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Nope. Not unless you're already good at animal husbandry. A typical horse will eat between 20 and 50 lbs of feed a day, depending on protein content and the like. A working horse can eat much more. It's not a problem is you already grow enough pasturage for some, but then you have the problem of vet bills (huge) and regular hoof trimming, worming, shots, etc... A riding horse is not necessarily a horse that will pull a plow, given the nature of what things we'll need to grow for food - human power is much more economical. Not to mention the tack you'll need to work a horse.

OTOH, you can see distances on horseback that a man afoot cannot. You're up about 9 feet off the ground if you're patrolling open areas, so someone in the grass will THINK they're concealed, but you'll see them easily - of course, if you can see them - the reverse is also true.

Old-time cowboys typically used a string of horses for their work, one just couldn't hold up. They were also adroit at training them, vetting them - and sometimes putting them down. Horse drawn farming equipment is out there, but rare. Then let's remember that being a fair blacksmith is usefull too, horse-draw equipment is heavy on iron and steel, and fabrication of new parts is a necessity. I do own a horse, but also realize that I'll have to learn multiple disciplines to be able to use on in a grid-down situation. Let's not forget that a horse is about a 1200lb piece of moveable meat - lure it along with some grain, and you can feed a family for a long time on the meat you harvest from the stolen animal. They're extremely delicate in some ways, if you DO look to get a horse, you really REALLY want to select one based on it's low-maintenance, genetics plays a role in how hard it's hooves are, how prone it is to typical diseases, it's general docility, etc. I do think that someday it would be fun to own a cold-blood horse, Shire, etc... I don't think I'll be shoeing them often, when a 1600lb horse lifts it's hoof for you, they typically expect you to shoulder the load!

If transport and speed were the issue, I'd say a good solid coaster-brake equipped bicycle is a much better idea.
 

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NOPE not at all. The horse market is seriously more depressed then the housing market. Don't plan on making any money at all off a horse. Plan on loosing money on horses.

That said, I have 6 of my own and I'm not giving them up, but I'm a horse addict and I can't give up most of them even If I tried.

Would having a horse be a good investment for preparedness?
 

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Yeah I wouldn't see a horse being one of the animals needed. A horse is more of a pet to have around for just taking care of or riding.
 

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as all the others have said nope...
Much better would be a mule but even then for many it wouldnt be ideal..

on top of all the other reasons mentioned
large animals eat alot as well as drink alot and need large amounts of pasture space per head.
Unless you know how to handle a big beast before hand , SHTF is not the time to be learning such things.They are dangerous animals n not something to simply think you can handle, raise and train to work as a work animal in a day or with no experience. Even with experience they can still put a hurtin on you.

Horses are pretty grumpy, crotchety buggers with rotten attitudes as a whole.
 

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A WELL conditioned horse can travel as much as 100 miles per day, But the vast majority of horses can only travel 15-30 miles per day depending on if you are pulling a cart or riding. You will need water ever 5-10 miles on average unless it is extra hot, humid or working extra hard and then you will need water sooner. Additionally you need a minimum of 10-15 gallons of water per day per horse at rest.
 

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Dunappy,
I don't don't know beans about horses, but I ran across the SFJ in the library and thought I'd pass it on. I guess if you had a clean river or a big pond/lake it water would not be a problem. With horses you have no worrys about gas or electicity at least.
 

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No you wouldn't have a worry about gas or electricity, but you have a worry about appropriate feed and water ( especially in the winter) and you have to worry about fencing, and vaccinations and certain diseases and training the horse and tons of other stuff.

I have horse and I've had them most of my life so I know the rules. but I don't recommend horses for any newbies especially at the moment. The horse market is EXTREMELY depressed and horses are basically not a good investment. The costs associated with keeping horses are enormous. IN general I spend nearly $10,000 a YEAR for the feed, up keep and veterinary care of 6 horses.

