RED DEER — Horses don’t have to be money pits and drain their owners’ bank accounts, an American veterinarian told a group of horse owners.
There are ways horse owners can reduce the bills that come along with caring for the animals, Dr. David Ramey told the Alberta Horse Conference.
“We want to do what is right for the horse, but we also want to do what is right for the horse owner,” said Ramey, who encouraged a critical look at at costs.
Owners can do little about fixed costs like feed, farrier services and some veterinary care, but there are ways to make cuts.
Weighing hay and feeding only the recommended feed can save 10 to 15 percent of hay costs. Farriers often arrange their visits according to their schedule, but delaying trims or shoes by a week could save at least one farrier bill a year, he said.
“If the toes aren’t getting long and the shoes not falling off, then wait an extra week. Those extra weeks may translate into one less shoeing per year.”
Ramey suggested revisiting the deworming routine.
“Identify and deworm the high shedders, but check the other ones a couple times a year and deworm as needed. If a horse doesn’t need medicine, why give it medicine?”
The potential to cut variable costs for products like fancy blankets, custom made saddles, supplements and injections are where owners can really cut expenses.
“It’s really easy to go overboard when it comes to caring for your horse and I don’t want you to do that. I want you to control your variable costs.”
Ramey said horse owners need to ask critical questions before forking over money for horse care.
Owners should ask why a specific drug or test is recommended, as well as which supplements or injections are needed and why.
The recommended treatment may be the latest or most expensive treatment but it may not be the only treatment, he said.
Ramey said the world is not likely to end if you don’t do a particular treatment. Turning a horse into the corral to recover may be just as effective as having X-rays and ultrasounds and having the same conclusion.
“Most injuries, if you give them enough time, they’ll get better on their own.”