Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How Expensive Are Horses Anyway?

 "How expensive are horses, anyway."  When people find out we have two horses, this is one of the first questions I generally hear.  Honestly, the answer depends on quite a lot of different factors.  I can only answer based on what our horses cost with our situation, which is keeping 2 horses on our own property and caring for them ourselves. 

Start up costs:

We live on 9.5 acres that includes 3 acres of fenced area with a small 3 stall open barn and tack room, which we had to build on the property.  Prices will vary greatly depending on your area.  There are also all those additional things that you need when you have a horse, including, but not limited to:

lead lines
saddle and saddle pads
water trough
blankets and sheets
first aid kit

The initial expenses of preparing can be quite high, but we purchased much of what we needed through Craigslist or tack swaps in our area.  Given that we have all the basic necessities, here are the costs of what we pay to keep our horses:


Our horses are mostly yard ornaments and are not worked hard, so we give them approximately 15,000 calories per day.  Those calories come from:

-Pasture: We seed twice per year and the seed costs are about $100.00 each, so this averages to $16.00 per month.

- Hay: 75 bales of hay will last the winter, November through March, and in the late spring we buy the bales for approximately $5.50 each.  We give each horse about 10-15 pounds per day of orchard grass mix, which has about 800 calories per pound for a total of 8000-12000 calories.  This averages out to about $35.00 per month

-Grain: In the winter we feed about 6 pounds of feed per day and in the summer about 2.5 pounds.  Each pound has about 1100 calories for a total of about 3000-6000 calories per day.  At $15.00 per bag, and an average of 4 bags per month, this equals about $60.00 per month

-Treats: To be honest, our dog Fritz eats most of the horse treats, but we buy about a bag a month for $6.00.


Preventative Healthcare:

Farrier Service: 
Our farrier comes every 6 weeks for a trim (no shoes) and costs $70.00 per visit so this averages out to $50.00 per month

If there is no emergency visit, the vet only needs to come once per year to check health, teeth, pull blood for a Coggins test, etc.  (One of the horses was ill last spring so the vet bill was quite a big higher.)  The normal yearly visit is about $200.00, so the average is $17.00 per month

I deworm 4 times per year using various products.  The cost of the 8 doses of wormer for the two horses ranges from $4-$20 each.  I'm estimating a total of $100 per year, so $9.00 per month.

I vaccinate the horses myself once per year, and the cost is about $80.00, so $7.00 per month

Fly spray:
I buy concentrate and mix it to help save money.  Fly spray is a seasonal necessity, and a full summer will use up about 2 large concentrate containers that cost $35.00 each.  This averages to $6.00 per month

And the Total Is:

The total cost of these expenses comes to $235.00 for our two horses, or $117.50 each.  This does not take into consideration the time and effort that is necessary for keeping horses, but to me this is a hobby and the time spent is not work, but play! 

Additional Expenses:

Keep in mind that additional veterinary and farrier expenses can and do occur!  If you are boarding your horses, not only do you have these expenses but the costs of renting the property and stall as well as the cost of paying someone to feed, blanket, clean hooves, etc. which can be quite high. 

There are also the costs associated with lessons and trainers if you are new or need refreshers.  If you plan to participate in horse shows there are additional costs of show clothes, show tack, travel expenses, show fees, etc.

So you see, the cost of owning a horse can be fairly reasonable, or it can be quite high depending on your individual circumstances!  Do your homework and talk to other horse enthusiasts in your area for more information before making the commitment.  You may even want to look into leasing or half-leasing initially while you learn! Happy trails!

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