What to Consider About Horse Ownership before Saddling Up
Most children have wanted a horse at some point in time in their life. They think that taking care of a horse is the same thing as taking care of a puppy, a kitten, or a fish. However, as adults, we know that sometimes we aren’t prepared to even take care of a fish, let alone a horse. Owning a horse isn’t for everyone. It’s a huge time and financial commitment. However, if you are considering buying a horse there are some key things to consider before you make that purchase. First things first, if you’re unsure of your horse ownership abilities there are other options. Leasing partially or full time is a great way to test whether you’re ready for full ownership of a horse. In a partial lease you’d pay a fixed fee or a portion of the horse’s expenses as an exchange for riding time. In a full lease you’d generally take over all of the expenses and care of a horse, but are not the owner.
Time Commitment for Horse Ownership
Horses are a time consuming species. They aren’t like cats or fish who can just be left alone for periods of time. Unless you can afford full accommodation at a stable or equestrian center you should be prepared to visit your horse at least twice a day, seven days a week. The upkeep of a horse takes time for jobs like mucking out the area, providing fresh water and food, grooming, and exercise. Not only that, but horses require vet appointments, equine dental technician visits, and regular farrier appointments are needed for their upkeep. Most of these extra things will have to be scheduled during the usual work day. Horses have a general life expectancy of up to 20 or more years. Once again, this is very different than what a life expectancy of a fish would be.
Financial Commitment of Owning a Horse
The cost of a horse itself can be upwards of $5,000 and some may be as much as $20,000. Then, you have all of the financial costs for the care of the horse, which makes the initial purchase of a horse seem small by comparison. Caring for your horse means paying for:
- Feed and supplements
- Tack and equipment
- Veterinarian and dental checks
The cost of some things, such as food, can change depending on circumstances. There’s also always a chance of sudden/unforeseen illness or injury that can impact a budget, or even undermine your ability to keep and care for the horse.
Horse Containment: Stable Vs. Paddock & Grazing
Where you keep your horse is a huge decision. There are places where you can board your horse, but these places have boarding rates for their services and those rates can be hefty. Also, if the boarding facility is farther away from your home it could make it difficult to visit every day. Horses can also be paddocked, but even then they need a shelter, a safe enclosed fence, and a clean environment. Generally a paddock would be something you take care of yourself, which is an additional time commitment. The choice to have horses stabled or paddocked is entirely yours, and each choice has its own benefits. Providing plenty of grazing and “roaming” time can lead to a happier, healthier horse. However, since horses are “prey” animals at heart, they can be high-strung and nervous, so ensuring they are safely contained even for grazing is a must. The most popular options for horse fencing include electric fencing, woven wire, and wood fencing. Electric fencing for your horse is one of the most cost-effective solutions available, with polywire electric fences costing, on average, about $0.20 per foot. Woven wire and wood, on the other hand, can range from $0.50 to $1.00 or more per foot!
Time to Ride Off Into the Sunset
Owning a horse is a big responsibility, and not a decision that should be taken lightly or made in haste. You need to consider all the facts before making the commitment of owning one of these animals. If you think you’re up to the challenges and rewards of owning one, then saddle up!