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Hi, Bob!

I am 13 years old. I have been riding horses for six years and I am very good with them! I know lots about horses and have lots of experience. I have been asking my parents for a horse for about two years now and they have refused. They believe that I do not know enough about horses to own one and that I am not responsible enough. I know that I am not "walking horse encyclopedia", but I do know enough about horses to own one. I also know that I am responsible enough to have one. I mean, I have three other pets and I am a very good animal person.

I saw the PERFECT horse this weekend! It is a Tennessee Walking Horse. (my absolute favorite breed). He was an eight year old gelding used as a trail horse. White with a small amount of brown, and one blue eye. The horse costs $1,000 (with tack). I PLEADED with my parents to let me buy this horse and still I got the same response- "NO NO NO".

Do you think that a 13 year old boy who knows a lot about horses and has been riding almost half his life could handle the ownership of a horse? I DO! Please write me back and tell me what you think!

Thank you much !

- J. C.


Howdy, J. C.!

So, what are you trying to do -- get me caught in a cross-fire between you and your folks?!?!?! ;o)

Seriously, you are certainly old enough to own a horse. It wasn't that many years ago when a fellow your age would be running his own farm and getting ready to take a wife. Age isn't the problem. And I agree that there are a lot of benefits to owning a horse of your own -- especially for a young person.

The problem probably lies in the long-range impact of owning a horse. If you have the land for a horse, there are the costs of building a horse-safe facility -- at least $3,000 for fences, shelter, stock tank, etc. If you will be boarding him elsewhere, you're looking at a minimum of $1,500 a year. Then there are the costs of trimming, shoeing, shots, wormer, etc. Those items can easily add another $400 a year. At age 13, you can't drive, so who is going to provide transportation to your horse?

In addition to having the initial $1,000 purchase price, do you earn the $2,000 or so a year that it will cost to support that horse?

Another factor that young folks don't usually consider, but that weighs heavy on parents' minds, is what will happen in another five years (or less). Unless your folks are also into horses, they're going to be stuck with a horse they don't need and can't use when you head off for college. By that time, a horse often becomes like a member of the family, and selling it can be a gut-wrenching event.

It's a tough call, but I'd probably have to side with your folks on this one. A more practical solution may be to rent or lease a horse, or to find someone with a horse that needs someone to work with it. That way you'd get to ride, continue learning more about horses, and save about $11,000 toward college. Then, after you graduate, land a job, and buy a place of your own, you can go out and buy a horse for yourself. (It may seem like an eternity to you now, but that time will arrive a lot sooner than you'd think!)

Thanks for the note. I hope things work out for you -- be a little creative in looking for other solutions!


Hi again Bob,

I understand what your saying! But i love horses so much! They are my life! I NEED to be around them! I NEED to ride them! I have been using someone else's riding faculties for years and now I really feel like I should have MY OWN horse. There is just a need inside me to be around horses! I absolutely love this horse that someone is trying to sell me. ( the one I told you about). I really want a horse. We have land at our house to keep a horse, but there are also many horse farms in our area where I can board a horse. I really wish my parents would let me get one!

- J. C.


Hey, I can certainly relate to your "need" to be around horses... and I strongly recommend that parents do whatever they can to provide their kids with as much horse exposure as possible.

Have you tried asking your folks what they see as problems with you owning a horse? It's amazing what a little mature, unemotional discussion can do. Remember, however, that at the same time you want them to have an open mind to your views, YOU also have to have a truly open mind to theirs.

Go though the possible objections that I outlined in my previous e-mail, and prepare some realistic proposals for how you will deal with them.

-- How will you come up with the purchase price?

-- Do you now have a job that pays you at least $2,000.00 a year (after taxes)? If not, how are you going to get one?

-- What is your plan for the horse after you leave home in five years?

Have you ever considered that your very insistence that you NEED to be around horses may suggest to your folks that you may lack the self-control and self discipline that horse ownership requires? How do you plan to demonstrate your self-control to your folks? For example, are your grades up where they need to be? Do you cheerfully do more than your share around the house? If not, your folks would be justified in fearing that a horse might leave them with a large batch of additional chores for them to handle if you cop out.

Finally, if horses truly ARE your life, you've got a BIG problem. Horses are very important to me, but nowhere near as important as Jesus Christ, my family or other people. On a Sunday morning or evening, I may WANT to go riding, but you'll always find me in church. If horses are your number one priority, you need to get your priorities straightened out. Whenever Jesus isn't your life, you're in big time trouble!

Again, sit down and CALMLY talk it over with your folks, and see if there's any way you can work with them to solve the deadlock. And if they have any questions I might be able to answer, I'd be happy to hear from them.

Keep me posted... and God bless!

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