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Taking Care of Your Horse – The Frugal Way, of Course!
By Mary Santagiuliana
Ms. Santagiuliana has a horse training business in Verona, Kentucky. She has more than 16 years of experience with horses and for the past 9-plus years, has been training young horses.
Website: Eclipse Mountain Trainers
Everyone has been hit hard financially during these times, but especially those of us who own horses (or, should I say who are "owned by" horses?). We love our equine friends just as much as our other pets, but they cost so much more to take care of.
Here are some general tips that might come in handy for you and help you save money on your horse.
Put off Those "Extra" Expenses for a Later Date.
Yes, I am sure that pink rhinestone halter would look absolutely adorable on your mare, but she probably already has a perfectly good halter. That brand new saddle looks amazing, but at $400 (the price of board at most facilities), plus the $100 shipping, it can wait until you absolutely need it.
Buy "Used" Instead of "Brand New."
There is no reason to be ashamed of buying used horse tack, blankets, or even farm equipment. Not only is the used stuff cheaper, but some of it is as good a quality as what you’d get buying it brand new.
Be sure to check leather for stretching as well as for the presence of mold (it can be black, gray, and/or green). For fleece parts on saddles and padded bridles, look for rot; if the fuzz is falling out onto your hand, chances are it has rotted.
If the horse blanket you're looking at has more patches in it than a patchwork quilt, it's definitely not worth your time or money. You can find good, used items at auctions, tack shops, and even eBay, but never buy anything you are uncomfortable with. If it doesn't look quite right to you, then chances are it isn't right.
Horse Health: Thrush Care—For Less.
Those of us with horses who live in semi-wet to totally drenched climates, we have to deal with a nasty thing known as thrush. But don’t be fooled... even people in dry weather climates face challenges with thrush.
For those who don't know, thrush is kind of the horse version of athlete's foot. It is found in the clefts near the frog, and most often affects the frog itself if left untreated (which can lead to a disaster). Thrush has a strong odor and is often accompanied by a black discharge (YUCK!).
As every good horse person knows, there's Koppertox (it's a green liquid that smells almost as bad as thrush and is impossible to get off horse hair, human skin, and clothing—the manufacturer tells you the only way to get it off is to use fuel oil (try mineral oil—it has worked for me in the past), ThrushBuster (blue liquid, also impossible to get off) and other name-brand Thrush treatments. Koppertox (copper naphthenate) comes in a 16-oz bottle, and costs around $20 on average; ThrushBuster is in a 2-oz bottle and costs about $14 (water, isopropanel formalin, PVP, iodine complex, and Gentian Violet); can we say ouch?
I’m going to share with you what I learned from my licensed farrier, so put away those expensive thrush treatments and go for something that is cheap, but works just as well: iodine and foot powder.
For cases of severe thrush, treat the hooves with iodine first, once it has started to clear up, use the foot powder. Do not over treat with iodine, just like with all thrush products over use will actually kill the helpful bacteria and fungi in your horse’s foot.
When my Morgan and Thoroughbreds had a mild case of thrush, I used the foot powder (purchased from my local grocery store), and their feet cleared up by the end of the week. Check out this link for more info: HealthyHoof.com - Thrush.
Keeping It Under "Wraps."
Vet Wrap does not have to be a name brand in order to be effective (the name brand in this case being Vetrap); "Elastic Adhesive Bandages" or "Cohesive Flexible Bandages" are the same exact thing and typically cost about half. The nice thing about this stuff is it works just like an Ace Bandage, so it’s perfect for the human "owies" too.
Hopefully, some of these tips will prove useful to you. Some areas you can't be frugal in; like vet care, farrier care, and personal safety equipment (meaning NEVER buy a used helmet).
For more ideas, I recommend reading the Equus magazine, January 2009, Issue 376. It had some pretty good articles in it, and even an "Equine Expense Worksheet." If you have any concerns about the health aspects please talk to your veterinarian and/or farrier. Many go with the above listed methods, but some prefer different ones.
These listed methods have worked well for me without complications, but I can't guarantee they will work for everyone; after all, things that concern horses tend to be as unpredictable as they are.
Saving Money on Feeding Your Horse: Feed Tips for Horse-At-Home (HAH) Owners
How to Save Money Boarding Your Horse
Vinegar to the Rescue for Your Pet
DIY Dog Fashions on a Bare Bones Budget: Save Money Recycling Old Sweaters & Shirts to Make Cheap, Attractive Dog Winter Clothes & Raincoats