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Cheaper to board or to keep horses at home?

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  • #21
    It depends on whether you buy a place that has the fencing and barns already or build them yourself.

    I board at a co-op barn that's 5 minutes from my house. To me, that's ideal. They have all the land and maintain the buildings .
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


    • #22
      We have a nice setup for the right horse.

      House came with a barn and fencing (that needed some repair). It's not a huge property with a lot of grass so we pay for hay year round (round bales help). I can get a HUGE grass round bale for $65. For my horse, who is fat fat fat fat (did I mention fat?) that's $780 a year. He gets no grain (though I'm looking at ration balancers for him). He uses his stall like a run-in shed but doesn't prefer it, so so far, it takes like 3 minutes to tidy up the hay mess in there and clean out the few poops that make it in on his feet. Shavings are going to be cheap.

      What I don't have is a ring, and so I'm currently trying to figure that situation out. Maybe we'll build one, but the way the property is situated, it would be difficult to get equipment back to maintain it. Although, he's half-draft...maybe I'll just teach him to pull a drag!

      Anyway - compared to $350 a month for boarding here, $65 is a pretty good deal. Sure, there's some labor (I have to carry water to him in the winter as we don't have water in the barn), but it takes me minutes. I put no-climb up myself for the goats (that aren't here anymore), on pre-existing posts, which wasn't a huge expense. It held up through the goats okay, so we'll see what he does with it. So far, so good.


      • #23
        I was boarding three horses before I bought my own place. So it's cheaper to have them at home, as long as you don't factor in how much it cost me to build a barn, do the fencing, buy the tractor, etc. I try not to think about those things and concentrate on the fact I spend less each month.

        I do love having them home, though. That view out my kitchen window is the greatest.


        • #24
          We bought our property about 3 years ago with no barn. My father is a carpeter so he built my barn for the cost of materials, it saved us major $$$.
          The biggest problem is that I currently only have two oversized stalls & I have three horses . Luckly we made the barn isle extra wide so we can put a few more stalls in. I love having my guys home & have several friends in the neighborhood who meet up for trailrides & BBQs. I'm also very lucky to be a five minute hack away from 2 indoors & 10 minutes trailer ride to the main show grounds. I think for feed & shavings I keep all three for less than 450 a month, where here I couldn't board one horse for that.
          Truthly, I find the barn chores aren't all that time consuming maybe 30 to 45min at most.

          As far as going on those vacations & long weekends we solved that by putting in a basement apartment. We have the best renters who are also horse people & I just discount their rent whenever we want a vacation.


          • #25
            It is alot cheaper to keep my horses at home I don't calculate the cost of keeping them home including my farm purchase price, barn or fencing because I will get that money back if I ever sell. Those things only make my property more value. I like to look at it like the difference between renting a home or owning a home..........I would much rather contribute towards my own mortgage rather than pay someone elses
            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
            RIP San Lena Peppy
            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


            • #26
              It also depends on if your horses are easy keepers or not. I have 2 on about 4 acres. Mow and fertilize once a year. 6 months worth of hay at $4/bale. No grain to speak of. Takes me 5 minutes to feed in the a.m. and about 1/2 hour of mucking and feeding at night. A little time dumping muck buckets and dropping hay from the loft on weekends, but that's about it. We don't do blankets. The only place I could board that offers adequate turn out would cost $550/month. Multiply that by 2 and it's more than my house payment including taxes and insurance!

              I also don't agonize about when they get fed. My horses know the days of the week. If it's the weekend, breakfast is going to be late! Dinner isn't always at the same time either. They don't seem to be bothered by it.


              • #27
                As others have said, it's very satisfying if you like doing the chores because you'll find that maintaining the property takes more time and effort. If you are handy, like manual labor and being outdoors, then you'll be happy that you made that choice. It definitely is a lifestyle decision.

