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Cheaper to board or to keep horses at home?

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  • #81
    I spend $83 per horse per month to feed my horses, now during the summer when I'm not feeding hay that number is reduced by $7. Of course that does not include farrier or vet which you pay separate for when you board so yes the dollar numbers are less. I have a wonderful neighbor that feeds for me when I go out of town if my DH goes with me. If it's just me then DH feeds and the neighbor is around if he needs any help. When I only had 3 horses I would load them up and take them to a boarding facility when I went on vacation and that worked really well until there were more horses than trailer space. I don't mind feeding in the morning as that is the nicest way I can think of starting my day and then after work I head to the barn for evening feed and chores and that is again the nicest way to un-wind for the work day. Of course when I bought the farm my riding really decreased as there is alwasy something that needs to be done...but I was about ready to put a hault on that anyway. Now I breed and raise a couple of foals and get them ready to race. (yep, I went from hunter to eventer to dressage to owner/breeder).


    • #82
      Originally posted by fatappy View Post
      PS - Crone - you crack me up. Love your blog!
      Aw, shucks. Thanks.
      Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


      • #83
        I did not buy anything "extra" that was horsie, except for the fencing. The rest we would have needed whether they were at home or not, or whether they were used for horses or not.

        Things we already needed/had:
        - Truck
        - Trailer
        - Small john deere

        Now, granted, we're only on 4 acres. Hubby and I wanted land for both horses, and for him to be able to work on cars, and a place for our future kids to run around. So the land was dual-purpose. And I knew we could never afford a mortgage on even a "regular" house + board on a horse.

        We sacrificed on a fancy new house, for a beautiful, old stone farmhouse that needs constant work. I'm happy with the choice, for the most part!

        I would never be able to provide myself with a horse, my daughter with a horse, and have a spare, if I had to board. It would have been either me or her.

        Three is my manageable, not really sacrificing much, number. Especially the ones we have. They all can live out, so on nice nights, or the occasional coming home late, they're fine. In the morning, they take no time to feed and turnout. and if I can't get to the stalls in the am, oh well. I can do it when I get home from work.

        There really is a threshold that will be reached, when the number at home gets to be too much for one person, and then you consider a helper, which changes the game quite a bit. If I had the insurance, I would find a boarder to work off part of their board.


        • #84
          Taxes are a huge component in Florida comparing boarding to keeping at home. A boarding facility can get an agriculture exemption and pay minimal taxes. If you have 5 - 10 acres and don't have an exemption, the property taxes can be sky-high!

          I've seen an empty ten-acre parcel with a $8,000 property tax bill! Someone put some cows on that land quickly! I think most counties in Florida like to punish people with land. They could get a lot more taxes if that acreage was split up into 30 houses.

          For my situation when I did the math I broke even at five horses with no ag exemption. I was surprised but recalculated a few times and I think the property taxes are the kicker. We'll see if Congress takes away mortgage deductions which will also have an impact.


          • #85
            FWIW, nowhere in my post did I discuss horses kept at home suffering due to a reduced standard of care. I completely agree that keeping horses outside sans blankets with a run in shed is a very healthy setup. And many horses would also be quite happy without a ring they had work in.

            The point I'm trying to make is that reduced amenities and more simplified care = cost savings. The savings have little to do with the fact that the horses are at home vs. at a boarding stable. I stand by what I said: that in almost all circumstances if you compare the same amenities and level of care, and fairly include all costs including mortgage and labor, boarding is typically cheaper. No where in my post did I imply that boarding is inherently better. The boarding vs. horses at home decision is complicated. But from a financial aspect, I think many people think that they are saving money when they aren't simply by ignoring a lot of the costs on one side of the comparison.

            Here's just one example. Multiple people have discussed how much they save by not having to drive to the barn. Sounds reasonable, right? However, in most cases horse properties are further from town and you will find yourself driving an extra 10-15 minutes or more just about every time you go anywhere--work, school, shopping, out to dinner. So you might not be driving 30 minutes to the barn, but you're still driving the same overall amount--or more. And if you have an SO or spouse, they are driving that extra distance every day too, even if they don't ride.

            For the record, I know plenty of people who keep their horses at home and do a great job taking care of them and I think it works out very nicely in many cases. I think the ultimate truth is that horses tend to be expensive no matter what. The bigger decision is how to best fit them into your lifestyle so that they are well cared for but also a source of enjoyment. If you can "afford" your horses by keeping them at home and doing everything yourself, but you never have time to ride as a result (assuming you want to ride), that's not a good value. Likewise, if you already own a property suitable for horses and you don't mind the responsibility and don't need an arena or other amenities, well, then in probably is a good value to have the horses at home.


