Our sister publication, Horse Journal, prides itself on helping its readers save money on horse expenses. In fact, sometimes we think that’s all they worry about! Seriously, cutting expenses and saving money is on everyone’s mind, including Horse Journal editor Cindy Foley:
Not long ago, someone really wealthy (OK, that’s a relative thing, but still . . . ) told me that his “shrinking income” was making him cranky. He’s a professional and as money gets tight for his clients they are forced to stop asking for his services.
“Really?” I said. “You ought to try it at the other end of the income scale! Rising gas prices translates to an increased cost of virtually everything. It’s not easy to stretch your dollars anymore.” A couple of decades ago I would have said it’s not easy to “save your dollars,” but I don’t know anyone who is saving much right now.
Cutting expenses is a priority, especially in the barn. Of course, the one place you don’t want to get cheap is with hay. Feeding the best hay you can find is still your most cost-effective option. The better the hay, the fewer supplements you’ll need. And you can waste an awful lot of money on supplements if you don’t know what you truly need.
I amused myself not long ago playing with a program that was going to help me choose supplements for my mare. Sally has myriad problems, many of which seem to have at least one supplement or herb with alleged evidence that it may help. So, as I checked yes to these problems – arthritis, nervousness, coat/skin problems, older age, colicky – the program chose products for me. In the end, if I did as it suggested, I would spend over $200 a month on supplements. That’s not going to happen.
Be careful with your supplement choices. Supplements aren’t magic bullets. Feed what you need. For most us that’s one good hoof supplement (consult our May 2009 issue; there are no significant new products on the market since then) and one good joint supplement with effective ingredient levels (that’s crucial!). In our January and February 2012 issues we explain how to avoid throwing money in the manure pit with nutraceutical purchases. (Think joint products don’t work? Really? Then you either didn’t truly know what was wrong with your horse or you chose a less-expensive product with inadequate ingredients in it.)
All my horses are on selenium and vitamin E (as we’re in a low selenium area) and magnesium (they have a tendency to develop cresty necks without it). The horse with chronically bad hooves gets double hoof supplement, per the farrier. And two are on joint products. That’s it. I’m cheap, uh, I mean “frugal.”
Money will be a primary theme for Horse Journal in 2013. We’ll do more with big-ticket purchases, like saddles, trailers and vehicles to pull them. We’re going to discuss hay bags and hay feeders that safely slow your horse’s intake of hay (absolutely awesome for your wallet and great your horse’s health). We’ll do tack, too, like truly comfortable girths (there’s actually one that costs over $400) and galloping boots. We also plan stirrups, spurs and anti-chafe remedies for you. And, of course, we’ll continue to sort through supplements.
Plus, Steve Kraus (head farrier at the Cornell’s vet school) will begin a new commentary called, “This Old Horse.” Steve is a virtual fountain of hoof information, with the same practical, down-to-earth solutions you expect from Horse Journal. We’re thrilled to have him on board.
If you have a friend who might also enjoy reading Horse Journal, consider giving a gift subscription this holiday season. We’re doing the 2-for-1 subscription promotion again this year. We gained a lot of happy new subscribers last year! It’s a big savings for our readers (stretch those dollars) . You renew your own subscription (even if it’s not due yet) at only $18 and give your friend a great $18 gift with a much higher value. Yes, just $36 for the two subscriptions. (The only way to get this price is to do the buy-one-get-one deal, and it is a limited offer.) You can call 800-829-9145 and use code 72X2F1 or click here.
Meanwhile, get ready for our December issue. We’re especially excited about our synthetic saddle comparison and recommendation! One saddle was so outstanding, one tester’s jaw dropped when she started the sitting trot.