                One thing to consider is the social aspect of horse ownership. Do you do anything with your horses of are they more or less retired? Do you need a ring? One of the pluses of boarding are the amenities a barn offers. Do you want to work with a trainer? Hauling in can get time consuming and expensive. I've always liked having some people around myself which is why I have boarders and teach lessons, but that's not an option on small acreage. It's something you should consider.

                Finally, since you are building now, take this opportunity to build the farm so it minimizes your labor. Really think about how you can make the work flow as easy and convenient for you as possible. You may want to visit other small farms to see what they have done, but do consider automatic waterers in the pastures, gates that are well place for traffic flow and wide enough for a tractor to go through, composting your manure, and setting up pasture rotation. Anything you can do to simplify and expedite your labor will be a real benefit.
                Last edited by IronwoodFarm; Nov. 28, 2012, 07:01 AM.
                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                • #28
                  I'm positive I save a lot by having mine at home. First of all, I don't even know where the nearest boarding facility IS to me... probably over a half hour away (there is one about 25 minutes away but they do 24/7 stalls - no turnout so that's a dealbreaker for me). That would mean A LOT of gas driving back and forth to the barn, unless I only did that once a week and then what's the point?

                  My DD has to keep records for Pony Club so we know exactly what goes into these beasts. Minus showing, which I don't do, each horse averages to around $1500 a year to keep. That's trims, vet, hay, ration balancer, misc things like shampoo and quick braid, worming, etc. A lot of that isn't normally included in board so let's say $1000 a year. Even if I start calculating the tiny amound of diesel it takes to mow/harrow the pasture or ring every once in a while, there's no way I could board for those prices.

                  Granted, without the horses I wouldn't have a barn, fences, or my redneck riding ring (it's not so bad, really, but I like to call it that.) The jumps my daughter uses we built ourselves for fairly cheap. As far as how much we had to "put in" to make the property horse-worthy I'd say it probably came to about $8-10K and I might be overestimating. Like another poster mentioned, it's quite possible that I get that back out if/when we sell. The tractor we had BEFORE we had horses, so I don't count that. I don't feel like I spend all that much in maintenance costs at all. This year I had to buy a new bag of clips for the electric fence ($13?) and I just got my order for 72 mousetraps from Amazon, d*#m mice are taking over my barn but NO MORE. For some folks, maybe mowing and repairing fences is not their cup of tea but I don't mind it at all. In fact I consider mowing to be a rather nice activity perhaps because I only have 6 acres in pasture I like being outside, and honestly even if it DID cost a little more to have them at home I would still have them at home. But that's me... and I know other people are happier boarding. You have to weigh the pros and cons.

                  As for "time is money", well yes, but if I don't have the money at least I have the time. There's a lot of things we do around here that we could pay someone else to do, but we do ourselves to save money, not just with the horses... mowing, putting in a sidewalk, re-roofing, plumbing, we just re-did a whole bathroom with no outside help, etc. That money can go to hire the pet-sitter we need when we go away on vacation!!!


                  • #29
                    Since I have them at home, I don't feel bad when they just sit out in the pasture and don't do much for awhile...I'm not paying board so I don't mind taking time off and having them just hang out. I've already bought hay, paid for the fencing and shelter so monthly expenses are low. I did calculate how much it would have cost to board 3 horses for the past three years and added up property improvement expenses and hay. Having them at home is cheaper. It depends on how many improvements you need to make on your property.


                    • #30
                      If you compare things fair and square, it is cheaper to board. If you put zero value on your own time, or magically don't count the cost of the land and buildings that your horses occupy, and ignore the wide variety of other incidental expenses then yes, keeping your horses at home is going to appear cheaper. I'm not saying don't do it, just pointing out that you shouldn't expect it to be a big money-saver.


                      • #31
                        How high are your expectations?

                        My three live outside on what is now called a Paddock Paradise. Not enough land for real grass, they get round bales and occasionally twice daily squares fed out if we want to ease some weight off their carcasses and go easy on the rounds. We also borrow a field from a neighbor in the summer. I can move all three with our Kawasaki Mule in one trip. You could say they pony well.

