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The Price You Pay....

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  • The Price You Pay....

    Sheer curiosity is sparking this post. I keep very close track of what I spend down to the penny on every single horse-related expense i have, and its usually around $30,000+ per year. Stupid. Just absolutely stupid.

    That said, curiosity has me wondering if everyone else is as insane as I am to be spending this much (or more) every year. Here are the general breakdowns of my "budget" spend per month:

    (for reference, I am in the southeast, own a warmblood hunter and ride at an AA show barn, however i cant afford to show every single weekend like most of the other people at my barn do)

    Board- $1200/mo
    Farrier- $275/4-6wks
    Lessons- $65/lesson (usually take 4 permonth)
    Training- $55/ride (usually do 4 per month)
    Supplements- $100/mo
    Insurance- $100/mo

    On average after its all said an done (beacuse theres always going to be a thrown shoe or new piece of tack needed - whatever) i usually spend around $2300/month during the months i'm not showing - I only show 1-2x/year as thats all i can afford and doing one 2-day AA rated show cost me $2400.00 - also stupid. Literally more than most people's houses.

    What is the price you pay for your habit?

  • #2
    Some of your numbers surprise me a little -- I always assumed California was the most expensive place to keep a horse! However, your barn is more prestigious than ours, which does mostly B shows and local shows.

    Board: $625 per month (includes 3x/day feed, turn-out, blanketing; does not include grooming or tacking up)
    Training and Lessons: $500 per month (this gives you a training ride or lesson 3x per week)
    Farrier: about $60 every 6 weeks (love those hardy Welsh ponies who go barefoot most of the year)

    It seems like my show bills would be around $1200 but my memory is a little foggy on that, as it's been a couple years. There are also the pricey bills here and there--hocks, dental etc.

    It does bother me that horses are so expensive. I worry it's going to be a dying sport--out of reach of 99% of American families... and everyone is becoming further and further removed from our agricultural roots and large animals.

    I should note this is all based on my daughter's most recent ride -- a 15 year old Welsh pony cross.


    • #3
      $805 Board
      $675 Training Package (includes laundry)
      $200 Farrier (4-6 weeks)

      $75 per day training at shows
      $60 per day braids (mane)
      $35-65 per day care (only at A shows)
      I can only swing a handful of A shows per year as well... most of the time I'm going to the C 2-day local stuff for mileage.

      UGH- I don't actually like going through the exercise of adding this all up! It is silly expensive.


      • #4
        Ugh. You all are much more brave than I am. Frankly, I'm scared to break it down completely. Roughly, my board, training, lesson costs and barn related fees for showing are about $3000 per month. We are at a higher end barn and his royal highness is in full training. I also lesson once a week. We show once a month at an A or AA show and the above number includes shipping, schooling, pro rides, set up/ take down and day care. Show office fees (including stall and entries), hotel and food and travel for me are on top of that.

        My financial planner almost stroked out when I told him generally how much my horse addiction costs annually. I jokingly tell people that I may never be able to retire, but I'm actually not really joking.....


        • #5
          This thread reminds me of why I didn't go the full board/ showing route when I returned to riding a dozen years ago. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum, in self board in the suburbs, and my total horse operating expenses (stall; feed including grain, hay, and supplements; feet; vet) were well under $4,000 for the whole year last year. The last dressage schooling show I went to was $168 for 3 tests including a day stall, and I drove in my own truck and trailer. I haven't actually paid for my main horse or the dressage schoolmaster I am currently also riding.

          I make a good salary in a high cost of living area, but I like keeping my basic expenses (for me and horse) low so I can get any extras or emergencies without worry. I have good quality second hand gear fitted to the horse.

          I would not be riding if it cost $30,000 a year.

          Now, ask me about truck repairs.


          • #6
            Actually, although it is obviously a lot of money ... your costs don't look outrageous to me, OP. When I was boarding at a show barn (this is a couple years ago before I brought my horses home) I would have considered those rates really reasonable! (FWIW I also have WBs although I now do dressage after many decades in H/J land.)

