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- 10 Money Saving Tips for Horse Owners in a Cost-of-Living Crisis
10 Money Saving Tips for Horse Owners in a Cost-of-Living Crisis
10 Money Saving Tips for Horse Owners in a Cost-of-Living Crisis from Samantha Osborne
Almost everyone is feeling the pinch as a result of significant increases in household bills like gas and electric to a rise in food and diesel prices. Many of us have had to rebudget to ensure we can manage expenses for our pets and hobbies, without compromising welfare or husbandry standards.
As a full time working amateur horse rider, I have had to make some tough decisions and sacrifices as winter has progressed. My salary has to cover the costs of three horses in DIY livery, my mortgage and household bills, my car and horsebox, my two dogs, and of course, myself! I have a responsibility and duty of care to my retired horses yet I desperately wish to continue riding and competing as it is what I live for, which is why I have 3 geldings instead of 1! I anticipated having to make cut backs in light of current world affairs and politics, and so I did as much as I could for as long as I could but as of January 2023, I have had to re-evaluate in order to continue to balance everything.
Lots of horse riders will be able to relate to my situation, and unfortunately, some riders will have been forced into making much bigger decisions, such as selling their horses. As a teacher, I am meticulous and competent at planning, target setting and problem-solving; therefore, I intend to share some of the adjustments I have made in order to potentially support others.
1) How do I save money on horse bedding bills?
Fortunately, my horses still have access to some turnout during winter, which lowers my bedding bills. I have to use rapeseed bedding at the yard and in most retailers a bale is around £10. For three horses in really wet months, I can easily use a bale per horse every other day. In order to reduce bedding costs, I shopped around for pallet prices, in the hope that purchasing bedding in bulk would save money in the long run. I was able to find the appropriate bedding for £6 a bale, including delivery. Although having to find a larger sum of money up front was difficult, the savings in the long run are noticeable. Some DIY livery yards do not have space for everyone to have a pallet. In this case, if you have a garage at home, use it for storing additional materials in winter. My stables are lined with rubber matting and so I put less shavings down than if I was bedding directly on to concrete. Again, this is an additional expense but it is a one off payment. I have tried to be economical when mucking out. I try not to disturb the bed and simply remove the droppings. I only remove the wet when the rapeseed is at maximum absorption point and I can see it start to rise to the top of the bedding. I tend to remove the wet every three days. At no point do the horse’s beds look dirty for doing this. I now only use 1 or 2 bales per horse per week.
2) Do equestrian memberships provide discounts?
I am very lucky to be a sponsored rider for Blue Chip Feed. The support I get with feed bills is valued immensely. I recently subscribed to the Blue Chip Brand Champions loyalty system to accrue vouchers towards bags of food. Although balancers are much more per bag to purchase, you only have to feed small amounts and can be confident in knowing that your horse is getting all of the vitals it requires. Furthermore, you can receive free nutritional support over the phone or online whenever you need it from reputable brands like Blue Chip. Prior to this system, I collected tokens from feed packaging, which meant every ninth bag of balancer was free. When calculating the daily rate of feeding Blue Chip, it is much cheaper than buying various types of cheaper feed that you need to feed higher quantities of. Additionally, Blue Chip offers free delivery over £40, which means that you can save fuel money and time going to your local feed merchants once a week. For £5 off each time you purchase Blue Chip, use the code: SAMAO892.
One Club members enjoy huge savings of up to 30% and free delivery all year round. Gold Members are covered with £10M Public Liability Insurance and £10K Personal Accident Insurance as standard. Plus, to say thanks for joining you are sent a £10 e-shopping voucher to use on HarryHall.com*. Click here for more information on the Harry Hall One Club Membership.
3) How much does livery cost?
I pay a set price for DIY livery and so don’t need to worry about water bills or hay costs, as it is included in my package; however, for those renting small private yards, small changes can add up to big savings. Water butts are a great way to make use of rainwater. They are also very handy when taps freeze in subzero temperatures. It is tempting to fill every water bucket to the brim but I have found that all of my horses have roughly a third to half of a bucket remaining, which ends up wasted. Try to only slightly exceed their typical use to avoid wasting lots of water or make use of the spare water to wash buckets or soak feed/ hay. I like my horses to have adlib hay and as a result they don’t get through what I leave for them. The fussier eaters tend to pick and choose what they want to consume. Rather than throw their left over on to the muck heap, I net up everyone’s left overs and soak it for my Highland pony. Not only does this help to balance his weight, it ensures not a scrap of hay is wasted. I always use hay nets as I find although there are a lot of advantages to putting hay on the floor, lots of forage ends up mixed in their bed and wasted. Masta hay bags help to slow down greedier eaters, reduce mess and reduce waste:
4) Do you want exclusive equestrian discounts and competitive horse insurance benefits?
