I get asked a lot about what it takes to own a horse. I must say that there is a lot of Finacial aspects to owning a horse but in my mind, knowledge is key. Let’s break this down.
First, what do they eat? Understanding how to properly feed a horse to maintain their weight yet not allowing them to be fat is very important. I personally own a 20 yo and a 19yo now. If I went by the feeding standards, I would think “oh they need senior feed!” But in my case, that is not true! The horse pictured is Splash, my 19 year old gelding. All of my horses are on Nutrena Safe Choice Perform. I chose this feed because it is high in fat and calories and provides the necessary pre/probiotics to eliminate supplementing them. So it is higher in cost ($19 a bag) but taking out the $50 a bag of pre/probiotics I was purchasing every other month, it really saves me on expenses. I also like to feed less and gain more. The higher fat content, that is not corn, really seems to help MY horses. They all eat about 1.5# twice a day and maintain their healthy weight. Being able to feed less and keep them healthy is a priority. I also consider my forage and mineral content of my pasture as they are all on pasture 24/7. Just because it works for me does not mean it will work for you. It’s a trial an error type thing. I have tried different brands and just saw them fill out or drop weight. I don’t like to pour feed into my horses. I feel the more processed grains we feed, the higher the chance of colic. My main barrel horse, Lynx, also gets alfalfa. The rest are on a coastal mix hay. So my feeling is that knowledge of how to feed a horse is worth its weight in gold! Also, you need to consider your pasture, or stalling situation.
Another thing that goes into the horse is proper hoof management. Without good feet, you have no horse. Good farriers are few and far between as the chore of trimming and putting shoes on horses is hard on the body. It’s a talent and a skill. I prefer a farrier that actually rides and competes. It seems they have a better working knowledge of how to do things properly. Think of it this away… you don’t want someone cutting your lawn that doesn’t have a lawn. Working knowledge of what it takes to help a horse get a grip and perform to their best of their ability helps the farrier to help your horse. My farrier is a roper. He shows up on time and does a good job. He doesn’t make drastic changes unless needed and doesn’t make my horses sore. Also, he has a good knowledge of horses in general. This means that he doesn’t pick fights with my horses for being horses. They are calm around him and he is able to get the job done correctly without too much arguing!
Next is tack. Saddles and tack. Quality is not cheap. However, you can choose bling or go for simple. Personally, my daily tack is plain. I want something made of good leather that will last. I don’t like foreign made tack. I prefer American made! I also like it to be leather. Leather will break of stuff hits the fan! I have seen so many situations where… if the tack had broken, the horse would not have broken. Does that make sense? When I say this, I’m talking about daily tack. I do have a nice leather set for both Splash and Lynx for competition. I did not pay much for it, but again, American made, good leather and pretty but simple! My saddles are also American made (actually Texas made) and quality. I actually prefer used saddles as I HATE breaking in a new saddle!!!! I also buy my saddles to fit my horses. So many folks try to make the saddle fit the horse and honestly, I have done it as well. But finding a good saddle to fit what you are riding is so important!!! It’s like wearing boots that don’t fit! Miserable for the horse if the saddle doesn’t fit them!!!
Trucks and trailers are part of owning a horse. If you plan to have a horse, you NEED a truck and trailer! It doesn’t have to be fancy! Sturdy is the key! Personally, I own a 2003 sooner trailer and a 2007 and a 2003 dodge pickup. I have learned I love the feel of a Diesel engine when pulling my trailer. I drove gasoline vehicles half of my life and the weight ratio was always off. My load out weighed my truck. When I am pulling with my diesel, I feel balanced! My trailer isn’t fancy but is just what I need. I can have trailer envy like anyone but do I really need a 15′ short wall with a slide out? No. I don’t. It’s normally just me and a friend. I have two beds (one is a couch that makes a bed) a shower, toilet and a TV. What more could I need? I also have heat and air conditioning. Even for short trips, this can be a life saver for me! But everyone is different. Figure out what you want to do and go from there. If you want to make close to home trips with no over night stays, do you really need living quarters????? Nope! But a place to store your tack and a comfortable way to haul your animals is a must.
My last section is reflecting back to my first sentiment. KNOWLEDGE. Learn as much as you can before making the jump into ownership! Don’t put the cart before the horse. Learn about how to handle a horse, ride, what is a good home for them, and how to care for them. It’s a huge investment. Buying the horse is easy. The rest adds up. Take some lessons. Go ride with friends. Figure out what you need as a rider before taking the jump. Learn how to handle the horse in a way that you won’t get hurt. After all, a 1200# horse can hurt or even kill you in a split second. Knowing how to handle them to get them to respect you and you learning to respect them is so important!!! Horse can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Knowledge is key!