Information and Resources
At M-Bar-K Farms we specialize in helping people get started in horses. We understand
that some parents feel completely at a loss when it comes to helping their horse-crazy
child. For some children this is a passing fancy, but for others it is an obsession. There
is right way and a wrong way to go about getting into the horse world and we hope that
this page will be helpful in this.
Question: My child loves horses and we are thinking of buying her a horse of her own.
We can afford the upkeep, so what should we do?
Answer: We understand that the thought of surprising your child with her first horse can
be fun, but unfortunately in reality it does not work out very well for quite a few reasons.
You would not think of buying your child a piano and not giving them lessons first to see
if they will stay interested in the instrument. That is also the best way to go about horses.
Your child will be perfectly happy with a year or two of weekly riding lessons and that will
help you decide if this is something she will stay involved with. About half the people
who come out and take lessons realize there is way more involved with horses then they
pictured. The other half still want to get one, but they decide that they need to go about it
in a completely different manner.
Question: My child's instructor is selling a used saddle for $475.00. We see brand new
ones at the store for $275.00. Wouldn't a new saddle be better?
Answer: When it comes to saddles a lot of time a used one is a better choice. Many
saddles are cheaply made nowadays and will rapidly lose their value and usability. A
good used saddle that was $1,500 originally and is now $475 will be worth $475 when
your child is done with it as long as it is cared for properly. A cheap new saddle of
$275.00 may end up being worthless after a few years of riding in it. These cheap
saddles also may be uncomfortable to ride in or worse, they may sore up the back of
your child's horse. This could be a potentially dangerous situation.
Question: I have been looking for a riding instructor for my child and the prices range
from $25.00 per hour up to $60.00 for a half hour lesson. Wouldn't I be better off going
with the less expensive ones so that my child can take more lessons at a lower cost?
Answer: This is a common question. The reasons that the prices vary is based on the
skill and knowledge of the instructor. Same thing with the piano instructor. Would you
pay for your child to take lessons with an instructor who has never had lessons herself
and has only been playing for a year or two? Or would you want one who has been
taught in a professional school or has twenty or thirty years of experience? More lessons
with the first instructor is not going to get your child anywhere. Riding is very risky. Good
lessons will help your child stay balanced and in control and will minimize this risk. Bad
lessons are not only a waste of your money if your child is not learning good habits, it is
worse then that. Bad instructor's may teach bad or dangerous habits out of their own
ignorance. Increasing the chances of your child being hurt by tenfold. Don't spend
$250.00 for ten cheap lessons when your child isn't learning half of what they would
learn in just one lesson with a qualified instructor. Look up the background information
of these instructors and ask to watch a lesson. You will see a big difference between the
Another problem that people run into are insisting on taking lessons with someone with
a great show history. Not all good instructors show extensively and not all show winners
can teach students or train horses. Many have just been handed or lucked into a great
one in a million horse. These people usually make horrific instructors because they
don't have the patience to deal with people very well since they did not have to work from
the ground up to get where they are.
Question: I want to help with my child's horse, but I don't know where to start.
Answer: One way is to ask your child's instructor to give you a ground horsemanship
lesson. One on safely handling the horse, grooming, tacking-up and how to properly
care for things. This will show you how your child is being taught to do these things and
how to help your child when they need it. At M-Bar-K Farms we help parents with these
things as well as minor vet care, trailering instruction, walking you through horse
showing processes and much more. We can guide you through the entire process of
horse ownership so that you and your child will have a wonderful and successful
experience with your horse. We structure our lessons to meet your individual needs.
Question: Buying a horse is such a big step, but I think my child may need more then
just a lesson once a week. What else can I do?
