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10 Ways to Make Your Horse Feel its Best while Spending Little or No Money

It’s common these days to get caught up in the escalating costs involved with owning and showing horses. It can be very discouraging for owners and trainers alike.

Sometimes, this makes us all overlook the things that do not cost much money at all. There are some very affordable ways to keep your horse competing at their peak.

Here are ten amazingly easy ways to keep your horse feeling it’s best for little or no money.

A Good Brushing – This sounds silly, but a good curry can do positive things. It increases circulation which helps sore muscles. If you have ever had a massage, you know the benefits firsthand. Brushing the sweat marks off of your horse after a ride also makes a big difference. It prevents a sore body or girth. Several days of sticky hair can cause rubbing under the saddle or girth and leave raw spots.

Ice – Perhaps the most overlooked thing by our industry is the power of ice. Professional athletes sometimes ice themselves every day. Race horses are also frequently iced. A good pair of ice boots or ice wraps can be affordable and very beneficial. If you cannot afford ice boots, fill some dixie cups and put them in the freezer. Use them for simple rubbing into where ever your horse might need it.

Liniment – Liniment is a super cost-effective way to help your horse feel its best. A leg rubbed down with liniment can do wonders for stiff horses. You don’t need to be a trained professional to use it either. If you use it from the knees and hocks down, you won’t go wrong. Liniment baths for certain horses can also be helpful for sore muscles.

Proper Warm Up and Cool Down – Athletes do it…we should do it for our horses too. A little light walk and trot at the beginning and end of a ride can be helpful to let their muscles and tendons stretch so they don’t snap. Not putting a horse right away after a hard workout can also prevent colic and tying up.

Pick Their Hooves – Seems simple, right? But, it gets overlooked a lot. Cleaning hooves can prevent thrush and abscesses. And the most obvious reason…keeping foreign objects out of their feet.

Feed Them Well – You are already spending your money to feed them so you might as well make sure you are supplying products that keep them healthy and sound. Most often, it is not feeding enough that can do the most damage. No different than people, if they are doing heavy workouts, they need to have calories to burn. This prevents burning muscle.

Have Their Teeth Checked – Horses need their teeth done every year. It’s something that should never be overlooked. This will cost anywhere from $100-$200 but will save you that much in feed throughout the year. Feed that is dropped out of their mouth if they cannot chew properly. It can make a huge difference in how they ride and their overall happiness.

Worming – Whatever your opinion is on worming, whether regular rotation for prevention or fecal testing, pick a treatment and stick to it. Worms can cause colic and a host of other problems. Show horses are not immune to them, not by any means. It only costs $20-30 every other month to get tested or treated for worms.

Have a Lameness Exam – Most vets will do a lameness exam and flex test for a reasonable fee. This is money well spent to learn about your horse. Lameness exams can start for as little as $100 and go up, depending whether X-rays are recommended. It helps to know where your horse is hurting and thus determine workload or just where to put liniment or ice. In either case, you’ll gain a wealth of information for your investment. Vets are full of great information when you ask for this simple exam.

Have Farrier X-Rays Taken – Again, depending on what your vet charges, getting a few X-rays of your horse’s feet for the farrier can be a very cost effective piece of information to make your horse the most comfortable. Farriers can’t see through a horse’s foot. To make sure their angles are correct, an X-ray has to be taken. If your horse’s feet hurt, it will make the rest of their body hurt as well.

Are there other ways you help your horse feel its best that doesn’t cost much money? Let us know.

About the Author – Darla Lee was born in Apple Valley, California where she began riding horses at the age of nine. She later moved to Ohio where she attended College at the University of Findlay. She has worked for many top trainers in the industry and the past fifteen years operates Lee Quarter Horses located in Plain City, Ohio with her husband Brian where they specialize in western pleasure, hunter under saddle and all-around events on the AQHA and NSBA circuits.