            • #86
              Cheaper at home

              My guys have a basic, functional setup: run-in sheds and paddocks. We're on 5 acres and will probably replace much of our fence in the next few years (we put it in 12 years ago, so it's getting on...), but I spend probably around $200per month for both of them. Now, we do have a good bit of mowing in the summer and I usually get my neighbor to weedwack the fencelines, so that adds to things. But we bought our place in 2000 before real estate got stupid and have a very reasonable mortgage, so all in all, I'm very lucky.


              • #87
                Make sure you plan to minimize expenses. Not only does a run in shed mean that you won't have to run home from work to let the horses in the barn when it unexpectedly starts sleeting, but it also save on bedding because your horses can be out most of the time. Think about what you need to buy and what items are fun to have but not necessary. My neighbor decided that bringing her horses home would be too expensive. Her unrealistic plan included a big barn at the far end of her 15 acre property that required a new well, a new electric line and countless other expenses. If you are realistic and practical, having horses at home saves money.


                • #88
                  Originally posted by BeeHoney View Post
                  FWIW, nowhere in my post did I discuss horses kept at home suffering due to a reduced standard of care.
                  You didn't? That sure was the implication as many of us read it.

                  Horses can do "fine" at home? In the context of the whole post, that reads to me as "He'll do absolutely wonderfully at a full service barn, but when you bring him home, sure, he'll do fine"

                  Originally posted by BeeHoney View Post
                  Of course you are saving money, but it isn't because the horses are at home it is because the standard of care has dropped. I'm not saying that horses can't do fine in the second situation, just that it isn't comparable.

                  If moving your horses home includes a drastic change in the standard and complexity of horse care ...
                  The point I'm trying to make is that reduced amenities and more simplified care = cost savings. The savings have little to do with the fact that the horses are at home vs. at a boarding stable. I stand by what I said: that in almost all circumstances if you compare the same amenities and level of care, and fairly include all costs including mortgage and labor, boarding is typically cheaper.
                  Of course, I think everyone gets that. But it comes down to needs. If you don't NEED many of the amenities of a nice barn, why pay for them? It's not even about simplifying the care in some cases, it's about getting rid of things you don't need, want, or use. Cheaper is cheaper

                  No where in my post did I imply that boarding is inherently better. The boarding vs. horses at home decision is complicated. But from a financial aspect, I think many people think that they are saving money when they aren't simply by ignoring a lot of the costs on one side of the comparison.
                  If you're still talking about the heated wash rack and heated barn and immaculate grounds that horses aren't allowed to walk on, then of course people are ignoring those costs because they don't want/need them. So yes, it IS saving money *to keep your horse in a healthy standard of living*.

                  If someone has to go buy property to build a house and fancy barn and fancy ring with all the amenities of a fancy boarding facility to make it on a level playing ground, then no, you're highly unlikely to save money at all

                  Here's just one example. Multiple people have discussed how much they save by not having to drive to the barn. Sounds reasonable, right? However, in most cases horse properties are further from town and you will find yourself driving an extra 10-15 minutes or more just about every time you go anywhere--work, school, shopping, out to dinner. So you might not be driving 30 minutes to the barn, but you're still driving the same overall amount--or more. And if you have an SO or spouse, they are driving that extra distance every day too, even if they don't ride.
                  That has certainly been discussed as a component of savings. But remember too, several folks here said they are saving driving time (ie gas $$) by having things at home due to circumstances. But absolutely that is part of the equation
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                  • #89
                    That is an almost impossible question to answer in terms of dollars. You would have to take in to account your tax situation, mortgage, the appreciation/depreciation of land etc.. etc.. But, in terms of peace of mind, IT IS SO MUCH BETTER to have them at home.
                    Last edited by Equibrit; Dec. 2, 2012, 01:12 PM.
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._


                    • #90
                      Originally posted by spacytracy View Post
                      View from the front (where our cars go)

                      Building in the back, the basement level. Mechanic shop on left, horse area on right

                      Inside with the stalls
                      Wow That is beautiful. I would love to live there.


