Before taking that giant leap and purchasing your first horse, you will want to take a lot of things into account. For starters, it is vital that you appreciate the financial implications of taking on a horse.
The number of abandoned horses in the UK is rising, and this is partly due to the fact that some people are unable to afford the cost of keeping these animals and make the purchase anyway, just to discover that they are unable to keep up with the payments.
So, it is important that you research all of the costs of keeping a horse before you start thinking about the little - and more fun - things, like coming up with a name etc.
It is not just the horse prices you need to think about but the feed and veterinary care your horse will need on a regular basis as well as places to keep the animal and other maintenance costs. So, here is a nice rundown of all of the costs of keeping a horse.
As you are most probably already aware, livery or field rental, is where a farmer rents out his field for horse owners to use for grazing. These tend to cost around £10 a week, however, that is very cheap. You will find that the fields generally have few facilities and you might be responsible for the maintenance of the field. Lots of horse owners choose to keep their horses at a livery yard which often have a range of facilities like tack rooms, schooling arenas and jumps etc.
So how much does a horse cost in terms of livery? Grass livery you can expect to pay between £20 and £25 per week. If you decide to choose choose a stabled livery then it will be about £30 to £40 per week, and full livery will cost you a whopping £100 to £150 per week. So you need to weigh up which option is best for you and your horse, as well as which suits your budget best.
Hay and bedding
If you keep your horse on grass then hay is usually only needed in the winter when the grass is scarce. When coming up with a budget, you will need to take into account the fact that you will be required to buy hay for around five months of the year, at around £10 per week.
If, however, your horse is stabled, then you will be required to purchase hay for the entire year and you will also be required to purchase bedding. There are many options to choose from when deciding which bedding you want to use, so take a look at all of the options available before choosing. Different types of horse bedding are effective in different ways and cost different amounts. For a full rundown of the different types of horse bedding, click here.
You will find the costs of feed vary depending on the size of your horse, how much it exercises and whether it is stabled or on grass. You will need to remember that a horse only has one stomach making their digestive system relatively delicate and sensitive to change. Therefore, you will need to ensure that you select the correct feed. There are a number of options to consider. Hay is a standard choice and comes in different variations, from alfalfa to oat and timothy. You should always opt to feed your horse some hay, which comes in bale form. Each bale should contain from 10-14 flakes. You are also able to purchase hay in pellet or cube form.
You will also want to remember that sometimes horse supplements, which can be relatively costly, are required. If a horse has a good diet then horse supplements are generally not required. However, as a horse gets older, or has any horse health issues, supplements may be required. The most common horse supplements are vitamins and minerals.
The cost of horse feed varies, so make sure that you shop around before committing to purchasing.
Insurance and veterinary costs
Annual vaccinations are needed to protect your horse against flu and Tetanus. You should expect these yearly vaccinations to cost approximately £35 per year and you will also be required to pay around £35 for a call out charge. The cost of insurance to cover vets fees will cost anywhere between £20 to £40 per month or sometimes more.
Again, when it comes to insurance you will want to shop around for the deal that best suits you and your horse. There are a number of different types of equestrian insurance that cover a range of liabilities, including cover in the event of death, theft and legal liability. You will, as a minimum, want to ensure that you purchase third party liability cover, which will leave you protected should someone decide to take legal action against you for any damage or injury inflicted by your horse.
You should never enter into any insurance agreement unless you have complete confidence in the terms and conditions of the deal, and are fully aware of the amount of cover (and the length of cover) that will be offered should an incident occur in regards to your equestrian experience.
Farrier and dentist costs
Every six weeks your horse will need to be visited by a farrier. Whether your horse is shod or not it will require this regular attention. This will cost you £25 for trimming and £50 to £55 for shoeing per visit - on average.
You should also have visits from the dentist each year to make sure that there are no sharp tooth edges that could cause your horse discomfort. If you want to ensure that your horse has a nice life and lives in comfort then taking it to the dentist regularly is very important and should be accounted for when you are deciding on if you can or can’t afford a horse. Dentistry costs for your horse should set you back around £50 to £70 per visit.
Riding gear and equipment
If you are going to be out and about riding your horse, then you will also want to consider the added cost of saddles, bridles and other tack and equipment as well as your own riding equipment from helmets to breeches.
Have a browse on Equine Superstore today and have a look at all of the riding equipment that is available. It will give you an idea of how much these items cost, which means you can tally these costs up when deciding if you can afford to keep a horse.
Worming is important. If your horse or pony becomes heavily infested with worms then it will lack condition and will also find it hard to keep on a healthy amount of weight. Even an apparently healthy horse can have a worm burden bad enough to cause colic and other health problems.
Not so long ago owners used one of a limited number of wormers regularly for a year and then changed the next year to another make. In recent years as horse ownership has grown, so has the choice available and it is possible to buy, without advice, online. Worming is another cost to take into account and you will need to set aside £10 to £15 every six to eight weeks.