Studies shown that horse owners spend around $3,876 annually to maintain their horses, with the media cost being $2,419, which puts pegs the monthly expense at $200 to $325. To average earner, that’s a large chunk of your savings set aside for your horse, or horses if you have multiple.
Here are some tips to economize your horse-keeping and hopefully save you some money.
Become a savvy shopper
This is where you put your internet sleuthing skills to the test. We can’t stress the importance of reading reviews enough. Be smart when it comes to shopping for items because there are good deals right around the corner. Shops have a different markup for the same product, some higher than others. Also, check for the ingredients (for perishable items) and the production materials (for non-perishable items) the components say a lot about how long a product will last and their performance while being used.
Buy the best you can afford
In any situation, quality always trumps quantity. When buying tack and gear, go for the more expensive and better quality versions. It may seem expensive upfront, but it will save you so much more money in the future. Take horseshoes for example, plastic versions are readily available. They’re cheap enough to be replaced right away — but the cost of replacement will slowly start to build up. It will cost the same as a higher end metal shoe, sometimes even more. Think of tack and gear as an investment, high initial expensive but also high payoff.
Take good care of your tack and gear
It’s not enough to buy good quality gear. You also have to maintain it. If you leave your riding gear lying around we can guarantee that they’ll break easily. Why? Because they weren’t handled with care. If you want your gear to last long, you need to proactively maintain them. You take care of the horse right? The same goes for their accessories.
Clutter is Cash
Sell old things that you don’t use anymore. Your secondhand items can go to a loving home with horses that need it more. Put them up on eBay or have a garage sale. Get creative with the way that you sell your unused items.
Buy second hand items
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Go to a thrift store or go online to find secondhand items that are still in good shape. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s better and just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s worse. The beauty of buying secondhand items is that they’ve already been worn in. You don’t have to go through the process of getting them comfortable for you and your horse.
Repair, don’t replace
There’s a saying that goes: “If something was broken, we would fix it, not throw it away.” While that quote generally applies to marriage, it fits into this scenario. We see horse tack and gear thrown away all too often when in fact, it’s an easy repair. See what can be done and use it to the full extent before you’re ready to kiss the gear goodbye. It will save you so much more cash and time because you don’t need to go to the store as often.
Host swap meets or trades
It’s a good way to meet new people, learn about what they do to stay within the budget of horse keeping. Suppose you’re a boarder, you can invite your fellow boarders to swap events. For all you know, the stall next to yours has everything you need that they don’t.
Clean and re-waterproof your own horse blankets
Instead of buying new ones every winter, why don’t you clean and re-purpose your existing horse blankets? Use a shedding blade to remove as much fur as possible then use a stiff brush to loosen any dirt that has piled up inside. Once you’ve gotten most of the debris off, hose down the blanket with cold water and scrub it with detergent. Hang it out to dry in the sun making sure all the moisture is evaporated. When you’re done with that, spray it with silicone spray. Voila! Good as new.
Put your name on your belongings
We need to face the reality that sometimes people will take things without permission and not return them. ‘Steal’ is such a harsh word, so let’s stick with our first definition instead. To avoid any mishaps or swaps, stitch or write your name on all your belongings.
Learn how to sew
Sewing is a basic life skill that everyone needs to learn. You can’t expect your grandma to be around all the time to patch up the holes in your denim or stitch the tears of your horse blankets.
Keep your barn clean at all times
Messy barns and horses are a recipe for disaster. Almost always, something will go wrong if you don’t know how to clean up after them. Shovel up the manure, give it a good power wash, and stack up the barn with hay. That’s all you really need to do on a daily basis. But, at the end of the week, when everything gets crusty and dusty, you need to wash the bedding and give everything a good scrub down.
Maximize your pasture
Allowing horses to graze the fields will be so much cheaper than calculating feeds. Fresh is best, and you already have an abundance of that in the field.
Don’t delay any repair jobs
Procrastination is the enemy of making and saving money. When there’s something that needs to be fixed, fix it. Don’t put anything off if you know they’re in need of repair. It’s all about maintenance and the fixer-upper lifestyle.
Rotate horse-sitting duties
Talk to your fellow boarders. Give each other sitting assignments each week. It may seem convenient to hire a horse-sitter but it’s free if you watch your horse yourself. It’s not realistic to do it every day, which is why you need to split the work.
Take on a boarder or two, maybe even three
Assuming you own a boarding business, make sure all the stalls are rented. Some horses will be there all year round, but others will only be there seasonally. Take in a few boarders for the months that the stalls are empty. You keep the cash flowing and the horse safe.
Rent your facility out to fellow horse owners
If you have a training ground, you may as well make money from it. When not in use, rent it out. The rental money will cover the expenditure, don’t worry.
Cut back on one-on-one classes
Instead of taking private classes with a trainer, split the cost among your friends and take classes together. We see why you would want to take exclusive lessons, but you learn the same thing anywhere regardless of whether you’re in a class or on your own.
Audit clinics instead of participating as a rider or driver
Horse owners who have the space to host clinics should definitely consider. Work off your lessons before you take them. You’ll pick up some of the tips and tricks passively.
Bag it and give it away
You don’t need all that spare manure lying around the stable as it will attract insects and bacteria. Both of which you don’t want around your horses because they will get sick and/or develop an irritation. This will be expensive to treat might we add.
Donate it to farms near you
Ask local farmers and green centers if they can make use of your bags of horse manure. It’s great for the environment and you’re helping the local economy while you’re at it. Horse manure is a rich source of nitrogen, about half as rich as a chickens but much more than a cow.
Compost and sell it
You’d be surprised at how much people will pay for horse manure — in its composted form. You’re literally making money out of nothing. Cha-ching!
Use it on your field as fertilizer
Horses that grow up on a farm can contribute to the ecosystem. You can use your horses manure to fertilize your crops! Save money on both disposal and fertilizer by using what you already have and have an abundance of.
Buy the best quality feed
It may be easier to buy cheaper bales of hay — in truth it’s false economy, because it’s lower in nutrient content. You need to feed your horses more of it to actually fill them up. This cancels out the whole purpose of it being cheap. Feeding your horses better quality hay is a better way to maintain their healthy condition. Additionally, you will be spending a lot less when you invest in the quality of your forage.
Buy your feeds in bulk
Purchasing your gay in bulk allows you to control the quality of your feed better. The chances of you getting a substandard bulk is slim. Buying feeds in bulk lowers the overall cost of spending for food because your supplier will let you purchase it at wholesale price. Also, if you lack space for keeping the feeds, ask fellow boarders if you could share on the cost of storage. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.
Purchase winter hay in advance
Don’t lose to the game called supply and demand. Hay will become much more expensive in the winter because everyone will be after it. If you save and stock up on your supplies in the fall, you won’t have to worry about how to feed your horse or the cost of feeding them.
Pick up, don’t deliver
Sometimes the cost of delivery could be half of what your hay costs. While it may seem more convenient, it’s better to pick it up yourself.
Feed your horse based on their weight not on their volume
Don’t just throw a forage into your horses’ feeder and call it a day. Be strategic when it comes to feeding your horse. Volume doesn’t necessarily translate to nutritional content.
Be smart about the way you spend your money on your horse. A little difference in your spending habits goes a long way. Quality trumps quantity. Always.