Back in the day, to borrow a cliche, our Tri-Community was sparsely populated and very rural. Times called for big backyards and plenty of animals you’d never see in the big metropolis. Then, housing costs down the hill began to skyrocket, bringing an influx of city slickers into the area. It was uncharted territory for many, with the allure of suddenly being able to have their own farm or ranch. Today, many folks have done just that – bought their dream property to nurture their love for horses, livestock, and poultry. Here, many have found the ideal place to raise their families among others who share their love of a rural lifestyle. In this article, we will focus on equine and what it takes to make the experience of horse ownership in this community successful.
Taking that first step toward buying your own horse requires a lot of legwork. Remember, not all of Phelan or Pinon Hills is zoned for livestock, though most areas out here are. Horses are only allowed in very few parts of Wrightwood. Zoning is an important consideration when you have decided to purchase horses! Then there are other vital factors to consider, from the obvious (ensuring a safely fenced property that is cleared of weeds and debris; purchasing proper housing such as pipe corrals with shelter or a barn with box stalls) to those little things you might not be thinking of, such as halters, saddles, bridles, another assorted tack; brushes and other various grooming equipment; medical and first aid supplies; buckets, feeders, water tubs and the list goes on! It is essential to ensure your horse is secure and you have everything necessary for their comfort. We have a number of feed stores locally at which you can pick up much of what you need.
Horses are often accident-prone or susceptible to illness or injury like any animal; plus, they require routine maintenance. Here in the Tri-Community, one of the most common hazards is the Cholla bushes we see frequently. There are big groves of these devil plants everywhere from Highway 138 all the way to Highway 395. While trail riding our local washes, such as Sheep Creek and its subsidiaries, riders must be careful of possible flash flooding during certain times of the year. Another danger out on the trail can be old downed barbed wire fences, in which horses can become entangled and panic. Also, the most common rattlesnakes in Phelan and Pinon Hills are Sidewinders or Mojave Greens; in Wrightwood, we generally see Southern Pacific rattlesnakes.
Because there are so many things with the possibility of injuring horses out here and fairly common illnesses that affect horses, you must develop a relationship with a veterinarian specializing in equines. Additionally, several types of vaccinations are a must bi-annually, as is regular deworming for internal parasites. These things are important to know as a new horse owner.
A horse industry professional called a farrier (or horse-shoer) is also a requirement. Many horses are fine to simply have their hooves trimmed as opposed to being shod (for the novice or first-time horse owner, this means nailing steel shoes to the horse’s hoof), and this service must be performed on average every six to eight weeks regardless of whether you trim or shoe your horses. Most equine-friendly areas in Wrightwood and an awful lot of Pinon Hills have very rocky ground, which means horseshoes are a necessity, while Phelan is covered in more sandy, desert-like soil and fine for barefoot horses to thrive.
Now that you are ready to find that perfect mount for your family, having proper guidance and gathering appropriate knowledge of what you are looking for in that first horse is vital. Seeking out a professional trainer or riding instructor is strongly recommended to avoid the pitfalls of choosing the wrong animal. Good, conscientious trainers will help you locate the ideal horse for whatever you wish to do with them. A proper purchase search will include having a list of your requirements, needs, and wants. Requirements are generally a safe, sane, serviceably sound animal, meaning a well-trained horse that can comfortably carry riders without veterinary intervention and needs too much maintenance in the way of expensive feed supplements or special horseshoes. Needs, for instance, are going to be what matches you best to your horse–size being one of the most important factors. Then come those “wants.” A preferred breed or color, or whether you want a mare (female) or a gelding (altered male). There are a number of equine professionals who reside locally, and most of us are happy to assist you!
In summary, these tips are just touching the surface of getting you to the point where you are ready to begin your journey of becoming a real horseman or horsewoman. Taking horseback riding lessons and/or having your horse worked with by a trainer is suggested until you have sufficient knowledge and experience to be on your own. Our Tri-Community is one of the most welcoming horsey towns I personally have ever had the pleasure of being a part of, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy horse ownership here, too!