HI Spy: Share your tips for saving money with horses

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    Horses are expensive. With hay and grain, housing, vet and farrier costs, a horse owner’s wallet is forever feeling the squeeze. Add to that the costs of tack, training, lessons and shows and it’s clear that riders have picked one of the most expensive sports around.

    There’s a pervasive image of equestrians as elitists and riding as a sport only available to rich country club members. However, a recent survey shows that most horse owners are middle class and are finding ways to afford their horses without the benefit of a bottomless bank account.

    You probably make a lot of sacrifices to keep up your equestrian lifestyle. Maybe you can’t afford the latest fashions, annual vacation or daily morning latte that your non-horsey friends enjoy. Beyond that, how do you afford to ride and own horses? Have you found a great way to increase efficiency at the barn? Have you found useful but inexpensive alternatives to use in place of pricey tack or stable goods? 

    Share your money-saving tips with fellow horse lovers by clicking “Submit a Comment” below. Some of the responses may appear in a future issue of Horse Illustrated

    Fresh Aire Cone Hay FeederThis month, one selected response will win a Fresh Aire Cone Hay Feeder from Tarter Farm and Ranch Equipment!  This feeder holds up to 4 flakes of hay and allows your horse to feed the natural way, reaching down instead of reaching up. Corner mounted; bolts to the corner of any stall or attaches to a paddock fence. Retail value: $247. Please include your e-mail address if you would like to be considered for the monthly prize (e-mail addresses will not be displayed publicly.)

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    70 COMMENTS

    1. To save money I buy used tack that I can easily spruce up with leather oil and cleaner. I also make sure to shift out all the bedding from the horse manure when cleaning a stall. This allows me to save money by not going through bedding as fast. Plus instead of using half a bottle of shampoo on one horse (I’ve own big drafts) I put some shampoo in a spray bottle and add some water. Then I can spray it on my horse and use a lot less shampoo.

    2. If something breaks, I try to fix it myself or my dad will try. If I don’t have something such as a new bridle that I need to show in, I ask one of my horsey friends if they have an extra bridle or if I could borrow it till I could afford my own. You don’t have to feed your horse the most expensive food; I find w/ my horses, they do really well w/ just grass and and a little pellets. If you have little pasture, giving your horse some grass or fescue hay can help him. And it’s cheaper to get fly spray in a gallon that you only have to spray your horse every few days.

    3. At the moment i’m to young to get a job or anything but when i get older i hope to become a vet and then take care of my own horses. For my lessons i work for by saddleing up horses and groomig them.

    4. My one way of keeping my horsey lifestyle is to not have anything else. Above anything else my horses come first. They get new shoes every 4-6 weeks and new coats,aka sheets, whenever needed, BUT I have had the same boots and coat for 4-6 YEARS. I know I am not the only one as I see many of my friends with coats that have duct tape on them but their horse has that new Billy Cook Saddle and brand new shoes!

    5. One way that I save money is to try to use coupons when I can find them.I also get the cheapest fly spray,treats ect.Anther thing I do is buy used tack! I also keep my horse at home and I average only one or two lessons a month!

    6. We are on a budget so to save money I have my daughter’s show clothes made. We have bought used tack and when repairs need to be made there is a local gentleman who repairs leather products, shoes & boots and is much cheaper than buying new. We also buy our grain from a local feed mill which has been cheaper than prepackaged grain. I also comparison shop between the several horse catalogs and purchase items on ebay and Craigs List. But my favorite way to save money is to attend the Hoosier Horse Fair where I find many bargains on all sorts of “horsey” stuff.

    7. I have the deal of a lifetime. I exercise a Thoroughbred gelding for his owner, since she can’t make it out that much to exercise him herself. So in exchange for keeping him clean and riding him, I get to show him for free, hunt him for free, and get all his expensive tack for free. And naturally, she pays for his vet fees, boarding fees, etc. So all I really have to do is ride him (which I don’t mind at ALL!) and keep him in healthy condition, and I get to basically rent him for free! I would certainly recommend this arrangement to anyone who wants to rent or buy a horse, but doesn’t think they can afford it.

