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Helpful Hints for Horses

Updated on May 10, 2014

Some "reel" helpful hints on pinching those pennies for your ponies

Horses can be very expensive to own, but there ARE some things you can do that will help save you some money. This lens contains some things I've discovered along the way that (not being independently wealthy and all) have helped us to pinch pennies without sacrificing quality.

Of course as long as I'm creating a lens to help us save a little money, I may as well include some things that are just flat out helpful too. Umm, if you're wondering about the filmstrip theme? It started with the Moo Crew Movie Review. I kind of liked it, so I kept it. Besides, it works so well with the terrible pun in the title ;o)

Bust the Dust - And cut the coughs

Pellets are practical and very cost-effective; definitely the easiest thing to feed your horses. Breathing in the dust that comes with them, however, can be very detrimental to your horse's health (it can aggravate allergies and cause heaves). Look at all the dust from just one bag of feed in the first photo. So what do you do about it? Sift it out!

Alleviating allergies is easier than you think. Several of our horses had a periodic light cough that magically disappeared following this little "experiment" of mine. I went to a people store and bought a heavy duty metal strainer to scoop the feed - now you do have to be rather careful and hold it close to the basket so it doesn't bend and break (this is not, remember, what it's supposed to be used for). Shake it lightly over a garbage can or other bucket to sift the dust out and voilà! the dust is outta there and you have a much safer feed.

The bottom of the barrel is not necessarily a bad thing. I also have a larger version (a colander) that I keep in the tack room for when I hit the bottom of the feed bin (a.k.a. the big blue garbage can :o). I can set it on a bucket (it just fits the rim), dump in the remaining pellets, shake lightly to let the dust sift through and it'll fall out the bottom into the bucket (pretty neat, huh?) Look at how much dust was sifted out in the 3rd frame - yikes! The strainer and colander are two easy and very inexpensive solutions...Ta-Da!

If you really want to eradicate ALL traces of dust? Here's what we do: Throw some sweet feed in with the pellets and mix it up - any remaining dust will stick to the molasses on the sweet feed :o)

Don't waste your cash, store feed in the trash (garbage cans are great! :o)

Don't waste your cash, store feed in the trash (garbage cans are great! :o)
Don't waste your cash, store feed in the trash (garbage cans are great! :o)

Need something bigger and better? Look what I found for $20 on Craig's List - A nice, clean, non-functioning chest freezer (Woo! :o)

Beauty on a Budget - $imple $olutions that $ave

Brushing up on haircare can be a breeze. "Official" mane and tail brushes can get pretty expensive though. I had really cool magenta one I coughed up $6 for that I absolutely loved; and you know what? It broke after a few months use. I also paid a pretty penny for the fancyschmancy detangling brush [shown on the right], but found that the horses and I both preferred the one from the Dollar Store [left]. Sure works for me! Now maybe you don't have to worry about paying $6 for one brush instead of $1, that's okay - you can just skip this section. While you're at it, maybe you wouldn't mind scrolling a little further down and hitting the little button that says donate ... :o)

Buy it in bulk and get more for your money! We try (whenever possible) to buy the value sizes of products we use all the time; like the mane and tail conditioner. Grab some funnels from the Dollar Store and label them with a Sharpie (I also take a piece of twine and keep it right there with the item for convenience).

Bella's beauty tip can help save you some money too. This is weird, but it works - Bella's mane has to be brushed daily (it's LONG :o) and sprayed to keep the tangles out. I noticed her mane seemed to feel super soft every time it rained, so I decided to try a little experiment. I began alternating conditioner and cheap bottled water when doing her mane (tap water has chlorine in it which is very drying). Not only does this help save money by stretching out the conditioner we use, but her mane now stays wonderfully DAWG! :o)

Bella's hair can be high MANE-tenance

Bella's hair can be high MANE-tenance
Bella's hair can be high MANE-tenance

A marvelous mane-tainer

This is my all-time favorite leave in conditioner/detangler. Bella and her half sister Rina have the most marvelous manes and tails. Unfortunately, those gorgeous tresses require some extra mane-tenance (ha). This stuff is wonderful! The best part? Instead of getting all sticky when it rains, this lusterizer leaves their manes soft and silky.

