I like to save money. I donít know how rich I would have to be before I wouldnít get a thrill out of finding a bargain. But, Iíve learned that sometimes itís worth it to spend a little extra and get the best quality, or the easiest to use item.
Hoof clippers are one example. My last two pairs of hoof clippers came from the local farm supply store. They cost about the same as one hoof trim. Sounds like a good deal if I can do a DIY hoof trim, right? But those bargain hoof nippers caused me nothing but anguish. They didnít cut well, would get stuck in the horseís hoof and the whole procedure was a struggle for me. So, I decided to buy a really good pair of nippers; ones designed for people like me, with wimpy hands and spaghetti noodle muscles. They cost an insane amount of money. And they have been worth every dime. They cut through a tough hoof like a warm knife through butter. It takes me minutes to completely trim all four of my horseís hooves, and I donít have to lie down afterward. The struggle has been completely eliminated. Wish I bought a pair years ago.
Spend the money to upgrade hoof clippers and other tools you plan to use for a long time.
Lead Ropes and Halters
I was once in a tack shop when a woman bellicosely complained to the person behind the counter that the expensive two leather halters she had bought the day before for her young horses were destroyed overnight. As she ranted on abut how the halters should have lasted longer, I couldnít help think that maybe it was a good thing that those halters broke, because if they didnít she could have some youngsters with some really bad injuries. When it comes to halters for turn-out, definitely lead towards saving, rather than spending. Halters on horses turned out are usually just a handy handle for catching them and perhaps ID. They get lost, ripped off or broken easily. You might want an expensive halter for showing, but I think youíre safe to save, rather than spend when it comes to a halter for everyday wear.
Lead ropes are another thing that gets lost or broken easily. So for everyday use, donít bother with the expensive leather lead or fancy braided ropes. On halters or lead ropes, Iíd suggest saving rather than spending.
Saddles and Bridles
When it comes to leather tack, good quality leather will far outlast any synthetic or cheap leather. If you plan to keep your bridle for a very long time, definitely spend on this item. Because bridles can be very expensive, look for good used ones in the consignment section of your tack shop. Good quality bits can be pricey, but a good bit will probably outlast a few horses, so look for these used as well.
Saddles are tricky. Theyíre darned expensive for the really good quality ones. Custom is the most desirable but costs a fortune. So plan to spend as much as you can, and buy used, paying careful attention to how the saddle fits you and your horse.
Blankets, especially turnout rugs, take a lot of abuse. So the sturdier the textiles and construction used, the better. This is another item you should probably plan to spend on. Even an extra $50 or $100 will buy you a blanket that fits better and lasts longer.
Feed is by far the most expensive thing, besides the actual cost of your horse. While itís tempting to save money by buying cheap feed. It may not be good economy if it makes your horse malnutritioned or sick. Sometimes you can compromise. Iíve had the option to buy local oats or brought in from another province. The local oats didnít look as nice as the out-of-province oats, but the nutrition was basically the same and they were a little cheaper. So I could economize by feeding local oats.
Hay is expensive, but its false economy to buy cheap hay that is dusty or may not be nutritious. Plan to spend on hay, but buy it at the right time, right off of the field if possible, for the wisest use of your feed budget.
Unless you are headed for the show ring, it may surprise you that you donít have to spend a lot on a riding helmet. All approved helmets are made to safety standard, whether they cost you $50 or $200. The more expensive helmets might look nicer, and they might have a few more adjustments. But, they wonít be substantially safer.
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