Tuesdays with Tony

So, you think you want to own a horse. You’ve read all my blogs, listened to Dr. Lacher’s podcast, Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth, and you’ve been attending all of my monthly seminars. You feel like you have all the information you need to make an informed decision, and you have decided to buy a horse. Let me tell you, you still do not have all the information you need. There is always something else you must consider before buying a horse and even once you own a horse.  You may currently have a horse of your own, but there are still things that you horse owners need to think of. I have learned so many dos and don’ts of horse ownership throughout my years here as the Clinic Cat that I felt I should talk about how you can be best prepared for horse ownership.

Money

Probably the biggest thing I have learned about horses is that they cost A LOT of money. Like a ton, like more catnip than I could ever imagine wanting amount of money. Most times it’s not even the purchase price of the horse that is the most expensive part of horse ownership. Instead, it is the ongoing feed, hay, bedding, and care that horses seem to require every day. Not to mention tack, training, the farrier and veterinary bills, and that kind of stuff. Did you know horses need vaccinations twice a year? I’m lucky I’m a cat and have a super immune system and only need vaccines every 3 years.

So, besides routine care, you have to think about the what ifs. Because if I have learned one thing in all my kitty years, it is that horses like to get hurt, or sick, or basically try to kill themselves all the time. To be more direct about it, if you own a horse, your horse will also likely get hurt, or sick, or try to kill itself at some point while you own it. Be prepared for this, be prepared for the unexpected.

Have a savings account dedicated to horse care, have a credit card designated for horse expenses, apply for Care Credit and save that for a rainy day, or have your horse insured. Horse insurance is a whole other topic that was discussed in this seminar video that you should watch, but what I can tell you about that is that you will still have to pay your full veterinary bill and then the insurance company reimburses you. Basically, whichever way you decide to pay for the care of your horse, be prepared. I was never a boy scout, I was too mischievous for them but, I still have learned to always be prepared.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Transportation

At least once a week my docs get a call from someone with a sick horse who lives too far away for my docs to get to. The question they always end up asking owners is, do you have a horse trailer, or do you know someone who does? More often than not, the answer is no. I am completely dumbfounded by this. You own a horse, but you have no way to transport it somewhere? How is that even a thing? Forgive my cattiness but, please, please, please, think about this.

Most veterinarians are ambulatory and travel up to an hour or more away from their home clinic. That means if you call with an emergency, my docs could be two or more hours away from getting to your horse. But if you had a way to transport your horse, you could bring it to the clinic and likely get it seen much sooner. Some veterinarians may not have a clinic for you to haul into. What if your horse cannot wait a few hours to see the vet? What if you need to get it to a referral hospital NOW? Or what if maybe the situation is not quite that urgent but still requires 24-hour veterinary monitoring and care, how will you get your horse the care he needs?

Horses don’t just need to be transported for veterinary care. We live in Florida, hurricane central. Evacuations can happen at any time and you may need to leave. You’ve bought this horse, you and your family have fallen in love with him, and now you have to leave. Do you leave your horse? If you don’t have a trailer, you might be faced with this decision. No one wants to make that kind of decision. Your horse is your family. Yes, trailers are an investment and no, they are not cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold when it means you have a way to transport your horse to get the care he needs or get him to a safer location. Before you go and buy a horse, be prepared and either have a plan with someone who can transport your horse for you 24/7 for an emergency, or invest in an inexpensive but safe horse trailer. You will be happy you did.

Stabling/Care

According to my docs, horses require a lot of care including grooming, feeding, friends, and more. Cats are more independent, we groom ourselves, don’t really need friends, and basically only need humans to provide the foods. Horses are so high maintenance! Alas, I digress.

When you are thinking about buying a horse, don’t forget to think about where you will keep your new family member.  Will he live in your backyard? Who will be responsible for his care 24/7/365? Will you have to board him at someone else’s facility? Will that facility provide him with the life you want for him, and what all is included with board? So many questions that you must think of before you buy a horse.

Maybe you have land and want to keep your horse at your house, because who wouldn’t want to wake up to a warm nicker every morning? It may seem glamorous and convenient to have your horse in your backyard, but remember that means you are the one responsible for all of your horses care, including feeding twice a day, cleaning his stall, washing his water buckets and water trough, fence maintenance, etc.

Horses are herd animals and really value companionship of other horses. If you bring your horse home, you may want to consider getting him a friend. This means 2 mouths to feed, 2 stalls to clean, more buckets, and more farm maintenance.  Not to mention vacation. If everyone in your family wants to go on vacation, who is going to take care of your horse(s)? Finding trustworthy, reliable help is more difficult than you may realize. And from experience, you cannot leave your horse unattended for days. Horses, like cats, require a schedule and will enforce that schedule every day. You have to be prepared and have a plan in place if you decide to keep your horse at home.

Maybe you think that keeping your horse at home is just too much responsibility. The choice to board your horse is never the wrong choice. With boarding your horse comes a certain amount of responsibility as well. When picking a farm for your horse to live at, be sure to find out what they feed, where and who your horse will live with, and if having a stall for your horse is important to you, make sure this is a part of the boarding agreement. Find out exactly what is included in the board price. Will they blanket your horse? Will they brush and pick his feet? Will they hold him for the veterinarian or farrier if you can’t be there for the appointment? Can you use the veterinarian and farrier of your choosing?

There are so many factors that go into boarding your horse and in no way, shape or form does it relieve you of your responsibility to care for your horse. It does, however, allow you the convenience of not having to be there every single day, multiple times a day to care for your horse.  Wherever you decide to keep your horse, remember the theme of today’s blog: be prepared.

Owning a horse can be the biggest joy you may ever experience, but it can also lead to serious heartbreak. Before you buy a horse, consult the professionals: a trainer and your veterinarian are a great place to start and they are a wealth of information.  If you are considering purchasing a new family member, please call me at the clinic and I will have my docs call you to discuss it further.

Until next week,

-Tony

P.S. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, check out the recent episode of Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth called Expecting the Unexpected. They cover a lot of important things that horse owners need to be on top of.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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