Let’s face it, horses are expensive. Super-expensive. What with livery fees, shoes, vets’ bills and everything else, it can be a struggle to pay our own rent every month. But you can keep costs down by not paying full whack for everything. Here’s how...
1. Shop around for a better deal on your horse or trailer insurance, just as you would for your car or any other pets. It’s often cheaper to move than to stick with the same company, as insurance companies tend to hike their prices after the first year. But don’t forget to read the small print and get feedback from friends about which companies to avoid. If your horse is a veteran or has a lot of exclusions on the policy, it might be more cost-effective to put aside a set amount of money each month to cover any issues that might arise, instead of paying for insurance that covers very little. Just be aware that this only works if you have the willpower to keep your hands off that money, and won’t end up spending it if/when you’re skint at the end of the month.
2. Riding gear can be really expensive — especially the big name brands. So save them for birthdays and Christmas. Aldi does a cheap range of equestrian clothing as one of its bi-annual specials (check the website for details). And head to Primark or TK Maxx for fleece gloves and tops.
3. By the same token, bear in mind that anything sold as an ‘equestrian’ item usually costs a heap more than the exact same item anywhere else. Buckets, sponges, adhesive bandages — it’s much cheaper to buy them from a pound shop or supermarket than your local equestrian supplier.
4. But don’t buy carrots in a tiny bag from the supermarket for your horse. Equestrian suppliers will sell you an entire sack for a couple of quid more.
5. It’s cheaper to buy horse bedding in bulk than buy individual bales of shavings when you need them. Many of the manufacturers offer big discounts on bulk deliveries — if you can’t afford that kind of outlay, why not ask around at your yard and see if you can split a delivery between a few liveries? Of course remember that bedding can vary enormously in quality, and the suitability of each type of bedding for your horse should be your number one priority for the well-being of your horse.
6. Can’t afford riding lessons? Most riding clubs offer discounted group lessons to members, and some offer further discounts in the form of vouchers by volunteering for your riding club at events. Riding clubs cost around £30 a year for members to join, but that initial outlay is swiftly paid off in reduced fees for lessons and show entry – plus the social side is loads of fun! Visit www.bhs.org to find details of your local riding club.
7. It’s always worth asking if anyone on your yard also needs a vet/farrier/dentist if you’re calling one out, as shared visits bring costs down. Also, it’s worth asking your vet if they have a day when they offer routine vaccinations without a callout charge, as many do.
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8. Could your horse live out all year round? It saves a fortune in bedding and stabling costs if they can, even if you choose to pay for a stable to dry your horse off before/after riding, or for ‘just in case’ reasons.
9. If you run your own yard, consider switching to energy-saving LED lighting. Although more expensive to install than other lighting types, these costs are said to be quickly recouped due to the electricity saving — and you’re doing your bit for the environment at the same time.