Before you apply for adoption, you need to know what the costs of keeping a horse are and what you need to do to look after them properly. The horse may be free, but keeping it can be very expensive. Apart from the money aspect, it takes a great deal of time and hard work to look after a horse properly – even before you get to ride it!
There are many handbooks on the care and feeding of horses, so this is a very basic summary - but think about the points below before you decide to apply for adoption.
Supervision: Your horse must be checked AT LEAST once a day (twice if rugged) – this is in rain, hail, shine, sleet, snow or tropical heat.
Paddock or Stable: Horses need at least 1 hectare of land if paddocked. Fencing must be safe and secure and there needs to be shelter (shed, trees, hedge) available. Stabled horses must have a turn-out/exercise plan and the stable must be cleaned twice a day. Horses are herd animals and should have another horse at least in plain sight.
Feeding: Most horses will need some form of extra feeding. During droughts, the cost of all feeds will increase significantly. Feed prices also change during the year, so you need to budget extra money for those times.
Water: Horse can drink up to 45L a day in hot weather. Clean, cool water must always be available and troughs must be kept clean.
Agistment: The cost will range from $15 to $200 per week. If you have your own property there will be costs related to fencing, pasture maintenance, building and maintaining shelter.
Veterinary: horse injure themselves and they do get sick, and they usually do it at the most inconvenient time. You MUST call a vet if your horse is showing signs of colic, a broken limb is suspected, has a severe cut with major bleeding or eye injury. You can learn to treat minor injuries yourself, BUT WHEN IN DOUBT CALL A VET.
Farrier: prices may range from $35 for a trim to over $100 for shoeing and will need to be done every 6-8 weeks.
Worming: You will need to worm every few months. You will need to know what types of worms you are treating for, and what the different brands of wormers do (they are all different).
Vaccination: It is essential to vaccinate against tetanus every year, because even a minor cut can kill horribly if dirt gets into it. Annual vaccination against strangles is also highly recommended - usually both are given in one injection. Hendra vaccination may be recommended in many areas.
Dentist: Horses' teeth continue to grow and need to be checked at least once a year. If not checked regularly, sharp edges develop that can make it hard for the horse to eat and can create problems when ridden. The cost will be between $100-$200 per horse.
Equipment: Brushes, halters, buckets, saddles, bridles, feed bins, first aid kits, rugs etc. … you will pay when you first buy them and all will require repair and replacement at regular intervals.