Horses and their uses : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I thought I would start a thread about horses. For those living or moving to the country, a horse may be a useful addition.

Because we farm, we have draft horses as well as riding horses. Although large riding horses can be used as work animals if absolutely necessary, they won't work as long or be able to pull as large of loads. If you have room or money for only a couple of horses, I would get Morgans, large quarterhorses, or draft crosses.

We have Arabians and quarterhorses for riding and working cattle. The Arabians have much more stamina than the quarterhorses even though they are finer boned. An Arab/Quarter cross will generally get you the best of both. (They are used as endurance horses in those rides that are 100 miles over rough terrain in one day).

I would buy a horse that is at least 7 years old and well broke. You don't have time to mess with finishing a horse. Definitely try the horse out and buy it with the option to return within 30 days if it doesn't work out. Whether to buy a mare or a gelding is a personal preference. A horse will generally live well over 20 years.

These are just some of my thoughts. Anyone else have questions or thoughts?

-- Beckie (, July 06, 1999


Hi Becky:

Thanks for the info. I assume you have mucho acreage you need to work, plus plenty of access to hay/grain to keep the big-burners running.

We had a Morgan many years ago -- a fine, intelligent, willing animal, but he ate 10 pounds of grain daily to keep him in shape....the idea of feeding a pair of Clydes or Quarters paralyzes me!

We've opted for a trio of Welch-size ponies, about 45-46" at the shoulder, 400-500 pounds each. They are exceptional workers and can pull more than you'd expect from their size. They can also carry smaller adults for extended rides. These geldings are also extra-good at getting nutrients out of our meager natural-grass (mostly fescue and weeds) much so that they are given no additional feeds other than what they can forage. And they are embarassingly FAT!!! We actually were looking for smaller Shetland-type ponies, but simply couldn't find any locally. Durn it.

If y2k "turns bad", I think we need to have back-up animals that can do well on limited inputs. Horses are certainly an option, especially for those who have some prior horse experience. Better yet, probably, would be a pair of VERY tame oxen (steers) or even a pair of friendly cows, or some big wether goats -- all can pull carts or plows and won't yank your arm off like a horse can!

Anita E.

-- Anita Evangelista (, July 06, 1999.

We have 120 acres about half in alfalfa hay. The hay is rich enough that unless a horse is pregnant or working VERY hard, we don't feed much additional grain. If the winter is mild the horses forage enough that we actually feed out very little hay. They always have it available, but prefer to forage.

We have Shires for drafts - similar to Clydesdales. Our 2 year olds are already over 6 ft tall at the withers (shoulders) and probably weigh between 1800 and 2000 lbs each. They are huge babies. They will eat about 80

I saw a program on Welsh Cobs in England and they did appear to be sturdy little guys.

-- Beckie (, July 06, 1999.

Thanks, Beckie for the good plug for Morgans, indeed for a small horse they more than make up for their smaller stature by working every bit as long and hard as some of the "big" boys. Although I haven't farmed with 'em I have worked cattle and hunted mountain lions with them and have never seen one that couldn't go so far today that he couldn't make it back tomorrow. They have also been the most thrifty horse feed wise I've ever owned, I feed about a bale of alfalfa every 3 days to a Morgan getting worked and only in the dead of winter cold have I ever had to suppliment with grain to keep their weight up.

-- Roger (, July 06, 1999.

Thanks. While I personally have never used a Morgan, I know a number of people that use them as an "all-round" horse.

-- Beckie (, July 07, 1999.

We have registered quarter horses and it doesn't take too much to keep them in shape. We feed them a bucket each of sweetfeed a day. In the winter, sometimes we get the higher protein feed at Sam''s about $4-$5 for 50lbs. bag. and we give them coastal hay or they graze in summer. We don't give them alfalfa...the high protein can cause urinary tract problems. One of quarter horses is about 22 yrs. old and looks great.

-- texan (, July 07, 1999.

If you keep them wormed regularly they aren't hard to keep. You can pour all the feed you want into them and it won't help at all if they are wormy. Rotate your wormers btwn quest and ivermectin. It helps get all the bugs.

I agree with Becky, if you are new to horses, get an older seasoned horse and read alot of books!

-- Moore Dinty moore (, July 07, 1999.

Hi Dinty, I agree about worming. If a horse is kept in a barn or a lot, he is much more likely to get worms - one that is on a large pasture usually is much healthier and you can worm less frequently.

