Horse Previews Magazine website - Posted on 06/05/2001; 2:00:00PM.

Consider A Weanling

As you read this, imagine all the people who are dreaming about owning a horse and realize all the horse trading that is going on, all around the region around the clock. Deep down, everybody wants a horse. Buyers just want one a bit more than sellers. This is the summer to get one. If you can't cough up the coin to buy a seasoned 5 year old, all energetic, youthful, trained up, tuned up, coming into its prime and ready to go--consider a weanling instead.

If you don't have the horse sense yet to pick out the right 3 or 4 year old and get it ready to ride, compete, breed, or whatever; if you can't put the training into a youngster and lack the patience to endure the "terrible twos;" and if you don't want to take a chance on a sometimes unpredictable yearling - consider a weanling instead.

Birthing a foal and monitoring its mom nursing it through the first few months until weaning is nerve wracking on seller owners. Let them do it. The nursing period is a great time for human bonding, observation, and appreciation, but it is a critical time for expertise when the window for veterinary opportunity is wide open. Containing the transition away from mom at weaning time is tough on the tender-hearted. From the owner's viewpoint, weaning time is a good time to sell.

If you are just starting out on the pathway to enjoyment of horses, or well on your way, you might do well to buy a weanling. For one thing, they are at a buyer's sweet spot on price. For another, they are at the prime transition time in their life: strong enough for independence from mom. They are a snapshot of what they will be as grownups, without the secrets which accumulate over time in the owner's space. In this part of the Northwest US, we have Fall and Winter seasons to bond, observe and learn. You can share the great growth spurt without mystery. You can ease into horse ownership without the worries of previous handling and training or the daunting task of learning too much horsemanship all at once. Incremental elements can be practiced in Fall and refined in Spring. You can enjoy a new horse without superficially imposed pressures. By the time it's a yearling you can decide what you really want to do with it. You can reconsider horse ownership, or start to get serious, knowing full well that you did the right thing when you bought a weanling.

Fasten the gate,

Bob Howdy, PhD

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