                      • #91
                        You probably won't know until you try it. I spend about $250 a month to feed a 26 yr old horse, that's just alfalfa hay and all stock 10% feed daily - ie: nothing special. My neighbor across the street boards horses for less than that, and the horses boarded there look pretty good. Now, of course I don't know if her boarders pay buy and feed heir own grain, but since they all look pretty good, I admire her ability to feed that many horses for less than I do. Having been in charge of my horses care for years and years, it was a horrifying and frustrating experience to have to board this one mare when I first moved to Houston. For one year, I had problems with her weight - no matter how much talking and extra feeding, she just couldn't hold her weight. I even moved her once in an attempt to get the problem fixed. Once I had her back home, the weight problem went away. For me, I love having my horse at my own place. It certainly puts restrictions on quick unplanned trips, but it's worth it to me. Even though I only have one horse now, for years I had many more. That's the one danger - having horses at home, it's easy to add more.. They seem to multiple magically, pretty soon you have more than you ever thought you would have and have no time for riding....


                        • #92
                          I think it depends. If your horses can live out in a pasture with run-in and you just like to ride in a pasture or have local trails great!! And yeah, I think you can save money. You might miss some barn camaraderie. If your horses need stalls, you like to use an arena, wash stall, jumps, whatever... then it'll be way more expensive to set yourself up at home with all that stuff than it is to just board somewhere that has the things you want to use.

                          I have a boarder who brought her horse home for two years, but after not being able to ride at all either winter (no indoor) and not being able to ride most of one entire season (it was extremely wet, no outdoor, and the fields were all muddy) she moved back in. It just didn't work out the way she thought it would even though she has over twice the amount of actual land that I do.
                          2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                          • #93
                            For those of you who moved just one horse to home, how well did your horse adjust? I have my retired horse that I would prefer to have at home but he has never been in an only horse situation. I don't really want to get two horses or a mini-donk or other animal to care for.


                            • #94
                              The first time I had horses at home, I brought home two but later sold one. Took the other a few days to settle down and stop looking for his friend but after that he was fine when he realized he was first out, first in, first fed....

                              When we brought DD's first horse home from a 40 horse barn, he came with a friend but spent the first few days gazing out of his stall and paddock as if to say "when do the other 38 guys get here?"

                              Have never brought a single horse home - can you find a small pony to keep it company? Probably won't add too much to the work/expense load but will make the transition much easier.
                              Last edited by KnKShowmom; Dec. 7, 2012, 10:56 AM.


                              • #95
                                Whether it is cheaper depends on what you mean by "keeping them at home":

                                To start with, at the first glance, yes, it is cheaper to keep them at home. But if any of the following starts to creep in, assuming you don't have a herd, then it is a very likely NO.

                                . If you have to buy land/build fence/shelters/etc: No - figure 10K for fence alone, and above, and upward quickly.
                                . If you have to build a barn/tack room/wash bay/etc: mostly no. - figure 50K and above, and upward quickly.
                                . If you have to buy tractor/trailer/whatnot that comes with land: No. - figure 30K and upward.
                                . If you have to build an outdoor arena that is more than a clear patch of dirt: most likely no. Figure 10K and upward, and upward quickly for a standard sized dressage arena.
                                . If you have to build an indoor arena: Definitely NO. Figure 150K for a standard sized dressage arena, and upward very very quickly.

                                If for any reason that any of the above bullets don't apply to you, well, you are in luck, and may be able to keep them at home cheaper than boarding.


                                • #96
                                  I would never board my horses again! Much cheaper to take care of them at home with quality feed and know how they are handled. Inital output of money is high but if you can find older equipment that works and put up tape or rope fencing to start, the savings can be substantial. I've had my horses here in NE PA for over 20yrs. Sometimes I miss the camaraderie of other riders but I certainly don't miss the drama of a boarding set up.


                                  • #97
                                    Originally posted by BeeHoney View Post
                                    I think a lot of posters are comparing apples to oranges. It isn't fair to compare stall board at a facility with a nice ring and professional staff and twice a day care to an at home facility where the horses stay out all the time, eat from a hay roll, get grain once a day, are periodically cared for by friends/neighbors who might not know much about horses and there is no riding ring. .
                                    Have to disagree a little here. What you say can certainly be true - however, keeping them at home doesn't have to mean that the standard of care decreases. In fact, for many people, it increases from boarding situations.

                                    I have my show horses at home. I've kept them at multiple top BNT barns over the years and can say with 100% certainty that they now get the best care of their lives (not that the care was poor before). There are only 2 horses, and they are handled 100% of the time by a knowledgeable, experienced horse person who also happens to be their mom, and therefore thinks they are the best horses in the world and to whom their well-being is more important than her own! They recieve extremely personalized care, so all their nutritional, healthcare, and behavioral needs are met in ways that would not be possible in a boarding situation. They get top quality grain and hay, always have fresh, clean water, always have access to shelter (for 12 hours a day they are separated in their own stalls with large private paddocks - they are out together in a larger field with a run in the other 12 hours). Blankets/flywear are changed multiple times a day if needed, and at odd hours of the night.