    8. In the summer, spring, and early fall, my horses eat a diet of grass. By saving money on pricey hay; and really, who needs a new halter every year; and keeping blankets and brushes in good, clean condition, I barely ever need to buy new tack. And when I do, I have lots of money left over from not buying hay. And really, when there is yummy grass to be had, the horses turn up their noses at hay anyway!

    9. When you buy big ticket items, spend the extra money and go for high quality. You will likely spend more money having to replace poorly made items then if you buy well made items. Buy items off of auction sites such as ebay.com so you can get the best price for your money. Make sure your feed and/or hay is of high quality, you will feed less if its good quality. At shows stay away from the trade stands because you will probably end up buying something that you will never use. Be on constant lookout for deals and when one comes around stock up on the item when its on sale. Take good care of your tack, brushes, blankets, etc because they will last longer if you care for them. Make sure that wherever you keep your horse is free from any hazards so you wont have to pay expensive vet bills when he cuts himself on that piece of rusty wire. Cut back on lessons and try training your horse yourself. You will save on training fees and learn a lot as well. If you think something is wrong with your horse, call the vet. If there is a problem the bills will not be as much now then if you “just see if it will go away” and then it gets worse. Learn how to worm and vaccinate your horse yourself. You will save money if you can do annual worming and vaccines than if the vet has to do it. Just be smart and you will find ways of saving money.

    10. Horses dont make money; they take money. And it’s a problem- unless you really love horses and are willing to find a way to pay for your horse. I’m one of those people. First of all you must BARGAIN BUY!! I go for the cheapest dewormer, hoof supplement, ect.But not to cheap it could be crappy! Also I don’t buy stuff I really don’t need; such as a cool saddle pad, treats, or pretty halter. It’s a lot easier than it seems!! (:

    11. In the summer I use grass clippings from my lawn if I ever have to bring my mare into her stall. This is lots cheaper then buying a bag of shavings, putting them down, and they only last 1 day. My mare seems to enjoy the more “natural” bedding then she does sleeping on “wood chips”. Yuck. I would prefer grass, too!

    12. I try hard to save money. For example tail bag is something I (well my horse) could live without so I make my own out a sock. Little things like that help me save money.

    13. I don’t own a horse but I take lessons and show. To save money I take group lessons which and $20 rather than $40. I also get to practice riding in an arena with other horses so it’s great for busy show arenas.

    14. My motto is “if you can do it yourself, why pay?” To save on vet bills, i take my horse to the vet, rather than getting a house call. I also give my horse shots on my own, because it hels train me for my future. You can go to the vet office and they give you the shots. It also helps if you can board someone else’s horse if you have the room. its a small profit but helps alot!

    15. At my barn, we share brushes and use them until they’re falling apart. Why buy a new brush if you already have a perfectly fine one? Plus we use every piece of hay or every pellet of feed, so we aren’t wasteful. Instead of using expensive riding arenas, we just practice in the pasture and separate the horses.

    16. I work two jobs, and for extra cash I paint model horses to look like people’s real horses. The people who I paint for have a little more money, and love the novelty of having a miniature of their own horse!

    17. At my barn, there are three main other girls and it seems like they have a locker full of the latest horse stuff. Even though we can’t afford that, my horse and I are happy and could care less, just as long as she receives her daily feed. We can work twice a month at the barn to get $110 dollars off our board. Thank The Lord!!

    18. I have started attending a new lesson farm about nine months ago. I am already attached to a Morgan gelding named Passion and I would like to lease him next year. Leasing is $450 at my lesson farm. I stash money by walking a dog for a neighbor and get $10 a week. So far, I have saved up $210. When I pay for the leasing, I plan to have at least $20 left over. With that money, I would buy things like horse treats, vegetable oil, saddle soap or other needed products.

