horse. . . But Read This First

Horses can be quite a useful addition to almost any homestead. Larger farms will find many uses for a good, big team of workhorses and the owners of smaller places may be able to make use of a light, dual-purpose horse or two for transportation and for light pulling. Even if your place is quite small, your children will no doubt delight in having a docile pet pony to ride and care for.

These practical reasons for horse ownership are easy to understand and the partnership thus formed usually ends up in an arrangement that is satisfactory for both man and animal.

Sometimes, however, people own horses for psychological reasons. I've known individuals who have spent a lot of money on the animals simply because it was "the thing to do". This situation almost always ends in disappointment or disillusionment, since the horse becomes a "crutch" or substitute for a deeper psychological relationship. Nevertheless, there are some people who will keep a horse around just for the sake of companionship and to serve as a reminder that without our association with the animals over the millennia, our history and our civilization would be vastly different than it is today.

However romantic the idea of horse ownership is at the moment you read this, bear in mind that not everyone should have one of the animals. If you've an unrealistic view of the joys and the responsibilities of horse ownership, then you're almost bound to be disappointed and waste a lot of money. The time to really evaluate your needs in this area is BEFORE you buy!

You should also remember that you cannot force someone else to fall in love with horses. Several years ago I thought it would be nice if my oldest daughter would learn to ride a pony and, without consulting her wishes at all, I bought her a small spotted one complete with saddle and bridle.

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