Many of us take advantage of January sales, Black Friday discounts, or second hand goods. The biggest way I have saved money without compromising quality or the comfort that retail therapy can offer, is by becoming a Harry Hall One Club member. Not only do I feel secure with this very affordable form of public liability insurance, I also reap the reward of heavily discounted prices online. One Club prices of items are clearly displayed next to each product on the Harry Hall website from rugs to footwear. All Harry Hall One Club details can be accessed here. Harry Hall also offer a comprehensive horse insurance policy, it’s good you can get only what you.
5) How much does it cost to transport a horse?
I live for the weekend because it means that I get to attend British Showjumping shows; however, I have had to reconsider my 2023 plans. I generally travel up to 90 minutes for a show on a weekend but I have decided to cut this down. I also try to travel as light as possible and don’t carry items on the horsebox that are not needed at the show as more weight results in a higher fuel consumption. I am fortunate enough to be located just 10 minutes from Richmond Equestrian Centre and they host a wide ride of events. As much as I would like to continue supporting small businesses by attending their shows, I have to factor in the costs of competing every single weekend, and the diesel implications for venues further away. I purchased a diary and a wall planner and have mapped out some options for the season but overall I am aiming for quality over quantity this season. If you have ambitions to qualify for a certain championship, try to select the nearest venues and the shortest possible route to achieving your goal so that you can still budget for training or venue hires. Although unaffiliated events have cheaper entry fees, they often lack prize money if you are in the ribbons. Ultimately, it is down to the individual to decide whether they are purely doing it for fun, memories and the experience, or if prize money is important to continue to fund competing throughout the calendar. I worked hard to collect British Dressage scores over winter to qualify for Winter Area Festivals. This is not something I can invest in over summer. Instead, I have chosen to prioritise British Showjumping at local venues, as well as second round shows for the British Novice Final. Originally, I was keen to work towards the HOYS Bronze League but this would require me to do a lot of shows to collect points, which is not manageable. Although this can be disappointing and frustrating, it is important to remain grounded and recognise that there is always another year to do it.
6) Looking for discounted equestrian supplements and horse grooming products?
I enjoy building relationships with horses as I spend time grooming. I insist on high levels of turnout at competitions too. The grooming and show turnout product market is extensive but lots of these newer brands and products come with a higher price tag. As a former show rider, I loved experimenting with new horse beauty enhancing products but I found that a higher price doesn’t always mean that you are getting a good result. I switched to Mastacare products for day to day grooming and show day turnout as they are by far the cheapest on the market but the results are superb! Whether it be hoof oil, coat shine or leg whitener, a selection of the Mastacare range can be found below. I use Mastacare Tea Tree Shampoo to get my horses clean. I spray Mastacare Coat Gloss Spray on their coats and Mastacare Mane and Tail Spray on their tails before combing through. The Mastacare Show White Powder is without a doubt the best sock whitening product I have ever come across. This product won the Horse and Hound Best in Test award. It lasts forever as a little amount goes a long way. All of the Mastacare range is discounted to One Club members. A whole bundle of products are much cheaper than the majority of products on the shelf at present.
Mastacare Extra Strength Equestrian Fly Spray Repellent 500ml
Sale Price £7.87
7) Are group horse riding lessons available in your area?
Due to spending all of our extra pennies on everything for our horse to ensure their health and happiness is at optimum level, whether it be on supplements to therapy appointments, we tend to sideline lessons. Private lessons with qualified experts are not cheap but many riding clubs offer discounted lessons if you are a member of their riding club. Group lessons and clinics are regularly scheduled by riding clubs and are usually at a heavily discounted price, meaning that you don’t have to delete training from your calendar. By joining a riding club, you are entitled to discounted rates of societies like British Showjumping, too. Don’t forget that there is lots of free training literature that you can access too. Harry Hall educational Hub and social media pages often post exercises that you could try with your horse.
8) Is your horse suited to the barefoot route?
I believe that some cut backs can be made; for example, if horses are not exposed to frequent and lengthy amounts of road work, or if they don’t have a remedial shoeing requirement, it saves a huge amount of money to have a horse barefoot rather than shod all round. Two of my horses are barefoot and neither experienced sore feet or issues from the minute the farrier removed their shoes. Unless a competition society requires you to shoe all round (like Retraining of Racehorses for ridden showing classes) it might be worth considering trying the barefoot route.
9) How to make money with horse poo?
We can also generate small pots of money by using our initiative when on the yard. For example, bag up droppings in empty bedding packaging when maintaining paddocks and sell manure to keen gardeners.
10) Can you buddy up with fellow equestrians?
As John Donne famously wrote: “No man is an island” and as an equestrian community we need to support each other. Buddy up with a yard friend to share journeys to the yard for smaller jobs and shorter visits. Don’t feel guilty about accepting a little bit of support, especially if you are the superhero that works full time, juggles children and a home on top of your pets and equestrian commitments.
Summer months are slowly creeping up on us! Hang on in there, horse owners!