Are you thinking of making the leap and becoming a horse owner? Buying your own horse is a very big moment. For many people, horse ownership is something they dream about for years, if not their whole lives. Caring for horses is more than a hobby; it’s a lifestyle and a passion, and having your own horse that you will look after and build a bond with just takes it to the next level.
But before you rush in and purchase your first horse, there are some basic fees and costs that you’ll want to familiarise yourself with. This will ensure that you’re fully prepared for the costs that await.
Boarding – Where Will Your Horse Live?
The biggest expense you’ll likely be faced with is boarding. Your horse needs a place to live after all, and unless you happen to have a farm with a barn, then you’re going to need to shop around for boarding. Of course, boarding fees will vary widely depending on the establishment and whether or not feed and bedding, regular exercise, training and lessons are included in that price.
Lower costs don’t necessarily mean a lower standard of care. As a general rule, it’s more that the more services a boarding facility offers, the higher the cost of boarding will be. Some barns will do everything for you, from putting horse boots on and off to changing blankets to getting your horse ready for you when you come to ride. You may not need all these services, but if you want them, you can expect to pay a higher price for them.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s possible to find boarding facilities that will let you do the work of feeding your horse and mucking their stall every day in exchange for a lower rate. You might also be able to find a barn that runs more like a co-op, where everyone pitches in and does the work.
Food – They Eat a Lot, and It Isn’t Cheap
If you’re bringing a horse home to your own farm, or if you find yourself boarding somewhere that only offers a stall and paddock space, with no care, one of the first things you’ll want to price out is food. Horses have a very large appetite, and while you may think that their feed is cheap, that isn’t always the case.
As the experts suggest, one grassy acre per horse is needed to keep them healthy and well-fed. And as for hay, the price actually fluctuates based on the market demand, the time of year, how good a crop was, and more. You want to be sure you’re getting good quality hay so that it isn’t filled with mould or dust. Vet bills for colic and respiratory issues are also expensive, so it’s better to invest in good hay.
Regular Vet Visits – Stop Problems Before They Start
Good horse ownership is about preventing problems before they start, and regular vet visits are a cornerstone of preventative care. Your horse will need to see the vet regularly for annual check-ups, vaccines and teeth exams.
Unless there are health issues, the check-up is typically very straightforward. The cost of vaccines will depend on how many they need and what they need. Every region has its own pathogens to contend with, and your horse’s living situation will also play a big role in what vaccines they need. If you have your horse at home and tend not to come into contact with other horses, your horse’s vaccine needs might be minimal. If the horse is showing, you’ll need extra vaccinations to protect them from the viruses and bacteria they could be exposed to when they travel.
Since horses’ teeth grow throughout their lives, keeping them even and level is an important part of their health care. Your vet should check your horse’s teeth each year for sharp points and hooks and float them (file them down) so that they’re level. Neglected teeth can lead to issues like mouth ulcers, pain when being ridden and an inability to chew properly, so you’ll want to stay on top of this.
Regular Hoof Maintenance and Care
A big part of caring for your horse will be to ensure their hooves are well cared for and maintained. In general, your farrier should trim your horse’s hooves every six to eight weeks.
The frequency will depend on how quickly the horse grows their feet, whether there are any underlying issues that need attention and whether the horse is going barefoot or has horseshoes.
Farrier visits are about more than just keeping their hooves trimmed. The farrier can also spot potential issues before they become big and painful problems for your horse.
Horse Insurance – Be Sure to Compare Quotes
Then there is horse insurance, which can also vary drastically depending on the provider and the coverage you choose. It’s a good idea to compare horse insurance before making any decisions.
Even basic policies will differ between providers, and the coverage you need will depend on you and your horse’s unique circumstances. It’s essential that you have insurance that covers all aspects of your horse’s health, as well as everything you want to do with your horse.
You never want to end up paying for coverage you don’t really need. That said, there’s nothing worse than facing a health crisis, or having an accident away from home, and finding out your insurance doesn’t cover what you need it to cover. If you compare horse insurance quotes, you’re bound to get the right insurance for your horse and to save yourself money in the long run.
Make Sure You are Fully Prepared for the Expenses of Horse Ownership
By researching the various expenses involved with owning a horse, you can be sure it truly fits into your budget and that you are comfortable moving ahead with your purchase of a horse. For many people, the true cost of ownership can come as a bit of a surprise. Make sure you’re in the know before you go horse shopping!
Feature image: Kenny Webster: Image 1: Jason Polychronopulos