Keeping Horses During Tough Times

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Yesterday, a close friend called to ask if I wanted her horse. She travels and doesn't ride as much as she used to, so the horse has been with another friend for several years. That person just lost her job and can't afford the horse anymore.

Unfortunately, I don't have room for this lovely gelding or I'd take him in a heartbeat. he'll be fine, though, as my friend will bring him back home if she can't find a suitable place where he'll be ridden. So, this isn?t about homeless horses. it's about keeping your horse during economic bumps.

Most of us pamper our horses and, yes, it's fun. But our horse doesn't need fancy tack, famous trainers or pretty barns. He wants a warm, dry, comfortable place to live with hay, salt and water. Grain is only an issue if he can't hold his weight without it.

Most equine diets aren?t perfect, but if you feed good hay and your mature horse is healthy and in low-level work (most pleasure and show horses are), it's likely he can get by without supplements. Or you can target a problem. Buy just biotin for his hoof instead of a pricey multi-ingredient product.

Unless you have trouble handling your horse, consider moving to a no-frills, DIY facility, even if you think He's a ?fancy show horse.? If you go to a 24/7 turnout facility, and your horse has been stalled, you will need to figure out a way to make it a gradual change, but after that he'll be fine.

Stabled or not, you can reduce feed costs somewhat by using a blanket (remember, he eats more hay to stay warm, so the colder it gets, the more he needs to eat). Turnouts must be waterproof and breathable and fit, but they don't have to be a ?designer? brand.

You can pull shoes (yes, you can), using Venice turpentine to toughen the soles and hoof boots if necessary. you'll still need to pay for a regular trim, but it's a lot less costly than shoeing.

Talk with your vet about basic vaccinations. Maybe it's just tetanus, rabies and EEE.

Since you're a Horse Journal reader, we know horses are your life. Every issue emphasizes how to prioritize spending and makes suggestions for frugal choices. And to help save you more money, our circulation director has agreed to go one step further, offering a limited-time 2-for-1 subscription deal (see page 10).

Our editorial staff is here to help you. If you have a problem or a question, don't hesitate to contact us. You can e-mail me at hjeditor@twcny.rr.com. When we say we're all in this together, we mean it.