View Full Version : Horse Ownership Vs Medical Problems?
26th Nov 2007, 11:08 PM
Just out of interest, but as I want a horse of my own one day, its a question i need to ask. The question is, if you have a condition (medical) which is unpredictable, how do you go about keeping a horse? ie. there might be times when you cant ride, may need to undergo surgery, could be in casts every so often? I need my ankle fusing in the future, so its not really predictable when this will need doing, could be days, months, years away, so, if you have problems which change ie. youre fine 70 % of the time, how does a horse fit in with your life and what happens if you do need an op and need a year or more out of horses for example? Will it ever be possible for me to have a horse? just wondering how other people manage with horses and medical problems> how do you get round things etc to make horse ownership easier? do you think ill ever be able to get a horse or would my medical problems ruin my chances? if i never know how long ive got with my foot ok, would it be unfair to have a horse?
sorry about all the questions!
27th Nov 2007, 12:18 AM
I hope this doesn't come out the wrong way but here's my opinion on it and it actually is not even specific to medical problems. It could also be applicable to anything else that keeps you from taking care of a horse full-time all the time.
If you have the money you cna pretty much keep a horse no matter what. You can pay somebody to look after it, do the chores, ride it, school it, give it turnout with other horses, etc.
As long as the horse is in a place where it is well taken care off I think it worries very little if you are the one actually pushing the wheel barrow or if you just come to visit and hand him some carrots.
If you anticipate being off horses for a long while you may want consider though how comfortable you'd be with loaning the horse for a year.
It's not something I'd want for mine but it works out really well for a lot of people.
Overall though, if you can afford good care, I don't think your medical condition should be reason for you not to have a horse. :)
27th Nov 2007, 08:57 AM
I had horses throughout the last 9 years whilst having my left leg re-built. I too have a fused ankle, well actually a tibial/calcaneal fusion as there was no ankle left. I keep my horses at home and so paid a groom who shared the work with my husband. It was hard going for all. Financially it was tough as I needed one of my youngsters working as she was at an age where she needed to be doing for her education. It was also difficult to get good help. One of my horses developed quite bad mud fever and the groom said nothing. I wasn't allowed on the yard due to infection risks with open wounds, but it was frustrating. The plus side of it was seeing them out of the window in the paddock, and knowing they were there for me to get back on as soon as I was able. At one point I had an 18 month wait due to set backs and complications and my leg not healing. I think my advice would be if you don't already own a horse then don't buy one. Try having a part share or loan, then when you go for your surgeries you can relinquish your share. It will be tough but not as tough as having to sell, always assuming you can with the market being as it is. They are a huge financial committment and being out of action is expensive. I needed a cleaner, couldn't drive so was reliant on others or taxis. Long hospital stays are expensive in car parking fees for partners. Also my husband tended to buy convenience food as he's not really a cook, I needed the heating on during the day due to my immobility so all our domestic costs rose. The money you would spend on keeping your horse during your down time would rapidly mount up in a savings account to enable you to buy a better quality horse when you return to riding. Probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but from one who's done it I would strongly advise against it.
27th Nov 2007, 11:31 AM
I think it is definately possible with the right yard and the right horse. I had a few minor medical problems this year and after initial worry found that my horse did not need to see me every day or be ridden.
If you choose a low maintainance good doer type of horse something that can perhaps live out all year (it then can excercise itself a bit) with a steady temperment then time off should not affect it. If you are not feeling well or just getting back into riding after a break then the last thing you want is a tricky horse so a fizzy youngster that needs lots of attention and work might be difficult but a sturdy native like mine with a furry coat that seems to thrive off fresh air and turn out would be fine - he's only a baby and I didn't ride for 10 days and got back on and he was the same! He's on grass livery (he does have a stable but doesn't like being in) which includes being checked every day they also offer extra services if I can't make it and its not costing me £££££
Also if you thought you were going to have alot of time off you could consider getting a sharer to give you some extra support.
27th Nov 2007, 11:57 AM
I have an ex-racer and my doctors (except my physio who thinks riding is an excellent form of exercise for me and is an ex-racer fan herself) think I'm mad :rolleyes:. My medical condition is variable - I have good days and bad days, but even on my good days I have chronic pain and I don't always feel up to riding. Bad days, I can't get out of bed. I have spent time in and out of hospital.
My yard is DIY, my horse a bit on the fizzy side and I am forever being told that, yes, hippotherapy is a great thing for me to do, but if I come off I'm risking osteporosis, blah, blah, blah and if I must ride, I should have a "safer" horse. The way I see it - I am twenty-three years old. I am a confident rider, and I am certainly not scared of coming off. All horses are, to a degree, unpredictable. I have already come to terms with having to use a wheelchair to get around outside and have gone from being a very independent child to requiring a lot of assistance in all aspects of my life. If I don't live my life now, I never will, and you only get one go at it. Yes, I could have a nasty riding accident and be left permanently in my wheelchair, but I could also have a car accident, or any number of other potentially fatal accidents, disability or not. Lots of perfectly able-bodied people who are not born with a disability have serious accidents.