                        Our fencing is high tensile on the perimeter with a hot wire on the inside. Fences between them and the barn is coated high tensile for more safety. Easy and reasonable to install, everyone gets along, and the coated HT is safer than plain.

                        I have four stalls that are very rarely used, only in windy and rainy and cold times. Cold and dry? Out. Wet and warm? Out. Rainy and windy but warm? Out.

                        Zero morning chores except an eyeball. Afternoons they get their meager parcel of grain and anything else they need.

                        I have a small home arena (66X125') with lights. That is wonderful on short days with warmish nights. Home built, funny looking but safe barn, probably have less than 10K total in a four stall barn with 10' hall, loft, and 12X20 poured pad for hay and an outdoor washrack. It's no showplace, not at all, but it's safe and it works.

                        If that all sounds entirely too hands off, too homemade, too DIY, then I don't know- you can spend as much, or as little, as you wish.


                        • #32
                          Each to their own & everyone has their own opinion. However.....

                          Yes, land cost $$, building a barn if none exist cost $$ & your time cost $$. However, if you want your horse(s) treated in a certain way & want to be a less than a minute away from you, totally worth it. Don't forget you are adding to your own property equity if you add barn, fence, arena, etc... As far as my insurance it isn't much to keep them here & that is with a multi-million $$ umbrella policy, just in case.
                          My biggest fear was bring them home & having them go hours without anyone seeing them. However, you are amazed how wonderful neighbors can be & how often they pay attention. I was extremely worried about bring home my mare & foal for the first time but my neighbors & my renters see everything. In fact my horses have way more eyes on them than they ever had at the boarding facility. Not everyone can handle keeping their horses at home but I can't imagine sending my guys to a boarding facility.
                          It really has been a lot cheaper, I just buy feed & shavings in bulk, which pays off huge!!


                          • #33
                            OK, I'm still not getting how people are saying you have to count your time in this equation. When I do the work myself, I'm not paying myself. It costs me nothing to go pick up a paddock and throw hay in the feeders. Yes, my time is worth something, but it's not a monetary worth when no one is paying me.

                            If you're working off board somewhere, I see how you can assign $ to your time. I don't see it in this case, other than in a discussion about if you are willing to spend that time on your horses or not.


                            • #34
                              Keeping mine at home (2 horses) normally costs about 2/3 or 3/4 of what it cost me to board ONE of them where I had them before bringing them home, and that was lower end $ for this area, mainly because it didn't have a n indoor.
                              This year, thanks to getting lucky with some really nice, inexpensive hay, their combined monthly cost for feed, hay, bedding is about 1/3 of the former cost of boarding one.
                              Electricity doesn't cost much (few dollars a month, except for months I need the tank heater, then its more), water is free (well), I use inexpensive fence (electric, kept hot with a solar charger from a yard sale lol), horses are out 24/7 with full access to shelter, so don't use a lot of bedding, the barn cost a bit, but it is a 3 stall with overhang, nothing fancy.
                              And I now feed far more expensive/better quality feed than they were getting boarded,


                              • #35
                                I think it is more expensive keeping them at home all things considered, and that really is all things considered. We had fencing when we moved in, but...it was old and we have spent DAYS doing fencing work,hard, hard, hard. We built a pole barn, the kit was aout 3k and then there was our labor.

                                And then there is hay. We have to buy it in one shot in the summer, stack it and so on. A big cash outlay and of course, refine the hay assessment skills as a lot of hay out there is crap.

                                And there is the scheduling of vets and farriers, and the potential time off work (I made my own schedule and my farrier certainly can do the job without me there but it is a consideration).

                                Of course I would not keep them anywhere else unless a dire emergency,but, it is a lifestyle, no question. We have buckets of hay cubes and tubes of bute and fly masks to be stitched around the house, so I don't think we'll make the Home and Gardens tour!!!


