Parents of horse lovers, be careful. It is only a matter of time before your child starts asking for a pony over and over again. I should know, I was that kid. For every birthday, Christmas, Easter, or special occasion, all I asked for was a horse. I dreamed of horses. I only played with toy horses. My favorite excursions were to the local farm store so I could imagine buying myself a saddle and bridle.
I have never received a horse, and as a well adjusted and rational adult I understand why. Owning a horse is expensive, and kids don’t always stick with a hobby or interest. If your child is starting to show signs of horse fever, don’t buy this pony. Instead, consider the annual expense and start with one of the many cost effective alternatives to buying a horse.
The cost of owning a horse
You probably know that the initial cost of buying a horse won’t compare to the cost of owning it in the long run. So while you can find a rescue pony for just a few hundred dollars, don’t be fooled into making a purchase.
Responses to a survey of horse owners from the University of Maine revealed that the average annual cost of owning a horse is $ 3,876 per horse, while the average cost is $ 2,419. This places the average monthly expense between $ 200 and $ 325, on par with paying for a car.
If you’re wondering where all this money is going, a lot of it goes to food. The average horse weighs 1,100 pounds and should eat at least 1.5% to 2.5% of its body weight each day on hay and grain. While a bale of hay or a bag of grain won’t cost you that much, that bale or bag won’t last long. Food itself costs between one-third and one-half of the total cost of owning a horse, averaging over $ 1,000 per year.
Veterinarian and Farrier
Another big expense to consider is the combination of vet and farrier fees. Just like your dog or cat needs regular maintenance and care, a horse needs it, and it costs a lot more than looking after a small pet. Vet fees alone average $ 485 per year, including checkups, standard injections and tests, four annual dewormers, and minor care for elective injuries.
If your horse needs emergency care, expect the vet’s expenses to increase dramatically. In fact, it would be wise to have an emergency vet fund with several thousand dollars saved, just in case.
In addition to vet fees, the cost of hoof maintenance should be considered. Taking care of your horse’s hooves is not an optional expense. Improper hoof care can lead to infection, joint hyperextension, and even permanent lameness. In addition to the daily care by the owner, a certified farrier should see horses every six to eight weeks for trimming or shoeing. The annual cost of pruning is around $ 350, while the material can cost a lot more, depending on how many hooves are clipped and how often they are replaced.
If you have a horse on your property, a general maintenance fee is required to ensure that everything is well maintained and functioning. Maintenance of barns, stables or shelters, maintenance of fences and equipment, and maintenance of trailer vehicles fall into this category. You should also provide bedding for your horse if it is in a covered stable.
Usually these expenses add up. Depending on their facilities and required maintenance, horse owners can expect to spend over $ 800 on maintenance per year.
Do you think owning a horse already seems expensive? It becomes much more expensive if you have to ship your pet onto someone else’s property.
Shipping costs vary widely based on the expectations of the shipping facility. If you just ride a horse in a pasture, not expecting exercise, food, or other amenities, you might be able to get by with less than $ 100 a month. That said, if you want to ride your horse in a stable, with food, water, fresh bedding, regular exercise, and other amenities, expect to pay a lot more. A presentation from Rutgers University suggests that the average monthly boarding fee is $ 260, although some institutions charge more than $ 600.
Occasional or one-off expenses
In addition to the ongoing costs of owning a horse, there are occasional or one-time expenses that you should be prepared to pay. For example, you’ll want to purchase horse crampons and personal grooming items such as saddles, bridles, halters, brushes, shampoo, horse blankets, and ropes. Each of them requires an initial investment and depending on usage will require maintenance or replacement from time to time.
Another often overlooked expense is training. If you want your child to be able to ride the horse you bought, the horse must be broken to ride. Even if you buy a horse that has already had basic training, it may need additional training to make it work well with your child. Some horses are intractable or stubborn, and you need to be sure the horse will listen and obey your child’s commands.
Likewise, your child may also need training. If your child hasn’t spent a lot of time with the horses, enlisting the help of an instructor or trainer to teach them how to approach, care for and ride the horse effectively can make the experience more rewarding for everyone. the world.
And finally, there are the costs of equipment for the rider. Helmets, riding boots, riding leggings or breeches, spurs or riding crop and gloves are just a few of the items your child may need. Your needs will vary depending on the type of riding performed and the level of competition, but you should be prepared to budget and purchase some of these items.
Alternatives to owning horses
If you’ve calculated the numbers and determined that owning a horse is too expensive, there are several alternatives. Even if you would love to give your son or daughter a horse or pony, it might not make financial sense. Try to satisfy your child’s hunger by providing horse riding experiences without the long term commitment and expense of ownership.
