Monday, October 3, 2011
Economical Horsekeeping - Part 1
with Sue Weaver, Hobby Farms Contributing Editor
Photo by Sue Weaver
This is Imbir, the horse that lives on our farm.
Our mom is in between regular books, so she’s trying something new. She’s writing ebooks! She’s halfway through her first project, a book called Economical Horse Keeping; Buying and Keeping a Horse without Going Broke that she’s been thinking about writing for years. See, our mom is really old (64!) and she’s had horses for 52 years. She’s never had a lot of money, so she’s learned how to feed and keep them on a budget. She said I could share some tips with you.
Most important: If you don’t already have a horse, be sure to buy one that won’t cost a lot to keep. Some of the things to consider are:
- Type. Look for a stocky-built horse that is neither tall and leggy nor overly obese. Such a horse is called an easy keeper. It takes more feed to keep a slim, rangy horse in good condition and obese horses with hard, lumpy fat deposits along the crests of their necks often have metabolic conditions that lead to serious problems, like laminitis and insulin resistance.
- Size. Unless you need a tall horse because you’re tall yourself or you participate in English-riding disciplines, like dressage or jumping, consider buying a smaller, compact horse that costs less to feed. Smaller breeds, like stocky-built Arabian horses and Morgan horses, Colonial Spanish horses, Welsh Cob horses, Norwegian Fjord horses and Icelandic horses horses are all outstanding weight carriers for their size, and they tend to have strong, sound legs and hooves.
- Personality. Choose a quiet, easygoing horse; they require less feed than nervous, high-strung types.
- Health. Mom and Dad used to rescue horses, bring them back to health and adopt them out to new homes. It’s rewarding work but sometimes very expensive. Although your heart goes out to a skinny, sick horse, unless you have enough money to invest in it, it’s best to buy a horse in good health.
- Soundness. Don’t buy a horse with hoof problems, like shelly hooves, that easily crack and split, especially if you’ll ride only occasionally and don’t plan to shoe him. And opt for a pre-purchase health and soundness exam; exams aren’t cheap but in the long run it’s money well spent.
- Training. Don’t buy a horse beyond your handling and riding capabilities. Doctor bills, even co-pays, cost a lot. And, Mom says, getting badly scared or hurt can color your joy of riding for the rest of your life. She once bought a horse to retrain that ran full speed through a fence and somersaulted over Mom when he landed. That was 20 years ago, and she still gets nervous when she rides.
- Age. By the same token, don’t buy a young, untrained horse unless you’re qualified to train him. Trainers’ fees rarely fit an economical horse-keeper’s budget. With an older, well-trained horse you know what you’re getting. And, Mom says, don’t be afraid to buy a sound, healthy, well-trained older horse in his teens or even 20s, especially if you’re a beginning rider. Such a horse has seen and done it all. Though he may cost more to feed, he could save you big money in doctor bills. That accounts for a lot.
Mom says next week I can share some horse-care tips for horse keepers on a budget, so stay tuned! And if you have economical horse-keeping tips, please post them. If she uses them, Mom will give you credit in her book.
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Economical Horsekeeping - Part 1