    19. To Stacy from Morrow, OH
      I would love to have a model of my favorite lesson horses painted! Could I set something up and send you a picture? Thanks

    20. Every equestrian knows that anything related to horses is expensive; owning, lessons, showing, tack…even something as simple as a breyer! It’s really hard paying for both riding and two kids in college. Since college is more important than a much loved sport, I have to pay for it. The tough thing is that I have to work for a month to get one lesson! So what I do, is once a month I have a lesson and when I need a new helmet or chaps, I go to my favorite tack shop: All the King’s Horses and try on whatever I need, see what brands work best and go home and look it up on Ebay. But of course certain things like helmets must be in new condition, so I buy those brand new!

    21. The best way I have found to save money on horse care is to learn to do a lot for yourself. I still have my vet out once a year for an exam but I give my horse her shots myself. (In my state, I can’t directly purchase a rabies vaccine, so the vet has to administer this one; but in my former state I could do it.) When I was showing, I used to make a lot of my show clothes and even some of my horse equipment (i.e. mane tamers are easy to crochet and works just as well). Don’t be afraid to buy used or organize a swap with fellow equestrians. Also, barter for services. My farrier has two dogs and since I am a pet groomer, we exchange a hoof trim for a pet clip. It saves money for both of us!

    22. One way we save ALOT of money is we do our own farrier work,watch your farrier do it then watch videos on it and then buy the tools and you will be ready.Another way to save money is if you have at least 3 acres fence your horses in and get them water food etc. instead of boarding,the last way is buy your horses wormer and shots and do them your self it saves you the vet fee.

    23. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “Buying the horse is the cheapest part” when talking about horses. I would have to agree, but there are several ways I keep the cost down. For one, I haul with another rider whenever I can and we split the gas. My lesson instructor has also agreed to give me a free hour lesson for every two hours of work I do. When buying tack, I go to the local tack swap and bargain. When I do buy tack, I make sure it is good quality and will last a long time. I give my horses hay on the ground and grain out of a spare bucket. I don’t put shoes on my horses and I pay my uncle a little to trim both of my horses hooves when I take them up to his place (usually on the day he trims his horse’s hooves) and I help clean his stalls and groom his horses. I have a skylight in the top of the barn, so I don’t use electric, just flashlights (when necessary) and natural light. I let my horses graze longer in the day so I don’t have to feed as much hay. Also, depending on how cold it is, I sometimes give baths in the rain. Doing little things can help you save a lot of money when you have horses.

    24. We save money by buying most of our stuff used and most of the time they are in GREAT condition. For English I can make my own saddle pad.for the farrier our whole barn splits the money.My horse is out most of the day on grass so thats saves ALOT of money.and last but not least for you people that are handy with the sewing mashine you can make your own saddle pads,blankits, and slinky’s.

    25. I save money by volunteering at my barn. My work goes toward half of any thing I buy there, which means more lessons for me! Also, I learn a lot from volunteering with the horses. Another way I save money is me and my barn buddies share everything! For example, we used a coupon when we split a bottle of fly spray, so we each paid less than $5!

    26. We save money by buying most of our stuff used and most of the time they are in great condition! for english i can make my own saddle pad.for the farrier our whole barn splits the money.My horse is out most of the day on grass so that saves ALOT of money.and last but not least for people that are handy with the sewing mashine you can make your own saddle pads,blankits,and slikys.

    27. I do lots of shows and boy, are they expensive! my mom agrees to paying for half of a show cost for one show per month. It saves money for things we really need, like fly spray and supplements.

    28. I live in a small old house (cheap) with acreage, I shoe my own horses (took a class at the community college), I do my own worming and vaccines, and I diligently maintain my equipment so I don’t have to replace it (truck, trailer, saddles, etc.).

    29. I save money by clipping or printing any coupons I can find for horse supplies. I also try to shop for horse-related stuff at stores that are having good sales or clearance. Online sites with free samples, offers, and coupons is another good way to save. I also try to sew saddle pads for my horse in my spare time (if I have any!).

