Can careful planning and budgeting help to keep down the cost of keeping a horse?
Keeping a horse is always going to be expensive. If you are really short of money right now, it might be best not to have a horse at all. Or maybe to consider sharing. But if this isn’t something that you really couldn’t live with, have a look at the following tips to see what else you can do to help. It’s often things that you need to buy on a regular basis that will save you the most money. Careful planning and budgeting might be a sustainable way of keeping costs down in the long-term.
1. If you can, put away money each month. You can then plan good quality replacements for essential horse gear such as rugs and tack, as well as making provisions for any emergencies you might come across. But one of the best ways of saving money with horses is to stick to a planned budget, only visiting tack shops when necessary. It’s all too easy to go on a shopping trip and come back with lots of impulse buys. It might sound boring, but sticking to a very tight budget will go a long way to keeping costs down overall.
2. Do a test. If you are using straw bedding at the moment, work out exactly how much it’s costing you a month. Then switch to shavings for the next month, keeping track of your spending. Which works out cheapest? Even though it might not be a huge saving over the month, switching from straw to shavings, or vice versa, over a year, might save you a lump sum that can be put into your tack fund.
3. Shoeing your horse can be a huge cost as it needs to be done regularly. Do you really need to do roadwork? Could you manage to ride your horse off-road? You would still need to keep your horse’s feet trimmed, but this will be much cheaper and will need to be done less frequently. This could make a big saving.
4. Another big monthly cost is feed bills. Could you cut down on hard feed? You do have to be very careful here. Your horse still needs to be fed. And it depends partly on what quality of turnout your horse has. But you can cut down on feed bills either by turning out more or changing brands or variety. Lots of feed companies have helplines that will give advice on feeding, so it’s best to check before you make any changes. It needs to be done carefully and over time, always being careful that your horse isn’t losing weight if he doesn’t need to.
5. Do another test on using hay or haylage. Haylage usually comes in large bales. This is expensive to buy in bulk, but you might be able to share with somebody else in your yard. Some horses love it and might eat too much if you let them which won’t work out any cheaper. Others don’t digest it easily, so you will need to check if it suits your horse. But for some horses, it will be a cheaper alternative. Again, this is something you will need to test out, if you can, over a month or two.
6. Keep your horse outside as much as possible. This will save on both feed and bedding, although a turned out horse will probably need to be given hay in the field at some point in the year. Many horses enjoy being turned out and develop a thicker coat. But you need to check this suits your horse, and there will always be times when your horse will need a stable – in severe weather or if he is ill.
There are lots of ways of keeping the costs down of owning a horse. A lot of them can be put down to planning and common sense. However, keeping a horse will always be relatively expensive, and comes with a responsibility to provide adequate care. Of course, it is best to check carefully that you can do this in the long term before you begin!