            At the last barn where I boarded (also in the southeast) it was a full training situation (not full care, as in you groomed and tacked up your own horse, did your own laundry etc.) It was $2K per month which included board and 4-5 lessons or rides per week. Individual lessons were $85 but would be for folks trailering in so they would also pay a ring fee which I seem to remember was around $20. My horses go in plain steels which IIRC is $175/horse every 5 weeks. Dressage shows are significantly cheaper than H/J shows though - hundreds rather than thousands per week.

            It's really not a defensible amount of money from a purely economic standpoint. As my husband says, though, it's that or therapy... ;>
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
              This thread reminds me of why I didn't go the full board/ showing route when I returned to riding a dozen years ago. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum, in self board in the suburbs, and my total horse operating expenses (stall; feed including grain, hay, and supplements; feet; vet) were well under $4,000 for the whole year last year.
              What part of the country, Scribbler?


              • #8
                What is the difference between lessons and training?

                Usually I trim my own, they have good feet so no need of shoes, also very little jumping. I did have a farrier come and trim a new horse for a specific reason. $50.00
                Hay, rounds and squares for 2 horses for the year $1600
                Pellets, beet pulp etc between $400-$500
                Horses live at home....but fencing maintenance can be pricey, last year about $700
                Teeth and vaccinations for the pair about $500
                Not really sure about combined wormers and supplements, I have a few supplements for different times...and they are not cheap, guess about $4oo a yr.
                The last schooling show cost under $400 for everything, fees, fuel, stabling...

                No idea how much I have spent on breeches and clothing for myself and simply don't keep track of the 'horseware'. The diva has a better wardrobe than I do!


                • #9
                  You keep better track than I do but I have some estimates. I am not at what you'd call an AA show barn but we do show at AA shows regularly. We happen to be in an area with many options in our backyard so we can show a lot while spending less, we also are in a low cost of of living part of the country. We average one rated show a month year round for those show riders and one or two unrated shows a month in the summer for that group. People pick and choose what they want to do based on what makes sense for them. We do not have grooms, at home or at shows so we don't pay for for that or any kind of full service at shows.

                  I would estimate when I am showing regularly I pay my barn $1200 a month which includes board, lessons, training rides, and show fees like hauling and daily training.Farrier and insurance is outside of that so let's round up to about $1500 a month. Then I owe the show whatever my bill was there which varies. Maybe up to $600 at most. We typically do our own braiding except for big classes then we pay braiders.

                  I also am a glutton for punishment and board my retired child hood pony in a luxurious retirement setting at a private barn. She probably runs me a sum total average of $500-600 a month including farrier and meds (pergolide ftw).

                  I've estimated that I spend $30k a year between both horses, shows and extraneous horse and riding related purchases.


                  • #10
                    Ok, I’m relieved to see that this post is about the actual dollars and cents involved, even though those numbers are always plenty scary.

                    I was half expecting it to be about the price to your soul and sanity, which is harder to measure.


                    • #11
                      I'm in Southern California. I moved last year to a private barn that is very close to my house. It's cut down expenses and my horse is now in partial as opposed to full training.

                      Board: $1200 which includes grooming, unheard of where I am, so super grateful
                      Lessons: $75 each at home trainer, $100 for my trailer in trainer who I meet at shows
                      Training rides: $60 each, we usually do 2 a week
                      Shoes: $400 every 5 weeks
                      Supplements for an ulcer-prone horse: $300
                      Insurance: $200
                      Arena fees: $200

                      At the shows I pay $100/day for training, usually budget $100/day for grooming including tip, plus probably $1500 in entries. I just got a trailer, so most of the hauls at least I'll be paying gas. So probably $2500-3000. When I was at the big show barn, I would spend close to that much just for their bill with all the setup and meds. I can buy my own lactanase now, thanks!

                      I will probably show 6-7 times this year. Next year I'm thinking more like once a month.

                      I'm probably a jerk for saying this, but I feel no shame spending this money. This is the thing that gives me the most joy in life. I work a job I don't really love in finance specifically bc it pays well and can fund my passion. When I take the time to ride, I am more present for my kid and my husband. The money I spend supports trainers, vets, farriers, and grooms who work their a$$es off so that I can find this joy.


                      • #12
                        I recently priced out HJ show barns (of varying levels) and what the OP describes is in line with the same level of service here. Full care board, training, and lessons at a higher end barn are running around $2k/mo. Plus $1k-$2.5k per week(end) of rated show (full care). Not counting shoes, vet, or supplements.

