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  1. #1
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    Default cost to maintain a horse

    A quick question: anyone know *about* how much it costs to maintain a horse per year? My familiy is thinking about getting 1 or 2 of them, we wouldn't be buying expensive show horses, just a few light duty horses that the kids can ride and take care of.

    We have plenty of space for them, and I can figure out the startup costs (i.e. purchase, stables, fencing etc), but don't really know how much they eat, how much that food costs, how much vet bills etc I could expect to have each year. I realize costs could vary widely, but just looking for a ballpark estimate to see if it is reasonable.

    Thanks.


  2. #2
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    ejb,
    You have to figure a number of costs:

    1. Food- Figure 15-25 lbs. of hay per day and about 5 lbs. of grain per day. Now I'll give you the cheapest way but you can spend a $100 a month just on some of these speciality grains, which you don't need but to each his own. First hay then. Most bales are 40-60 lbs. a piece with 40 being more common. So at 40 lbs. figure a bale every 2-3 days. Figure 12-15 bales of hay per month at $2.00 - $3.00 per bale. For hay then figure $24-45 a month per horse.

    2. Grain
    Alot of people will tell you that you don't need to feed grain. But from firsthand experience they do better if you do. All you need to do is just feed a corn and oats mix. People will also tell you corn isn't any good for horses but again they do very well on it from firsthand exp. Now if you can get ahold of a bulk bin you can get it very cheap. About $5 for a hundred pounds delivered. If you have to buy it by the bag look at $5 a bag for 50lbs. So you save about half by having a bulk bin. Now from there you can spend up to $20 a bag for specialty feed. At a minimum then figure you're going to do the 50 lb. bags at 5 lbs. a day per horse and you have 3 bags of grain at $5 a bag. Now you are up to $15 a month for grain for your horse.

    3. Teeth and foot work.

    Every 6-8 weeks you should have your horses feet at least trimmed. Trimming will cost you $15-25 a time. Figure 6 farrier visits at a minimum per year so $100 for farrier work. It's a very good idea to have your horses teeth floated once a year as well. Cost $25.

    4. Vet Costs

    This can be from nothing to thousands. I would figure on at least $150 a year for shots and incidentals. It's impossible to say what else could go wrong.

    5. One other thing I forgot to mention that is very important is worming your horse. You need to worm your horse every eight weeks and you need to be either on a rotating program or feed a daily wormer and even then still have to treat with other wormers. Minimum cost is $10 every eight weeks per horse.

    All in all you need to figure at least $60-75 a month to keep a horse doing all of the above. Now remember that is just the minimum that you need to do for them. This doesn't include everything else needed for them.


    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by cowboydoc on 10/12/01 01:22 PM (server time).</FONT></P>

  3. #3
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    I'm sure you'll be hearing from Cowboydoc on this. He can give you more info on costs than I can, because I am just starting with horses (thanks to alot of his help!). One thing I can tell you, as a wildlife biologist, is that you really should get at least two horses or have some other kind of companion animal for the single one. Horses are herd animals, and as such are very social. They need companionship to be happy. If you can't get two horses, I sugest getting a couple of goats. Horses and goats get along well, and goats satisfy their social needs. Of course if you get young horses that need to be trained, you will need to keep them apart during training, but that's just temporary. Let's wait for Cowboydoc for the real good advice.

    Rich


  4. #4

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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    Cowboydoc, a very well compiled list indeed. You might also want to consider the cost of ranch calls if you so not have a horse trailer, as many vets will add on another 20 to 80 dollars per visit if they have to come out to you. Also a question to the doc... Do you think that a grain bin and buying in bulk is beneficial for only a few horses? I was under the impression that unless you had alot of horses (more than 20), you would not go through the grain before it would start to spoil. I know that most of the bulk deliveries have a fairly large minimum purchase. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    rf33 [img]/w3tcompact/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  5. #5
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    rf33,
    You can buy anywhere from a 2 ton and up bulk bin. Even if you figure 2 horses that is 10 lbs. of grain per day and 300 lbs. per month. Six months you use a ton. One year you use two tons. Around here they will deliver any amount. I have a 12 ton bin at my one place that I fill once a year and the grain never spoils. You can pick up the small bulk bins for $500 or less. In a year you more than pay for it not to mention you don't have to mess with feed bags or worry about rodents. Just take you bucket to the feed bin and fill it up. You can keep grain longer than a year too. As long as it doesn't get moisture you are fine.
    Yes good point about trailers and all but he said he just wanted the basics so that's what I gave. My vet only charges $20 to come out so that's not bad. It's virtually impossible to predicat vet costs.
    Rich,
    I think you got some bad advice from someone. There is absolutely no need to keep a horse that you are training away from another horse.
    Finally, EXCELLENT advice on having a companion animal. That is very true!!! Just be careful with goats though as they will eat and step all over everything. We stopped by this place on time to look at a horse for a friend and they had goats. We got back from looking at the horse and the guys goat had trampled all over my buddies pickup hood. The truck was only a couple months old. He was sick about it. To make matters worse the guy we were looking at the horse from said he wasn't paying for it.

