“Mommy, daddy, I want a pony.”
Sure, the best things in life are free.
And let’s say you can get a horse for free too.
But be prepared.
After that, horse care, even basic horse care for beginners require money, time and knowledge.
Good thing, each and every step of that commitment, you can rely on this horse care tips and tricks for beginners.
This guide will empower you with everything you need to know about caring for a horse. With knowledge comes power, and perhaps, lots of love in return too.
How Much does owning a Horse Cost?
The purchase price of a horse can range from free to thousands, even millions of dollars.
A good-tempered, well-schooled pony can cost around $3,000 to $20,000.
In thoroughbreds, the more famous the bloodline is, the more expensive the horse will be.
The Australian Harness Racing Council, Inc. rounds up the amount of buying thoroughbred starts at around $25,000.
“For the average joe, the minimum price for a horse starts at around $400, but you see most syndicates picking up a yearling for between $50,000 and $250,000,” said Nick Meltham for 9Finance.
Meanwhile, horse owners revealed in a survey from the University of Maine the average annual cost of horse ownership can cost as much as $3,876.
That would be an average monthly cost of up to $325. This was in 2012.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Australia also estimates the cost of upkeep can go as high as $900 per month!
With breakdown as follows:
- Farrier (every 6 to 8 weeks) – $50 to $80/month
- Feeding (aside from grass) – $200-$400/month
- Worming (every 6-8 weeks) – $15/month
- Vet bills (vaccines, check-ups) – $100/month
- Dental Check-up – $10/month
- Adjustment fees – $120-300/month
Bear in mind that while there may be additional variables that will come into play when coming up with an exact figure, this is the bottom line: There’s no such thing as a free horse.
Horse Care Tips and Tricks for Beginners: Basic Horse Care List
When it comes to horse care tips and tricks for beginners, you will need to take care of the requirements from this basic horse care list:
- Exercise Space
- General Healthcare (feet, teeth, worming, vaccines, etc.)
- A Treatment plan for illness and Injury
These are the guidelines set forth in accordance with Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses (Revision 1), making horse ownership your right, but nevertheless, a legal responsibility.
Now, do your homework. Let’s now cover each horse care tips and tricks for beginners, diligently.
As herbivores weighing 1000 pounds on average, horses need high-quality hay to thrive.
Expect that the bulk of your expenses will go to food, such as hay, which most horse owners claim to spend about $60 to $100 per month on hay.
The average thousand-pound horse would need to consume hay 1.5 to 3% of its body weight or 1-2 kg per 100kg bodyweight.
That’s equivalent to 15 to 20 pounds of hay per day. They need to graze for 12 to 22 hours in a good Pasteur to meet that.
In addition, provide a salt lick or mineral block to nourish your horse in a paddock. Don’t give supplements without your vet’s medical advice.
Tips and tricks to save money on feeds:
- Buy feeds (hay or grains) in bulk. In many countries, hay costs less during summer.
- Minimize concentrate feeds and cut back on supplements since high-quality hay is sufficient for the average horse.
- For supplementary feeds, don’t feed directly on the ground and use no-spill containers to reduce waste and risks of colic.
- Store feeds correctly to avoid mold, and therefore, waste.
Read more: What kind of food do horses eat?
Fact: a horse can only live three to five days without water.
Among all essentials, water is the most important.
So, give your horse access to good quality water among all other horse care tips and tricks for beginners.
Choose water containers your horse can’t easily spill. That’s the reason many horse owners rely on a big tub, self-filling trough or dam.
Based on the Australian Horse Welfare Protocol (AHWP), the basic maintenance requirement of water for horses is estimated to be approximately 52 ml/kg bodyweight/day:
- Ponies (200-300 kg body weight) require 10-15 liters daily
- Light horses (300-450 kg body weight) require 15-25 liters daily
- Thoroughbreds (450-500 kg body weight) require 25-30 liters daily.
More may be needed in hot summer days or when a horse is more active.
While streams and ponds seem like “natural” choices, the quality isn’t guaranteed and may change all throughout the year.
So make fresh, clean water available at all times.
Tips and tricks to save on water:
- Check for leaks.
- Put water regulators (adjustable on/off nozzles) on the end of the hoses so no water is wasted when filling up buckets.
- Some horse owners install an auto-waterer that automatically re-fills containers.
Feed and Water General Guide
Horses need access to shade and shelter at all times.
These protect them against extreme weathers.
Aside from trees in their surroundings—yards, stables and walk-in sheds make ideal shelters.
The AHWP in their horse care tips and tricks for beginners provides the stable size should be no less than 12 sq. meters for an average size horse with a height of not less than 2.4 meters.
Others recommend a 10x 10 or 12×12 horse stall size for a 1000-pound (15hh) horse.
Depending on the size and height of the horse, the rule of thumb is this: the horse should have enough space to stand freely, walk around or turn, even lie down and stretch.
Tips and tricks to save on stabling:
- Don’t overcrowd stables.
- Buy softwood shavings in bulk from lumber mills.
- Turn out the lights when not in use.
- Save on bedding replacements by letting your horse spend more time outdoors when possible
Horses need daily exercise/workout to be healthy and happy. In the wild, they can cover up to 80 kilometers per day!
Thus, they must have enough space to move around freely.
According to Washington State University, reported by stable management, the minimum recommended space in a dry lot is 400 square feet per horse. But, the larger the better.
Regardless of size, the best horse care tips and tricks for beginners include an exercise program for your horse, whether the animal is roaming in paddocks or confined in stables.
Your horse needs their grazing time in a paddock if there’s no greener Pasteur nearby.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to the size of the land they can graze upon but here’s an unwritten rule: it should be minimum of one acre per horse.
