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One to Two horses - what did you wish you had known first?

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  • One to Two horses - what did you wish you had known first?

    Hi All! I've had my one horse for about 1 year now, and she's a doll who has come a very long way. I recently got a new job which will make it possible to get a second horse. I've found an OTTB that I think is just darling and would get as a flip project with full knowledge that if anything happens he'll be forever horse #2.

    On that note, aside from the financial side which is a given, what do you wish you had known before you got that second horse? What are the things that you thought you had figured out on paper, but were more of a challenge in real life?

  • #2
    Because my horses are forever horses and I board and can't afford more than two, I stagger their ages (about 10 years apart). Hopefully staggering means I won't end up with two pasture ornaments despite the youngster's penchant for vet bills. My older horse is now mostly retired and the youngster is in his prime showing years, but there were a few years when they were both competing.

    The thing I found hardest is having the time to ride both. I do almost all the riding myself plus a full time office job and commute. During the time they were both showing, I found it stressful to keep them both ridden and fit enough. I felt I had to be at the barn every day to get them both ridden. Now that one is mostly retired it's nice that I don't feel the pressure to ride the retiree as many times each week and I don't have to worry if I have to miss a ride on the retiree here or there.



    • #3
      It's going to really depend how much time and money you have and how much barn work and training and riding you are able to do yourselyourself.

      If you are stretched for time and cash a second horse is a disaster, neither gets worked enough

      Realise you will need a new saddle and possibly bridle, bit, turnout blankets, etc.

      OTTB are their own thing, many love them but many have come to grief with them as well.

      How long have you been riding and what is your experience schooling hot green horses ?


      • #4
        Having time to work both horses.
        Recognizing that the horse you intend to resell may not fit (or enjoy) your chosen discipline.

        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.


        • #5
          I wish I had known that when you add the second horse, along came 3, 4, 5 and 6!

          Time to work everyone. It's hard!


          • #6
            I was riding two horses last year, doing self board for both, and then doing care and groundwork on a third horse for the winter.

            You need to move really fast and organised to do this. If you ride each horse an hour there is still at least a half hour of grooming and untacking for each so budget 3 hours a day just to ride.

            For me it really helped that one horse just loved the dressage arena and the other loved the trails. I was finetuning the dressage in one and then going out to fit up my mare trot canter sets and two point for me usually in jump saddle. So different focus and different muscle groups!

            I figured barn chores and setting up feed took me a half hour each. I had some time consuming things like making mash and weighing my own mares hay.

            I got very efficient. And I pretty much stopped standing around the barn doing pointless chitchat!


            • #7
              Now that I have two, I've realized I'm more a one-horse person - two is (for me) more than twice the time (and money). There are ways to work around the time issue - you can plan to work one and lunge the other every day - but it's still mental energy trying to keep up with two (or more)!

              Perhaps if I'd started when I were younger...


              • #8
                Twice as much time at the barn! I didn't think riding both in the same day would be any problem at all, and for a light hack, it isn't. But, lessons and/or showing? Kind of exhausting...especially showing.

                I was used to 4 lessons a week and a couple of hacks when I just had one horse, and was excited to double my riding time when I bought another. Instead, I now stagger my rides, so I'm still riding the same amount, just alternating horses. My trainer is riding my young horse days I'm riding my older one.

                I don't know how far your commute is to the barn, but realize you might not have the time to work both horses every day and you may want to come up with a schedule that is realistic for you!


                • #9
                  I think the phrase for kids is "one is one, two is twenty" and I feel like horses are similar. If you board I guess it would be easier but if you keep at home/self care its a big jump. If my #1 horse was sound, young, competitive I would 100% have not take on a second. If you work full time/have an SO/and occassionally enjoy doing things other than riding I would opt out, but everyone is different.


                  • #10
                    I am currently at 3. All at home.
                    Riding (Dressage & trails) horse, decorative pony & #3 - mini who came to me @ age 66 with a totally New To Me discipline: Driving.
                    I'll be 70 in May & admit to considering getting another mini so I can drive a pair.