                                    I'm lucky in that my horses are both easy keepers. Per horse per month, I pay approximately $20 for grain and $100 for hay (less in summer and more in winter, so it averages out), and about $50 for bedding. That's $170 per month. Board in my area is expensive, and I'd expect to pay between $600 and $800 per horse per month to board. Of course, the care, feeding, cleaning takes my time which could otherwise be used to make money elsewhere, but my barn is set up so that routine feeding takes approximately 15 minutes twice per day. This includes feeding, setting up the next meal, blanket changes, scrubbing/filling buckets or troughs, picking out stalls, and picking out the individual paddocks.

                                    General property upkeep is not included in this 30 min per day, but is mostly made up of occasional projects that I set aside a few hours for on a weekend, such as picking the larger field once every 2 weeks (about an hour), fertilizing twice a year, mowing once or twice a year, and routine repairs or improvements as needed. I'm lucky enough to have a nice community ring, which I spend about 30 min/week maintaining, and extensive community trails. I do have to haul out for lessons, usually about 1-2 times weekly.

                                    Having my horses at home is the only thing that has enabled me to afford multiple horses. There are a ton of other pluses, too - not having to drive to the barn, being able to leave the truck and trailer hooked up, seeing the horses grazing while cooking dinner or lounging around in the living room, being able to easily check on them and make sure they are comfortable at any time of day or night, being able to finish up chores or riding at a later time if I'm hungry/tired/sick/hot/cold/etc...


                                    • #98
                                      i could have my mares at home but i prefer to ride with my friends rather than alone, so they are boarded. when i move i will still board, and may not even buy a farm acreage next time.


                                      • #99
                                        Originally posted by SkipHiLad4me View Post
                                        I currently board two horses and we're in the process of building a house/barn on property that we've purchased. In discussing with my husband the costs of keeping horses, it sort of dawned on me that it may not really be cheaper to keep horses at home.

                                        Granted, I don't pay expensive board on my two horses... $400/mo for one horse and $200/mo for the second horse.... and I spend quite a bit in gas money and wear and tear on my car going back and forth between two different barns each month. Just making rough calculations in my head... once I have my pastures set up and am only supplementing hay for a limited portion of the year, my feed costs would be much less than the $600/mo I currently pay. I'll have 2 horses on about 4 acres to start and can eventually expand my pastures. Granted I know there are plenty of other upkeep costs to consider also in terms of fencing, barn upkeep and supplies, equipment. etc.

                                        DH sort of rolled his eyes and asked me if I was sure the responsibility of feeding horses every day, dealing with barn chores, not being able to travel as easily, etc was worth the couple hundred dollars a month that I'd be saving in board (when I could pay someone else to worry about all of those things!) Since I've dreamed of having my horses at home for quite some time and currently have one horse boarded 30 mins away and the other horse boarded 1 hour away.... my answer was of course, yes Not to mention I have somewhere for my senior horse to retire without having to worry about boarding him.

                                        Did you find that you actually saved money or spent more money to keep your horses once you moved them home?
                                        Water/Electricty 3 horses: $150/month
                                        Shavings $21/month
                                        Hay $360/summer in the winter is about $100
                                        Grain $60/month
                                        Manure Removal $46/month
                                        Total Bills = $637 for winter for 3 horses

                                        We are really clean people so we get our manure removed 1x/quarter. Our horses have access to their stalls, but are not in, they are outside 24/7...the pastures attach right to the barn. So the stalls stay really cleaned, maybe 5 poops between the 3 to clean up.

                                        Board is REALLY expensive here, average board for good care is $525 a horse. That would be about $1575/month.

                                        The money isn't a huge issue, it's more of the care. All three of my horses are so different and it's hard to find a barn that supports that. I have an old guy that was a big jumper he deserves a break, I want him on pasture (which is hard to find where I live), also he is a hard keeper so I need multiple feedings a day. My other guy is green and super passive, he gets beat up by every horse except my other 2. So when he is at a boarding stable he needs private turnout. My other one is fat and prone to thrush really easily. He needs a slow feeder and grazing muzzle when he is out or a dead pasture.

                                        Trying to find all that in one stable is nearly impossible.


                                        • I agree time is money. But too some that time is stress relief, physical activity, etc. It's just like cleaning your house everyday. It takes me hardly anytime to do barn chores. I hate driving so the that time I would spend driving to see my horses is spent caring for them instead.