I knew I wanted a horse from the time I was a little girl. My family was not "horsey" and I did not think owning one was a realistic possibility before adulthood. As it turned out, I was able to get my first horse at age twelve but for many people that can't happen. Horse owning is a huge responsibility and waiting until you have the time, resources and knowledge are a must. So what do you do if you or your child are dying for some "horsey time" right now? Here are some options!
1) Take lessons- All riders need to learn the proper position, aids (the way you tell your horse what to do), safety rules and care of horses. Books are great but not a substitute for having someone watch and evaluate what you are doing.
2) Join 4-H- The 4-H horse program has many opportunities to learn about horses without owning one. Horse Bowl and Hippology Contests are a chance to learn about horses and compete against others that love horses. Horse Judging teaches you how to evaluate a horses conformation (the way they are built) and their performance in different events. Some clubs offer clinics and other learning opportunities. Each club is different but if there is not a club in your area, find an Adult that will help start on, contact your County Extension Agent and get one going!
3) Volunteer at a Horse Rescue- Don't expect this to be a glamorous job- you may wind up painting fences and cleaning water buckets but that's what owning a horse is like.
4) Lease a horse- If you have taken lessons and learned the basics there are often opportunities to lease a horse. Many leases are "farm leases" meaning the horse stays with the caretaker it is with now. Leases can be for a month, a year, or what ever time is agreeable to the owner. Some horses are availble for "partial lease" meaning you can ride them a certain number of days per week
5) Exercise a horse for someone- Please be careful about this one. Horses all have quirks and sometimes owners don't realize that their horse may not be for everybody. You also have to worry about liability on this. That said, there are nice older horses out there that the owner may not have the time needed to keep them in shape so it is a possiblity
6) Go to Horse Camp- There are hundreds of camps out there that will give you a great introduction to horses