A little pricey, but sooo worth it!

Bottles, Boxes and Beyond - Some super suggestions

Bottles for boo-boos don't always have to make sense. Some of the handiest things I've found have nothing whatsoever to do with horses [and doesn't that just figure?] Like keeping Hydrogen Peroxide in a .99c ketchup bottle used for picnics. Why? Peroxide must be stored in a dark container or it will lose its fizzability [and yes I just made that word up], but it also makes it much easier to treat small wounds without excessive waste. Another thing I figured out? The peroxide doesn't seem to bother the horses, but if it dribbles they definitely don't appreciate it. So keep a paper towel handy to catch any runoff from the wound and it will definitely reduce the irritation factor for your horse and you :o)

*~* My all time favorite wound treatment? Skin Renovator Gel by Equine America (shown on the left, next to the peroxide). Being horse poor and non-profit, it's pretty expensive but it's the greatest thing I've found so far for treating wounds (best of all? It doesn't sting or startle! :o) *~*

Sensational for swelling even if it was made for people. We had purchased some Ichthamol to treat a boil my husband had on his leg, (it's a drawing salve). Not long after that, Max developed some swelling high on his shoulder. Turned out he had some kind of small puncture under his mane from a stick or something that had become infected (it didn't become noticeable until it was very swollen). Even when you check your horses daily (ours get a once over usually twice a day at meals and often in between) you can easily miss small injuries. Since the wound was hot and full of pus and we had this stuff handy, we gave it a try and would you believe the swelling and the heat were gone by the next day! Note: It is messy (tar-like) and really stinky, but it works SO well we just don't care :o)

Terrific totes that we use all the time. We found this marvelous little shower tote at a Walmart store for keeping medical supplies handy and organized [left], and we keep more medical supplies sealed in a plastic tote [right]. The mustard container (that came with the ketchup bottle in the first module :o) was perfect to keep water handy for flushing out small wounds. A favorite dressing to keep "under wraps"? Those non-stick telfa pads (more people stuff) are great under leg bandages when you have a wound that needs to be wrapped. We do keep some things inside the house, however, because of the storage temperature requirements.

Best buys for your Boo-Boo Box :o) - Two of my favorites

More Bang for Your Buck - Cranking up the value with volume

$tretching your fly control is a piece of cake, er, block. This is a great concept called a Raybon block. Raybon is a feed through fly control that prevents flies from laying eggs in manure (and it works very well). Unfortunately, these 40lb blocks contain molasses and were regarded as the ultimate king size candy bar at our house. One block would last for about 3 days - definitely not affordable. We took a chisel and hammer and broke the blocks up and now feed the blocks as a supplement rather than free choice (my handy measuring spoon? A melon baller from Walmart - hey, I'm for whatever works best! :o) For a little extra pest control try adding a sulfur block - they work very well as free choice.

UPDATE: The melon baller did not survive over a couple of months, but its replacement, a plain old ice cream scoop (without the clicky thing) works even better!

Buy it in bulk anytime you can. Yes this is the second time it's on here - it matters! Anytime I'm trying something new, I always buy the regular size (not much point in going large until you're sure you like it, right?) If it turns out to be something we love, then I already have a labeled and refillable container. Don't forget the funnel!

Triple your treats to make them last. Treats and praise can go a long way when working with horses (I'm a staunch supporter of both :o). Purchase an inexpensive pair of pruning shears to cut up your treats into smaller pieces; not only does it save you money, it's less fattening for your furballs, too. Be sure to keep the pruners strictly for this purpose, though, and don't use them for gardening - some plants are highly toxic to horses. Be sure you treat responsibly! (for more on treating go here).

Treats: Because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line

Treats: Because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line
Treats: Because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line

The best way to major motivation - (is through your horse's tummy :o)

I like to alternate between treats and praise to keep the horses from becoming too greedy; it's very important to be sure they mind their manners!

50 Pack
50 Pack

These things are gooooood (and you can cut them into smaller bits to make them last longer).