I am incredibly fortunate, and I recognise it, that my partner and my family are very supportive. My OH knows how important Salsa is to me and would never ever ask me to give up for any reason. If I am not well enough to go, or cannot manage something, my family, friends and lovely livery neighbours will give me a hand. Despite being a bit on the fizzy side, it makes no difference to my horse if he gets a bit of a holiday from time to time (he's just had three weeks off because my sharer hasn't had time to ride and I have ruined my back again) because he gets as much turn out as possible. I am very lucky in that he doesn't turn into a nightmare to ride after a short break. If anything, he's lazier because he's not as fit!
Regardless of whether I have a horse or not, my condition is not going to get better and has been gradually getting worse over the last few years, so I am taking the worst case scenario and have accepted that one day I will probably be unable to ride at all. If my condition stabilises and I'm still hacking out aged sixty, then bonus! :D If, one day, I decide that the pain of riding is no longer worth the pleasure I get from it, I will have to decide whether my horse becomes a beloved pet, or if I want to get someone who will come in and do a few jobs like mucking out, for a few days riding a week.
So from my point of view, it is perfectly manageable to have a horse and on-going medical problems, because I have a very good support network of family and friends (and currently on the look-out for a new sharer) to provide me the assistance I need. If I didn't have that, I couldn't keep my horse on DIY - he would have to be on full livery to ensure that he is properly cared for if I am not physically able to get to the stables.
One of my favourite memories as a horse owner was in late winter 2006. Salsa was recovering from a serious infection, and I was recovering from having taken a bad fall down a flight of stairs at work. I spent months at home virtually unable to move, and hated that I couldn't be with Salsa while he was so poorly. When I was able to get into the car again, my step-mum took me to the yard, and I sat in a chair holding Salsa's leadrope while he ate a haynet and my family did all his jobs. Sal and I were both a bit of a mess - he had lost weight and condition and we were both utter wrecks, but he was so pleased to see me, and I was so happy just to be there, that I must have sat in that chair for hours with his leadrope in my hands.
And ooops... that got very long very quickly! :o
27th Nov 2007, 10:37 PM
when i worked in riding schools, we had a few part liveries who worked a few days in the school for the more advanced /special needs riders,
this meant their owners got a reduction on livery fees and the horse was exersized, the school benefited from a better standard of horse when it was needed & which was often 'too good' for general school work, or who had the paitience for special needs kids/adults but maybe was too old for the full time school work?
some of the part time horses were owned by working adults, some by university students away at uni, some busy mums, some semi disabled owners too, there were ponies, and competition horses, every thing from woolycobs to TB, some owners left them on part working livery as a perminant thing, some only a few months on and off,
if you intend getting a horse it might be worth looking into a deal with a riding school, but take advise about the school & get a contract drawn up with details such as how many hours the horse can work max, who pays for any injury it may have during work etc and if they use your tack or school tack, some schools are wonderfull, some are not, be carefull & i hope lucky.
i am returning to horse ownership with a *french rescue, even with many years experience i am aprehensive, and guess what? 1st week i own her i get sick and have to get husband and kids to look after her! sods law or what? so it can happen even if you are not disabled.
*ANYONE INTERESTED IN HELPING/BUYING A FRENCH RESCUED HORSE SEND ME A MESSAGE FOR DETAILS OR SEE :-
(i hope this works, computers are not my top skill!)
28th Nov 2007, 04:43 PM
really interesting stuff. Im not considering getting one right now, because quite frankly im pants and not good enough, but its useful info for the future.
Maybe one day!
14th Feb 2008, 12:51 PM
I am lucky enough to have my own horse despite several serious health porblems / disabilities. I keep him ona DIY yard but there is always the option of the fantastic yard owner (who used to own my horse!) doing him when I am unable, for a little extra livery, and my fantastic mum has been helping pooh-pick the field for me this last week as my spine has become much worse. Basically as others have said, if you have the money and support available to have help / have someone to do your horse when you cannot then it is perfectly possible, and in fact I swear by the fact that having my horse is the one reason Im still here because at times he is the only thing keeping me going when the pain adn frustration and upset all become too much, he is my best friend, yes I also get a lot of benefit from him in hippotherapy and therapeutic riding but also in our bond between us. whenever I end up in hospital, his photo is always by my bed so when I get scared I know he is "there" to reassure me. obviously you do need to ensure you have several back up options of people who can do the horse if you cant, in case the person that usually helps cant etc and I keep a little screw up dog id tag on my saddle with all my medical information in and where my horse is kept etc, and everyone knows that there is a list in the yard diary at the back, one side is his daily routine, written in basic terms so even a non-horsey person could do it, and the other is his feed and hay and exactly what he gets and how much and when etc. In his box of rugs etc there is also a list of useful numbers such as vets, farriers, tack shops, feed shops etc and pinned to the hay shed door is a huge wall planner and down one side of it are all the emergency numbers, emergency contacts, vets, pagers, hospitals etc and down the other a list of useful numbers - hay supplier, feed stores, tack shops, clipping lady, people who may be able to help if needed etc.
Ive been rushed to hospital critically ill twice within the space of a few months toward the end of last year and so I HAVE to ensure I am fully prepared, so everyone knows exactly where everything is, where the list is, the list gives detaisl of where feed is and which rugs etc as well as where spare rugs are if the ones on are wet etc.
With careful planning and preparation it is perfectly possible. Good luck
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