I don't know how this might go over, but thought I'd throw this out there. Would any of you out there want to talk about how much you might be willing to do when it comes to cost and so on with a horse that has complications or illness, related to pregnancy and delivery issues?
It has come up on the board in response to some situations, but I thought some 20/20 hindsight comments and/or just sharing ideas might be enlightening to us all.
For instance, my mare has a bad muscle injury in her hindquarter that is not healing as quickly as hoped. How much am I willing to spend? Let's just say I had to transport her to L.A. and keep her at an animal hospital, during the last several weeks of her pregnancy, at a lot of expense, to heal it? What if there was only a 50/50 chance of improvement?
Or what if the baby has serious problems that need intensive care? In addition, perhaps those who have had huge expenses can share with us novices, so we have some idea of what we might be looking at.
I think discussing these kinds of things might help many of us plan ahead, instead of finding ourselves in the heat of the moment, making decisions. I know we can't cover every scenario, and a lot of it would be speculation, but seems worth discussing to me.
And some people have a lot more resources and knowledge and technology-the best set up one could imagine; while others struggle along to care for one horse-and everything in between.
It's just an idea up for grabs-or not. And if it seems really "lame," (no pun intended) my excuse is, I'm running on little sleep this morning and have only had 1/2 cup of tea so far! \
I think it really depends on how good of a relationship you have with your vet and what kind of money you have. I know I would spend whatever it takes to make sure my mare and/or foal are healthy. Now I can do this not because I'm rich but I've been with my vet for over 15 yrs and I know I could make payments on a bill even if it took me 20 yrs to pay it off! I feel that if I bred a mare it is my responsibility to make sure she and the foal are taken care of no matter what. You have to expect the unexpected in breeding and honestly if you can't afford to take care of an ill foal you probably shouldn't be breeding (not saying this directly to you, just in general )
I also agree, it's just like breeding dogs, I was a Boston Terrier breeder, its called RESPONSIBILTY! if you want an animal you have to be willing to go to an extreme to give it your all! I have 4 horses and one due 4/17/08 My mare is 22 years old she has given me unconditional love when I needed her body to hug and cry she never once moved when I need someone to listen to my bitching without commenting (smile) I personally would sell anything I own to save her or any of my others! Maybe as horse owners we should try to think ahead as CJ stated. SO I suggest purchasing Insurance it will help and it sure beats comming up with 10,000 at once or whatever it takes!
Tracy, Michele and Laurie, I agree with what all of you have expressed in regards to CJ's question. This topic is a PET PEEVE of mine, so here I am on my soapbox.
My thoughts: Don't get a horse unless you can afford one. I'm not saying this to be heartless and cruel and dash anyone's dreams, but the reality is that horses are expensive. Its not like adopting a dog or cat. While small animals are also a SERIOUS investment, I think too many people just absolutely don't undertand the INVESTMENT a horse is.
1) HOUSING - First off you have to have somewhere to house the horse whether it be your own premises which you must then have adequate fencing and a shelter or you will be boarding the horse somewhere else. Neither is "cheap" and even just pasture board at a decent facility can run you from $100-$200/month depending on where you live. 2) FEED - You must feed the horse. And this isn't limited to a couple of cans of pet food a day. Horses eat hay and grain which have escalated in price incredibly in just the last couple of years. Pasture is nice if available but typically doesn't last all year round. Then there would be the issue of whether the horse needs supplements, i.e., for joints, etc. Even "good ole pasture horses" can have special nutritional needs. 3) FARRIER - All horses need at least periodic foot care in the form of at least keeping their hooves trimmed. This can run you from $30-$40 every 6-8 weeks. If the horse needs shoes then you can expect to double those costs. 4) Minimal VET CARE - All horses need at least routine veterinary care. At the bare minimum this should include deworming at least every three months, annual immunizations for sleeping sickness, tetnaus and rabies i.e., those deadly things for which there is essentially no cure if a horse contracts. Also depending on your part of the country and your horse's exposure levels, West Nile, Flu, Rhino and Potomac Horse fever should be considered. The intranasal Strangles is also worthwhile if your horse is housed at a boarding facility (with horses coming and going) and/or you haul the horse a lot i.e., shows, trail rides, etc.
