Revised:  10/10/2012

Responsible Horse Ownership












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Horse Ownership



     Horse ownership is a challenging responsibility that can be richly rewarding. The decision to own a horse, while often influenced by emotion, should be based on an awareness of the time, resources, and money needed to insure the horse's well-being. As the adage goes, "It's not the buying of the horse, it's the keeping of the horse."


     Good horse-keeping begins with solid facts about horses and their basic needs. A well-educated prospective owner is more likely to commit to providing a horse with a long-term home than someone who purchases a horse on impulse. The Equine Science Center is committed to providing resources for those considering horse ownership.


      Below are some links to help you get started. We welcome your questions and comments. See if your question has already been answered at our Ask the Expert page, or contact us directly and we will forward your request to the appropriate personnel.




Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines: National Farm Animal Care Council, Canada




Equine Science Center Resources


Responsible Buying & Owning

  • Responsible Horse Ownership:
    Factors to consider before buying your first horse
    By: Dr. Sarah Ralston

  • The Economics of Horse-Keeping:
    Financial factors involved in owning a horse and efficient ways to reduce cost in specific areas
    By: Dr. Carissa Wickens

  • Business Planning for Equestrians
    Analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and potential threats of your farm business through an assessment of specific areas for successful operation.  Provides a paradigm for a business plan with solutions to the major areas of risk-management, production, management, marketing and finance.  Focus on the quality of the business as it means of sustenance.  Helpful ways to solidify a professional business plan.
    By: Dr. Robin Brumfield

  • Horse Promotion and Marketability:
    Overview of the horse industry and market value of horses based on various factors.  Explanation of the four interdependent enthusiast/professional/breeder/market groups.  Overview of horse assessment and market analysis.
    By: Dr William Day

  • Improving Pasture for Reduced Feed Costs:
    Goals of horse farm pastures and their advantages.  Explanation of pasture maintenance improving quality, seeding and grazing schedules, fertilization and waste management.
    By: Dr. Carey Williams

  • Economical Veterinary Care:
    An evaluation of the current economic climate with regard to the equine industry.  Suggestions on prophylactic care and responsible horse ownership.
    By: Dr. Michael Fugaro


  • Economics of Owning a Horse:
    An overview of the yearly and one-time expenses of owning horses, as well as various circumstantial considerations about owning a horse.  Visual breakdowns of the various expenses involved.
    By: Diana Orban Brown



    Frequently Questioned Topics


Buying Your First Horse -
Considering if you are ready
Cost determinants when buying your horse
Cost to keep a horse
Finding a stable to board your horse
Where to purchase
Considerations for choosing the right horse
Pre-purchase vet checks


Saddling and Bridling Horses Safely -
Proper ways to saddle a horse
Adjusting the girth
Proper bridling and bit placement
Untacking your horse

Mounting, Dismounting and Riding Horses Safely -
Tips on mounting your horse
Using a "leg-up"
Proper dismounting
When your horse is in fear...
Where to ride
Riding etiquette
Guidelines for riding on the road & at night
Caring for tack


Trail Riding Etiquette for Horse Enthusiasts
Safety concerns for you and your horse
Horse vita signs
Trail etiquette
Horse traffic laws
Post-trail ride horse care


The Basics of Equine Behavior -
Expressions of dominance
Horse psychology
Feral colt behavior
Signs of submission
Alpha mares
Horse leg movements explained
cribbing & weaving behavior
West Nile Virus in Horses -
What is it?
How is it contracted?
Health concerns
Actions if your horse shows symptoms
Reducing the risk of infection
Additional resources


Safety Recommendations for the Stable, Barn Yard, and Horse/Livestock Structures
Barn/Stable maintenance
Installing lightning rods
Basics of building a barn
Hay storage
Paddock/pasture maintenance
Safety for riding arenas
Horse Trailer Maintenance and Trailering Safety -
Buying a trailer
Safety checklist
Trailer maintenance
Loading your horse
Transportation veterinary requirements
Fire Prevention and Safety Measures Around the Farm -
Around the Farm
Storing hay in your barn
Barn building safety
Using extension cords in the barn
Avoiding electrical fires
Lightning precautions
Smoke detectors


Farm Machinery and Equipment Safety Part I: Recognizing and Understanding the Hazards -

Storing your farm vehicles
Precautions dragging an indoor ring

Farm Machinery and Equipment Safety Part II: Preventing Machinery Accidents During Operation -
Precautions around power tools & farm equiptment
Parking farm equiptment
What is "ROPS"?
What is "FOPS"?
Machinery maintenance tips


Are You "Stressing Out" Your Horse? -
Equine stressors
Responding to horse's stress
What is "critical temperature"?
Reducing transportation stress
"Shipping Fever"
Oxidative stress & effects
Ulcers & prevention
Tying-up & treatment
Minimizing stress for your horse


Equine Stress Management -
Types of stress & effects
Competitive events
Impact on immune system
Weaning foals

Management of Old Horses -
When are horses "old"?
Tips for arthritic horses
Losing weight
Teeth maintenance
Pituitary/thyroid tumors & management
Feeding horses with kidney or liver failure
Feeding the Under/Overweight Horse


Eastern Equine Encephalitis -
What is EEE?
Symptoms and treatment
Human threats?
Protecting Horses & Humans


The Horse Industry’s Responsibility to
Animal Welfare -
Animal rights vs. Animal welfare
Addressing animal rights
Metabolic Problems in the Horse: Sorting out the Diagnosis -
Insulin resistance in horses
Cushing's disease
Metabolic syndrome
Horse feed glycemic index
Checking blood for glucose & insulin
Feed changes for metabolic problems in horses


To Blanket or Not To Blanket? -
Blankets 101
When to blanket
Prevent growing a winter coat
Equine thermoregulation
blanket maintenance

Accident-Proofing Farms and Stables -
Liability protection
Pond Safety



Bio Security Tips for Horse Owners


Revisiting the Henneke Body Condition Score



Unwanted Horse Coalition Resources



Additional Resources


      The death of a horse is never easy to accept, especially if you decide to put the horse down. Since the decision of how to end a horse or pony's life is often made under extreme stress, it helps if one already has a plan to follow - or is at least familiar with the various options available for euthanasia and removal of the body.


Though euthanasia may be a difficult subject to address, the following websites provide valuable information and offer guidance to assist in making the responsible and appropriate decision. We recommend bookmarking these sites for future reference.










Responsible Horse Ownership (PDF)


Economics of Owning a Horse (PDF)


Unwanted Horse Coalition's
"Own Responsibly" Guide (PDF)


Unwanted Horse Survey Results


The Emergency Euthanasia of Horses (PDF)



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