                    After many - 50+ - years of riding lesson horses, shareboard, boarding & showing my own, & finally moving to my own farm, I honestly cannot think of doing things differently.
                    Until 7 years ago I worked & DH (lost 17yrs ago) joined me in the sport.
                    At one point nearly my entire paycheck went to board our 2 at a fancy barn.

                    Somehow I always found the time & money.
                    That's how important horses are to me.
                    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                    • #11
                      I work full time and sometimes struggle to ride one regularly. I feel like with two you either have to have a lot of time in your evenings (or mornings) to do both or you need a good pro/assistant to rotate your rides with during the week. I also travel a lot so my schedule is extra complicated. That being said I do have two but they have a 21+ year age gap. The one that turns 27 this year is full retired so I only go to see her on weekends and the one that turns 5 shortly I ride 5-6 days a week when I'm not traveling (otherwise the pro/assistant ride him).

                      I wish I could see the retiree more often, but since they're at separate facilities a good 20+ minutes apart it's really difficult to do. She's well cared for and happy. Having both in one place would be ideal but is not possible in this scenario. If I committed to seeing both on a more regular basis, I wouldn't get home til 9 or later every night, never see my husband, and be exhausted all the time. Having two in regular riding would be super challenging for me, I would end up paying for a lot of training rides or I would try and half lease one or both out. I almost got a second in training horse years ago, and in hindsight I'm glad it fell through because my career changed in unexpected ways, which is something else to consider.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ClassyJumper View Post
                        I think the phrase for kids is "one is one, two is twenty" and I feel like horses are similar.
                        This. Additional horses (and kids) is not additive, it's exponential. Two horses (or two kids) take more than twice as much everything as one, the biggest drain being time. I don't know why that is, but I have found it to be true.

                        "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                        that's even remotely true."

                        Homer Simpson


                        • #13
                          Thanks all for the insight!

                          Scribbler I've been riding for quite a while, I've got experience with all sorts (spooky WBs, hot TBs, terrible ponies with no shoulder or neck who spin and put you on the ground in a heartbeat then casually walk away and start grazing) and I've got a trainer I trust who has similar experience so that piece I'm not too concerned with.

                          I'm fortunate enough that my job is flexible, I can work 7-3 and then go out to the barn with plenty of afternoon time. Winter will be harder, but fortunately DST will give me an easy start. The place I board does full care, so it would just be the riding/grooming piece - it takes me about 1.5 hours for my one horse, and I realize I would need to be a little bit more efficient/less of a perfectionist about getting every single spec of dirt off of her before I tack up.

                          I do plan on 1/2 leasing out my mare to someone in the barn so she'll get worked 2x a week + 1 trainer ride, that'll be 3 for her and I'll make up the other 2. Fortunately she's fine with 5 rides a week, and that will also take a bit of the money sting out of it.

                          OTTB is turning 6 and my mare is turning 11 this year, so that could be a bit of a challenge in that they're close in age. I plan on breeding my mare at some point to get a baby (the one thing I've never done with horses) and have that potentially disastrous experience.

                          I'm vetting it this week so I'll let everyone know how it goes!


                          • #14
                            I did something similar. Leased out my older schoolmaster, and bought myself a greenie. No way would I have time to work them both regularly. For me, the time constraint is the hardest piece by far.


                            • #15
                              Honestly..... it's a lot more than paying twice board and having a spare horse to ride.

                              Expect to spend WAY more time at the barn. Every bill will double, and somehow new ones will appear. If your current horse is easy, it's almost a guarantee that the second one will bring more issues.

                              If you are in a new job that pays more, I'd assume you may need to be working more or will be more tired? At least that is my experience. I had one quirky horse and when he retired I replaced him with 2 relatively easy horses.... I thought I could handle it after him, and I did, but I did not like it. Ended up going back to one. Maybe if both horses are pretty well educated and you have a flexible schedule.... It's just a lot of work.

                              That said, I actually own 4 horses..... one out on lease, mare and foal with my parents, and I have a young gelding I am about to start. But only one that I am/will be completely paying for and riding full time. So take my answer as you will, as I've got backup horses to spare .