Then again, Mike Yoder, Special Extension Horse Husbandry from North Carolina State University, suggests it should be “two acres for the first horse and one additional acre for each additional horse.”
Gates, fences, and doorways ensure their safety and security inside a paddock.
At the minimum, gates should be 1.2 meters wide and fastened securely.
Fences should not pose any danger or risk to the horse.
Tips and tricks to save on spaces:
- Keep fences or gates in good condition to avoid injuries, escape and additional costs.
- Provide 70% vegetative cover in paddocks and remove weeds.
- Self-repair if you can and best to repair rather than replace.
- No space? Boarding fees will cost you more from $200 to $600.
Horses are herd animals. They need company.
In every horse care tips and tricks for beginners, the goal is to prevent the horse from getting bored, stressed and depressed.
Otherwise, your horse will engage in destructive habits like chewing wood or stall walking.
Aside from your care and friendship, his best friends are other horses.
But a well-behaved dog, cat, goat and even chickens will do as a companion.
No hooves, no horse! Maintain your horse’s hooves and have a farrier trim it every 6 to 8 weeks. Your horse doesn’t need to wear shoes unless you’re riding it on a hard ground.
Just like humans, horses need regular dental check-up twice a year, all throughout their lives. Equine dentists need to file off any sharp edges or hooks that may form in your horse’s teeth. This will cause pain and discomfort when they eat.
Do horses need to be dewormed? Regularly, at least every 6 to 8 weeks. After all, horses can easily get parasites from grazing in the pasture, in their feed, from insects contaminating their feeds and even from their mother’s milk.
Which shots? Depending on your location and the horse’s lifestyle, a veterinarian should know. Normally, your horse needs to be protected against tetanus, rabies and viral respiratory diseases. These vaccinations are done annually.
Monitor your Horse
Make sure your horse isn’t too fat or too thin.
Monitor his body using the body condition scoring. In general, it’s a good sign if none of his ribs are showing and he doesn’t have a big belly to hide his ribs.
Meaning, you don’t have to see the ribs but you should be easily able to touch and feel them. Let this chart from AHWP guide you.
You may also like: What to feed older horses to gain weight?
Tips and ricks to save on horse care:
- Take good care of your horse to prevent vet bills and meds arising from health problems
- Routine care should always include regular deworming, dental check-ups, farrier care and vaccines
- Don’t fatten up your horse. It can be both costly and a health risk.
Things to Consider when Owning a Horse
Australia may have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. But horse ownership is a major decision, financially, emotionally and physically. Are you prepared to take on responsibilities all throughout the horse’s life?
It’s expensive. Keeping a horse fit and happy may take a toll on your budget, we’ve discussed the cost all throughout the article. What we haven’t included are the cost of the gears you need for a riding adventure. Not to mention, the unexpected expenses and trainer fees, if there’s no one around.
It requires space. Unlike a cat, dog or fish for example. Do you have a property suitable for raising horses?
More than Money, it’s time. Feeding, checking and grooming your horse may take up to 30 minutes to two hours of your day, every day. If your horse gets sick, you even have to stay alert and awake.
It can be heartbreaking. Just like with any relationships, you need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the loss of a beloved horse. Most importantly, the decision to euthanize your horse if the situation arises. Could you bare ending the life of your horse in your own hands? It’s one of the toughest decisions you will have to make for your horse and in your life.
Alternatives to Owning a Horse
Maybe, you might not be sure if you want a horse. It might not be the right time.
Or it doesn’t make sense financially.
The responsibility may be too much but nevertheless, you want a happy horse life!
These alternatives to owning a horse can let you enjoy the best of experiencing one.
Volunteer. There are many non-profit charities who could use a helping hand in their stables. In Australia, every local RSPCA is willing to accept volunteers. Check out horse rescue centers and charities near you for volunteering opportunities.
Take Horseback Riding Lessons. This is ideal for your kids as an alternative to summer camp or just horsing around. Or explore nature’s wonders and take your family on a horseback riding tours. Sure, they may cost you, but these are nothing compared to owning a horse.
Rehabilitate a Horse. This is step up in humanity too. Many not-for-profit horse rescue groups in Australia are willing to cover for the expenses of re-homing and rehabilitating a horse. All they need is a loving home, helping hands and willing hearts. It could be yours.
If You Can Own a Horse, Do it
Cost, responsibility and commitment aside, there are benefits—physical, social, mental and emotional.
In fact, according to a survey done by the American Youth Horse Council and Penn State University, horsemanship develops important life skills:
- Problem-solving skills
Not to mention, behind a great leader, is perhaps a pet.
Take Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth.
Wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, was known for his love for horses, which has shaped his life and career.
Queen Elizabeth too is passionate when it comes to her breeds and proudly shows it.
Thus, when your child does ask for a pony, who knows, there may be a great leader brewing inside?
Of course, it all starts with knowing one’s responsibilities.
Final Tip: Never Stop Learning
Animal rights advocates all over the world know this to be true: Animals, including horses, have the right to five freedoms.
- Freedom from hunger and thirst.
- Freedom from discomfort.
- Freedom from pain and injury.
- Freedom to express normal behavior.
- Freedom from fear and distress.
This is the foundation of all Horse Care Tips and Tricks for Beginners and experts alike.
As for you, whether you already own a horse or you’re about to do so, here’s the constant challenge: never stop learning.
Don’t let ignorance and pride turn into a case of abuse and neglect.
That said, we leave you with free resources you can take advantage online. These include online courses you can take and free educational and credible articles on horse care tips and tricks for beginners.
Because, there are always advances in Science, technology, and horse welfare. Don’t get left behind.
Plus, knowledge may be power, but the lack of it is what’s more dangerous.
As the horse lover and philosopher Xenophon said “Violence begins where knowledge ends”.