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A Second Shot At Horse Ownership

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  • A Second Shot At Horse Ownership

    About five years ago, I purchased my first horse and went through a terrible experience. Despite taking what I thought were the necessary steps to avoid a problem horse, navicular came into the picture and thousands of dollars later I was forced to donate the horse.

    Now, I would like to look into owning a horse of my own again, hopefully getting something younger or even off the track to work with on my own. Realistically, I can't afford to spend much more than $1k per month, though in an absolute emergency I would have the ability to cover any large vet bill.

    At the time, I was keeping my horse at a show barn and spending easily $2k/month on upkeep. I intend to keep things pretty simple this time around and don't plan on being a large show barn, so I know that should help lower the costs, but I'm just not sure of what I can realistically expect to spend on a horse each month, since my only experience with owning and maintaining a horse was one with extremely expensive problems to diagnose and maintain.

    So, can anyone give me feedback on whether or not I should purchase another horse with a budget of about $1k/month?


  • #2
    For us in NE Ohio, we are paying slightly over $1000 roughly each month (some months slightly less if he doesn't get his feet done that month-he's on a six week plan). I think you would have to explore things like what board costs, lessons (if you plan on taking them), showing (if you plan on going), vet, farrier, etc... And calculate roughly what it would be.
    No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
    For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
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    • #3
      If all else fails, move to the midwest.

      You could EASILY keep a horse for half that around here, and divert the rest to a nice savings account. 1K would be plenty for lessons, clinics, and a modest show schedule.



      • #4
        Find the barn before the horse. I once moved across the country, and couldn't find anywhere I wanted to be and pay for in the new city. One of the best boarding experiences I ever had was at a $400 a month barn. It just depends on what is in your area. If you get away from full service and A circuit, it is certainly doable. I would even part board at a new place before buying, to get used to being at a more modest place.


        • #5
          I'm in Canada and board at a show barn. The barn is full care in that they turn out, change blankets, deworm, feed, water, pick paddocks and stalls, unwrap if asked in the morning, will deal with major emergencies until the owner can get there etc. The barn has an indoor wash rack, grooming stall, large indoor arena (dragged every morning), outdoor jumping field, 12x12 stalls with automatic waterers and some access to trails. There are no grooms. You have to tack up and untack yourself, clean tack yourself etc.

          The barn is on the lower key end of show barns. It's about 3/4 dressage and 1/4 hunter jumper. Some riders ride only for pleasure, most show or are in a show program.

          Here's a rundown of basic expenses each month plus some recent incidentals that I can think of:

          Board: $650/month (all inclusive, no extra charge for extra/different hay/grain etc.)
          Private Dressage lesson (45 minutes): $40
          Private Jumper lesson (30 minutes): $50
          One Training Ride: $50
          Farrier (every six weeks): $170-$200 (4 shoes)
          Local Shows 'C' rated: About $350-$400 all in (Friday-Sunday)
          Local Shows 'A' rated: About $500 plus hotel (Thursday/Friday-Sunday)
          Big Shows 'AA': About $1000-$1500 plus hotel (Approx. 7 days)
          Adequan: $220 every two months (for two horses)

          Our vet lives on property so we don't pay call fees etc. On a good month I don't see the vet. On months were things like teeth are due or checkups are needed I can expect to pay about $400-$600 (for both horses). If a horse is lame or has a serious issue and needs a lot of testing/x rays etc. that can go up to $700-$1500. I have an old, retired, arthritic mare that sometimes needs a lot of maintenance or at the very least a lot of checkups to see where she is. If I only had my gelding I think my vet bills would be a lot less expensive and a lot more spaced out.

          Things were about the same when I lived cross country.
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          • #6
            I'm in the deeper south. Full stall board at the farm I board my gelding at costs $500 per month, and that includes feeding supplements (which would be extra $ to buy), feed, hay, turnout, blanketing, and fly-spraying. No grooming or tacking up. There is an outdoor jumping arena, a covered arena, and plenty of trails. There is also a grass dressage ring but it's not the greatest. My young TB gelding MUCH prefers pasture board with a great run-in shed, so my board per month is only $275. However, we don't get snow or ice, and if we did he would have a stall. I give him Adequan twice per year (the loading dose) which amounts to about $40 per month if you look at it that way. He gets four shoes which cost $200 every six weeks. And then twice yearly vaccinations plus the once yearly coggins and rabies. Those run me about $150-$175 every six months. He is getting doxy for Lyme disease as we speak, and that will cost me about $500 when all is said and done, so you can factor stuff like that in as well. I think as long as you can find a place with a moderate board rate that has great care you will be alright. It's just that finding a place like that can be VERY difficult depending largely on what area of the US you are in.


            • #7
              It really depends on where you are and what kind of services you expect.

