The Lesson Horse Lifestyle
Keeping school horses happy and healthy
A good lesson horse is a valuable member of any riding program, safely carrying and patiently teaching newbies of all ages. To keep these schoolmasters happy and healthy, we must take into account factors unique to their situation, from carrying different riders to sharing saddlery.
Harry Werner, VMD, founder of Werner Equine, in North Granby, Connecticut, has been honored with International Equine Veterinarian Hall of Fame induction and the American Association of Equine Practitioners Distinguished Life Member Award for his work, and has seen a lot of lesson horses over the years among his patient population. He says not all riding programs are equal in terms of horse welfare.
“In my experience, there’s a tremendous amount of variability in lesson horse life and care. There are programs in which you look at the lesson horses and think they lucked out; unfortunately, that’s not universal,” he says, explaining that much of this is due to school horses tending to be more of a commodity than privately owned horses. “It doesn’t mean that they aren’t still animals that people love and care for, but they have to go to work or there is income loss.”
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