Much of the above can be done by the horse owner (i.e., you can vaccinate for most of this except rabies which has to be administered by a licensed vet in most state), paste wormers are available at most feed and farm stores.
One thing that a lot of people really overlook is teeth care. Most horses over the age of about 5 or 6 really need to start getting their teeth checked/floated at least annually. This is typically $100-$200 depending on your vet/location but this can save a lot of $$ on feed in the long run.
The above is what I consider the BARE ESSENTIALS to keeping a horse. We didn't even get into the things like tack, blankets, savings for bedding in a stall etc. These are what I consider minimal costs for a pasture-kept animal. You can easily get into $5,000/yr. for just what I think are the "basics", particularly if you are boarding a horse.
Okay then, lets add something CATASTROPHIC onto the list. Let's say your horse COLICS, or you have foaling problems, or your horse loses an eye, etc. SEVERAL THOUSANDS of dollars can run up VERY QUICKLY. 1) Having a good relationship with your vet does help; If you have had them for years as a vet, then they are more confident that you aren't going to skip paying them because you have that relationship. 2) Also, if you have a good long-term relationship with your vet, they know that you take care of your horse(s) and are committed to their welfare.
INSURANCE --- I CAN NOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!! You don't have to insure your animal for some huge value to get the Major Medical rider. I have all four of my "children" insured for the minimal value each on the mortality end of it (sure they are worth a lot more to me, but I'm trying to keep my costs down.) The company I am with (Agri-Risk) then writes the Major Medical as a rider onto the mortality policy. My costs for this is $1,960/year for four horses insured for the minimum mortalityrequirement and $7,500, each, Major Medical insurance. This works out to $163.33/month and they will let you make quarterly or monthly payments if you need to.
This is peace of mind for me because I simply don't want to HAVE to make a decision to save an animal based purely on economic reasons. If I am in that bad of a situation with one of my "children" that is about the last thing I want to have to worry about. I am sure there will be enough worry and heartbreak to go around without that if we are in a position where we are going to have to spend several thousands of dollars.
I'm not trying to be pious and pompous here. I am not a rich person, not even close to it. But I chose to own horses and I love them dearly. I want to take care of them as best as I am able. For me the insurance is "cheap".
Example of cost. My mare fractured her jaw last summer. It was above what my local vet felt comfortable with. Took her to CSU (equine hospital) 150 miles away. We got there late Friday afternoon, so most everyone was gone. They took x-rays ect. I had to leave her til monday to find out if surgery would help. Bottom line I needed to leave $4000 deposit. I also have couple thousand in local vet bills from this incident, and I had only owned the mare few months when this happened, but she is my responsabilty. Although there went the new horse trailer. She did have surgery and a week at the hospital, but it all worked out
Laurie, Thanks, like I said this is a soapbox of mine. I have seen people get involved with horses and they just don't have the means. The animal suffers in the end. A lot of well-meaning people just don't know how much a horse can cost.
Regarding catastophic things, in my opinion, vets are no better any more than people doctors, in fact my vet charges more and more all the time. I really like him but he and I just had a FRANK discussion about his the other day. $45 for a health certificate and another $30 for an add-on horse. Just two years ago I was paying $15 for the first horse and $5 each for the add-on horse(s).
Like people doctors, it has just about gotten to where you can't afford to NOT have insurance with horses.
Jan Owen Senior Stallion or Mare Username: 1frosty1
Post Number: 1371 Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2008 - 05:31 pm:
Catherine~Well said...only thing left out is that they (horses) are like 2 year olds and you think you have everything "horse proof" and one goes and manages to get hurt and you can't figure out how but more $ Also taken proper care of they can live a long time!! So you need to be prepared for their twilight years too.
Thank-you all for your posts. I have been watching them and agree-if one has a horse, they must accept the responsibility. Insurance is a great idea. I've been looking into it myself-but after these posts, it is now a priority!
Catherine, I have to ask, how did your horse fracture her jaw? If you wouldn't mind telling us, that is.
Jan, you are so right about injuries. Sometimes they can't be prevented, no matter how much we think we have safety proofed their lives. But I think a lot of new horse owners have no idea what kinds of things a horse can get hurt on, resulting in pain and suffering for the horse, and a pain in the ole' wallet, for the owner. For instance, I know of a horse that lost an eye to a nail that was left sticking out of a fence post. So simple to prevent! I'm sure we can all tell stories.
