July 19, 2012 - Horses play an important role in the U.S. agriculture industry.? Visit your local or state fair and enjoy the ag exhibits.? As a horse owner, you are part of the ag industry. Walking through the Michigan Ag Expo at the Michigan State University Campus this week made me feel proud to be part of the horse industry!? Horses were well represented from the horse drawn shuttles to the talks and demonstrations and vast array of ag equipment. The Window to Agriculture Horses are often referred to as the ?window to agriculture.?? Most people, whether they live in the big city or work in an air conditioned office all day, have some affiliation with horses.? Maybe it's the memory of riding a camp horse or experiencing the excitement of a horse race.? Most people can answer a few simple questions about horses.? However, the average kid can't get past the grocery store when you ask them where their hamburger came from! Horses are livestock, even if we name them, treat them as family and take care of them well into their twilight years.? Horses have played a big role in U.S. Agriculture and are still relevant in modern times.? Ag related feed and equipment are sold to horse owners at an astonishing rate.? In Michigan alone, horse owners spend 60 million dollars on grain and supplements and 44 million dollars on hay to feed our state?s 155,000 equids.? You can bet our Michigan farmer?s like to see a strong horse industry!? The U.S. horse industry has a 102 billion (yeah that's right, 102 BILLION dollar) impact on the U.S. economy and directly provides 460,000 full time job equivalents. LEARN MORE about the U.S. Horse Industry and visit the American Horse Council website. If I Had a Million Dollars Walking through Ag Expo, the BNL song ?If I Had a Million Dollars? kept playing in my head.? All of the high-end equipment that I have on my WANTS list was well represented.? Morton Buildings had a stall front that would be perfect in our century old horse barn.? I would love to be able to feed my horses from the outside of the stall - especially when I am rushing to work and don't have my muck boots on! Let?s not forget my all time favorite piece of equipment, the manure spreader.? As is, we borrow a neighbor?s spreader once a year to spread our compost on our hay meadow.? That is really the bare minimum for managing manure on a horse farm.? If we had this baby pictured below, we could increase our spreading applications over the late spring, summer and early fall.? Given that a single horse will produce 50 lbs of manure/day - amounting to a little over 9 tons of manure a year - having the right equipment and land base to manage that manure is essential for being good stewards of the land. LEARN MORE by reading the article Horse Manure Management from eXtension.org/horses. Finally, if you want to involve the men in your life with your horse activities, you have to visit the tractors and ATVs!? Our family started with an antique John Deer Tractor and we now have a 55 horse power tractor with a front end loader. Might be overkill, but it sure makes chores and farm work easier!? Of course, my husband and son?s wish list includes a cool ATV, which they are convinced is a necessity for our small farm. I hope you can go to some farm shows this summer and fall.? Rest assured, that the ag exhibits are as much for you as your farmer and rancher neighbors! Tell me about your summer fair and expo activities in the comment section below.Dr. Christine Skelly is an extension specialist at Michigan State University where she founded and directs My Horse University, an online horse management education program.? Dr. Skelly developed the free online course Purchasing and Owning a Horse 101, in partnership with Discover Horses. Follow My Horse University on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and take the FREE online course Purchasing and Owning a Horse 101.
Is Horse Ownership for You?
Horse ownership seems like the right fit, but as anyone who owns a horse will tell you, ?It is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle.? Horses are time consuming and expensive. Thinking through the time committment and expense of owning a horse before buying your first horse will help you prepare for the day to day realities of horse ownership.