Getting Around the Cost of Horse Ownership

We see the cute memes where a pony wants a little girl for Christmas. We read a friend’s post where she is asking for a horse from Santa. People love the idea of owning a horse, or a horse owning them. Yet many of us know, a horse is not a one-time purchase or something that will sit on a shelf. Horses are expensive both in money and time. Time spent with horses benefits your life and there are ways to get around the cost of horse ownership. You just might be able to have your cake and eat it too.

Consider the Cost of Horse Ownership

A horse is not a pet. A horse is a responsibility. The initial investment in purchasing a horse can be expensive based on the horse’s training, age, breeding and success. All horses will take our time, nearly daily.

The main expense of a horse is its upkeep. If you don’t have proper stabling on your property then you must pay to board it somewhere else. The monthly cost can vary greatly depending on services and type of housing you choose for your horse. A horse must be fed at least two times a day (unless on good pasture), usually needs some kind of supplement and requires tack to be ridden and handled. If you plan to transport your horse for trail riding or horse shows you will need a truck and trailer, and of course gas in the tank. You will also need to purchase riding clothes. The minimum would be boots, helmet and comfortable stretchy clothing.

A horse also needs to have its feet shod with new shoes or just trimmed if barefoot about every 6–8 weeks. Veterinary care will always be needed even if just for the basics of annual shots and teeth floating plus quarterly deworming. You can purchase deworming products and do this yourself, but will need to be shown how to deworm properly.

If you don’t know how to ride or train your horse then you will definitely need to find a trainer to help you, or do it for you so you can ride your horse.

Ways to Get Around the Costs of Horse Ownership

Leasing: You don’t own the horse but you “rent” it from the owner. Agreements will usually include full or partial payment of the horse’s upkeep, stabling etc. This option allows you to experience horse ownership without the full commitment of owning one. Be sure to get all expectations in writing and know that you are capable of taking care of and riding the horse you choose to lease.

Working Student: You provide labor for a horse trainer in exchange for riding lessons and the use of his or her horse(s). This option is a great way to get immersed in the horse industry. You can gain valuable experience in exchange for physical labor. Warning: early mornings, manure shoveling, tack cleaning, late evenings, hay bale stacking, fence fixing, horse grooming and tacking up, horse feeding, even babysitting could be part of your days. Be sure to get things in writing or you may end up used and abused but experienced.

Borrowing: You provide the time a horse needs to be cared for and exercised. There are many horses just needing someone who has time to pay attention to them. This option is ideal for the person who has horse experience, but perhaps not the funds to care for a horse. Sometimes you may simply ride the horse a few times a week for the owner.

Sharing: You share ownership and costs with another person or two. Agreements would need to be very specific regarding cost sharing, riding time, responsibility sharing and how to get out of the partnership. However, this option could make horse ownership work for the right horse and people.

Volunteer: You volunteer to help at a local horse therapy organization or horse stable. This option puts you right in the action of handling, grooming, feeding and connecting people to horses. There are several organizations in SLO County who would love to see your happy face. Check out Little Riders in Arroyo Grande, P.E.T. in Atascadero and Equine Alliance Youth Foundation in North County and Kern County.

Yes, You Can Get Around the Cost of Horse Ownership

sharon-betterRight now I am horseless and can’t afford to keep one. I get my horse fix through borrowing my friend’s horse. I am helping her by training her horse and providing exercise and care a few times a week to free her up. Volunteering at Little Riders connects me with the horses, the other volunteers, and the little riders and has given me much joy. I have also paid my dues as a working student and actually treasure the experience gained from each situation. So really, horse “ownership” without the cost can be done.




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