    30. I do lots of thing to save money, like not spending my money on stuff my horse doesn’t need. Such as grain, she is a really easy keeper, has no trouble keping on weight and still has plenty of enery for our rides. All she eats is grass, she is moved to a different 5 acre feild each week along with our sheep so she has plenty to eat. She is feed hay in the winter 24/7 so she does’t have to wait in between feeding times. She is also barefoot which saves quite a bit of money. I also only have the vet come out once a year just for a check up and to float her teeth. I also vaccinate myself and only worm her once a year because she doesn’t get worms because she is rotated from feilds so often, so by the time she comes back around the worms are gone. I also only buy top quality tack, because even though it is expensive at first it lasts so much longer. I also clean and condition my tack often to keep it in good shape so it will last longer. I don’t spend my money on tack my horse doesn’t need such as side reins or martangles. I don’t show her ofen either and when I do show her i show her locally. I make sure I resist the temptartion of buying shiny new things or sugary treats for my horse, because they really don’t do her any good. Overall I think as long as you think over what your going to buy and make sure it’s actually going to be used.

    31. It’s the little things that count right? Thats how I afford my horsy lifestyle. I don’t get things I don’t for my horse; example: Do I really need that Green saddle pad? (no!) or Does my horse need treats to get fat on?(no). Also I try to bargain buy… The cheaper hoof dressing, fly spray ect. It’s suprisingly easier than it sounds!

    32. My Aunt and I both love horses, but neither of us could of afforded a horse on our own so we have become “horse partners”. This is a great solution for us because everything is half price, board, vet bills, farrier, feed etc… As well as our horse getting twice the love!

    33. Here’s one good way to save cash. Put your horse FIRST and yourself LAST. I know it can be hard, but it’s cheaper in the long-run. Say, for instance, I want to get a new hair cut. How much? $20.00! Before I even step foot in the hair salon, I think to myself, what else could I do with that $20? Trim my horse’s hooves, buy tack/feed/equipment? If I need it, I buy that stuff instead and console myself with the thought ‘there’s always next time to cut my hair, but there might not be another time to own a horse’.

    34. I only buy what I need. If my horse’s saddle pad is dirty, then I clean it, I don’t go buying a new one unless there’s a hole in it. I grew out of my boots, so I bought some new ones. I want a new helmet, but I decided to go with a helmet cover instead, to cover up some of the wear in it. This probably saved me $30-$40. Every now and again I’ll see a new halter or blanket and fall in love, then assess the one he has now. If it’s old and not doing its’ job, it’s usless. But it was, so I left it behind. Buying what you need, not what you want helps a lot. Before buying, I check what condition the tack or clothing is in, then make my decision. Try it. 🙂

    35. In order to afford the two critters in my field, I had to…… wait…I STILL CAN’T AFFORD THEM !!! Oh well I guess they are like having kids , just a part of my life I would really miss if they were not there.So we make do and we are all still living !!

    36. I got my horse when I was entering my Senior year in college. To afford my horse, I cut costs wherever I could, which meant no more going out to dinner or the movies, and I no longer buy beverages from stores – $2 coffees and juices multiple days a week quickly add up! I also buy all of my tack used and pick up odd jobs here or there such as housesitting or dogwalking to help support my horse habit. Currently I work at the barn where I board. I never dreamed I’d be able to afford a horse while in school, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to own the wonderful mare I have now. Through sheer determination and some creativity, I’ve managed to afford it financially and have now graduated from college, my horse still at my side.

    37. I help around my barn I board at and get hours to put towards my board. It also helps I only have 4 horses, my daughter helps feed them and the all are very easy to take care of so no extra supplements! Shots we order all together and cut the shipping rate, I vaccinate for everyone which cuts down the vet charge and worming’s not so hard to give. We also help hay, so that helps with boarding hours too!

    38. Since my parents pay my boarding costs, I try to be as frugal with money as possible. I don’t shop at expensive stores and I don’t go out to lunch. I also make sure to do extra chores. I also work for reduced board. Try helping out at your barn-you learn so much! Plus, the extra bonding time with your horse makes it worth it!

