We all know that horses are expensive. Everything about them seems to cost exorbitant, even obscene, amounts of money. Sometimes I think companies charge more for the same product when they label it for horse use. However, keeping a horse does not have to cost you as much as the industry makes you think. There are many ways around the costs.
Think Outside the Barn
Really, don't keep your horse in a barn. If you have to stable your horse, do so for the least amount of time per day possible. It is healthier for the horse to be kept outside, after all they're designed to graze and move constantly. Being outdoors is also less expensive when you consider bedding, hay, feed, stall rental and more. In all but the most extreme inclement weather, or during show season, horses don't really need a barn or even a roof over their heads. As long as there is an adequate windbreak of some sort like trees, a hill, or something of that nature, and plenty of room to move about, horses are more suited for cold weather than we are. Hot weather just requires some shade and a good place to stand to swish.
Rotate Pasture with Neighboring Livestock
If you live anywhere near pastures with cattle, it's quite possible that they are already suitably fenced to contain a horse. Sometimes these farmers are willing to let you keep a horse in with the cows provided the horse doesn't chase the cows (yes, it happens) or in the field when the cows are located elsewhere. Horses and other grazing animals don't generally share the same parasites, so rotating grazing can actually be beneficial. The cows eat where the horse piles are and the horses eat where the cow piles are and nobody gets sick. You may even be able to section off a piece for your horse.
No neighboring fenced pastures? Are there any empty grassy lots nearby? Ask the owner if you could set up temporary fencing like a round pen, electric fenching, or other for a small fee or just for upkeep of the lot. You can move the temporary fence as often as necessary to avoid over stressing the grass. Just be sure to provide your horse plenty of exercise if your temporary fence is small.
As you can tell, there are many ways to keep a horse without spending a fortune on boarding. Obviously, no matter where you keep your horse, be sure to give them all the water they can drink. They'll also need someone to check on them daily or several times a day for their health and well-being. There are other options as well, you just need to think outside the barn!
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