Pets aren’t like family; they are family. When the time comes to add a new member to your home, you think about your lifestyle and what you want in a relationship. Maybe you want a pet to join you for walks, play games, listen to your problems while snuggling, relax when you give pets, get nuzzles or someone to nurture and love. We’re not talking about dogs, cats or rabbits. Think bigger. Much bigger. Think horse. That’s right. Let’s change your thinking about horses as pets!
First up, let’s talk about the difference between a companion horse and a horse as a pet. A companion horse lives with other horses, and his job is to be a companion to those other horses. A pet horse is adopted simply because a human wants a horse for any (or all) of the reasons above. (It’s important to note that neither companion nor pet horses are intended to be ridden—maybe they’re not physically capable or for another reason.)
Having a horse as a pet isn’t as peculiar as you may think once you realize some of the benefits of adopting one of these majestic creatures:
- Gets you outside. Enjoy the Colorado lifestyle you love with a horse by your side, walking or running on trails or exploring a new path. (Bonus points that a horse won’t stop and sniff things as much as a dog!)
- Keeps you social. Horses are known to be playful, energetic animals with distinctive personalities, and they thrive in social settings.
- Exercise! See the first point, and then add on barn work. That’ll get your muscles working!
- Lots of time to love. Horses have a longer lifespan than most pets and can live 25 to 30 years.
- Find your Zen. Being around horses is peaceful and emotionally rewarding. Any day, and especially during these oh-so unusual times, people, including volunteers at the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center, find therapeutic value in caring for and being around horses.
Have we piqued your interest yet? Adopting a horse isn’t as different as adopting a “traditional” pet. Here are a few things you should know about having a horse as a pet.
- Like all pets, horses require care, including regular veterinary visits, vaccines and deworming at least two times per year, foot care every eight weeks and dental checks once a year. And, while it’s not required care, horses can enjoy massages and chiropractic care, as well. Sweet!
- Most any horse can be a pet horse, although older, more laid-back ones tend to come to mind first, depending on what you want. It’s also important to know that some horses tend to like their alone time more than others and aren’t keen on affection.
- While exercise is up to the owner, horses enjoy being taught tricks, hand walking, crossing obstacles – any stimulation to keep them sharp.
- The ideal situation for owning a pet horse includes someone with property, time to give and love to share. And, because horses are herd animals, they would do best when they’re not by themselves and have at least one other type of livestock as a companion if other horses aren’t around.
It’s time to change our thinking about horses as pets. After all, we don’t question the importance of dogs or cats as companions and family members, and we accept they improve our health and lifestyle, so why not horses?
Help the Harmony Equine Center learn about pet horse ownership by taking our short survey. Five minutes of your time will provide valuable feedback to our team!
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