Spinoff: How do YOU save money on horses in an uncertain economy
So, the thread on compassion for those struggling with horse care got me thinking-how do we save money with horses without scrimping on the necessities? They might not change the outcome for people who have lost jobs and are really struggling, but maybe some tricks could make a difference for the frugal among us.
Give my own vaccinations, except for rabies and Coggins draw. You can order the vaccines in many states. I got them from my vet, saving a farm call and cost for administering them. Your vet can teach you to do it safely. I can do intramuscular and subcutaneous injections on my horse, cats, and dog. This also saves daily vet visits if you need to give antibiotic injections.
Look for non horse products with horsey uses. I got a huge pack of towels (10 or 12) in the auto parts store for the price of one or two of the little fringed ones the tack store. Sponges are cheaper in the auto store as well. A sturdy stepstool from Lowe's cost less than $20, less than those 2-step mounting blocks in tack catalogs.
Sew my own saddle pads. Material from the discount table, foam batting, binding tape and the woven stuff and velcro for the billet and girth attatchers costs about $8-10 and I can make a couple of pads for that. I can also do my own minor repairs on blankets and things.
Buy used whenever I can. Our local tack store has a great used section with tack as well as blankets and clothing. I love well cared-for used tack as it's already broken in and some of the older stuff is made better.
Doesn't matter how I might try to save money, the horses figure out ways to demand it (see thread on my low-maintenance, low-cost mare who just had to go have an aneurism and spent three weeks in the hospital at Cornell).
I just kiss the feet of the local vet clinic, whose bill for the initial emergency care on that mare was enough to make me faint, but was kind enough to call me to gently warn me, and then to take payments.
And now it looks like my other mare has Lyme. Yay, more bills.
At least everyone's barefoot now, so that'll save a pile of money.
On a more practical level, this year I have bought no new gear or equipment, went to only 2 small local events, and have been baking tons of brownies and apple crisp to pay back friends and barn folks who've helped out with things when I needed it.
Maybe the new year will bring some much needed income!
1. Work off partial board at my horse's boarding barn.
2. Switching my horse to pasture board starting Dec. 1st. Saves me $$, and he gets to move around more.
3. Buy generic dewormers.
4. Streamlined supplements. I buy my horse's Veggie Oil at BJ's Wholesale Club in bulk. I also have him on SmartPak's SmartSupplements, which were cheaper than other big name brands, but have quality ingredients. I also never pay shipping.
5. Not sure if this really helps a lot, but when my horse needed an Xray on his knee to determine what was wrong with him, GVEC offered to do it for a good discount if they used it as a teaching opportunity for their Intern. So instead of paying full price for digital Xrays, I got almost $50 off the price because his vet used it as a chance to teach the Intern how to take old-fashion film xrays instead of digital. Same diagnoses, learning opportunity for the Intern, and cheaper vet bill for me.
6. Buy things in regular stores rather than tack shops. I bought a bottle of Mane and Tail shampoo cheaper at Wegmans rather than the local Tack Shop.
My horse is now semi-retired, so I cut down a lot on costs for tack, riding clothes, etc...
I don't impulse buy, I always pay cash for items I do buy, and keep my eyes on sales.
I use retired house towels for the barn, have made my own knitted wool saddle blankets from yarn scraps( I knit). I repair rips in blankets and sheets myself, hold my horse for the farrier/vet, use feed store coupons for stuff I feed extra over boarding farm or if I don't need the coupons I give them to the barn manager to use for my horse's feed. I do my own vaccines. I braid/ groom my own horse. I also try to run errands for things in the same general area together so I cut down on extra trips and use less gas. I make my own horse treats.
Let your horse have a more natural life. 24-hour stalling, shampoos and other chemicals put on the coat, clipping and then buying gobs of blankets, all cost money that may be better spent on nutrition.
Stuff I do already. I'm a tight fisted Yorkshire man from farming stock. Our war cry is "HOW MUCH" . We live by the creed "if you can't afford it don't buy it". :
shop around for best value. I've just saved £3,400 on insurance! (cars, property, public liability, employers liability, etc etc)
buy in bulk
negotiate better deals - with a credit crunch and recession discount for cash works
don't buy anything you don't need
do my own making and mending ONLY IF it works out cheaper. So from tractors repairs to tack to fences and harness.
Turn the central heating down a couple of degrees and adjust the timer so it's on for slightly less time
Don't make unnecessary journeys in the car.
Change the car to an energy efficient one with cheaper insurance.
Have a boot sale to raise money with all that stuff you acumulate but never use
Don't buy manufactured horse hard feed - buy rolled barley
Advance buy the likes of hay if you can get competitive deal by so doing
Use table salt and vegetable oil for feed - no need for fancy stuff !
Use vegetable oil for leather conditioning - ditto -
Remember if it has a picture of a horse on, it's likely to cost more. If it's in a gallon container with a sheep or cow, it will cost less and more than likely be better!
Use cheap bulk buy human shampoo and conditioner for horse bathing
Use the likes of diluted hydrogen peroxide and salt for minor wound and feet cleaning
Manage day to day routines with your horse so it stays healthy and well - avoidance of cost is the best strategy.