Dunappy,
I don't don't know beans about horses, but I ran across the SFJ in the library and thought I'd pass it on. I guess if you had a clean river or a big pond/lake it water would not be a problem. With horses you have no worrys about gas or electicity at least.
 

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I think for some folks lucky enough to have a retreat/farm it might make sense to have a few horses, if you had good wells and capacity to grow enough feed. If we have a total meltdown of society, you could still have your horses. Buy now, while the markets is depressed ;)
 

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I have to agree horses are a lot of expense. We had 3 and as they have died we have not replaced them. My old gelding is 19 and I have to treat him with joint supplements to keep him sound. He and I have ridden thousand of miles together over the years up and down the Blue Ridge Mountains. I won't part with him because he is so well broke, I can hitch him up and drive him and he is safe with children. You just can't find well trained horses like him anymore.

It's true that your visibility is greater on horseback. The problem is others can see you as well also. If you are trying to maintain a low profile, you won't do it on a horse.

I also agree that the best utility animal is a mule. They are smart, have naturally good feet and very surefooted on uneven ground. A mule won't overeat or drink and will forage on whatever is available. They can also jump a fence like a deer. Many raccoon and bear hunters ride mules that are trained to jump over a blanket placed over a fence.

The flip side is you can't make a mule do anything it doesn't want to. Only knowledgeable horsemen should attempt to keep a mule. In a battle of wills, the mule will win nearly every time.

I'd say the greatest advantage to keeping a horse or mule would be in hunting game. If you pay attention, your horses behavior will tell you when they see, scent or hear something different. All you have to do is focus on the view from between their ears.

I have ridden on trails where deer were standing less then 50 feet from me. Even if we flushed them out, they don't run far because they hear the footfall of an animal not a man. Since horses normally have human scent on/around them, the deer are not highly alarmed. As long as you are quiet, they won't run away.

My horse is used to gunfire so, shooting while mounted is not a problem. I supposed the safest method (and most quiet) would be to use a crossbow. Had I been hunting, it would have been a perfect shot. You can bleed out the deer and sling it across your horse to pack it out.

I'd suggest you get a bicycle and several pairs of good hiking shoes. In times like these, it will be a lot less expensive.
 

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Hi everyone,

A newbie here. While I agree with most that horses maybe a risky investment, I think that they certainly be a good one, depending on your situation.

I don't have any horses, but do have a background with horses (pleasure). Personally, I see them playing a vital role in post-pertroleum agriculture, along with human power, and human-scale tools.

If I may, I would probably choose a breed like the Cheval Canadien (Canadian Horse). For more info on these breed, here are two pretty good sites:

Canadian Horse Heritage and Preservation Society (CHHAPS)

Société des Éleveurs de Chevaux Canadiens • Canadian Horse Breeders Association

Laurel
 

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I was reading over all the posts and realized one important item that both horses and cattle provide...manure!

It makes great fertilizer (when composted) and if spread out to dry makes very good fire starter. One horse or cow can pretty much produce all you want for either use. You just have to collect it and work it up according to how you want to use it.
 

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I dont think horses are that expensive. It may just be my perspective though. We have a total of three and each goes throught a 50 pound bag of feed a week right now, less in summer when the pastures are lush. We use them for everything from pleasure horses to hopefully in a another year or so to harness / plow horses. We have also worked with them to make them into pack animals. Our philosophy is that they are the ultimate 4X4. I can take my horse into places that a wheeled vehicle could never go, and unlike a 4 wheeler do not let everyone in a 2 mile radius know where I am. My only expense is a $75 farrier bill every 2 months $200 in hay for the winter and the costs of wormer.
At this point my dogs are more of an expense than my horses.
 

