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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008

    Default What's the biggest vet bill you've ever had?

    I don't mean this to be prying into how much people spend on horses, so feel free to reply in roundabout ways if you don't feel comfortable talking about money.

    But I was chatting with a friend the other day and she was rolling her eyes about a free horse she took on years ago, who is now referred to as the "million dollar horse". Now she was exaggerating for humorous effect, but it made me think about vet bills. I have been lucky to only have minor ailments to pay for (though they add up over time!) but I wondered:

    1) what's the most you (or someone you know) has spent in vet bills on a specific horse for a specific acute injury or illness (not a chronic condition, but a specific accident or surgery, for example)?

    2) what's the most you (or someone you know) has spent in treatment for a specific horse with a long term chronic condition, over the whole span of time that you owned the horse and he had the condition?

    ETA: for those of you with medical insurance on your horse(s), do you think it's worth it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep. 15, 2003
    Way up north in Lobsta Country


    Fatal case of colic with my elderly Arabian. The vet worked on him from 4 A.M to 4 P.M.-12 hours- $2200.00. First time he had ever been sick. They tried really hard to save him...
    the NOT!! Spoiled!! Arabian Protectavest poster pony lives on in my heart

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 6, 2009
    The Left Coast


    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    I was chatting with a friend the other day and she was rolling her eyes about a free horse she took on years ago

    That's almost as funny as "investment horse."

    My worst vet bill was over $700. I had my horse for sale, and the new sale barn said he needed his hocks done, so I had the vet out. As soon as they could lunge him, he tore a flap of skin off his pastern with a loose shoe, so he needed stitches and follow up.

    Both procedures came to over $700. I had the horse in full training while he was laid up, and to justify the cost, I rode a lesson horse twice a week. They ended up only riding my horse twice in three months. He didn't sell. I gave him away about two years later.

    Yes, he became a free horse.
    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

    A helmet saved my life.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 4, 2006
    VA (or MS during the school year)


    I can't answer for other people who I know with horses... I know several people who have spent several thousand dollars on bills for their horses...

    Unfortunately that's not an option for my family, but I've been incredibly lucky with no really high vet bills. Seriously. A routine visit for my dogs cost more each time than anything for the horse.

    I've had Milo for almost 4 years and the highest vet bill he's had was less than $400.

    I had another horse, Addie, who I owned for 4 months... she was meant to be a resale project (we got her for next to nothing). She came down with Guttural Pouch Mycosis, and the total bill for that was over $3000.
    This included having 2 vets out on an emergency basis (who both misdiagnosed her), doxy (which wasn't needed), entrance to the Equine Medical Center, followed by an exam, sedation, and finally euthanasia. They did the necropsy free of charge because GPM is such an uncommon thing and they wanted to use it as a teaching experience for their vet students.
    Last edited by Milocalwinnings; Jul. 29, 2009 at 07:29 PM.
    "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006


    Oh hell...somewhere around 5k and it was 1995. I was in HS and working part time. It sucked. But I paid it off.

    Next best? The 7k I spent last year on my dog.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 14, 2003
    Fifth Grade Land!!! USA


    Lets not even go there!!!! I did everything possible to save my Hano, including Tildren at 1200!!!) which was not covered by insurance. I would guess that I am in about 3500 at this point , including euthanasia-- possibly more. It hurt too much to even think about adding it up.
    Member-Arab Dressage Riders Clique
    RIP Barichello

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 8, 2009
    Bedford, New York


    I have had bad medical luck with both my previous horses. The medical insurance was well worth it in both those cases. One horse's vet bills were about 10,000 when all was said and done (and retired). His yearly insurance cost me a little over 800 dollars.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2006
    The not-so-frozen North


    Our worst was just over $6000. My pony broke his leg cavorting in the pasture, it needed surgery and about a million pins and a couple weeks in the vet hospital. Happily, he healed up 100% and only has a small scar to remind us of his procedure. He doesn't even limp on it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep. 19, 2005
    Southern Maryland


    My hanoverian mare was just released from the Equine Medical Center for a possible case of PHF. I have had her 3 weeks!!!! The bill was almost 3K, and that was because I begged them to let her come home and let my vet finish that bill is still adding up. She never had a fever the entire time she was there, she had one 2 hours before at home, and given she was responding well..........
    Mare Slave.........

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 2000


    Well, let's see ... there was the $17,000 for colic surgery and 12 days at the hospital, which was on top of the $3,000+ for Marquis to treat EPM. Good thing I like this mare ...

    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 18, 2007
    Heaven on Earth--Sonoma County, CA


    Wow, you guys are pikers.

    Biggest single incident was $6700 for an unsuccesful colic surgery, if the horse wasn't insured we never would have even gotten on the trailer. Horse didn't survive, but it wasn't financially ruinous.

    When I had two elite-level event horses competing, their vet bills ran me about $15,000 for the year. One was about $3,000--things like joint injections, Legend and Adequen, and the ohmygoditstwoweeksbeforethecciandhelooksfunny appointments, and the other was the remaining. He often just looked a bit funny, and I got talked in to all sorts of nonsense, including shockwave and tildren. None of it helped. So I gave up and turned him out for three months. That cured him. Guess why that's the last year I ever spent anything close to that on vet bills?