Now my wife on the other hand is a "It's there to be spent kind of a lady" Fortunately though she's also in the "Buy now and don't pay later" brigade. That means that I'm a hoarder and a user of the old so I'm collecting old poly bags and baler twine and cutting up old towels and t shirts for cloths for anything and everything and she's buying Gucci jewellery and fancy shoes! And throwing away and tidying up what I know I'll need in the future! Her idea of economising on essentials is buying champagne by the case for a 5% discount and perhaps downgrading from her favourite brand She'd tell you to buy your new saddle in the sale so you make a saving !!!!
I am a pretty no nonsense girl. The money goes to the things that are absolute needs like their vet and farrier care, excellent quality hay and a bit of good grain, and good for them homemade treats. I used to stock up on things that disappear like hoof picks, lead ropes and halters online but I just can't afford to keep replacing what walks out. Now I have turned into the barn police and spend my days saying "Please don't forget to clean the hoof picks and put them back!" and "make sure the lead ropes are hung up on the horses rack!"
I have pruned down some supplements and am finding that the older horses do just fine on Horseshine and SmartMSM and the others with just their horseshine. I buy generic wormer and make my own grooming needs so that saves a ton too.
My horses don't get lots of "pretty things" unless they are donated or shared. It makes it special when they get spoiled with goodies. There is just no money for it with the economy as bad as it is. I already have a list of 20 riders that will need scholarships in order to rider this spring
I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques
Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.
The main thing really isn't to try to cut costs on the horses, it's to see what you can cut out of your OWN lifestyle. Lose the cable, lose the satrad, lose the iPhone, lose the Starbucks every morning and lunch out every day, and NEVER go shopping.
"The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief
My horses are pastured 24/7 - so virtually no bedding costs. They are at home, so I have no boarding costs. Also, since they are not in work, and healthy (nock on wood) they get no supplements. I have located a feed mill semi-locally, so I buy my goat, poultry, pig and dog feed (we go through 100 pounds of dog food a week with the Pyrs and the 'house' dogs - so this is a major consideration), from them. If I find I need to supplement the horses over the winter, I'll buy their feed from the mill too. Treats consist of the occassional carrot. They're barefoot and I do my own trimming - with a farrier visit every 6 months to 'check' me - just to make sure that I don't go off in a bizarre direction with their feet. I also trim the goats once a month, and the mini donkey. I give my own shots. I buy wormer on sale and keep it in the refrigerator (between the goat's meds and various wormers, my refrigerator looks more like a vet clinic than somewhere to store food )
I have multiples of EVERYTHING from back when I made lots more money - so I haven't had to buy so much as a brush in over a year.
Take care (and more importantly - keep track) of what I do have so it doesn't need to be replaced.
I've bought my hay for the year, and have it stacked waiting for the grass to go away.
I am no longer OCD about either blankets or dirt. I don't clip (since they're not in work) and unless/until it gets really cold or wet, they're not going to get blanketed. I solved the cocklebur in the mane (along with the let's find the ticks) issue by roaching both manes last spring. I'll do it again next spring. I bought fly spray in concentrate and a 10.00 pump up garden sprayer and used that all summer. Blue (my big gray) delights in finding black dirt to roll in - he enjoys it, and I don't worry about it any more.
I haven't shown in 2 years, so I don't have that expense. I may at some time in the future (if I can find time and energy to ride enough to make it worthwhile), but even when I did it was on a very low level, so it wasn't all that expensive even then.
"The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear" ~ Socrates
Mostly the old-fashioned do it yourself hard way - pick up hay squares out of the field to save costs. But we have a big flat bed trailer, and a dump truck for hauling free sawdust from the local sawmills, just our labor and travel costs. We put up 3-400 quality squares and then we use big huge clean long stem grass rounds that we've found for $15 a piece, go thru 30 of those a year put out in the paddocks under shelter. Hay cost for 5 horses is about $1600/yr.
I really depend upon the ALS free freight sales for my supplements and farm supplies. They've been running them about 2X/yr and I post them here.
We use oats and beet pulp, I use the 10% off senior day at Rural King faithfully. My big expense is ration balancer for my 2 youngsters.
I have sensible horses, none of them 'injure themselves!' I've taught them how to think their way out of danger.
I love the local tack swap, I can sell and buy smartly.
Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.
Even if it's ten years old or more and hasn't been used since my old horse died, no reason I can't use it now if it's not broken. (Don't freak. Our chemical stuff is long since gone and I did buy new grooming supplies. But )
Get my brother to give me my saddle back so I don't have to buy a new one (he has two others.)
Don't pay more for board amenities I'm not going to use (indoor, trainers, food that I don't want to feed in the first place, picking the stall twice a day when he's turned out all day unless the weather is horrible, etc.)
If tractor supply has two rubber curries, one for $2.99 and one for $6.99, why am I going to pay more for the brand name?
Not to speak for RougeEmpire, but usually with stirrup leathers, baling twine and various snaps. You need to be careful and ensure that the twine doesn't rub the horse directly, but you can fit up a variety of training gear like this. Martingales, drawreins, sidereins, sliding sidereins,grab straps, etc. Since it isn't used more than a couple days (just to get a horse used to the idea or to help solve a transient problem) it's cheap, convenient and always a custom fit!
If you need something more long term or something for competitions, then you need to get the real thing. But if you are not too embarrassed, you can take your monstrosity to the tack shop and make sure what you buy will fit!
Or, if you are handy with an awl, needles and stitching thread, you can make your own out of other strap goods. I cannibalize stuff all the time. There a wealth of leather, rings, snaps and buckles in the unrepairable pile.
Sometimes I even fix things for friends - if they are nice and not naughty (to me anyway).
The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.