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QUESTION:

Dear Cowboy Bob:

I'm probably going to start horse back riding lessons, to learn and prepare before I get my horse. Well, I found two places I could start out at in the area; I would like to know if I should ask questions? If so, what questions should I ask? Please write back soon.

Thanks,

A.

ANSWER:

Should you ask questions? Absolutely! I'm still constantly asking questions of other horse owners, of vets, and various other experts. That's how a person learns best. What questions should you ask? I don't know, because I have no idea how much you've already learned.

One way to come up with good questions is to picture yourself going through the process of getting a place ready for a horse, selecting a horse, caring for it (in sickness and in health), and working with it. There are some good books for beginners in my website's Trading Post, and John Lyons has some excellent books, newsletters and videos for sale. All of those materials will help answer questions you may not have even thought of yet.

Above all, pay attention. All the instruction in the world won't do you a bit of good if you don't listen carefully and make sure you really understand what you're being told. If you don't understand a word, don't pretend you do; ask what it means. For example, if I told you something about your horse's frog, chestnut, pole, withers, or stifle, would you know what I was talking about? If not, ask for more details. As the saying goes, "It's better to ask dumb questions than to make dumb mistakes." Just drifting along with your brain in neutral is a good way to get yourself killed when horses are involved.

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