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I dont think horses are that expensive.
I agree. We have 4 horses, 2 mules, and 2 donkey's. We spend about $250 a month for feed and another $300 a month in winter for hay. The horses and donkey's can all be ridden or packed with supplies if necessary. We've only had the mules for about 6 months and they are just now getting accustomed to their new surroundings. They are already trained to drive and in June we are having them measured for collars and harnesses. In the event that oil becomes too expensive, they will be used for plowing and/or pulling a cart.
I absolutely agree with some previous posts though. Don't just run out and buy a horse because they are cheap right now. They can be very dangerous. If a 1000lb animal steps on your foot accidentally at feeding time, you remember it for a loooong time ( been there ). Also, they are a social animal. Like goats, they want companionship. One bored horse will keep himself amused in all kinds of destructive ways.
If you are going to get a horse, get 2 and be prepared to spend a lot of time with them.
 

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I have had horses most of my life. I'm sure my life would be empty without one. I lost my packhorse to colic last week and it still hurts a little. My old mare(my baby) is 25 years old so she doesn't get rode much and my riding horse is so tall I have to use the tailgate or a stump to get on him. It used to be easy to hop on but I guess I'm getting old. I have learned how to trim and I have put shoes on a few times, just in case there was not enough money to hire a farrier. The price of hay was sky high last year and I don't think hay will drop very much this year. Also I live in a somewhat isolated area, it is 9mi. to the closest store and I always thought a packhorse would be handy in tough times. So I will probably start looking for a replacement soon, maybe a mule this time. A mule would feel right at home with the wifes miniature donkey.
 

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I think a horse is a good investment

Would having a horse be a good investment for preparedness?
I do like horses and enjoy riding, but to add a horse to my homestead I really had to weigh out the pros and cons. It is nice to have my "pretty" horse (finally), but the reality behind my choice of a TWH is that they were bred for long distance riding as well as working the farm. Really. The show thing is a result of their natural disposition. I wanted a horse because of the soil. We need fertilizer where we live and I will have a mixture of horse, goat, and chicken along with other straw, leaves, etc. I can use the horse manure to make logs (once the ashes are burned, we really do not need to put anything else into the ground- the burning creates a natural balance in Ph) in the summer (to burn during the winter) and in the winter I can compost for use in the early spring. We have thousands on acres to hunt and (IMHO) it would be easier to find game on a horse than blast through the terrain on a snow mobile or atv. We live in an area where free ranging is allowed, and I am sure my neighbors wouldn't mind my horses grazing their fields (after harvest). Its free compost for them too. Horses can be used to till, pack, ride, etc. and we dont have to go to the gas station to fill them up. If you have room to grow your own hay, that is a bonus! If you are also growing wheat and oat fields, it cant get any better. Work with your neighbors for bartering... my neighbor has a huge field for growing (10 acres) and the kids and I can certainly help if they will let us. Our horses can be secure in our 2.8 acres, and used to help with the field work for the greater good. We are moving to a place that only has 4-5 of us living there, so our situation may be different. If it makes sense and the benefits are greater than the drawbacks, then go for it.
 

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fob, I can't think of a better prepper horse than a good, bullet-proof TWH. If ya wanna put the miles on to go to town, why shake your teeth out with a quarter horse (on a general horse forum I'd get death threats from QH onwers for posting this:)) when you can put miles behind you with a smooth gaited horse. If your TWH has a good head, you can do light plowing and other implement work with a little training.

As other posters have stated, they do eat, but if winter forage is not a problem, a horse -- 2 are better -- makes a great prepper resource.
 

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I love my horses! They work our small farm ... pull firewood, work the garden and so much more.

I have 3 horses and 2 ponies ... I would NOT give them up for anthing... they do need feed but heck... so does the lawn mower!!! (If you want to look at it that way;) )

A lot of folks look at a horse as something "pretty" ((which they can be)) ... but if you "WORK" that horse/pony they become more than something to look at and ride 'once in a while'.

If you are looking for something to work ... I say a pony ... but that is just me;) a "WORK" pony is great to have around the farm/homestead.
 
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