              I have a very tight and strict budget for my horse. Here's what I pay in Ohio, which was about what I was paying in Michigan too:

              $475 for full board at a quiet private barn with excellent/large/well maintained arena, daily turnout of 8 hours on grass, etc. No training or grooming, but blanketing included.
              $65/month average for shoes (front shoes only, make it closer to $85 for 4 shoes all around)
              $38/month for annual major medical and mortality insurance
              $30/month socked away for routine vet expenses (spring Coggins + rabies shot, give the rest of the shots myself, plus annual teeth floating)
              $30/month into the Routine Supplies Fund for things like wormer, treats, first aid kit items, blanket repairs, the occasional need for a new blanket, etc.
              $144/month for once-weekly lessons with a very little-name but good quality trainer
              $25/month for trailer insurance + trailer's annual spring check-up at the trailer mechanic
              $55 monthly gas expenses to/from barn
              TOTAL = $862

              Obviously there are places that could be cut from that: in this area I could get safe pasture board with minimal/no riding facilities for $250-$300/month, I could stop taking lessons or take them every other week, I could sell the trailer to avoid the maintenance and insurance costs, go to the barn less to save gas money, attempt to take my horse barefoot, attempt to not blanket my horse over the winter (the last two are not very realistic for my Thoroughbred). That would trim a quick $400-$450 off my monthly budget. And if I got into a bad financial situation, that's exactly what I would do.

              There are also places where the new horse owner will invest more money than I do. I dropped $6000+ in the first three years of ownership on tack and supplies, which is like spending an extra $166/month for the first 3 years. $6000 sounds like a fortune, but consider that most folks drop $1000-$3000 on the saddle alone and that a full set of light/medium/heavyweight blankets is easily $300-$500, and you'll see how fast you can get to $6000. That doesn't include the trailer at around $7000 and roughly $3500 in pro training/showing expenses (again, avoidable expenses depending on the horse experience you want to have).

              Basically, nobody can tell you whether this is do-able for you except yourself and your calculator and your vision for the future. I knew what kind of experience I wanted going in, and if it meant I had to wear thrift store clothes and become the world's most frugal grocery shopper, I was willing to go there.
              Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


              • #8
                I do it and I'm in the same area as you. Horse gets full board, with exceptional care
                Jen Evans & DaBear


                • #9
                  I'm in NC, you could do it here. My board is $350, supplements are $70, farrier is $80...I can count on about $500/month, more if I am showing or buying equipment.
                  Originally posted by barka.lounger
                  u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

                  we see u in gp ring in no time.


                  • #10
                    If you are talking about just the cost of "keeping" the horse (board, vet, farrier) it should be doable.

                    But if you are including lessons and showing, then "it depends".
                    Last edited by Janet; Sep. 6, 2009, 12:07 PM.

                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                    • #11
                      Have you thought about doing a lease (or lease to purchase) on the next horse?

                      (I ask because it sounds like you are more worried about the risk of buying something that doesn't work out than you are about finding a place that will fit your budget.)

                      The budget thing is fairly straightforward; obviously costs depend enormously on what is available in your immediate/local area, so that is just a matter of visiting barns, getting rate sheets, and determining which program you like best of the ones you can afford.

                      The big variable - as you learned the first time around - is what kind of maintenance you are dealing with. Well, actually we all know that the BIG VARIABLE is what the horsie does to itself after you buy it... but that is an unknown no matter what you buy (or how sound it is on the day you buy it, LOL.)

                      In your shoes, I'd find a program that you think suits you, take some lessons and make sure you are comfortable with the trainer, (if that is what you are going to do - I made that assumption based on your comment about getting a younger/greener horse.) THEN start looking for a suitable animal... and if you can find one to lease or half lease first, so much the better. It will give you a chance to really evaluate the horse and what its needs are over a period of time. If after a number of months you feel comfortable, then perhaps explore a sale. I have several friends who've done this as a way to get back into horse ownership and it worked well for them; in a couple of cases, it really helped illustrate all the "little" expenses they hadn't budgeted for that required some adjustment in their plans, but all of them worked out nicely.
                      We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks for all of your replies!

                        I suppose I could keep a horse in my area within my budget. I think I'm just a little nervous about it, based on my previous experience.

                        Fortunately, I still have most of the stuff I purchased for my last horse. Blankets could be hit or miss depending on the size, though I could consign them to put towards new ones.

                        Of course, leasing is an option, but in my current situation I am really looking for a horse of my own. Right now, I have a barn full of horses I can ride through my trainer. I just want a project horse of my own to work with.

                        I think I just need to figure out how much my ideal situation would cost around here and if it's something I really want to take on.

                        Thanks again for the replies! It's helpful to hear how other people budget their monthly horse expenses.