Quick Tips for budget conscience horse care

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Today’s economy is making it tough own a horse. There are some easy ways you can cut costs and still keep your equine companion happy. Think about how you can reduce expenses with a sound strategy to keep your horse healthy.

Graze your horse
Even if you don’t have the land or the boarding facility to put your horse out to rich pasture, you can let him eat grass. This is healthy and natural and can be one of the most effective ways of putting weight on a horse. Consider spending daily time (starting in ½ hour increments) holding a lead rope and letting your horse enjoy the greenery. Let him cut your lawn, enjoy a spot that’s weedy or wander off the property (with permission) to help a neighbor control overgrowth. Do pick up deposits left, though, or you’re likely to be unwelcome in the future.

Feed more hay and reduce grain
Roughage is a horse’s natural intake and sometimes more grain leads to more weight loss. We had a mare here that we struggled to get weight on for years. Our blacksmith suggested cutting her grain substantially (she was a picky hay eater) and within two months, we added about 150 pounds to her 16.2 frame as she learned to enjoy hay and had less grain making her hyper.

Do fecal samples twice annually
Instead of worming every six to eight weeks, consider an alternative approach that identifies if there are any worm concerns (often there are not) and what needs to be addressed. You may find you save a ton on wormer tubes and do your part in reducing parasite resistance.

Pick stalls in the morning
You can save a ton on bedding costs (and time cleaning your horse) if you take a few minutes first thing in the morning to remove manure piles from the stall. Most horses learn quickly to handle this with ease, if guided through the expectations, and the reduction in churn not only saves money but also a ton of time when you really get serious about stall cleaning.

Learn how to assess and address medical issues
Not every injury or colic case requires a vet call. Learn from others how to ascertain the severity of a situation, doctor wounds, do a proper injection when appropriate and monitor your horse for signs of improvement and/or peril. Most medical emergencies are easy to deal with if you know what to do and you’ll likely save your horse pain and problems if you can react immediately vs. spending time waiting for a vet to arrive. We always call our vet to alert them to an issue and a possible emergency call later, and she is wonderful about providing advice over the phone on immediate treatment remedies and signs to look for that will require a visit.

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