Just before the big recession hit, feed prices skyrocketed in our area. People began cutting out grain for their horses, switching to lower-quality hay, or selling their horses altogether. As the recession continued, people began giving horses away, and many off-the-track Thoroughbreds were shipped off for dog food because nobody would take them. Suddenly, the cash consumed by a horse’s feed needs became critical. At our stable, we have always supported feeding horses what they need, and will not tolerate low body scores (skinny horses). However, we needed a way to accurately project what a horse required, which in turn would give us a way to assess costs. Research into the Horse Industry Handbook, Feeding and Care of the Horse and the Colorado 4-H Horse Project Manual revealed that:
- Larger horses eat more hay (up to .025 percent of their body weight)
- Active horses eat more (a horse’s work schedule can increase hay consumption by 50, 100 or 150 percent)
- Nervous horses eat more (horses that pace or play a lot are voluntarily increasing their workload)
- Metabolism varies among horses, giving us the “easy keepers” v. the “hard keepers”.
We developed a spreadsheet to price hay by the pound. Our clients can request hay feed changes any time and get a pretty good idea of what their orders will cost them. Finally, we have a way to fairly price hay so that people pay for what their horse uses. Try our cost-of-feeding-a horse spreadsheet and plug in your own numbers. (We hope to expand this at some point to include grain – stay tuned.)
'It’s difficult to care for a horse for less than $1,000 a month' - Stable Value: Putting Your Horse in a Trust