After years of practicing both conventional and holistic medicine for horses, I decided to compare cost, effectiveness, and net results of managing and treating horses holistically versus conventionally.
In this article I compare results for average trail horse that is ridden about 2-3 times a week. I have used average feed and veterinary costs for my area (Austin, Texas), and drug and supplement costs from a major horse supply catalog.
I then discuss issues related to each area of care, including feed, supplements, vaccines, dewormers, and first aid. Stay tuned for different profiles in coming months, when I will compare horses in difference disciplines, young horses, older horses, and broodmares.
>>> Holistic Horse <<< Oats (2 lbs/day): $131 Hay (3 bales/week): $780 Super Blue Green Algae (1-2 tsp/day): $156 VEWT, West Nile Vaccinations: $48 Spectrabiotic Natural Wormer: $115 2 Fecal Exams: $32 Acidophilus (for occasional immune support): $7 TOTAL ANNUAL COST: $1269
>>> Conventional Horse <<< Oats (4 lbs/day): $262 Hay (2 bales/week): $520 Hoof Supplements and Dressings ($30/month): $360 VEWT, West Nile, Flue, Rhino, Rabies Vaccinations: $80 Dewormer (6 times/year): $92 2 Bottles Penicillin: $20 A Course of Sulfa Antibiotics: $32 Fecal Exams: $32 12 Grams Bute: $10 TOTAL ANNUAL COST: $1408
COST DIFFERENCE: Holistic care costs $139 less per year DAYS OFF FOR ILLNESS: 3 days for holistic care versus 21 days for conventional care
<><> Feed Costs <><> Grain is slightly cheaper to feed and easier to store than hay, which makes conventional horse slightly cheaper to feed on one hand. On other hand, holistic horse, which has access to more hay, stays happy and entertained and is less likely to develop expensive habits and vices such as chewing on wood, cribbing, or weaving.
<><> Supplements <><> In past, hay and oats provided all nutrition a horse needed, but these days common farming practices do not produce feeds that are high in vitamins and minerals. Hoof quality is first area to be affected by such poor nutrition, and few horses can maintain healthy feet on a diet of hay and oats alone. If you doubt this, just check any horse supply catalog. The one I checked offered 22 topical hoof conditioners and 28 separate supplements. Cell Techís Super Blue Green Algae offers a wide range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants in a whole food form. It is inexpensive to feed, promotes healthy feet, and supports horse in all aspects of health.
<><> Vaccines <><> Some people will choose not to vaccinate at all while others will choose to use more vaccines than ones Iíve listed in trail horse comparison. I believe that over-vaccination is one of most common triggers for chronic diseases such as laminitis and uveitis, and contributes to allergic conditions. Stressing horseís system with over-vaccination can also affect digestive system, leading to mineral deficiencies. Stress also decreases amount of healthy bacterial flora in gut, increasing likelihood of colic.