A look at 9 common backyard trees and their effect on equestrian health.
Commonplace fruit trees can have negative effects on your horse’s health. Most often, your horse will be fine. They’re resilient animals and unless they eat a huge amount of fruit, there’s nothing wrong with a horse having access to an orchid. However, there are some fruit trees that are more dangerous than others and should be separated from horses as a precaution.
The other thing to consider is yourself! You might want some of those tasty apples before the horse gets to them all.
Apple trees pose no threat. Despite the seeds having a low level of toxicity, it’s almost impossible for a horse to eat enough to make itself sick.
Danger level: None.
Figs have latex in their sap when unripe, which can irritate skin. Fig trees produce a lot of sap, but otherwise pose no threat to horses.
In fact, because of the figs high sugar and omega content, it can be a great treat for your horse.
Danger level: Very low.
Orange & Lemons
Citrus is fine for a horse to eat, and is often an ingredient in livestock foods. It’s possible that the oil from citrus fruits will irritate your horse’s skin or eyes, but that’s rare.
It is possible for your horse to hurt itself on thorns when trying to reach leaves.
Danger level: Very low.
Loquats can cause some digestive problems if the seeds or leaves are eaten. This usually only happens if a large amount is consumed.
Danger level: Low.
Acorns aren’t particularly dangerous to horse unless they overeat them. It can cause colic (abdominal pain) at large quantities. Because horses are known for developing a liking for acorns, overeating is possible but doesn’t pose a long term health-threat.
Danger level: Medium – low.
Plum & Cherry Trees
Plum and sherry trees can produce a small amount of cyanide in the horse’s blood stream when digested. This usually doesn’t occur at a dangerous level, but if your horse has access to a lot of these trees, you might have reason for concern.
Poisoning results in problems with oxygen uptake, which will cause laboured breathing and lethargy.
Danger level: Medium.
Black Walnut Tree
The wood of the black walnut tree can cause laminitis (inflammation under the hoof) in horses. However, this is less of an ingestion problem, and more likely occurs it walnut shavings are found in bedding or sawdust.
Having a tree in close proximity to a horse is not a problem unless the horse is chewing the bark.
Danger level: Medium.
Red Maple Tree
These plants are uncommon in Australia, but fallen leaves can cause problem for horses. Eating them can burst red blood cells and damage the kidney. It is best to avoid having your horse near a red maple tree.
Danger level: High.
Avocados have a compound in them called persin. This is found in the fruit and the leaves and is extremely unhealthy for horses, causing swelling and potential death.
Horses should avoid avocado trees at all costs. And part of the tree or fruit are dangerous.
Danger level: Very high.
How To Earn Money In The Horse Industry
Working with horses is, most often, about the love of it. Those of us willing to dedicate our careers to the wonderful animals aren’t necessarily in it for the money.
But what does it take to support yourself while working with horses? How difficult is it to work in the equestrian industry?
A few points always come up:
- Working with horses requires long hours.
- Working with horses can be hard work.
But anybody who is passionate about horse work knows this. In fact, it’s part of the reason the equestrian industry is so attractive. Spending all day throwing yourself whole-heartedly into good, hard work is a great thing to do.
So let’s look at some of the different professions, how they make their money, how they’re involved with horses and what it takes to get there.
A farrier, as most of you will know, shoes horses. This can be a lot of work and can be quite difficult, but if you are confident you can build up a solid client base after you’ve become qualified, it can be a very solid profession.
Income: Average $42K per year. Range from 30K to 68K.
Professional Eventer –
Trying to make a living off prize money is very, very difficult, particularly for those in Australia. The Adelaide International is the biggest of such events, and has a total prize pool of only $120,000 (spread across all events).
To double the difficulty of making money this way, transporting, training and keeping horses costs a lot of money. Eventing is usually supported by teaching classes, training horses or other side professions.
Income: Some events in America (such as the Kentucky events) can earn an eventer 70 – 80,000. But that’s for first place.
The prize money for horse racing is a lot richer – and the industry is much healthier in Australia. The Melbourne cup is not only a popular Australian event, but is large by world standards.
An important thing to remember is that winnings are split up between a lot of people, including investors, and the jockey may only be paid an agreed wage.
Income: Winning the Melbourne cup earns $3.6 million.
Trainers prepare horses for events. Respected trainers have usually proven themselves with a strong performance record.
Income: Approximately $43,000 per year.
Equine Veterinarian –
Equestrian vets are specialized and go through large amount of study and qualification. Because of this, they can earn relatively high salaries but require at least 4 years of study.
Income: Average $62K up to $89K per year for senior vets.