    The vet gets one shot more or less to diagnose and solve, then they get tincture of time. Much cheaper and still the best cure around.

    I have insurance on everything I can afford. I simply couldn't provide care as needed if I didn't.

    Oh, and by the way when I've worked in the barns of horses competing at the top levels, I can tell you that low to mid five figure vet bills per year are AVERAGE. I often think that's something that doesn't get mentioned much when discussing costs of elite horse ownership when people are looking for mounts or sponsors. Even at the top level, buying the horse is the cheapest part. I know big barns that send their elite horses for bone scans and full work ups at top of the line (meaning pricey) clinics once a month. Not a bad idea in terms of managing the horse, but that's probably a cool $3000 a month in vet bills--and that's only if they find nothing wrong.
    Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
    Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
    Check out my new blog:

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2004
    Left coast, left wing, left field


    I am furiously knocking wood as I say this. Though I am quite certain I cannot surpass this... literally CAN NOT whether I might want to or not. I'm not in the same financial position I was when I did this:

    Hospitalization for four days for purpura hemorrhagica, plus follow-up vet visits, for a grade horse that happens to mean the world to me: upwards of $5000.

    Having her still with me... obstinate, humorous, intelligent, crafty mare that she is? Priceless.
    Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf

    Did you know that if you say the word "GULLIBLE" really softly, it sounds like "ORANGES"?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May. 9, 2008


    $400, but I am not complaining and the year is still young . That was for an endoscopy of the sinuses and guttural pouch, full rads of Dumplin's teeny little mini brain, a farrier consult with Mike Wildenstien and coming home wearing a special little shoe. All done at Cornell...I love Cornell...worth every penny!
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2002


    I spent 1,200 on colic surgery for my cat ,and that was after the 300 worth of diagnostics.yep. he ate his fur mice ,and the little heads got lodged in his intestine and nearly ruptured it. he has ruined Fur Mice for everyone.
    Last edited by horsekpr; Jul. 29, 2009 at 07:54 PM. Reason: tpyo,I mean typo

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2004


    The Pupster's heart infection this winter cost over $8,500. Worth every penny.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul. 25, 2003
    Boston Area


    Last year I spent $5K trying to save my Trakehner. More than $3K was for the 12 hours he was at Tufts (before he died). Of course, the did a lot in those 12 hours. I was relieved that the necropsy was done for free.

    My horse was not insured. I'd owned him for 12 years and I insured him for the first 5 or 6. Other than having his hocks done ($700) and a puncture wound that got infected ($400), he was healthy so self-insuring was a good idea for him.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2005


    My horse had a sinus infection. When it was all said and done, it was over $1200. Stupid antibiotic resistant bacteria! This included multiple vet visits, various medications, a tube stapled in to flush it out, quite a few tests, and a "vacation" at the vets to get medicated every 6 hours. I lived, worked, and attended school about an hour away; there was no way I could drive back and forth four times a day for 5-7 days to medicate him! (Thankfully, it probably cost me less to keep him at the vets than it would have buying gas to drive back and forth.)
    ***Honorary Member of the "What is BOSS?"***
    ***Prominent Member of the 'Irrelevent Posters Clique'***
    CrayolaPosse ~ Bluegreen

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2009


    *knocks on wood* I have been insanely lucky. The worse vet bill I have had was $350 for stitches, flush, checkup, sedation. Does it count I have had this SAME vet bill 5 times in the three years I have owned this horse? Thankfully the Barn owner's OTTB is as clumsy as mine is in the field so when we call the vet office for an emergency visit to the farm the reception asks "Is it Bosco or Dew?"

    As an aside the pastures are NOT dangerous. All T-posts have caps which are inside split fencing with a back of the pastures an old stone wall. There are no trees in the pasture but plenty just beyond the stone wall so the entire back of the pasture is shaded all day. All smooth grass on a slight hill. We don't get it... but between those two horses (who are not pastured together) both my barn owner and I have begun to think they do it on purpose.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2005
    Rising Sun, MD


    $1300 when my TB had a reaction to the strangles vaccine. Although he remained at home, he was under the vet's care for nearly 2 weeks. Lot's of tests, bloodwork, scope of the nasal passages, belly tap. I could have hugged him when he only charged me for the lab works and meds, donating his time because he felt that the vaccine was the cause of the problem.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep. 22, 2007


    Around $8000 on a modestly bred foal with failure of passive transfer, then rhodococcus. (sorry for the spelling, I am too lazy to look it up). Azithromycin and Rifampin, omeprazole plus 2 x plasma.... Spent thousands more breaking and training her before selling her unraced for around $500. Never again will I pour money into a future pasture puff. If it was an older horse, I couldn't stop, but not a foal. I had no idea what I was in for at the beginning as I wasn't the one to okay the initial treatment (I was in hospital myself). It became a case of throwing good money after bad. I was taught early that time or a change of occupation is better than a lot of the stuff we try.

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