Congratulations on your purchase and a wonderful new way of life!
You've received some great advice and specifics on the topic of hay, but here are a few random thoughts that may be helpful:
- horses are herd creatures, so recommend getting more than one, especially if you're going to pasture them and leave them (apologize if you already said you were, I read all the comments about hay so may be losing a detail!)
- you need to build some sort of lean-to or shelter for them
- factor in a small monthly budget for feed in addition to the hay. You may not need it, but if your horse becomes ill, or you purchase an older horse, or start using them daily, they may need more nutrients for optimal health. If you don't end up buying feed, trust me, that money will be eaten up with something else horse-related
- when budgeting, remember you will have to pay for having your horse vetted before you buy them ($100-300, depending on your area), annual vaccinations and Coggins if you choose to have them ($100-300, depending; in many areas you must have Coggins by law to ride your horse off your property), farrier every 4-8 weeks (anywhere from $25-150+, depending on barefoot, shoes, your area, etc.), feed and supplements (highly variable), a vet budget (recommend a couple thousand set aside each year - if your horse gets seriously ill once, you can run through that amount easily), having the teeth floated every few years (opinions vary here, find a dentist you trust and go with what they say, but it's about $125-200, depending on your area), and tack and grooming supplies, as well as a few basics like a feed bucket. You must be able to transport your horse in case of medical emergency, natural disaster, or you just want to ride somewhere else, so you will need a trailer. Remember to factor in the cost of diesel, and shavings or outfitting such as hay nets and no slip footing if you intend to use them in the trailer.
- For land management costs, remember to factor in the cost of a good fence (DO NOT SKIMP ON FENCING!!!! Caps here because I maintain 25+ well cultivated acres, and even with high quality fencing, with the number of horses kept on the property fencing is a daily issue), as well as the cost of repairing said fence. I recommend putting in some sort of stock tank if you can, even though you have the creek, because it makes your land more versatile - you can keep the horses in different areas, you can use pastures for a variety of purposes if the way you use your land changes, and you can keep better track of how much your horse is actually drinking. The tanks here are on automated watering, but that is a little more expensive and we water a lot of animals.
- you will have to rotate pastures so they don't stress out, which depending on your area could mean every 6 months or every few years. Talk to local folks, but make sure you have space cleared to do so.
- in everything you build, think versatility. Just because the land is given to a hay operation now does not mean that is what you will use it for. I don't know where you are located, but to cite an example - if I came by an additional 40 acres down here that was good for growing hay, I'd turn it into cattle pasture. Other folks might start running horses, grow crops, or stop doing any of that and maintain the land for personal use. Just food for thought….
Bottom line is that everything you want to do is going to take more time, energy and money than you thought; you're probably going to underestimate the amount of time, energy, and money upkeep and maintenance will take; and you are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and will love nearly every second of it :)
Congratulations, and please keep us all updated!
Jan Shultis xenahorse.com
Know yourself. Know your horse. Ride with joy.