Pasture Pants and some Hand-y Help - Among other things :o)

The best barn britches are probably already in your closet. Jeans that have started to look a bit pitiful are automatically "demoted" to pasture pants in our house. Working with horses, it's not so much a question of "if" you will get dirty as "when" (and involving how many descriptive adjectives?) It's nice to not care if you spill Thrushbuster (the permanent purple stuff), or splatter hoof oil (the seriously greasy stuff) on your jeans ~ of course it can be a tad embarrassing if company arrives unexpectedly...I keep my pasture pants handy to throw on for morning and afternoon feed, and any other time I'm outside "playing" with our four-legged children.

I am forever washing my hands...mostly because I am forever getting them dirty. Unfortunately in addition to having very dry skin, I also have an autoimmune disease that compounds the dry skin issue. The best trick I've found is to slather lotion on my hands at bed time and pop a pair of dollar store garden gloves on before going to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, your hands will be nice and soft (or, in my case, not appear to belong to a 102 year old woman).

Bag your rags (or throw 'em in a bucket like we do) and keep it in the tack room. We use rags all the time, so it's handy to have a stash right there with us. Got any old T-shirts? Cut them into big squares and toss them in the bucket. How about old socks? They're perfect for cleaning your bridles!

Responsibility, Repurpose, and Relief

Dispose of Dangerous items responsibly by putting them in a heavy container. You don't have to have an official "Biohazard" container, but you DO need to think before you throw. Take an old Woolite bottle (or empty bleach container) and keep it handy to store your used needles. Be sure to mark it accordingly! When it's full, glue the top on with crazy glue before you toss it.

What's the scoop on feed? We never feed by weight; we go by body condition instead. It may not be a foolproof plan, but it works pretty well for us :o) Because all horses have different nutritional needs and quantities, we use both a dog scoop (the white one) and the two cup people scoop (the green one) for ours. I threw the coffee container in there because it makes a great scoop for feeding in larger quantities.

Tummy troubles are a constant issue at our house for our resident Drama Queen (Shadow) with his anxiety attacks and ulcers. We keep Mineral Oil handy for those times when he has mild colic (and sometimes it's cranial) or his personal plumbing gets stuck (constipation). BE WARNED: Mineral Oil can kill a horse if aspirated (inhaled), so if you are at all unsure - call your vet!

Super scoop for summer - (when you're not feeding as much)

When Less is More

Marvelous manufacturers are sometimes hard to find. One favorite product of ours is Cowboy Magic Detangler ~ it may cost a fortune, but it is worth every penny. Vitrolene makes a similar product for less, however, my girls can't get past the scent. It's much stronger than Cowboy Magic, and although I think it smells pretty good (clean), they want no part of it so we stick to the "Magic" formula.

Buying by brand name is sometimes a waste of money. Jeffers Vet Supply offers a generic version of Thrushbuster (our favorite) for half the cost of the "real" thing and it works just as well, too :o)

The terrific and the timeless There's usually a good reason they are called that, right? My all time favorite conditioner for boots and tack is Aussie's bees wax; and for less than $6, you just can't beat the price. For cleaning your tack, we just love good old fashioned saddle soap. We "polish off" our tack cleaning sessions with an Aussie treatment to condition the leather - you just can't top it!

I keep some Aussie and a rag by the door to condition my boots as needed before I take them off

I keep some Aussie and a rag by the door to condition my boots as needed before I take them off
I keep some Aussie and a rag by the door to condition my boots as needed before I take them off

An oldie but goodie - Sometimes the simplest is still the best


Please don't run away... - without saying "hay" :o)

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    • KandDMarketing profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens! Thanks.

    • lclchors profile image


      6 years ago

      I used icthamol for horses long before I used it on me. and it is cheaper to buy the large horse jar than the small tube. great tips and lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A fluttering of ghostly angel wings have passed on by and sent blessings your way :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have a donkey, just one, but he's enough trouble just by himself, I can't imagine what you all have to handle! Best of luck!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      9 years ago

      Wow, very cool :-)

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      some really great ideas! wish I had a horse...


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