Mounted police officer –
Mounted police officer positions are relatively limited but offer a very stable way for people to move into a profession that involved working with horses very closely.
A mounted police officer has a primary horse for which they are responsible, but also does general stable maintenance work as well. Being in the police force, it can involve relatively interesting and intense work, as well as allowing opportunities to meet new people and expand your life experience.
Income: During training, you’ll receive an income of $45K, which then goes up to $62K.
Equine Dentist –
Similar to a vet, this requires about 4 years of study and involves specialising to horse dentistry after a broader study of veterinarian science.
Income: $42K per year.
How To Start Your Horse Riding Business – 11 Steps
Running your own horse business would be a dream for most of us. The perfect life. Everyone will warn you that it’s a lot of hard work (a lot!), and that you won’t earn a lot, but the lifestyle itself is enough to pay for that.
We’ve put together a list of 11 steps you need to take if you want to start your own successful horse riding business.
Start by teaching freelance.
If you have the skills to teaching others to ride, start by offering to visit people that have their own horses. There’s still a market here, and giving lessons won’t cost the large overheads that a full-blown horse riding business will.
It’s the perfect way to test the waters – you can travel around a little, visit new places, meet new people, and get a sense for how the role suits you.
Get ready for muck and hard work.
If you own a horse, you know what it takes anyway. But teaching riding lessons will often account for less than half of your time. The rest will be the regular effort of keeping things clean, tidy and your horses healthy.
If you’re the kind of person who looks on the bright side of things, you might be able to think of it as part of why you love horses. You really have to earn it – and when you finish a day of work & riding, the tiredness you feel will be a good tiredness.
I hope you’re still with me, because now we can take the next steps to growing into a full riding business.
Do you have enough school horses?
Your biggest assets will be your school horses. You need to have enough to teach clients without tiring your horses out. You’ll also need horses that are relatively easy to ride and are well trained. If you have a few horses, you can compensate for weaknesses in one by teaching to natural strengths in another.
As an estimate, 20 students a week can usually be covered by 3 school horses.
Teaching, training & trail riding.
When it comes to the time you spend with your horses, you need to do more than just teach with them.
You’ll also need to train them when you can, so they’re easy to work with and become better for skilled riders. You’ll also need to go trail-riding occasionally to keep them stimulated, interested and happy.
The good news is that being told you have to spend a lot of time with your horses is probably the best thing you could possibly be told. Spend more time riding! It’s important!
Take care of your tack.
A lot of people will be using tack that you own, so you need to make sure that it’s kept in good condition. Spend the time it takes to teach your students to be respectful of tack and other equipment; it’s a habit that will serve them well.
Offer free introductory riding lessons.
When I was young, I used to go to a tennis store that had courts out the back where you could test a new racket. I loved the place and we went there again and again.
Offering free lessons is a great way to let your clients fall in love with your business. I can’t imagine how much I would have loved this as a kid. This will get people through the door. They’ll get a sense of you as a teacher, they’ll see your facilities, and you’ll get to introduce yourself.
Put out local ads.
Start with fliers on community noticeboards. Because these are so local, you’ll have success without having to spend too much.
If you want to expand your marketing, consider making something useful like a calendar that people are likely to keep around.
As with any business, a lot of your success will come down to your efficiency. Establish systems and habits so you know what you have to be doing at what point. Make sure your students know, too. Good systems make the difference between being a hobbyist and being professional.
Hire working students.
One great option to help with your business is to hire a working student. This is someone who helps out with maintenance of your barn and your horse work in exchange for lessons.
Working students are beneficial for both parties, and even though they don’t generate income, they make your work easier and might lead to referrals.
No business, especially not a horse business, should expect to blow up immediately. You should try to start small and gradually get bigger and busier. A steady stream of clients is the best way to do this.
Focus on doing everything as well as you can. Pay attention to detail and make sure that your clients enjoy working with you. This will lead to reliable growth. 4
THE GOLDEN RULE: Activity breeds activity.
The best way to keep busy is to keep being busy. The more you get involved with, the more people you meet, the likelier it is that business will come to you.
Offer to be part of local events. Find a way to participate in markets, parades, special gatherings. Meet people and share with them what you do and where you want to end up. Getting things happening is the best way to get your business into a nice trot.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED
- Good, friendly school horses (preferably at least 2, but 1 can work to start).
- Your own horse.
- Tack + Helmets.
- A fenced arena.
- A bookkeeping system
If you’re unsure about whether a horse business is right for you, go through these questions:
- Are you a skilful enough rider to teach others?
- Do you have the space and the horses?
- Is your target market large enough? Is there demand?
If you’re looking at building horse facilities, download a brochure to see what Central Steel Build has done for other horse owners in the past.