Thursday, April 3, 2008

Discussion: The true cost of owning a horse

Lately we've been hearing a lot from pro-slaughter forces who think we must have slaughter or horses will be neglected. I don't agree with that, although I have no problem with government-funded or privately-funded euthanasia and believe we must make that readily available. My argument is with giving anybody a penny of profit for their bad behavior. That, to me, is the biggest problem with slaughter as it has traditionally existed - it pays you for being irresponsible and/or cruel. As long as you reward a behavior, that behavior will continue and increase. Think how much more crime we'd have if you got a $300 bonus each time you were arrested! If the two options are: care for your horse (costs money) or kill your horse (pays money), we all know what the asshats of the world will choose.

Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to discouraging people too poor to own horses from owning them in the first place. That's what I want to talk about today. What does it really cost to own a horse? I think a lot of people are clueless about the facts!

(Somewhat related - for you newbies, read my blog entry a while back on the fact that horses are a luxury)

I want to know your location and what it costs you to maintain a horse in your location. I've outlined what I think are the necessities below (some are averages/guesses of course). Can you do the same in this thread and be sure to state your location? I think this will make for very valuable reading for anyone considering purchasing a horse, or for those realizing it is time to budget now for next winter. I'm not talking about supplements or tack or "extras." I'm talking about the FLAT OUT BASICS to maintain a horse in good and healthy condition. If you board, quote your board cost and what is or is not included.

Location: Seattle area

Hay: $12 - $15 per square bale (large 100# bales) for alfalfa or orchard grass. Local grass goes for $4-$6 per square bale but my horses need better. If you're looking to feed a Thoroughbred, older horse, etc. - you're going to be buying the expensive hay. I go through a bale a day per four horses - that's probably about average. I'm actually going to have sufficient grazing this summer to do without hay but that has not been the usual case. Normally I've had to hay year-round. If you have 10 horses on 3 acres, guess what, you have to hay year-round! I was told a long time ago that the ratio is 1 horse per acre if you want them to be able to maintain on grass and from my experience that's about accurate, IF you have GOOD grass. I once had 5-6 Thoroughbreds living on five acres and they were hog-fat all summer with no supplemental feeding, but that was in the Midwest where the grass is excellent. Not so much the case if you live in a drier climate or have weed issues.

Now, if you have a mush eater, like I do, my cost keeping her in orchard grass pellets is about $6 per day.

Hooves: Trims $35.

Deworming: Averages out to $10 every other month. FYI, if you don't already know this, Country Supply has really cheap Ivermectin. You can't use it every time but you can rotate it in.

Bedding: This is pretty pricy around here. ABM pellets at about $16 per week.

Vet: I looked at last year and my average was about $250 per horse. I had no major emergencies.

So my monthly average cost per horse is in the neighborhood of $216. What's yours?


You east coast folks said you wanted to see some east coast rescues available for adoption. Here you go. How cute is he??? OMG, he's adorable. He's over at Mid Atlantic Horse Rescue in Maryland - sound, sane, sixteen hands and ready to go have a new career. I know how many of you have always wanted a gray!

By the way, you should look at their web site in general. Note how every rideable rescue horse is ... being ridden! And by someone who can actually ride. Not Cousin Cooter in shorts, tennis shoes, a mullet and a cordura saddle with turquoise sparklies on it. This is one reason this particular rescue has a rep for being able to place these horses into upscale homes where they will receive excellent care. Targeted marketing works.

...omg he's so cute, I just want to kiss his little gray nose...