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NorthernMama 08-31-2008 11:12 PM

Living with horses on a budget (my first rant!)
Ok -- we all must do it right? Surely we all have a limit on what we can spend on our horses. Everyone's limit is different.

I just wanted to say that for those of you who have thousands and thousands of dollars to spend on your horses if something goes wrong, that's nice. Good for you. Some of us don't though and I don't think that makes us bad horse owners.

I'm going out on a limb for everyone to bad mouth me now, but I'm sure there are other people like me and the purpose of this post is to support them and encourage us all to be open-minded.

I don't call a vet for very much. 90% of the things I look after myself. I do my own farrier work (barefoot). I have dealt with colic, choke, severe cuts that I've been told should have been stitched (BTW, no scar, no problem), ulcers, bowed tendons and I don't know what else where either a vet wasn't called or the $vet$ was no help at all. Yes, I have called a vet for choke and I have called a vet for idiopathic shock and for dental work and ultrasounds (priced out first!) and other stuff. But just because what I deem to be a valid vet call doesn't jive with Susie's ideas down the road doesn't make me wrong/right or Susie wrong or right. Just different. BTW, a vet call here is $200 right off the bat. A farrier, if you can get one that comes regularly is $50 for a trim. No shoes. No care. No exam. No nada. Frankly, the information I have gleaned from other horse people (that means YOU) has been far more valuable than any vet call I have made. I love the internet -- now I can learn from hundreds of horse people instead of just a handful of locals who all deal with the same local issues I do.

Also, I would not, in any way, ever, EVER spend 5 or 10 THOUSAND dollars on surgery for my horses. So does that mean I should give them up? Obviously, I don't think so or I wouldn't have them in the first place.

People that have the money and choose to spend it that way, fine. People that choose to put 2nd mortgages on their homes to pay for surgery, fine. But that doesn't mean everyone will. Please let's not put our own individual financial situations and priorities into everyone's backyard. We're not all the same. And we're not all living with the same options open to us anyway, no matter how much money we might have to spend on our horses.

Oh, and we all expect different things from our horses too. I ride in my backyard. That's basically it. Of course, that also determines what each owner deems "necessary". A $15,000 horse bought for competition is a financial investment. My girls are on the other end of the extreme as free rescues and all I've promised them is that they will never be sold and they will never suffer. In return they follow me around the paddock or snub me when I take the "other" one out and leave one behind!

Do y'all hate me now? Sorry, but I just had to say this. Horse people, including me, have to be the most critical sport people out there. Honestly. Sometimes I think we need to take 10 deep breaths and try standing in the others person's barn. Here's to not judging, but being supportive when asked.

Solon 08-31-2008 11:17 PM

Don't hate you at all and find myself pretty much in the same situation.

With the exception of colic. I will never not call a vet for signs of that. You can loose a horse too darn quickly. And I have a farrier but I try to keep the foot 'cleaned up' in between trims.

I was just thinking about this today. Solon had a really bad absess that blew out the top of his foot like a volcano. Got crap from some of the boarders about not calling a vet, but I've been able to take care of his abscesses since his first one 9 years ago. Those are things I feel comfortable dealing with.

But I won't hesitate to call a vet if it's out of my league - like the colic stuff. And our vet just raised his trip prices. $50 to drive TWO miles to our barn. It's crazy.

I've even been thinking of getting a second job. But my horse and my other critters come first. If that means eating mac and cheese and top ramen for a month I will.

But yeah, seems to be getting tougher. Not as easy to put away emergency money as it used to be.

dame_wolf 09-01-2008 01:20 AM

I'm with you northernmama. I don't have a ton of money to spend on my horse either. Does that mean I love him any less? No! I've never had tons of money to spend on any of my animals. I ended up having to put down one of my cats (years ago) because she started having convultions and I didn't have the money to have her tested and living on meds or go through surgery. It bothers me to this day that maybe she could have lived a quality life for a few more years if I'd had the vet money but being just out of high school I couldn't do it and neither could my parents. It's just something that we all live with. We do what we can with what we have and love our 'kids' while we have them. It also means we have to make the tough decisions too.