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by saddleup View Post
                                  I was boarding three horses before I bought my own place. So it's cheaper to have them at home, as long as you don't factor in how much it cost me to build a barn, do the fencing, buy the tractor, etc. I try not to think about those things and concentrate on the fact I spend less each month.

                                  I do love having them home, though. That view out my kitchen window is the greatest.
                                  This! The monthly cost is cheaper, if you don't factor the cost of the property and tractor into the mix. But, obviously if you already have the property, then it doesn't matter whether you board or keep them at home - you already have the mortgage (or have incurred that expense).

                                  I have 4 acres and 4 horses - two full-sized and two "babies" (a mini and a small Cushings pony). They can go out on the pasture right now but come spring will be on the dry lot. The addition of another horse here or there (haha) is for the most part only an additional expense in vet & farrier....a few extra flakes a day doesn't really change my overall expenses very much like it would if I boarded each one.


                                  • #37
                                    When boarding is 45 min away, and having them at home is 30 seconds away, and chores take 30 min, the cost of my time still weighs in my favor.


                                    • #38
                                      Boarding out one horse to ride is probably cheaper if you wouldn't otherwise own the farm. But I would not trade having my horses at home for anything. I had some horrible, horrible experiences at boarding barns and to me, it's just not worth the stress of worrying if my horse had food, water, a safe paddock, etc. There's no dollar sign on peace of mind!!
                                      Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                                      • #39
                                        Remember this line from "Oklahoma?":

                                        We know we belong to the land
                                        But the land we belong to is grand!

                                        When you move your horses to your house you are bound to the land. You no longer have vacations, days off, "spur of the moment trips," etc. Even the most conservative of religious folks (who hold the Sabbath to be of high value) permit husbandrymen to perform needed tasks for their animals.

                                        That's the first consideration.

                                        But your question is about cost differential. For this you must get out your old friends, the Ms. Yellow Pad and Mr. Pencil.

                                        First, list your costs for keeping horses at home. These will include direct costs like feed, forage, bedding, etc. Then add vet. costs and farrier costs, which will include your time. If you work outside the home calculate the wages you will lose waiting for these (and perhaps other) professionals. Enter, too, a factor for "unplanned professional services." If you're lucky enough to be able to hire someone to do these tasks for you then substitute as required.

                                        Facilities for horse keeping cost money. Calculate your cost to build, then depreciate that cost over time. Add in utility costs. Facilities cost money in wear and tear (horses can really tear stuff up when they feel like it). Add your factor for that.

                                        Fencing costs money to put up and to maintain and periodically replace. Calculate your costs for that. Don't forget to include labor and machine costs.

                                        Pasture maintenance is next. First, figure you what equipment you'll need (if any) and then annualize its costs for fuel, maintenance, repair, depreciation, etc.

                                        How much did you spend for the land to keep the horses upon? That's a big initial outlay but it might generate some appreciation that will, at sale, offset some expenses. But maybe when you need to sell when real estate bubble will just have burst and you'll take a loss. So this is likely a net zero.

                                        What is not a zero is the mortgage interest you're paying. Neither will taxes on the land be a zero. These go in, too.

                                        Does the local "alphabet soup" have any peculiar rules and regulations you need to comply with? Add those costs in as well.

                                        Now do the math. What's your cost per annum?

                                        Now do the same for boarding. Enter fees, travel, vet., farrier, etc.

                                        Now compare the numbers.

                                        Then consider costs and loss of "flexibility" in your life and make your choice.

                                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                        • #40
                                          I have 5 at home- it costs me less to feed all 5 at home than it would cost me to board 1 in my area. My guys are out 24/7, they have a round bale that gets put out every 9 days (takes about 15 mins)and they get fed their token grain together out in the field so that they get looked over 2x's a day (5 mins AM and PM, unless I change blankets then 15 mins).
                                          "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                                          So you might as well have a good time"