Answer: If your child has been taking lessons for a year or two and is wanting their own
horse, but you aren't ready there are two steps that you can take before taking that
plunge. One is Part time leasing. Sometimes your child's instructor or another boarder
at the barn your child takes lessons at will split the cost of their horses board, shoeing
and routine vet care. Your child can get the feel of horse ownership with only half of the
expense. The next step up from that is a full lease. Some owners have no time for their
horse and will allow you to pay a small fee, plus all expenses to use their horse all the
time. There are usually a lot of stipulations involved in either of these options. M-Bar-K
Farms can help guide you through this process from picking a horse out as well as
going over the contract with you. After about six months of this you should be able to tell
if horse ownership is for you. Is your child still very involved with this horse and has she
been able to meet all of her responsibilities at home and school? Have you been able to
handle the expense without to much trouble? If the answer to these questions is yes,
then it may be the right time to move on to the next step. If the answer is no, then you
have not wasted thousands of dollars on a horse that you will now have to figure out
what to do with. Remember "It is way easier to buy a horse then it is to sell one".
Question: My child is very young and/or small. We want to buy him a pony, but his
instructor wants a small horse. What is the difference? This would be his first horse.
Wouldn't a little pony his own size be better?
Answer: In this situation size is not what is important, safety is. We only recommend
ponies for advanced child riders. Ponies can be very hard to control and if they are
behaving very badly it is extremely hard to have them schooled (retrained). Schooling is
very important for beginner horses. If a pony is too small for your child's instructor to ride
and keep his training level up then the pony's training will sink down to your child's
beginner level. There are ten times more good quiet horses out there then good quiet
small ponies and sometimes you may have to pay much more for a good pony then a
quiet gentle horse. Horses are also good since your child is less apt to physically
outgrow it as quickly. If your child outgrows the horse in ability, then it is a good time to
look at ponies to give your child a much more challenging mount.
Question: My child has been doing great with her leased horse and I am ready to buy her
her own horse. Any suggestions?
Answer: Yes, please make sure that your child's instructor helps you with this. Her
instructor may know of horses that people are looking to sell and also has contacts that
they can go through to locate some good ones. Your instructor can spot horse traders
who prey on inexperienced horse buyers and they can usually spot soundness or vices
before you can. A good instructor knows your child's abilities and can pick out a horse
who's temperament is a suitable match. You can permanently ruin your child's love of
horses if you buy a horse that is too much for them to handle, or is below their skill level
so that they become bored with the horse. We had one parent tell us that after his
daughter took five years of lessons he bought her a 17 year old horse and she lost
interest in the horse after just three years. We were surprised that she was interested in
the horse for more then three weeks. This horse was way below her skill level at the very
beginning. Another parent bought her totally inexperienced child an untrained five year
old morgan mare as her first horse. After the child was repeatedly thrown in the dirt, she
wanted nothing more to do with horses. Her mother told us that she thought this was
the best way for her daughter to learn. Actually it was the best way for them to ruin this
horse and get their child injured. We suggest one to two thousand hours of riding
experience before attempting to work with an untrained horse, including foals and
Question: People tell me that we can find good family horses very cheap at an auction.
Is this a good idea?
Answer: We sometimes take our students on field trips to auctions to show them why
they should never buy a horse at one. First of all there are two different types of auctions.
There are select sale auctions at large world shows that have very nice horses from
reputable breeders, but usually these horses go for a lot of money and are not good first
horses since they are meant for high level showing or racing. Something a beginner is
not ready for. The other type is the local "Every Thursday Night" auction. When we walk
through one of these places with our students we point out horses that are permanently
lame, scarred, starved, very young and untrained or very very old. Some are very sick,
sometimes with extremely contagious diseases. This is also a dumping ground for
problem horses that people are trying to get rid of. Horses are routinely drugged to
mask soundness or temperament issues. You will not save any money and you will
have a heart broken child if that nice horse you bring home is so lame that your child can
never ride him, or becomes a horse that runs away, with your child holding on for dear
life, when the drugs finally wear off. If this happens you will have no recourse except to
try to pass the horse off onto another unsuspecting person or give the horse away.