JustDressageIt 09-01-2008 01:32 AM

I do believe with all my heart that you should keep enough around to be able to pay for a horse to be put down and buried/taken away... at least then you can assure yourself that if anything life-threatening happened, you could do the horse a favor and put it out of its misery.

Light Bright 09-01-2008 02:02 AM

^^ I agree with that. But I also completely agree with how much people pay for stuff. I split everything with my parents, but still feel sick about what they pay for my baby. Unfortunately none of us are "experienced" horse owners so farrier/vet is a constant. I'd love to be able to do her hooves one day though. Just stuff like trimming and all. I also want a small barn (run in, two stall) when I grow up to eliminate board fees. Its still tough right now for us to cut the corners on saving. I copmletely see where you are coming from. Spending that much on a horse/boarding, all of that, blows my mind, but thats just me. My horse may not be "fancy" but she's just as good as any other :] My barn might not have an indoor, but it still is safe and clean.

all of this mini rant coming from some girls at my school that own horses and think they're so much "better" than Light. huh, yeah right.

TxHorseMom 09-01-2008 03:25 AM

Well, I agree and disagree. I am all for horsekeeping on a budget. I do most horse care on my own. Do my own shots, worming, minor injuries and my daughter (adult) does the trims. But I do think that there should be some sort of either emergency fund or a good relationship with the vet for real problems. Now, I'm not saying that I would pay thousands of $$ for surgery, but, I would definately take my horse to the vet to see if he/she needed to be put down. I also think a horse owner must be able to afford the basic care for the horse. Including but not necessairly limited to FEED, shots, wormings, and the occasional trip to the vet for emergencies. If a person can't afford THAT, then no, I don't think they need to own a horse. It doesn't make them a bad person, but some people need to know their limitations and know when they shouldn't own an animal. Be it a horse, dog, cat, hamster, etc.

FutureVetGirl 09-01-2008 05:11 AM

For the most part I agree. I think that if you can't afford to have a vet check on your horse every time that the horse gets a tiny "boo-boo", you can at least LEARN how to fix it up yourself.

I won't have a lot of help with the farrier work, but my uncle is a farrier, and I know several other people who want to learn how to be a farrier. Maybe not for a living, but to at least know how to trim their own horses hooves. As for me, I'm going to school to get a doctorates in Veterinary Medicine. I won't have to pay for Vet Bills then. I'd be able to care for my own animals, as well as the animals of others.

But I do agree with TxHorseMom. Having an "emergency" fund for your horses is a GOOD idea, and something that isn't very hard to do. So instead of shopping with your friends, or instead of buying the expensive cereal, put aside 10-20 dollars a week. Even I can do that with ease. 10 dollars a week makes upwards of 520 dollars a year. Even a dollar a day is 365 dollars! That's a lot. That can do a lot of things. You might not have anything happen for several years. But when something DOES happen, you'll be grateful for the fund for emergencies.

NorthernMama 09-01-2008 10:50 AM

What gets me about this stuff is that it appears that people that "have" are quick to judge against people that "don't have" and call them every evil name in the book. I agree that there is a responsibility for care, but I wish people that opt to spend big bucks wouldn't expect that of everyone else. And also, people that choose to call the vet for one thing can't seem to understand that some of us deal with the same thing just as a matter of course and wouldn't dream of invoking the vet for it.

ponyboy 09-01-2008 06:34 PM

I could have bought a horse a few years ago, but didn't because I didn't have enough savings "just in case." I would feel too bad if the horse died because of something that could have been treated if I'd had the money. Not that I would necessarily pay for 10K surgery though.

PaintHorseMares 09-01-2008 08:25 PM

Our very low maintenance Paint mares don't really need anything expensive. I trim them, we give them their shots (except vet must do rabies here in NC), handle all the day to day little cuts and scrapes. They get free choice hay and only a cup of grain a day. Except for the rabies and one serious cut (30 stitches), the vet has never been out, they have never been sick, no colic, and they are all strong, healthy, great trail horses. My motto is to keep it simple. All the people that I know that spend tons of money to feed their horses fancy foods, shoe them, and stall them half the day always seem to need the vet or have a lame horse. There are plenty of us 'simple' horse owners out there that love and care for our horses...don't let anyone try and make you feel bad about it!

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