(Excerpted from the August 2012 Cost Savings Special Issue)

August 2012

As a young woman in her 20s, my sister is learning about the full spectrum of horse-owning responsibilities, a rite of passage I also experienced in my early 20s (my ramen-noodle-eating years). While we grew up owning, caring for, and riding horses at our family’s farmette, Mom and Dad shouldered the burden of planning and paying for veterinary appointments, hay deliveries, and vehicle/equipment maintenance, among the many other details involved with ownership. And while Sarah still keeps her horses at our parents’ place, she’s taken on a much larger portion of these responsibilities.

Lately she’s had to manage some of the more uncomfortable, weighty aspects of horse ownership. With two senior horses on the farm—one of which has been navigating significant health issues, from an intermittent hind-limb lameness to heaves—the time commitment required for chores and care has expanded.

Sarah’s also been learning firsthand the costs of long-term medication administration and veterinarian farm calls, which has caused her to take steps to plan ahead and watch her pennies while keeping these geldings healthy. These preparations will mature her as an owner, and they will benefit additional horses in the future.

This month’s cover story breaks down the copious financial aspects of horse ownership. In any area of life—and especially with horses—being deliberate in planning for a variety of expenses typically can save you money and offer some peace of mind. And in a time where board payments and farrier appointments might seem to come around more quickly than we like, and early drought-dried pastures foreshadow larger hay and grain bills, planning for expenses becomes especially crucial. (This includes expected and unexpected expenses—yes, your horse will find a way to lose a shoe or scratch a cornea.) To this end we’ve built a downloadable budget form to help you with your planning.

Among the additional aspects of ownership that can get spendy are facilities. And who better to walk you through building a barn on a budget than Alayne Blickle, who authors the Smart Horse Keeping Blog on TheHorse.com? Alayne and her husband recently moved their ranch from Washington to Idaho, and they put a lot of time and thought into planning their guest ranch before planting the first post. She provides a number of practical, horse-health focused barn solutions and time savers in her article on page 51. (If you’re not already subscriber, you can purchase the August issue of The Horse. Preview the cover story.)

Another one of our writers this month, Dr. Shannon Pratt-Phillips, describes how to carefully balance your horse’s diet, which can frequently mean cost-savings.

We hope you’ll share the August issue with others, especially if they’re thinking about getting a horse.

Your turn: How do you cut costs without compromising on your horses’ care?

Many thanks to my sister, Sarah, for graciously allowing me to describe her ownership/care experience. Please join me in extending condolences to her in the loss of her gelding, Ziggy, a few days after this magazine went to press.