Also if anyone is interested in some book/magazine recommendations, send me an e-mail.

-- Beckie (, July 07, 1999.

I would like to recomend mules for the homesteaders. They work harder pound for pound than horses and eat less. Hay and graze quality is not quite as critical as for horses and a well broke mule is not stubborn or mean. (been kicked and bitten by horses,never by a mule) We live in the mountains where the terrain gets a little verticle in places.Mules handle it better than horses. I would much rather shoot off of a mule's back than a horse's. Less likely to have to walk home. Played polo a lot, rodeo'd a little when I was young and foolish. (I'm no longer young, wife of 50 yrs.says I'm still foolish) Note: Says I can ask the server expire my cookies! Damned if I will! Sounds downright painful! Anybody coming after this ol' boys cookies best come shootin'.

-- Lumber Jack (, July 07, 1999.

Lumberjack, you gave me a good laugh! Thanks, I can use all the good laughs I can find these days! The only mules I have seen advertised seemed expensive. My father said the same thing about mules for farm work. He said a mule won't founder like a horse. Do you have any mule purchasing advice?

-- Mumsie (, July 08, 1999.

Mumsie, I went to a horse sale last week-end that had mules as well. Mules sold for less than the horses and most that were presented for sale appeared to be well broke and sold for $800 or less each. This sale barn happens to be in an predominantly Amish/Mennonite town. Some of the Amish prefer draft mules for their work, so there are usually mules for sale. Also it seems that northern Missouri likes mules as well. I agree that mules and donkeys are more sure footed in rough areas than horses.

-- Beckie (, July 08, 1999.

Mumsie, Your daddie was speaking from his experience. A mule is LESS likely to founder than a horse but it does happen. I know of two cases. One is in my barn right now and that one managed to founder on grass! Ponies are the most likly to grass founder. Fat, idle stock are more prone to founder than thinner, hard working stock. The only thing to watch for when buying mules that differs from horses is a lot of mules don't like to have their ears touched. That can make it difficult to bridle them. Learned a long time ago that things that "never" happen, do happen. Things that "always" happen, sometimes don't.

-- Lumber Jack (, July 08, 1999.

This is from Beckie....I get a catalog from a company called Breakthrough that is nothing but horse books. I would recommend any book in their catalog as I have purchased several. Their phone number is 1-800-276-8419 or their website . I have found them to be a more complete source than any of the large book chains.

There are several magazines that are available at the newstand that you could check out before subscribing - Horse & Rider , Equus, Horse Illustrated and Western Horseman (this magazine has their own set of books that are also very good).

I get 2 newsletters that I would recommend to anyone. One is John Lyons Perfect Horse 1-800-829-2521 and the other is Whole Horse Journal which deals more with natural horse care, training & performance 1-800-829-5580. John Lyons also has written some books that you might want to check out. He deals mostly with training issues, but since no horse is perfect, you need to know how to deal with the problems.

Pat Parelli has a system that teaches both riding and training. I haven't thoroughly researched it but I bought the book Western Horseman had about it and if I have the time and money I think I will check it out.

Both John Lyons and Pat Parelli do seminars all over the country and I would recommend going to one near you.

I prefer non-violent methods of training and more natural methods of taking care of illnesses etc.

Hope this helps.


Hi Beckie, Thanks a whole bunch! You gave me so many resources! I read "The Man Who Listens to Horses" and am now very interested in finding a horse that was gentled and trained this way. What price range should I expect to deal with to get a horse that is, as you suggested, around seven years old, healthy, comparatively vice-free, and able to be used for light farm work and riding? I was also considering a mare that is bred, possibly with foal at side as a three for one kind of package, more as a future "investment". We have seven kids, and I'm looking down the road to be able to have several horses. Is there any advantage/importance to having at least two horses at once, as with goats and other animals that do not do well alone? What should I expect to be my average monthly cost, if we keep the horse at home, and have at least 5-10 acres of pasture for it? I'm thinking of supplementary food, shoeing, medicine etc. I hope you don't mind my asking all these questions! Thanks again!

-- Mumsie (, July 09, 1999.

Hi Mumsie,

Here in the midwest a horse will use an acre of pasture. You will also need a source of hay for the winter - about 40-60 lbs of hay per day per horse. If you have to buy hay, it can get expensive as square bales (about 80 lbs) cost $3 ea or more here - round bales 1500 - 2000 lbs cost $30+ ea. Once again I can only speak to here in the midwest, but it takes about a acre of hay ground per horse.