Yes, I'm newly back into horses, and am trying to do it right, but in the past, I've owned six, including one mare with a four month old foal. I was lucky-no major injuries, but I was always careful to watch for anything that might hurt them. It became second nature after awile.
I have spent several hundered dollars on my mare and have only had her about two months. She cost me $1800.00, which was a very good price considering her breeding and the fact she is in foal to a nice stallion. There have been two vet visits for a total of $235.00, apx. Had to have her trailered when I moved; cost, $100.00. Medication-$65.00, although I have a lot left over. Probably three hundred on halters, leads, fly spray, shavings and all that, as well as grain and alfalfa. This Friday, my new vet is coming out (got an earlier appt.-yeah!). Anyway, that will be over a hundred, I'm sure.
This week I'm putting in fencing at a very reasonable cost of about $600.00. I will add on as I go. And the baby isn't even here yet! I suppose there is some ceiling I could potentially reach, but I haven't come close yet. I would gladly go into hock for my girl. She means everything to me, even if she does just love me for my carrots and horse cookies! Thanks for posting you all.
Awww... CJ, you sound like a great mama! Yes, please consider insurance.
I think it was Linda who had the mare fracture a jaw.... but I had a baby filly last November that decided to go UNDER the "horse-safe" fence we had just installed (I think she was after the pony's cookies on the other side of her). Anyway she stuck her face under the fence then pulled back and basically peeled her face off from her forelock down to just above her eyes! Nice huh? Anyway, the vet was out within an hour of when she did it. Thankfully no nerves or muscles were involved but it did take about 40 some stitches, a drain tube and three solid weeks of antibiotics (to fight/stem any infections) to "put her face back on". 5 months down the road now and you can't tell anything ever happened to her except she has a few white hairs along the stitch lines. Now that little "episode" was $1,500 by the time it was all said and done. I was able to save costs because my times was flexible and I could nurse her myself and clean the drain tube, etc.; i.e., she didn't have to be hospitalized.
That "little episode" would have about paid my annual premiums for four horses ($1,950 for four horses for mortality and $7,500 major medical, each)! That's when I got serious about major medical insurance and got it for everybody. A colic or eyeball or difficult delivery can eat up several thousands of dollars very quickly.
In my case, I am willing to spend whatever I have on the horse, as long as there is a good chance, and the horse wont be in pain.
Everything is just unexpected. My two year old Selle Francais colt broke his jaw last year, had to go to emergancy surgery at UC Davis, blood pressure bottomed out during surgery, and had an exceptionally difficult recovery. But, he lived, and is now very well (though he has a parrot mouth now , he didnt have that before the surgery). I considered euthinizing him, but the vets said that the outcome was likely going to be fine, and he would be able to wear a bit, and be a 'normal' horse. I am now glad I went ahead with the surgery, though it was hard on him, I love him to death, and am thankful that I still have him today.
My biggest concern is the wellfare of the horse. When Triscuit (the colt) broke his jaw, he was in so much pain, it was so obvious. And it broke my heart, and brought me to tears to see him like that (I have known him since the minute he was born, he had a really hard time at first, he was a dummy foal), but I was assured that there was a very good chance he would be okay. Thank God that is the only real emergency I have had *knocks on wood*.
My mom on the other hand... She just had her mule castrated and he evesicerated (SP?, its when their inestines start coming out), it was a totally routine castration until he stood up. Ended up with two emergency surgeries, and two and a half weeks in ICU, a bill of about 15k, and a LONG recovery ahead. There was about a 25% chance of survival, if it where my horse, I wouldnt have done it. There is still a great chance that he will colic and die.
Non-horsey people just really done get it. We are attached to our horses like they are to their pets. My horses are totally part of the family. There are certain horses that I would go to farther lengths for, like my Selle Francais colt, and my Swedish Warmblood mare, but if it was in their best interest to end their suffering, I would do that.
Does anybody know of any insurance companies that would insure an 18 year old mare? I am breeding her this year, and it will be a very high risk pregnancy (she has history of abortion and complications, and she is older now). I would love to get her insured, but cant find any company that will accept her due to her age
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