Greetings, one and all.
On the first of January all Thoroughbreds celebrated their birthday. Some received cakes and beer as well as treats and for others, it was just another day. It’s quite an interesting tradition we have and it’s a bit outdated. Did you know that because we traditionally have Thoroughbreds’ birthdays on the first of the year breeders of all breeds are fixated on making sure foals are born as close to the new year as possible. When we think about that it is a bit silly, especially in the northern hemisphere where temperatures are below freezing and newborn foals need heavy blankets and heating lamps. I’m thankful that Fae was born in August, she was able to spend her first few months warm and running in the sun. Truth be told how I’ve raised her has been outside the normal breeders’ standards.
For this first post of the new year I would like to give you two tips on how to keep horses on a shoestring budget, because believe me, if I can keep horses on my budget you’ll be able to keep horses on yours.
The various news outlets are filled with neglect, abuse and horrible stories about how horse owners let their horses starve and the images of those poor horses are dreadful. However, those stories don’t have to be the norm. My first tip is to assess what your budget is. If you are truly a horse person you will give up fast food, starbucks and that shiny new cellphone. The money from those things will be enough to buy food for your horses. In addition to that, contact your local rescue. There are many in every state and most have some kind of food bank. Honestly, most rescues would rather you keep your horses and are willing to help you out in a pinch. The caveat is that you also have to make financial changes which leads me to tip number two.
When you bought your horse everything was going fine, you had a good job and you were paying the bills. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way your expenses increased while your pay stagnated or went down. It happened to me and it has happened to scores of other horse owners. As mentioned above when times get tough, a smart horse owner will get tough on their budget. Too many horse people (myself included) ignore proper budgeting practices and instead they think “everything will pay itself…” that mindset is destructive to your health as well as your horses’ health. It is based on the notion that you have no control over your expenses but you do. The other thing to remember that your expenses increase by one and a half times for every additional horse that you have.
How do I know this? I have owned one horse for over six years. I was able to pay my bills and pay hers it was tough but I did it. Then I had the brilliant idea to breed her. I knew my expenses would increase, but instead of being smart and saving up, I bought a third horse from auction. The goal, of course, was to train and resell her. When I bought the third horse I realized that I wouldn’t be able to sell her as she had been abused and had lumps on her girth area (two very unmarketable traits). Most people would have turned around and dumped her back into the auction. I didn’t, I did end up spending a lot of money on her and most days I wonder why I did.
The moral of the story is: don’t buy an additional horse if you are already strapped for cash, yes, you could turn around and make a quick buck; but the more likely outcome is that you will have an additional horse to feed and you will bury yourself in debt. Owning one horse is relatively easy, but if you don’t have a barn in your backyard and your income is less than ideal adding additional horses isn’t a smart move.
I eventually surrendered that third horse to a rescue. Unfortunately, I made that decision way after I buried myself into debt. Sometimes be nice and doing the right thing is actually detrimental to your long term health. Remember that before you purchase that fixer upper horse.