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High Grain Prices Hit Horse Industry
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Owning a horse isn't cheap. But rising fuel prices are driving up the costs even further.

Feed store prices are up - photo by Marie KuhnThe town of Killingworth is known as horse country.  Surprisingly, Connecticut has more horses per person mile than any other state.

So, it's a good place for Terry Reilly to do business, until now.

Reilly owns the Killingworth Feed Store on Route 81.

A sign next to her cash register tells customers that rising fuel costs are behind price hikes at her store.

"You can't cut back on the grain, you can't cut back on the bedding, you don't cut back on your work. Everything costs more, just everything. Even a lot of the farms have to have the manure trucked out, and the cost of that has gone through the roof."

Reilly says rising fuel prices have impacted everything from the cost of seeding to harvesting corn and hay.

"Hay, I was paying about five sixty a bail, and selling it for $7.50, and then one week I checked my pricing, I was checking it every week, and it went to $7.54. I feel for the horse people, so I'm only making a dollar on a bail of hay."

She says many of her customers have been forced to look for new places to board their horses, because boarders have to raise their prices to keep up with the cost of feed.

Horse owner Susan Flynn - photo by Marie KuhnIt's a hard reality for horse owner Susan Flynn.

Her farm, Credence Edge, is tucked away inside the Killingworth Forest.

"I get up in the morning and I feed horses, and I carry out waters and I put out hay, and I lead out the horses, and then I take care of six stalls and the horses get hay again at lunch, they get hay again late afternoon, and they come in at dark and they get fed again, and they get hay again at about nine at night."

In the last six months, Flynn has seen grain prices rise aong with the cost of hay despite the fact that bails are getting smaller. Her farm can board up to seven horses at a cost of $430 a month. But she's had to adjust what she charges customer to get the job done. Last week, for the first time, she raised prices by five dollars.

Feed store prices are up - photo by Marie Kuhn"The shavings, the grain, the hay, have all gone up and my electric bill also went up, so the cost of things has definitely, definitely affected this industry."

Flynn says she hasn't lost any clients because of higher costs, but she's also not in it for the money. She also runs a Real Estate company to help her pay the bills.

And like the real estate Industry, observers see a volatile year for grain prices. The manager of a local grain co-op told us the best he can hope for is that prices will end up this time next year.