For many horse owners, just one horse doesn't cut the mustard - and before you know it, you've got two horses in your stable.
But what should you bear in mind if you're considering adding another horse to your collection? We've gathered some valuable advice and considerations here, for you to mull over if you dream about expanding your stable.
The thought of two or more horses may be enticing. Imagine having two soft muzzles, needing daily care and attention to the finest of standards! But there are many costs and responsibilities associated with owning one, let alone two horses. Thus, it might be worth considering whether you should loan an additional horse for a period to see how it works out - always remember to draw up a contract, noting down the key aspects regarding the loan. Who, for instance, will foot the bill for what? With a solid agreement in hand, you can try out life as an owner of two horses in a way that won't leave you out of pocket.
One more horse essentially means doubling your costs. That is, you'll have to pay twice as much for everything from stable rent and bedding to food and insurance. It naturally depends on whether you keep your horse at home or at a stable, but expenses like food and vet care should be factored in regardless, if you choose to get another horse.
Perhaps investigate whether you can secure some sort of bulk discount at your boarding place, or if you can save money by getting both horses vaccinated and shod at the same time. Perhaps the insurance can be provided at a good rate if you come in with two horses? Find out where you can cut corners - it pays off in the long run.
You might find that your halters can be used for both horses, so you won't need to rush out and invest in all new gear. Alternatively, you could buy some of the equipment second-hand to save some money.
You should be aware that adding another horse also means there will be things outside the stable that you'll have to compromise on. Therefore, you should also be certain that there is support from your family or partner. Can it fit into your daily routine, that you'll suddenly have to spend (even) more time at the stable? Always get agreement on the home front. Some tasks might need to be done more quickly than you're used to if you've previously had just one horse. That means it might not be possible every day to spend hours grooming or mucking out, if everything needs to be done twice.
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If you want to make yourself less vulnerable when adding an extra horse, consider whether you can get some help. Are there others at the stable who can assist you in managing logistics on those days where you can't manage two horses in a single day? That's worth its weight in gold and contributes to making life as the owner of two horses a bit easier.
No two horses are the same. Therefore, you need to be clear about whether you have the necessary skills to train an additional horse. You can't just go on autopilot. Each individual horse requires a training plan tailored to them and their level. Therefore, you should also consider whether you should spend (more) money on good instruction, so that you train the right things with all your horses. Determine what's best for each individual horse.
With two horses to manage every week, there's also a lot of planning involved. Be realistic in your plans. Very few of us can manage to have two horses in full training with an hour's riding each day plus stable work, while also juggling work, family and friends.
You might consider going for a leisurely walk with one horse and practicing dressage with the other - and then swap the next day. With good planning, it's perfectly possible to keep both horses in good shape.
When you're in the saddle of the first horse, you might think that you could easily handle one horse (or ten!) more. But remember to check in with yourself when you ride the next horse. If your energy levels have dropped since the first horse, it might not be the time to practice complicated jumping combinations or difficult dressage exercises.
Why do you want another horse? Are you intending to train it up, should it act as a companion horse, or is there another reason? Also, be aware of whether your time is being taken away from your first horse. Ask yourself what matters most to you in your interaction with the horses. Is it having time to potter about in the stable aisle? Many hours in the saddle? It should be fun to own horses, and this applies regardless of the number of horses you care for.
Whether you have one, two or more horses, there's no doubt that the hours spent in the stable with our lovely horses are always time well spent!