    39. I don’t have a horse, but I work at a farm to help pay for my lessons and shows. I try to make everything last as long as possible. I try not to buy things that I don’t really need. Hopefully I will be working as a horse sitter during the summer.

    40. I have four horses so I try to find a deal where ever I can, weather its going to the sale or looking in the news paper for people selling tack.
      I also try and figure out how long feed or hay is goin to last before I have to buy more. Most of my stuff is use or I bought it on sale. really the best thing to do is only buy what u need and what you can aford.

    41. I keep my horse at a very affordable pony club place 2 minutes from my house. There’s about 12 of us, and we keep our 16 horses as a herd. We have 3 20 acre natural paddocks with trees for shade and shelter and economic wire fencing that’s strong and safe. We rotate the herd every month. Since the horses live outside 24/7, it’s not only healthy for them but it saves us hundreds of dollars in bedding and board, so our monthly payments are in turn very low! We have monthly maintenance teams, so we don’t have to pay for workers. As for feed, we buy in bulk because that saves us a lot too. We keep our horses barefoot and trim the feet ourself, and they do just fine! The vet comes twice a year and does all the horses in a period of one to three days, so we don’t have huge personal costs. And with equipment, we all buy good quality, take good care of it, and share it with one another. Our system of horsekeeping is very cheap and efficient, and since we all share and help out and ride together, we have some awesome relationships and friendships with one another, and it makes the extra bit of work worth it all the way!

    42. I fix up any tack that’s damaged and can be salvaged. The best way to prevent the expensive costs of having a professional fix your tack or just buying brand new or used, is to take care of it in the beginning! Prevention is the best cure for broken saddles.

    43. SALVAGE!!! I pick out stalls trying to keep the good shavigs in them. We look for all kinds of deals on things I buy for my horses. If we are going to a horse show, we will try to use up ALL the stalls in our trailor.=)

    44. I helped my neighbor bale hay and he gave us a special deal! (; Also i try not to get stuff i don’t need 4 my horse.

    45. I try never to go to the tack store if don’t need to because I always get distracted by all the irrelevant horsey stuff. I also buy used tack and equipment.

    46. For tack I buy used saddles and bridles from friends or adults at my stable. I also work helping break young horses for exchange of lessons which saves a lot of money!

    47. I hate to pay retail for anything. For stable supplies like fly spray, bandages, ointments, etc. I usually stock up at tack auctions where tack shops are liquidating inventory. Even the horse auctions around here usually have some wholesalers selling brand new product much cheaper than in stores or online. I carry a catalog with me that I can quickly look up prices to know when to stop bidding.

    48. The main thing that saves me is not wasting horse food. I try not to make a mess in the hay room so the hay on the floor does not get thrown away. Also, make sure to get all the grain out of the bag. If we measure all the grain and hay we waste, we could probably feed all the starving horses out there! So lets do our part!!

    49. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars a month to lease a horse, I train and school my friend’s horse. It’s a win-win situation for both of us. So far, I’ve already saved $3,600 this year!

    50. We save Money by using products that arn’t all gone and don’t exspire like shampoo,saddle cleaner,lead ropes,Silver shinner,and Washing and grooming supplies. Sometimes we have to bye new supplies but we always go to tack sales and farming shops. Low prices are very hard to find at the big time tack shops but we get coupons and Being a member can save over one hundred dollers in Hores supplies. Thats how we save Money here in Ohio!

    51. As a college student, I have to work hard to be able to afford my horse. I give my own vaccinations and have educated myself on veterinary care to keep those expensive costs down. I shop yardsales and craigslist for any tack I may need. But the most cost efficient thing I do is make my horse work for her living. I have worked out a deal with two different stables that use her a lesson and therapeutic riding horse.

    52. We are lucky enough to live on a small acreage so we keep both our horses home for 1/2 of what it used to cost me to board my mare. I also shop for 2nd hand tack that’s in good condition or end of season sales.

