Monday, November 9, 2009

Minimizing Equine Costs in Tough Times

According to some Equine Specialists, the annual cost of raising a horse could reach up to 1000 dollars or more. For some, 1000 to 2000 dollars is just not feasible in today’s tough times. Below are just a few ways to cut costs while still enjoying the pleasure of having a horse.

The largest cost of caring for a horse always seems to be the feed bill. Is your horse receiving grain, nutritional supplements, hay, and pasture or is the horse just on pasture? Evaluate your current feeding plan as well as your horse’s condition. If your horse is overweight, it might not have a balanced diet. Also the feeding plan is determined by the use of your horse, if it is a mature pleasure horse not being exercised frequently it requires approximately 20 to 50 percent less feed. Your best option is to simplify the feeding plan by evaluating each ingredient that is being consumed. Sometimes it is not necessary for your horse to consume both grain and hay. Grain tends to be much pricier than hay. Most horses do very well on just consuming hay or being out on the pasture. This could be a cost saving tactic as well as a much healthier option for your horse. Remember if you switch to a forage diet make sure you know the quality of hay they are eating. An easy way to determine your hay quality is to send a sample of your hay to a lab for testing. Once you find a high quality hay source, buy in bulk to lower your cost per bale.

Utilize your pastures when available. Pastures are a great option instead of feeding hay during the spring and summer months. Before you put your horses on your pasture, test the soil to see if you need to fertilize. Soil testing is important so you do not waste money putting extra fertilizer on your pastures or by putting it on soil with a low pH. Setting up a rotational grazing system will also be beneficial for your pastures, horses, and your pocket. Rotational grazing moves horses to different paddocks every few days. This is the most economical way to feed animals. Rotational grazing allows the pasture to rest and re-grow and in turn allow for quality pasture throughout the entire grazing season.

Another high cost are your veterinarian bills. It is necessary to have your veterinarian do a check up on your horse once a year to determine if it is good condition. This could reduce your bills throughout the entire year. Giving your horse vaccinations may also reduce your costs. A veterinarian can show you how to give a proper injection and save him a trip and you a large bill. You will still be able to purchase the proper vaccinations from your veterinarian or you can obtain them from an animal health store. Another option to reduce your bills is to take your horse to the veterinarian instead of having to pay for a farm visit.

It is very important that you perform daily care and maintenance for your horse. Be sure to check hooves, teeth, and change water buckets daily. Keeping the stable area dry and clean is also imperative for horse health. Remember it is less expensive to do preventative then emergency care.


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