                        However, there are barns that offer quality instruction and quality basic care, but with limited service offerings, more basic facilities, and more participation in local shows. If you are willing to do most of your own grooming, can live with adequate but not awesome facilities, etc., costs were closer to $1k/mo for board, training, and lessons. $200/day-$1k/wk for local and regional shows.


                        • #13
                          Half Lease + $265/mo (includes farrier & vet)
                          Lessons + $35/lesson (usually 4/mo)
                          Private Lesson + $50/lesson (usually 1-2/mo)
                          Training, Supplements, Insurance + $0
                          Working for credit at barn - $270 or so
                          = $135 out of pocket/mo if there are no private lessons or $235 if there are

                          Rarely show because it isn't in my budget. I do compete when shows are held at my barn, but also work the show office and try to offset my costs to $0 so showing is paid for by sweat equity. If I go xc schooling I can add another $50-75 plus trailering, but I haven't been able to make many this year so luckily or unluckily I'm saving $ that way. Another girl at my farm spends around $1-2k/mo because they do lots of supplements, special shoeing, have had to have the vet out a lot recently. They like nice and new while I'm totally fine with second hand and providing what is necessary vs. extra stuff that I personally can't afford even though I'd probably buy it if I could (ie: chiropractic work, newer tack, etc).

                          If I had the extra money to spare you can bet your bottom dollar it would (almost) ALL go towards horses and shows and clinics. I've actually been looking into a potential job opportunity that would allow work from home (aka horse shows) and have a $10k+/year pay increase.... and since on my current budget I'm fine that extra would allow me more pony play time I would have no shame in being "that person" that buys all the nice stuff for them and their horse. I'm just smart enough to not do it now and make myself broke.


                          • #14
                            these costs are exactly why I stopped riding and showing altogether. Simply cant afford it and afford regular living expenses at the same time in a high tax area. And when I did show and ride I did so in the cheapest means possible: Kept the horses at home even in winter, all of them were barefoot or front shoes only, made my own hay, trailered to the shows on my own and as time went on, eliminated the trainer from the equation too and just showed for fun. This sport is HIGHLY costly and if you are not making 100k+ a year or marrying into wealth, it is nearly impossible to compete at the high levels without sacrificing long term life choices (like retirement)


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by greysfordays View Post

                              I'm probably a jerk for saying this, but I feel no shame spending this money. This is the thing that gives me the most joy in life. I work a job I don't really love in finance specifically bc it pays well and can fund my passion. When I take the time to ride, I am more present for my kid and my husband. The money I spend supports trainers, vets, farriers, and grooms who work their a$$es off so that I can find this joy.
                              I agree!


                              • #16
                                I used to keep mine at home for about the same cost as Scribbler. Lessons were $30 for a half hour, day fee of $200 using the trainers horses for the local unrated saddleseat series, I don't think we ever got above $6000. It was still hard to afford for the average parent even though there was a big supply of used clothing and equipment. Feed and care for the old guy got up to $4800 just by himself since he was becoming a harder keeper, needed previcox (this was before they listed a horse specific drug so it was dog equioxx) and Pergolide along with teeth and feet.

                                Its the the same as the basic costs for child raising, so you can have a child or a horse, lol. Of course if you send the child to private schools you might as well have that Olympic caliber horse.
                                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                Incredible Invisible


                                • #17
                                  In the midwest when I boarded at a decent boarding barn:
                                  Board - $650
                                  Shoes - $150 6 weeks
                                  Supplements - $80/mo
                                  Shows - $250 6 times a year-ish (local only) in show fees, no trainer fees
                                  No lesson fees

                                  Approx $11,500 / year before any additional tack or equipment needed

                                  Now in CO where I keep my mare at home (YAY!):
                                  Grain/Shavings - $125/mo
                                  Supplements - $80/mo
                                  Hay - we buy once a year and also feed off our pasture for part of the year, so my guess is about $100/mo per horse
                                  Shoes - $225 for full set, $175 for half, $50 for trim, so this varies based on the time of year. They grow much slower in the dry climate, so they're often at 8 weeks at least in between.
                                  No lesson fees
                                  Minimal showing

                                  Approx $4k / horse is my guess. Ours get a lot of turnout - 12 hours minimum and when the weather is nice they stay out 24 hours. So we go through a lot less shavings. We obviously also do all the labor ourselves, so that is a tradeoff....but one that is WELL worth it in my opinion!
                                  Jennifer Baas
                                  It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)


                                  • #18
                                    Ugh here goes. Don't let my SO see this...