1. Riding lessons
Check your area to see if there are any stables offering riding lessons and instruction. Lessons are a great way to introduce your child to riding and basic horse maintenance under the tutelage of a qualified instructor. You can also choose from a variety of driving styles that fall under the General English or Western driving categories. English riding includes sub-specialties such as dressage, show jumping, and polo, while western riding includes sub-specialties such as kidney, cup, and rodeo.
Start by introducing your child to different types of lessons from different instructors, and when you’ve fallen in love with an instructor or style, commit to a weekly or bi-weekly class. Most group lessons cost between $ 15 and $ 50 per lesson, while private lessons can cost up to $ 100 or more per hour.
2. Club 4-H
Although most 4-H club members have their own animals, it is worth calling your local 4-H horse section to ask if the equestrian program has animals available for young riders. The 4-H programs provide equine instruction for students in grades 3 through 12 that covers everything from basic grooming to the ins and outs of showcasing your horse.
If your local branch provides hands-on experience for non-equestrian students, this can be the perfect, cost-effective solution. Some 4-H activities are free for members, while others, such as classes or shows, may have a nominal cost.
Call your local stables, horse rescues and equestrian therapy programs to see if they are currently looking for volunteers. Some organizations are willing to offer lessons or ride time in exchange for help in the stables. Even if the organization does not offer riding lessons or time, your child can still take advantage of their volunteer time to brush, wash and care for the horses.
4. Horse camp
When summer arrives, give your child the experience of a lifetime and send them to horse camp. Local stables probably offer day camps, but for a true immersion experience, look for overnight camps. Most equestrian camps pair a child with a horse for a week or two, which gives the child the responsibility of looking after, grooming, riding and feeding the horse during the camp.
Without actually bringing a horse into your life, riding camp is the closest thing your child will be able to experience as a horse owner. Believe me, I still remember the name, personality and love I shared with a horse at equestrian camp over 20 years ago – Brown Jug will live on in my heart forever.
5. Loans, rentals or partitions of horses
Steps away from horse ownership, horse loans, leases and inventories are agreements made with a horse owner to gain access to their horse.
- Horse loans. By entering into a horse loan agreement, you agree to the care and nutrition of a horse without any long term ownership commitment. These are usually set for a fixed term, during which you bear all property costs as detailed in the loan agreement.
- Horse rental. Much like a horse loan, a horse lease is entered into with the owner of the horse, and you bear a large portion of the expenses associated with owning the horse. The only difference is that you pay a monthly fee to the horse owner for the use of the horse. Think of it as a car rental, but for a horse.
- Horse actions. When two parties want to buy a horse, but neither party wants to shoulder the total cost of ownership, one part of the horse may be worth it. These are essentially co-ownership agreements in which both parties own the horse and help cover the costs of care.
If you choose to get a loan, lease, or partition, consider getting a lawyer to make an agreement to protect your interests and those of the other party. You don’t want there to be any misunderstandings about who is responsible for what expenses.
6. Horse breeding
It is a sad truth that many horses are abandoned, neglected or just plain unwanted by their owners. Horse rescue organizations frequently seek foster homes to help manage the horses in their care. If you have the facilities and the space to have a horse in your home, horse breeding can be the perfect solution. Rescue organizations typically cover most of the property costs, such as vet fees, training, and corrective farrier visits, while foster families cover food, shelter, and other standard care.
Before you start with a host family, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The foster horse can be adopted at any time. Make sure your child understands this dynamic before embarking on parenting.
Some host horses cannot be ridden. If your child specifically wants to ride a horse, they might be disappointed if you give them a lame, sick, or untrained horse.
- Some host horses are not good with children. Even if a horse has been dismantled for riding, not all horses are suitable for young children. Again, if your child wants to ride a horse, he may be disappointed.
Parenting is a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You agree to devote time, energy, and money to caring for and feeding an animal that may be sick or malnourished. It probably has its challenges, but at the same time, it could be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done. Watching a horse take care of you, regain your health, learn to trust humans and find a forever home is a beautiful and heartwarming experience. Think carefully about the challenges and rewards before signing up.
Truth be told, if your kid wants a horse, they’ll probably never know the end of it. That said, there are ways to sate the desire by providing regular riding experiences that won’t cost as much as owning a real horse. Do not hesitate to explain to your child why you cannot buy him a horse. Compose an expense spreadsheet and explain that one day, when you have a salary, the decision to buy a horse will be yours.
Even though I don’t have a horse of my own yet, I have never completely given up on sleep. I am finally able to take care of a horse on my property, but despite everything, I am not ready to fool around and bear the monthly expenses. Horses live for over 25 years, so unless you’re willing to spend $ 3,000 or more per year for over 20 years, you’re probably not ready to commit.
Does your child want a horse? What other solutions do you use to keep your child happy?