Friday, December 23, 2011

Horse Costs: Vet Bills & More

On horse forums, Yahoo answers and other internet gathering points, people always ask, "How much money does it take to keep a horse?" They're always shocked at the answer.

Buying the actual horse is dirt cheap-- and that leads people to believe horses in general are cheap. It's an easy assumption to make. As I've pointed out here, you can buy a pretty decent trail horse for $500 these days. Heck, there's one here for just $450-- he's not pretty, but he doesn't have any glaring conformation flaws either. I suspect once he got an owner with some experience (as in, enough experience not to stick a saddle on him that sits directly on his withers) he'd be a fine ride. There's another one here, with color to boot, for only $300! "Puzzle" has two very minor health problems, but sounds extremely steady on the trails.

Yup, horses are cheap to buy-- and expensive as hell to take care of. I'm smarting today because of the big check I just wrote for routine vet care for Annie and Mr. Strut in 2012:


Or in other words, $380 per horse, per year. Now actually, that's quite a deal. My vet's office is offering "Wellness Packages" for lower prices if you make an appointment and pay in advance. I've saved about $400 by doing so, rather than calling them out piecemeal. The basic wellness packages I got for both my horsey friends include all their basic shots, teeth floating, fecal exams, Coggins tests and nutritional consult. These things are done in two visits, one in spring and one in fall.

Of course, that doesn't include any incidentals, like lameness exams, supplements, Bute (like for Mr. Strut) or (God forbid) any accidents that require treatment. It also doesn't include worming, which I do myself.

And of course, vet bills are only the start of the costs. There's boarding, farrier visits and feed, just for basics.  I'm extremely fortunate in that I'm able to board for free at my folk's place, and hay is cheap(ish) in my area. I don't think I'd be able to afford a horse, otherwise, much less two!

I think my neighbor down the road pays $220 per month to board her horse in a stall with regular turnout-- and I don't think that includes all the feed, either. That's $2,640 just to keep her horse around!
How much do you spend on YOUR horses per year? Tell us where roughly where you live, so we can compare cost-of-horse-living!

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