Are you thinking about adopting horses? Although horses are wonderful companions and amazing teachers, they can also be a significant financial commitment. Make sure you know what to expect before bringing a horse into the family.
How much does it cost to keep a horse?
Adopting a horse or buying it is just the beginning. Once you have brought your horse home, the real financial commitment begins. Horses need very specific, often expensive care. These are only a few of the regular maintenance items that a healthy horse will require:
Farrier care. Horse feet should be cared for every eight weeks, as they grow like our fingernails. Neglecting to care for your feet can lead to severe lameness and even death. Some horses can walk around barefoot and their feet will be fine. Some horses might need to be shoed. Farriers are professionals who assess the hoof needs of horses and provide maintenance. Imagine walking all day in shoes that aren’t comfortable for your horse. Imagine your feet hurting, you’re 1,000 pounds heavy and you can’t take off those shoes! In the horse world, there’s an old saying: “No hoof equals none horse.”
Feed. Depending on where you live, the way that you feed your horse can vary. Horses that live in large pastures are able to graze all day. However, some horses can’t be left alone in the pasture because of problems such as founder or obesity. Horses need to be fed every day by humans. There are many feed options for horses, including grass hays and alfalfa. Cubes (hay that has been compacted into cubes), grains, processed foods, brans, and many others. Although availability and prices will vary depending on where you live, it is estimated that horses will consume approximately three tons of hay each year. Horses also need vitamins and minerals, psyllium (to prevent colic), as well as other supplements to treat specific conditions.
Vet care. Horses require routine veterinary attention, just like any other pet. The average horse will need routine veterinary care, which includes two vaccinations per year, a worming programme, and at least one dental visit each year. Horses’ teeth can become very sharp over their lifetimes, and if not filed off regularly, they can cause severe injury to the cheeks and tongue. Other than routine care, your horse might need emergency care for colic, lacerations or lameness. A horse may require specialized veterinary care, particularly if it requires boarding. This is more costly than for a dog and a cat.
Housing. One of the most difficult aspects of owning a horse is providing a safe and healthy environment for them to live in. Either you have enough land to provide a safe and healthy environment for your horses or you might need to board them with another person. There are some things you should consider. Horses are herd animals. They can take comfort in being able to share their company with other horses. Horses can also be grazing animals and will average 20 miles per day in the wild. A horse that is confined to a restricted area and unable to move or exercise alone can cause behavioral and health problems. There are many types of fencing that can be used to protect pastures. Not all fencing is right for horses. Barbed wire is not something Best Friends recommends, however, some horses who have been in it their entire lives know how to avoid it. Horses can live with any type of fence: smooth wire, no-climb (wire that is woven in squares), wooden fencing, electric fencing, vinyl fencing or a combination of them. There will be maintenance problems with any fencing type. You need to keep wire fences tight and posts stable. Vinyl fences can be broken (especially in colder areas), and electric fencing can fail. You can keep your horse safe on your land, or let her ride on another’s.
What makes horses so different from other pets?
Horses are not dogs. Although this may seem obvious, it is very common for those new to horses to rely on the experience they have with dogs. Horses are prey animals while dogs are predators. Their responses to human interaction can be completely different. It is your responsibility to be well-informed about the needs, care, and behavior of your horse. Horses can be abused outright, but more often horses are neglected or abused out of ignorance.
What can I do to learn more about horses
Try to find out as much information and experience as you can about horses before you commit to adding one to your family. These are just a few suggestions.
Volunteer with your local horse rescue organization. You will have the opportunity to meet many horses and learn how to safely handle them. You can also learn how to avoid common problems that lead to horses being surrendered to rescue groups.
Learn from a respected instructor. It is difficult to learn how to speak horse and understand what they mean. However, it is much easier to learn from someone who knows the language.
You can lease a horse. This can be a great way to get an idea of what it’s like to own a horse before you buy or adopt one. This gives you an idea of the experience of owning a horse, but without having to take on final responsibility.
How can I adopt a horse?
You should make sure that you choose a horse that is compatible with your abilities if you are considering bringing a horse into the family. It is important to find the right “fit” for any pet. Horses are large and can be dangerous. If you are afraid to approach a horse, it will be difficult to build trust and a mutually beneficial relationship. You and your horse will both be happier if you have an expert to help you choose the right horse. Consider buying an older horse. They can be great teachers. As they get older, younger horses will need to learn many things.
What length of commitment does it take?
Horses eventually get to the age where they want to retire, just like humans. A well-trained horse can live to his 30s, but he will need care after his riding days end. Consider whether you have the ability and willingness to take care of a horse that isn’t fit to ride due to injury or age.
- Nearly all horses will require such care. No horse should be sold or abandoned because he is not “useful.”
- Remember that although a horse is a long-term commitment it can also be a rewarding one.