                              Edited to add:

                              I just saw that you are planning to 1/2 lease the mare. That will definitely help. As long as you are confident in her ability to get a continue to get leases. My horse on lease is pretty much a saint, and willingly will do a variety of jobs. I'm confident in his ability to continue to be leased.

                              Either way, good luck and let us know how it goes!


                              • #16
                                When I boarded two, I alternated who got ridden first, so if I ran out of energy, or had to shortchange the second ride, it wasn't always the same horse.

                                Now I keep mine at home and have 2-3 riding horses plus a couple of youngsters growing up to be my next generation. I never have enough time to keep up with everything, and I don't want to sell anyone, but do sometimes wish I had a horse or two fewer.

                                Even when I had just the two, budget was a thing. I could focus on showing ONE horse, with the second getting to play at some smaller venues just a few times a year.

                                And, like ghst13 , I'd deliberately stagger their ages, so theoretically I had an up-and-coming while still having a going horse to show and campaign more seriously.

                                A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's does that...



                                • #17
                                  Like everyone else said, time. I was surprised at how much longer two vs. one took, especially as someone who routinely hacked multiple horses in a day. I had expected the bills to double, so no real surprise there. (Somehow it can still feel like a surprise when you see it, though...)

                                  What I totally had not planned for was twice the "interruptions." Having twice as many random injuries that either require the vet out, and me to take off work to meet them, or just me being there on a day I might have planned to have off for wrapping/cleaning/icing or whatever their minor bump may require. I found this very difficult to sustain with a full-time job - I had enough flexibility to duck out here and there for one, but the second one pushed it. I let my trainer handle more of the vet visits at that point, but giving up my physical presence there led to its own challenges.

                                  I also hadn't really thought about what I'd do about caring for one while I was away at a show with the other. I had to pay for some extra care to cover those cases and the one left at home missed out on a week or two of meaningful work.

                                  Also, I bought (needed?) way more new stuff for #2 than I expected.
                                  If the pony spits venom in your face or produces a loud roar, it is probably not a pony. Find another. -The Oatmeal


                                  • #18
                                    I agree with others that it's more feasible if you have staggered ages/workloads or half-lease one out. It sounds like you have thought things through well.

                                    I work full-time too and keep my horses at home. I've had an older show horse plus a youngster who only needs to work 3-4 days a week and I found that quite manageable. I've also had one that I ride full-time plus one that I half-lease and that has worked well too. I've rarely had to buy a lot for a new horse...sometimes blankets, bits, half-pads, or a browband to make an existing bridle fit better.

                                    I prioritized whichever horse I was showing or felt needed more work. I rode both horses both weekend days and one or two weekdays. The other weekdays I just rode one. I ride before work in the summer and can't fit two rides in in the morning, so I'd end up riding one before work and one after. Not a problem since they're at home and I'd get sweaty and gross just from doing afternoon chores anyway, but if I boarded I don't think I'd want to split it up like that.

                                    I currently have an 11-year-old who is teaching me to event. I want an OTTB or youngster to bring along as my next event horse but I'm forcing myself to wait until at least next year so I can focus on my current guy and let my savings account recover from buying him. It helps to stay away from Canter, Facebook, etc.
                                    Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                                    • #19
                                      Update on my end - given the state of the world I've decided to hold off on the OTTB plan until things calm down. This little OTTB was QUITE special but had a ccaaaarraaaaazy owner, so maybe a bullet dodged in any case. Thanks so much for all of the great intel from everyone!


                                      • #20
                                        I keep both mine at home, but did board 2 previously - the expense of boarding 2 was a big driver in purchasing my land.

                                        I have learned that it is VERY convenient & can save a lot of $ if both horses are similar sized. Being able to rotate blankets, bridles, boots, etc, is important to my non existent funds. Even tho one is 16 h & long backed, the other is 16.2 & legs for miles, they at least both wear horse sized head gear, close enough blanket sizes to share a spare sheet, I don't have to buy new galloping boots. I didn't get so lucky with saddles, they are very different shapes, bc 1 is Appendix & I is full TB, but if you have 2 of a more similar type, you can even share saddles.
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