Horses are beautiful, majestic creatures that allow humans into their lives. Humans then use them for work, fun, and even as pets. in the wild horses do not necessarily live as long as their domesticated friends, but they are pretty self-reliant. The issue in giving a tame horse a job is that we then introduce new dangers, work against natural instincts, and often ask them to perform actions that, while possible, are confusing for a certain period of time. While horses, especially those that are well cared for, are more than happy to do as their owner asks, it does mean that the horse must be reliant on the owner for many things that would be available in the wild or not necessary. There is probably not a single horse in the wild that cares if he or she has mud from head to toe or who worries about the fence line and property boundaries. Humans have put these restrictions on these amazing beasts. If you own a horse, simply love horses, or are considering buying then hopefully the cost of caring for such an animal has crossed your mind. Lack of massive amounts of income is not necessarily a reason to avoid horse ownership, but it should be considered. This text will focus on ways to save or look for bargains while still caring for your horse. While a bargain does not always mean a good product, there are ways to find great deals or substitute human items for the more expensive versions. Read on and hopefully, you will pick up some interesting information along the way.
1. BUYING A GRADE HORSE
One of the most expensive aspects of horses is adding to your herd. Even if you want to add to your field of furry friends there are ways to save money. The most obvious is to avoid registered horses. Unless you are showing registered, breed-specific shows, a grade horse is just as great. Grade horses are cheaper, but also ride just as well. A registered horse is simply about buying the name, not the training over time. A grade horse can do just as much for half the price. Find a horse you like without a registered name. This is fun as you can choose the name when you show. You also know you have saved hundreds or thousands.
2. BUY IN THE WINTER
Shaggy horses cost less. When you decide to buy a first or new horse, start looking in the fall or winter months. Once a horse sheds its winter hair the price is likely to increase. People often try to sell horses before winter begins to avoid higher feed bills, but if you can take on the expense of an-other horse this is the best time to buy. Horses naturally look better in the summer and warmer months. Even with photos of a horse looking clean and sleek, once a buyer sees the horse in its furry glory the reaction is the same. This means that people will tend to lower prices to sell the horse quickly. So if you are looking for a new horse, but funds are limited, buy in the winter or colder months. You may not get to enjoy your new steed as quickly, but you will get a better price.
3. HAY IS FOR HORSES
Horses eat. For many horses, this is the main activity throughout the day. Whether your horse is standing locked in a stall or in an open grass field, hay is still important. Horses are to eat, at a minimum 10 to 20 pounds each for a 1000-pound horse. This increases or decreases with the size of the horse and the body condition you hope to achieve. A smaller miniature horse may only take a couple of pounds of hay, but a draft size horse will require about 30 pounds or more of hay daily. Along the same lines, a horse that needs to gain weight wilt requires more forage than one trying to lose weight. Even if the horses are eating grass, the hay helps in digestion throughout the day. Since hay is such a big part of the diet it is a great place to save money. Buying round bales is usually a cheaper option than square bales. This may mean a bit more work for the horse owner as an appropriate amount will need to set out each day, but it is the most budget-friendly option.
4. HAY FEEDERS
Last hay tip, I promise! Now that you know how to pay less for hay and store it well, let’s talk about actual feeding. Using hay feeders or bags means less waste over time. Whether you invest in high-quality hay bags, a round bale feeder, or metal/ plastic feeders for stalls, the use of these products will save time and money in the tong run. Stall feeders and round bale feeders are an initial costly purchase but can be bought used for part of the price. These items last for many years and keep horses from wasting so much hay during feeding time. To save further with round bale feeders, make sure they are elevated off the ground. This will keep the hay from getting damp which may cause horses not to eat it over time.
5. STALL BEDDING
If you have a barn you will need bedding. Stall bedding is a way to keep the horse safe and comfortable. There are several types of bedding, including straw, sawdust, and pellets. Each can be used while staying on the budget if you buy correctly. If buying straw bales, try to find a whole seller or someone that sells it in large bales. Straw is usually not used long term as some horses eat it and straw does not digest well. If using pellets, bulk buying is best. Pellets last longer than other bedding types, but when cleaned all must be removed. Pel-lets also require water to turn into the fine dust type bedding. Sawdust is typically the easiest to access and if you have a place to store it then buy in bulk. Many sawmills will deliver a tractor-trailer load for a few hundred dollars or fill a truck for free or cheap. Call around for the best deal.
Salt and minerals are important for horses. Buy the large 50-pound blocks to place in a covered area for easy access for all horses. These blocks can last months if kept clean and dry. If a covered area is not available, large Himalayan salt rocks on a rope can withstand the wind and rain for well over a month and can be hung on a fence or tree. This means less shopping and a long term solution for a daily issue. These can be bought in any farm store or ordered and delivered to your door if that is easier. For added use, place salt or mineral blocks in rubber pans or on pallets so they stay dry even if some moisture gets to the actual block. If you only have one or two horses, then use a hammer to split the large blocks into smaller ones. This is cheaper than buying several smaller ones over time.
7. HOOF CARE
Speaking of supplements, hoof care supplements are popular among owners. Horses must have strong hooves to stay healthy and functional so these are important, but they can also be expensive. Hoofmaker is a generic paste that can be painted on hooves daily to keep them strong. In winter months buy a pint of pine tar. It is sticky and can be messy, but will last forever and lasts for about a week peruse. For a single horse, a single container of pine tar could last through several seasons. This also holds in the moisture and makes hooves hard. Biotin, when fed as a supplement will also help aid in hoof health. Any time you can find a supplement that will do double duty, it is worth the expense as you are saving in another area.
8. HORSE SHOES
Since the Amish have been mentioned as a way to find cheaper, yet quality shoes, other ways to save on shoes should also be addressed. Shoes do not need replacing with every trim. Many times shoes can be reused several times as long as extensive wear is not showing. You may need to budget for new shoes on occasion as sometimes shoes are lost or damaged beyond use. You should also be aware that not all horses need shoes. If you are not showing, riding, or do not have a horse with soft feet, then shoes are optional. If the horse has good feet and you ride predominantly on soft surfaces, then shoes may not be necessary either. Another option is the use of boots or removable shoes that are used only for riding. These shoes tend to Velcro on and can be used over and over. There are definitely more options than traditional shoes.
Saving on vet care is nearly impossible as vets are a costly part of owning any animal, but not all hope is lost. If several vets are available in your area, then make calls long before you need them to check on prices for basic services and farm calls. Knowing the minimum to expect is important. How-ever, with vets the best option is prevention. Make sure you keep your horses as safe and healthy as possible. Learn basic first aid and keep supplies on hand so you can handle small injuries. Also, find out which credit cards your vet takes and apply for one with little or no interest in emergencies. Having an emergency fund is another way to know that you will be okay in case something would arise. As a side note, know the quickest route to your nearest vet and vet hospital in case a farm call is not available.
Much like finding a boarding stable, a trainer is often needed for lessons. Trainers can charge a flat fee for a certain number of lessons or an amount per hour. This can get costly but is often a necessary expense to better yourself as a rider or to learn a new discipline. Search for a trainer you like and can reasonably afford. Once you have a couple of options in mind see if there is any way to get a discount. Sometimes this means buying a block of lessons that have to be used in a set amount of time. Sometimes this means helping other students or schooling horses that need to be ridden for cheaper or free lessons. Talk to your trainer to see if there is a way to earn discounted lessons over time. Even if the trainer says no, you made the effort.