                                    Board $300/month (yes my A/O hunter lives outside 24/7)
                                    Lessons $35 each, I usually take 3-4. No training rides.
                                    Farrier $200 every 5-7 weeks
                                    No supplements, but I do buy my own grain so he can have dinner whenever I ride. $30/month
                                    *my trainer is very reasonably priced for the area, but it's because he has a lot of land and 90% of the horses live out 24/7. His overhead is cheap so that gets passed on to us.

                                    Insurance $400 for the year
                                    Vet $500 for the year, assuming no major emergencies
                                    Each B level show costs me about $300, each A level show costs me around $600. I do all my own care and braiding so lets say an average of $2000/year.

                                    So let's say around 10k per year.

                                    I can't count the number of times friends or coworkers go on multiple vacations, or buy a fancy car and I say to my SO "how the heck can they afford that?", and he reminds me it's because they don't have a horse... Or SO's friends get jealous because I don't complain when he goes on a fishing trip, or buys a new gun, but it's because he doesn't even come close to spending what I spend on my hobby.

                                    Like others said, I don't feel guilty though. I pinch pennies. I braid and clip to make money on the side. And I still manage to save for retirement, make extra mortgage payments, and fingers crossed my car can survive another year or two and I should be able to replace it without financing.


                                    • #19
                                      I don't have my own horse, I ride saintly schoolie (I aim for 3x a week). I do the farms schooling show series. My bill exceeds $1,000 a month during show season (I'm including those last minute show splurge buys).
                                      The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by colorfan View Post
                                        What is the difference between lessons and training?
                                        Lessons are for the owner on the horse, and training is training rides put on the horse by a pro.

                                        I don't board, and don't show at the moment at all.

                                        My mortgage is actually decent to low around here. It only went up $700 from when I lived in the 'burbs, and I was doing self-care at a friend's before at no cost, so lets say the difference is $700 for "board" costs (which isn't far off tbh).

                                        This is two horses and two donkeys at home, but my Dad pays for vet, farrier and senior feed for his senior horse and then buys the hay for the barn while I buy the supplements for both horses. Hay is anywhere from $22-66 per week depending on the grass, still low, I'll factor it in even though *I* don't pay it. Supps etc, mmm...Cosequin x2, Remission x1, hoof supp x1, multivit x2, roughly $1/day/horse for each, harder to calculate in that I add vit e as grass dictates so lets just say an additional $200/year. Feed for my horse consists of a handful of hay pellets to eat his supps, lets say six bags a year for a grand total of $840.

                                        Lessons $35/ea, one a week depending on my schedule, so lets say five a month on the high end, $175.

                                        Tack etc while spendy when purchased is indeed purchased and paid off, so I won't factor that in. Ditto truck and horse trailer. Insurance for above is nominal, lets say $900/yr for both as I have the trailer insured as a separate entity from the truck, with roadside etc. My homeowner's insurance actually went down. So did my utilities (by a lot).

                                        Farrier is (for me) $120 every 5-6 weeks for the horse and additional $80 every other appt for the donkeys, $1600/year on the high side because I do pull shoes in the winter for a few cycles. The one annual vet appt for shots, teeth, sheath, was a titch over $1000 this year for my three.

                                        Not sure what if anything I'm forgetting but right now I'm looking at ~$17,000 for the above.

                                        To subtract from my costs however, is that I have five acres in hay. After this last cutting, even though I told the guy it was a cut-it-take-it-free deal, he insisted on giving me $200. Won't argue. He might get a second cutting in too, we've had a strangely wet July. I also have a garden and supply some of my own food, but this year (and the next ) is a definite wash on that because I had to pay to build said garden with raised beds and fence.

                                        I would suspect this number to nearly double for showing if I was really really doing that. I bet PNWjumper can attest to these costs .
                                        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl