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Thrifty Horsekeeping

Owning a horse or pony can be expensive, so we’ve come up with 15 horse-keeping hints to help you save money!

  1. Check the barn bulletin board for "gently worn” riding clothes. Older kids may sell their jodhs and show clothes when they outgrow them.

  2. Sign up for group riding lessons, they are cheaper than private lessons and can be a lot more fun!

  3. Buy your horse’s hay in the spring or summer directly from a farmer. And buy it in bulk—enough for the whole year. Farmers will give you a discount if you pick up the hay yourself. Call your county’s United States Department of Agriculture office (the number will be in the phone book) to get a list of local farmers who sell hay.

  4. Buy shavings in bulk. If you keep your horse at home and your parents have a trailer that can hold shavings, you might be able to buy them from a local wood mill. They are a lot cheaper than shavings in bags. Most mills have a huge pile of leftover shavings and will load them into a trailer for you. When you get the shavings home, store them in a dry place or under a tarpaulin.

  5. Clean your own stable and turnout blankets instead of sending them to an equine laundry service. Turnout blankets can be hosed down and washed with a mild detergent and then you can waterproof them with liquid you buy at a camping store. If you can’t fit your stable blankets in the washing machine, go to a laundromat that has industrial sized machines.

  6. Don’t throw away old supplement buckets. They make great buckets for measuring feed and taking the feed to your horse’s manger. They are also great for cleaning tack. Keep your saddle soap and sponges in an old supplement bucket.

  7. Don’t go out and buy a fancy velvet show helmet the minute you start riding. For smaller shows, simply pop a velvet cover over your schooling helmet. You can buy these covers at the tack shop.

  8. Lots of people add corn oil to a horse’s feed to add shine to his coat and help him keep weight on. But vegetable oil can be cheaper and does just about the same job. Look for big containers of oil at discount stores like Sam’s Club.

  9. If your mom or dad is handy with the saw and drill, you can make your own jump poles and standards. Simply buy eight-foot landscaping poles at the home improvement store and paint them with outdoor paint. Then buy an eight-foot long four by four and cut it in half. Add feet to keep it upright and drill holes in it for jump cups. Viola—a jump for around $20!

  10. Unscented baby wipes are handy for cleaning runny noses and wiping off dust. You can also use them to clean your boots at a show. Don’t use them near your horse’s eyes though because they might irritate them.

  11. Shop for items like dewormers at big horse expos such as Equine Affaire where they tend to be on sale. If you have enough money with you, buy a year’s worth of dewormer at the reduced prices.

  12. Try this recipe for homemade coat shine. Mix ¼ cup baby oil with two cups water in a spray bottle. Add four tablespoons if cider vinegar, shake and then spray on your horse’s coat for a nice shine.

  13. You can use human grooming products on horses. Gentle shampoos and conditioners work fine on horsey coats and tails. And human hair gel is great for flattening down a mane so you can braid it. Human hairbrushes also work well on manes and tails.

  14. If you’re in the market for your first saddle, check out synthetic saddles. They are cheaper than leather and a lot lighter. And you can just sponge them off to clean them. No saddle soap required! Synthetic saddles are super for kids.

  15. Need a mounting block? Just go to the local discount store and buy a set of plastic steps—the kind you might find in a kitchen so the cook can reach shelves that are up high. These steps are a lot cheaper than a horsey mounting block. Keep one in the trailer for when you go to shows.



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