Spring is here, and with the increasingly warmer weather upon us, it’s the perfect time of year for horse enthusiasts to be thinking about how they plan to get their riding fix this summer.
If you’re new to the thought of horse ownership and aren’t quite sure if it’s something that’s right for you, there are some important points to consider before taking the plunge. There are surely great rewards in owning a horse, but it’s not for everyone.
A big factor to think about is your budget for horse ownership. Can you afford to pay for what your horse will need? Here is a basic list of costs that you will likely incur:
- Board or Pasturing: Where will your horse be housed? If you plan to keep your horse on your own property, costs will be lower but still not free. You will have upkeep of your barn, fence, shelters, etc to think about. For owners planning to pay for a stall or pasture at a local barn, boarding costs can run anywhere from $200 (that’s on the low end) to $800 a month for general horsekeeping. Stables with extra service offerings, such as show barns, may run even higher.
- Hay: If you’re in an area where hay is plentiful and easy to access, this expense will probably be fairly reasonable (especially if you have land with good grass). However, if you’re located in a place where droughts are common and hay demand is high, you might have to factor in travel to find good hay. If you don’t own a truck/trailer, this could mean an extra charge for delivery as well.
- Lessons and/or training: Not all horses will require training. In fact, if you’re a first time horse owner, it’s best not to purchase a green (untrained) horse. However, if you want to train your horse a new discipline that requires an outside professional, this will be an added expense. And what about you, will you need lessons? Factor this into your monthly budget if so. Group riding lessons are usually cheaper, whereas one on one coaching will likely cost a bit more.
- Fence/Shelter: This expense will need to be considered if you plan to keep your horse on your own property. Which type of fence do you want? What will be safest for the horse? (Tip: We suggest avoiding barbed wire.) If your horse is turned out 24/7 with no barn access, you will also need to think about shelter for your horse during bad weather.
- Tack & Grooming: Most items in this category (bridle, saddle, brushes, etc.) will be a one-time purchase or at the least shouldn’t require frequent replacing. But, if you’re anything like the average horse owner, you’ll probably want to buy everything you see when you visit your local tack shop. Start with the necessities, and expect that you’ll likely be spending more than your initial investment along the way.
- Grain & Supplements: Horses should be dewormed every 2-3 months or so. Factor in any additional supplements you may need for the horse’s well being (hoof, joint, etc.). Consult your vet what they recommend when in doubt. This will likely depend on your individual horse’s needs.
- Vaccinations, Dentistry, Vet Care: Be preventative and vaccinate your horse as recommended by your vet. If your vet does not offer dentistry services, you will also need to locate an equine dentist to regularly float your horses teeth (this is typically an annual or bi-annual service, depending on your horse). Don’t forget that emergencies do happen from time to time, and vet bills can quickly add up if your horse needs emergency care.
- Apparel for YOU: Riding boots, jeans, gloves, a helmet – all a necessity for comfort in the saddle! Oh, and rubber boots are a must-have for giving your horse a bath or mucking out stalls!
- Travel & Showing: Are you a trail rider? Do you plan to show your horse or attend clinics? Factor in a horse trailer and any expenses that may be incurred at live events where you intend to ride.
All in all, most horse owners would say that while it’s expensive, they feel the investment in their horse(s) is worth every bit. Many horse owners cut corners in other areas of their lifestyles to afford to pursue their passion. If you’re still not sure if it’s the right choice for you, considering leasing a horse to get your feet wet. This will allow you the experience of ownership without the full commitment, and is a great way to help you determine if buying a horse is a good move for you. And remember, costs will vary by location, so check around for a more accurate estimate to determine your costs.
Mandee created Horse Family™ in January of 2010. She resides in upstate New York with her APHA mare, Lark, and enjoys business leadership and entrepreneurship. She additionally owns ChargedUp Media, a social media marketing company with special interest in marketing for the horse industry. Join Mandee every Monday night for #HorseChat on Twitter!