BY DIANA BEZDEDEANU
1. Spend More to Save More
Believe it or not, it is actually more cost-effective to spend the extra money on high-quality grain, hay, supplements, tack, training/lessons, farrier, and vet care maintenance in order to save more in the long run. Seems like an oxymoron, I know. But here’s the thing: there is a reason prices vary so much in all aspects of horse ownership. Just paying the lower end or trying to cut out “unnecessary” costs when possible often results in having to pay more later to fix your horse’s decline.
For example, it costs $400.00 every four weeks to shoe our 17-year-old mare. Which is expensive; however, she had years of improper hoof care maintenance, resulting in the formation of Club Foot. Now, she is much more comfortable thanks to our farrier. We could have continued to pay a lower amount less often to cut down on costs, but in the long run, it would have continued to deteriorate her hooves further.
2. Don’t Limit Yourself to One Retailer
Everyone’s got their favorite store. SmartPak. Dover Saddlery. Big Dee’s. Tractor Supply. Schneiders. Stateline Tack. You name it. Much like grocery shopping, it is more cost-effective to browse around to get the best deals. I purchase my mares’ supplements through California Pet Pharmacy, as prices are low, shipping is quick, and they have excellent customer service. Amazon happens to have the cheapest UlcerGard I have found to date for just $38.99 each, and with Prime, ships within hours if needed sooner. We have a few boxes of UlcerGard on automatic shipment every two weeks. Heading into dramatic weather changes, we want to be extra-prepared for our mares who have both been previously affected by sudden drops in temperature. Neither of these retailers is known for selling strictly equine products, but by thinking outside of the box, we save a few extra dollars with each purchase.
An additional tip to keep in mind is investing in high-quality gear is a smarter choice than opting for cheaper options that may wear out quickly. This is particularly important when it comes to saddle pads, as they are not made of metal and may need to be replaced more frequently. For example, you can check horse saddle pad sets by lemieux.com, which many horse riders use. Finding a reputable store and investing in high-quality gear that may be more expensive upfront but will last you for many years is advisable. This will save you money in the long run and provide your horse with the comfort and support they need while riding.
3. Educate Yourself
As a horse owner, never settle with your current state of knowledge. There is always more to learn. Look to further your education through hands-on clinics, conferences, workshops, online seminars, etc.
For example, register for an Equine First Aid course, so that the next time your horse sustains a minor injury, such as a superficial scrape out in the paddock, you will know how to treat it and may be able to avoid having to call the vet out. Equi-First Aid USA offers classes in equine health and emergency first aid, advanced first aid, disaster planning, emergency preparedness, and safe trailering. In addition to single-day classes, they also offer instructor training courses for those who want to certify and teach others in their community (a great way to make a little side money to help pay for your horses, too!).
Ask your trainer or barn manager if you can shadow them to learn more about best horse care practices. You will be surprised at how much you can learn in just one day of observation at the farm. From bathing to grooming to clipping and more, you will be able to take those daily skills and apply them to your own herd in the long run, and not always have to rely on professionals to get the job done for you.
What are your money-saving hacks when it comes to horses? Please share in the comments below so we can all benefit!
Diana Bezdedeanu (Massachusetts) is the owner of Horses Offering People Education. She provides Equine Facilitated Learning and Horse Powered Reading sessions alongside her two OTTBs, specializing in youth with disabilities. She is also the Executive Assistant at The HERD Institute®, which provides certifications in Equine Facilitated Learning and Psychotherapy.
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The Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association (PCHA), a non-profit corporation, has as its main purpose the promotion and development of the sport of horse showing, primarily in the Hunter/Jumper, Western and Reining disciplines. These objectives are accomplished by setting the standards for showing on the West Coast and approving shows that meet these criteria.
Founded in 1946, the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association promotes the interests of owners and exhibitors, cooperates with exhibitors, officials, and management of competition, publicizes and advertises PCHA sanctioned shows, encourages and assists owners, exhibitors, and breeders of horses to maintain, develop and improve the quality of horses of the Hunter, Jumper, Western and Reining divisions.