Repair, Reuse, and Recycle
By Wendy Croney
Let’s face it: in this day and age, people who don’t repair, reuse, and recycle spend the most money. Years ago I realized the dream of horse ownership was attainable by being shrewd and creative. As I’ve acquired more horses over the years I’ve developed these characteristics even more. I’m happy to share some of these tips with you.
No matter what I’ve had as far as land or outbuildings, creating a user-friendly routine is key. Performing all aspects of horse care efficiently will minimize time spent on the work and maximize time spent enjoying my lovely horse.
One aspect of horse care is getting your horse from stall to turn-out and back again. Whether you have a barn with stalls or a shelter in a pasture, it’s ideal to have a paddock where your horse can be turned out by simply opening a stall door. Then, opening the paddock gate to turn out to pasture makes it even easier.
Keeping water and feed only at the barn or shelter rather than in multiple locations causes your horse to move more, inviting better fitness and health. If you need to bring your horse in at any certain time, I’ve found that consistently giving a little bit of grain at those times of day makes for great cooperation. Funny how a thousand-pound animal in a beautiful pasture will run to the barn for a handful of grain in their bucket! As long as you are consistent it usually works and saves time.
Another place to save time is in clean up. I never stand around. I have the wheelbarrow and manure fork in a handy place and use them while filling water or waiting for horses to arrive from the pasture after calling them; time saved! Also, if your horse isn’t shut in a stall and has a paddock attached, very little stall bedding is needed. I use bedding pellets in my stalls, making cleaning incredibly fast with fewer trips with the wheelbarrow to discard dirty bedding. If you do keep him stalled, bed just half the stall; it saves money!
For grooming, a nice area with everything you need is handy. I recycle second-hand shoe caddies (the type with pockets) and hang them close to a grooming area. Then I insert brushes, fly repellant, clippers, scissors, rags, and more into the pockets. Eliminating store-bought horse related organizers can be a great savings.
In the tack room you can build a saddle holder to hang on the wall or any convenient location. When not in use it hangs down out of the way. You’ll need a piece of 4x lumber approximately the length of your saddle, an eye screw for the wall and a screw hook on the 4×4. Adding a piece of carpet helps your saddle slide on and off easily. It’s super easy, convenient, and best of all, saves money.
As the popularity of groundwork training has increased, the number of tools has as well. One such tool is the “handy stick” (it has a variety of names). If you have a dressage whip, buggy whip or short lunge type whip, these will work in most cases. If you’re routinely training powerful, spoiled, problem horses, you may want to have a stronger extension of your arm at the ready.
Just to clarify, these are for a horse in training to run or bump into, finding a “closed door” while looking for the correct door or space to move towards. They are not for hitting your horse! I’ve made my own with a smooth white temporary fence post, pieces of miscellaneous leather, and electrical tape. Carefully crafted, mine were made more than ten years ago and have held up perfectly. More savings!
I’ve purchased retail many times over the years for my horses. There are tons of great things to buy, and it’s fun when you can get a cool item brand new from a local retailer. Still, much pleasure can be derived from making your own tools as well. Often, you can customize your creation, making it work even better than the commercial model.
Take a fresh look at your own place, your tools and how you are set up. Can you make the work flow more efficiently? Become more organized? Spend less money and have more quality time with your best friend? Sure you can! Refresh your memory on past Budget Wise Horsekeeping articles in the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and keep an eye out for new ones in the upcoming issues. Save time, save money, and ride your horses!