How to SAFELY beat the high cost of horse keeping - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 04-17-2002, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Age: 40
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How to SAFELY beat the high cost of horse keeping

How to SAFELY beat the high cost of horse keeping

Many first time Pet Parents often believe that adopting their horse is the biggest expense they will have when it comes to their new equine family member. However, providing your horse with the proper care he needs to remain healthy and happy can be, by far, the most costly. But don't despair! There are ways to keep expenses down without jeopardizing your horse's health.

Keeping your horse at pasture
If you've adopted a hardy breed, such as a morgan or a quarter horse, and you live in a farming area where you own more than three acres, you can keep your horse at grass. This is definitely the cheapest option for the average Pet Parent who uses his or her horse or pony for hacking or trail rides. Pasturing cuts down on the cost of bedding, extra feed, and stable maintenance. A running shed--one horse Pet Parent uses the body of a truck--will do just fine for shelter from wind and rain. You can save money, too, by rolling up your sleeves and doing work like fencing or cutting back brush etc. yourself.

If you don't have your own land, you can try asking around to see if there's a farmer who would lease you a field. An even cheaper option is for your horse to share a field with sheep or cattle. Farmers are often happy to oblige with this because horses eat the coarse grass other animals leave behind. Your horse will be happy with this arrangement, too, because he will have company. Sometimes a group of Pet Parents lease a field together as a way to save money.

Boarding
Boarding usually costs almost twice as much as taking care of your own horse, but if there is no way of keeping your horse in your own stable or at pasture, there are ways to cut expenses in this area as well. Stables in farming communities are usually cheaper than the suburbs. The cheapest of all is often the small family-type operation where there's a spare stall and a Pet Parent who is happy to have the extra income. Sometimes you can even get half board if you take a turn at the daily feeds, or care for all the horses when the owner is away. The next cheapest option would be a casual-type commercial barn with a combination of Western and English riding. The options are usually full or partial board. Partial is, of course, the cheapest--it usually means they will do the feedings but you're responsible for everything else.

At show barns, you might be able to keep costs down by working off part of the board. Often these jobs include mucking out stalls, grooming horses, or helping in the office. Some riding schools will give you a discount if you allow your horse to be used in lessons. Be sure you know the manager and teaching methods at the barn before you agree to this. Also, put in writing exactly how many lessons you are allowing your horse to work, and if possible, specify an instructor--one you trust. In a good situation this can work well, as your horse gets schooling under professional supervision.

Feeding
A Pet Parent lucky enough to care for his or her own horse is often short on storage space and time. Large food manufacturers, like Purina, are aware of this and, therefore, have developed the convenient 50lb bags of all-inclusive pellets. Pet Parents should consider getting together with neighbors when ordering pellets and bales of hay. The bigger the order the cheaper it will be.

Bedding
Shavings are usually plentiful and often the cheapest bedding option. If there's a sawmill near you, you might be lucky enough to get shavings for free, but check very carefully for stray nails and splinters before spreading it in the stall. Also make sure it hasn't been treated with chemicals or insecticides, which can damage your horse's hooves. Look for pine and cedar shavings, as opposed to oak, which contains tannic acid that can cause your horse's feet to heat.

Medical care
Many colleges offer horse management courses that you can sign up for regardless of whether or not you are in a degree program there. These courses are a wise investment for a Pet Parent as they teach basic first aid, and will cut out the unnecessary expenses of calling the veterinarian for every little problem. This will insure you have money to pay for the important annual veterinary visit, for regular visits from the farrier, and for the real medical emergencies.

Horse clothing and tack
Of course, you can always buy a cheap new saddle to save money, but a good second-hand saddle will last longer, not to mention be kinder to your horse's back and your seat. Search classifieds of horse magazines or equestrian web sites for secondhand brand name saddles. You can also watch these ads for other types of tack and horse clothing. Your local tack shop almost always sells second hand tack, and you will also find good bargains at barn sales. These items are usually on sale not because they are damaged, but because Pet Parents have moved on to a bigger horse, are changing to a different riding activity (jumping to dressage), or a riding school is downsizing.

When it comes to caring for your horse, there are quite a few ways of saving money without jeopardizing his health and happiness. All it takes is a little resourcefulness and some patience.
And in the unfortunate event that your horse buddy should ever have a medical emergency, the money you saved over time can be used to help him get back on his feet again. This should certainly bring you peace of mind.

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