Hoof trimming cost $15 - $20 per horse each 6-8 weeks. Shoeing costs about $45+ per horse. (These are not cumulative - if you shoe a horse the trimming is included). We have very reasonable farriers here, but I have heard of these cost being doubled or tripled even here in Iowa.

We vaccinate annually and that cost is about $35 per horse plus floating teeth every 6 months at a cost of $35.

Now to the cost of the horse. A registered horse will often cost more than a grade horse. I only buy registered horses now because of the re-sale value - after selling a very good ranch horse for peanuts because he didn't have papers, I went to papered horses. We only have a few unregistered horses right now. If you look around you can find a good horse for $1500 - $2000 if you are not looking for prime bloodlines, special coloring, etc. A 3-for-one will cost a little more. I am buying a 3-for-one paint breedstock mare with a foal at side and re-bred for $1800 and she is not broke to ride. Her sister that is trail broke and is a black/white overo is going for $3500 because of her color and that she is very well broke. Oh for your information paints are usually quarterhorse stock or occasionally thorobred.

Realize that a bred mare should be rested for a few weeks prior to birth and a few weeks after depending on her condition. We also feed additional grain. The rest of our horses get grain only when they are being worked hard or need it for growth (our 1-yr old Shires are growing too fast and pasture isn't meeting their needs.)

Hope all of this helps.

-- Beckie (, July 09, 1999.

Please don't waste precious time and money on Parelli seminars etc at this late date. You have more important things to focus on. If you really have to do natural horsemanship get the book or video's. Those clinics are very very expensive and go nowhere fast! They do have good horse psychology info on them though as far as prey / preditor and herd characteristics. (I prefer non violent training methods also.)

-- Moore Dinty moore (, July 09, 1999.


Sorry, I realized that I didn't answer one of your questions - the one about having more than one horse due to companionship. There are advantages and disadvantages to having one or two horses. If you have only 2 horses, they tend to become buddies and can become what is called buddy sour, meaning that you can't take one out without the other. A horse prefers companionship and I recently read an article about keeping a goat with a single horse for companionship. We change the around the horses that we use for performance into different lots on a regular basis so they don't become buddy sour (we have a pair that do that if left together for more than a week and unfortunately are always together when we travel).

As for Dinty's comment - I have never been to a Parelli seminar so I can't speak to the cost. But at most seminars, observing is usually very cheap rather than participating. Quite often there are "horse fairs" that have a lot of different seminars and information packed into them. Call you local extension office to see if there are any horse related events near you.

-- Beckie (, July 09, 1999.

If things get tough enough you can eliminate a lot of non-esentials like shoes for instance if the horse doesn't spend a lot of time on pavement or rocks. Been years since I have shod any of my horses or mules. Tickles me to see people get mustangs from BLM that have run wild all their lives and the first thing they got to have is shoes! Feet need to be trimmed and squared up particularly if they are on soft ground all the time. Used to know a feller that would ride his horses (at a walk) on pavement occasionaly to wear their hooves flat and true.(without shoes of course) I find that I can do the best and fastest job with a hack saw with a 24 TPI blade in it. Worming can be done with tobacco. I prefer to use ground up black walnut outer hulls. This is good for all animals including dogs. (There's that rascal wanting to expire my cookies again! At my age they're gonna expire soon enough. Me and him are fixin' to scuffle in the dust if he keeps this up!


-- Lumber Jack (, July 10, 1999.

In the e-mail I send to Mumsie, I forgot 2 important magazines if you are interested in draft horses.

Rural Heritage has lots of articles about using horses in farming and logging - also great ads for horse drawn equipment (

The other magazine is Draft Horse Journal (319-352-4046) - great articles about draft horses and a good place to look for horses to buy.

-- Beckie (, July 12, 1999.

lumbar Jack,

Hope your still around...I have heard of tobacco with worming...give details for horses please....walnut hulls?? I thought walnut was poison to horses.

Auditor rates for Parelli clinics are usually 50 dollars. The clinics are usually 250 dollars and up for a weekend. Just locate a natural group and borrow their video's. Don't waste your can do alot of preps for what you would spend on their clinics.

Horses are herd animals and like having other horses around. However, a human can become part of the horses pecking order and herd when approached right. No need to have 2 horses if you only have room for one.

-- Moore Dinty moore (, July 12, 1999.

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