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by cowboydoc on 10/12/01 09:57 AM (server time).</FONT></P>

  6. #6
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    cowboydoc has done a great job of explaining the costs. If I were at home I could bring up Quicken and tell you exactly how much we spent on our horses for the past 10 years.

    Other items to consider;

    1. Do not underestimate is the amount of work, and therefore the amount of time, caring for horses requires. Cleaning stalls, getting supplies, barn maintenance, being there when the vet is, being there when the farrier is, etc. My wife always wanted horses and she does a fantastic job caring for them, training them, etc., (I take care of the supplies and maintenance) but I think she underestimated how much time they take. When you add horse maintenance time to horse enjoying time it can be quite a bit and sometimes does not leave time for much else. Other things that don't get done around the house because of the time devoted to the horses can contribute to the frustration/tension level.

    2. Much like a dairy farmer, horses need daily care even when you're on vacation and you can't load them in to a carrier and take them to the kennel [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img].

    3. It's amazing how relatives and friends will want to ride your horses. When you thought you were going to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon reading and snoozing, the phone rings, "Can we come out and ride in an hour?" We have actually had friends get upset when we sold a horse they considered 'theirs'. They had made what they thought was a generous offer, pay the vet and farrier bills if we kept her. Hello? Where would they be in August when it's hot, humid and we're loading hay? Where would they be when, in the middle of winter, when one of the horses pulls a water pipe out of the ground and flood the barn?

    4. As cowboydoc mentioned, vet bills are the hardest to predict. Horse throws a shoe, steps on one of the nails, call the vet AND call the farrier. Upset stomach, not eating and not drinking water. Mix up a batch of molasses and PeptoBismal tablets and stay up late walking the horse so he doesn't lay down. Odd infection that drains for over a year. Horse is limping, nothing obvious, vet brings portable x-ray machine. Cha-ching?

    5. Caring for the tack, buying blankets, etc. You will get a whole new batch of catalogs in your mailbox containing things someone just has to buy.

    Again, please don't take these comments as negative. We have met a lot of very nice people because of our horses, not the least of which are the people on TBN. The horses have taught the kids discipline and helped them mature plus numerous other benefits.

    However, I compare owning horses to an iceberg. What people can see, e.g., barn, riding, etc. is about 15% of all the work associated with owning a horse. I used to wonder why boarding fees were so high. Now I know [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]


  7. #7
    Veteran Member mikim's Avatar
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    A friend of mine found 2 old chest freezers that didn't freeze anymore, changed the door seals, and used them as feed bins for his 2 horses. cost - minimal
    mike


  8. #8
    Veteran Member Charlie_Iliff's Avatar
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    Between CowboyDoc and MikePA, most of the costs have been mentioned, including the indirect ones - time taken from other activities.
    I recommend, however, that no one follow MikePA's lead. Keeping records of horse costs in Quicken would be too depressing to contemplate.

    Charlie Iliff

  9. #9
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    Good one! Laughed out loud at that one.

    The only reason I keep track is for those times when the better half comments on how much I just paid for 'fill in the blank'. After waiting for a suitable amount of time, I innocently say, "I was just paying the bills and did you know we spent $$$$ on the horses last year?". The items I buy tend to be single, larger ticket items, e.g., laptop. IOW, my purchases are not spread out over time like the expenses for the horses. To paraphrase the late senator Fulbright (I think it was him), "A $100 here and a $100 there, pretty soon you have a lot of money."



  10. #10
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    Default Re: cost to maintain a horse

    Excellent information Mike and oh so true!!!

    One thing I wanted to mention to you though is that if you are letting other people ride your horses you have to tell your insurance or you won't be covered if something happens to them. Once you tell them that then you have to purchase additional insurance for horses that costs extra money. I have a very good friend that almost lost everything he had. He is a doctor as well and had some friends over one day. The oldest, 16 at the time, wanted to ride the horse. He put her on and showed her how to ride. Well her brother being a jerk whacked the horse on the butt with his hat. The horse jumped and ran and the girl fell off and had a bad head injury. Her parents sued him and his insurance wasn't going to pay because he hadn't informed them that he was letting people ride his horses. His insurance eventually paid some but he had to pay about $150k out of his own pocket for something that wasn't even his fault. I could name you a bunch of other similiar circumstances. It's ridiculous but too true of our society today.


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