    53. I board at a barn with a bunch of other girls my age who all own horses or lease, so we all share basic items like fly spray, hoof oil, shampoo, buckets, etc. We all use the same pair of clippers & we have backups on almost everything in case someone is running low on something. We even share breeches sometimes when we’re lucky enough to find someone who wears the same size as us. The only thing we dont share thats equestrian related is our helmets, those are ours & ours alone, & for good reason too!

    54. I buy cheap spur straps or western shirts and rhinestone them and sell them for feed, fly spray, and any tack I need. I also clean stalls at a couple barns during non school hours

    55. Myself and my friends try to cut back on things for are horses by sharing. Like clippers, shampoo, buckets, and fly spray. when we need some type of new tack, we go and try to find the tack used. It can add up how much less we spend, then if we had to get it new. We also try to sale are old horse items that we don’t use or need any more, like small helmets, pads and bits. We get some extra cash, and then it allows us to go and buy some new items that we may have needed. When one of us has to get feed for are horses we double up on orders and get what the other person may need so we don’t waste all that gas to drive to the tack store. We can also sometimes get a discount if we buy in bulk.

    56. I have tried it all being 16 and finally getting a horse. Sell old tack and apparel and/or buy some things used! When we bought my horse we bought all his blankets used and also his owner was very willing to give us his halter, lead, sheet and bit and we bought one of his blankets off her. We also bought used blankets that were in great shape from boarders at our barn. Start a business! good at braiding, clipping, bathing, tack cleaning, have a trailer? Use those to make money.

    57. I am lucky enough to ride and board my two horses at a barn that has a large Polo player population. The “Polo People” at the barn aren’t always the best horsemen, and usually only want to deal with their horses when they are going to play polo. They do however, have deep pockets. I exercise six polo horses three days a week (alternating), and keep them in shape for their owners. I get paid VERY well, more than enough to cover the board for my two horses, plus some extra spending money.

    58. Being a college student with a horse means I buy only what I need, and I research before I buy. When I bought my dressage saddle I went for a higher quality used saddle based upon multiple reviews, rather than a new lower-end model. I also strive for preventative care with my horse- she gets every recommended dewormer and vaccine, because it’s much cheaper to prevent an illness than treat it.

    59. To save money on hay, we either bale it our selves or we trade water for hav. ( although the farmers who want water could just have it but they said theyd trade hay for water!) We also buy tack from ebay instead of fleet farm. We borrow tack that we need for showing from people who has stuff we need. I also put away some money in a safe that we use for buying stuff.

    60. recycle those old grain bags! I use them as trash bags and to haul things around.
      Also, always purchase things on ebay. They have some good cheap items that are expensive anywhere else.

    61. Buy only what you need at the moment. If it can wait, even a few weeks, wait. Spend some time looking around for the best price or used. Look for sales, look for used. Make sure you know you need what you’re buying, ask a friend to borrow something if they have it and make sure. Don’t spend $20 on a bit and try several bits before you find one that works borrow one!

    62. My husband has his long desired Harley. It needs gas, special adornments, goes on long multicountry rides. When he began talking about another bike, I reminded him of my life-long desire for a horse. Costs pretty much the same. Enough said. I got riding lessons for my birthday.

    63. Don’t buy all that expensive feed. Unless, of course, you’re in a sport or something. We’ve gotten along fine with a little bit o’ grain, hay, and grass!

    64. My father and I feed our horses hay and grain. However this is right, it addeds up.
      When my dad cuts the grass around the house, we give our horses the grass clippings. However remember, to be careful with that. Your horses might get sick. Also, before the sun goes down my father and i take two horses at a time,and take them out and let them eat the long good grass out of thier paster.

    65. What is a great way to save money and still get awesome stuff for your horse is buy used items. Local tack shops often have items on consignment for sale. Another great place to look is cregslist and other web sites. There is amazing things out there! “Other peoples junk is your treasure”.Or so the saying goes. You don’t have to spend hundreds to get the look you want for your horse. Also get items you can use on multiple horses. If possible. Good luck and have fun! There is a lot of amazing things out there that is some time new and gently used that you can get at very low prices and still be stylish at a show or at home ! 🙂

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