An old Spanish proverb asserts, “A horse is worth more than riches.” And for many, this is true. Equine ownership can ignite a lifelong passion, teach responsibility and courage to children and adults alike and establish an unbreakable bond between man and animal.
However, horses aren’t just a hobby. Ownership can quickly turn from joyous to stressful and financially draining if you aren’t prepared. Whether you’re simply considering purchasing a horse or already own one or more, there are a few inherent risks you must be aware of.
Just like other livestock or pets, horses are uniquely susceptible to certain diseases. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System’s (NAHMS) 2015 Equine study, two of the most prevalent causes of death in horses over a year old were colic and cancer. Colic is an especially serious health concern – resulting in roughly 64,000 equine deaths each year.
Knowing the signs of colic and cancer and seeking veterinary care early can help prolong the life of your horses. Regularly check for irregular lumps and growths on the skin or eyes, as they could be cancerous. Continually look for the early signs of colic, such as loss of appetite, pawing, stretching out or laying down more than usual.
The 2015 NAHMS study also found that wounds and/or trauma were the second leading cause of death in horses between the ages of 1 and 20. Common equine injuries include cuts and abrasions, puncture wounds, stocked up or stiff legs and scratched corneas/corneal ulcers. Sport horses are susceptible to additional ailments, such as sore muscles, joint inflammation, suspensory ligament injuries, deep digital flexor tendon damage or bone bruising. If you notice an injury or abnormal behavior, seek treatment advice from a vet or trusted source.
Horses aren’t the only ones who can get hurt – owners are also prone to injury while caring for equines. Falling off while riding, getting kicked or being bitten are frequent incidents that can cause injury. Protect yourself and others by wearing necessary safety gear, such as a riding helmet, and training your horse properly.
Expenses and Liability
With horse ownership comes horse-sized expenses. A University of Maine survey found that a single horse costs its owner an average of $3,876 annually. Around a third of that figure will go directly toward feeding the animal, while the rest accounts for boarding, vet, farrier and other general maintenance costs. As an owner, you also could be liable for injuries or property damage caused by your horse.
The many expenses can add up quickly, so be sure to account for both expected and unexpected costs before purchasing a horse.
All of the risks of equine ownership may be intimidating, but don’t let the cons outweigh the pros. James Allen Insurance can preserve the joys of horse ownership with the comfort of knowing you’re protected against the above hazards and more. Take a look at our equine policies today.