Are You Ready for a Horse ?
Horses are rewarding companions and incredible teachers, but they require a serious commitment of your time, money and energy.
Before bringing a horse into your family, make sure you are fully informed about what to expect. What costs are involved in having a horse? Adopting a horse is only the beginning. The real financial commitment comes once you bring your new horse home.
Horses require very specific and often very costly care. Here are just a few examples of the routine maintenance things that an average healthy horse will need:
Farrier care: Since horses feet grow just like our fingernails do, they need to be tended to about every eight weeks. Severe lameness problems and even death can result from neglected feet.
Some horses do very well just having their feet trimmed and walking around barefoot. Other horses may require shoeing. A farrier is a trained professional whose job it is to evaluate the needs of your horse’s hooves and maintain them accordingly.
To get an inkling of how a horse with ill fitting shoes feels, imagine walking around all day in shoes that don’t fit.
Now imagine that your feet hurt, you weigh 1,000 pounds and you can’t take those shoes off! There’s an old saying in the horse world: “No hoof equals no horse. ”
Feed: How you feed your horse will vary greatly, depending on where your horse lives.
Some horses are fortunate enough to live in large pastures where they can graze away all day. Some horses, though, can’t be left in a pasture due to problems like founder and obesity. Most horses need to be fed by people every day. There are a wide variety of feeds available for horses: grass hays, alfalfa, cubes (hay that has been processed into tightly compacted cubes), grains, processed feeds, brans, and many more.
Availability and price will vary with where you live but, as a rough estimate, you can figure that your horse will eat about three tons of hay per year.
Plus, horses often need vitamin and mineral supplements, psyllium (to prevent colic), and other supplements for specific ailments.
Vet care: like any pet, horses require routine veterinary care.
For the average healthy horse, this will include vaccinations twice a year, a worming program, and dental work at least once a year. (Horses’ teeth grow throughout their lives and wear to very sharp points that can cut the tongue and cheeks if they are not routinely filed off.)
A side from routine care, there is always the possibility that your horse may require emergency care for problems like colic, lacerations, or lameness.
Specialized veterinary care for a horse, especially if it involves boarding, is considerably more expensive than for a dog or a cat.
Are you ready for a horse?