Leasing or owning a horse comes with many care expenses. There are board costs, vet/farrier, dentist, feed, and wormer just to name a few. Since owning Z, I needed to come up with a plan to provide the best care for him at the lowest price. These options will not work for all horses, but these are some factors to look at when considering the care expenses of your horse.
Board is probably going to be your biggest recurring expense. I’ve seen board fees range from $250-$1000 per month. A lot depends on what services you want to come with your horse’s board. It also depends on the specific facility. Some facilities offer the same services as others for significantly cheaper. You just have to look around and compare prices and services. Pasture board and self-care board are going to be your cheapest options. I understand that these aren’t possible for all horses, but if you have the ability, I would suggest pasture boarding your horse, as long as shelter is provided such as a run-in shed. I have Z in a combination of pasture and self-care board and it has saved me so much money. He lives out with a big herd in beautiful fields, but he also gets his own stall in the barn. I decide when I want to bring him in. Most of the time, he is happier outside, but he does like to come in during heavy rain or cold weather. If you need to have full board service for your horse, my biggest piece of advice would be to look around and compare facilities. Just in my city, I know of a barn with full board service, indoor and outdoor arenas for $300 cheaper a month than another barn with the same services and only an outdoor arena. Don’t get ripped off!
If your horse can go barefoot, let it go barefoot!!! There is no reason to put shoes on a horse that is perfectly sound with no other issues without shoes. Paying for just a trim every 6 weeks sure beats what my friends pay for 2 or 4 shoes. If your horse needs shoes (which some do!) see if you can put 2 on the front and leave or pull off the back ones. Unless a horse has specific issues with its feet or is in a certain situation, it does not need back shoes. If your horse has 4 shoes and you do pull the back ones, be prepared for your horse to go lame for a while to get adjusted to his new feet.
The best way to save on vet and dentist services is to compare prices with reviews of the quality of service. Vet and dentist prices will vary on the same services per each vet and dentist. Vets and dentists usually charge a farm call fee. This is a flat rate for them just to come out to your farm. If your horse is due for vaccinations, coggins, or teeth filing, see if you can team up with other people at your barn and have them come for all the horses at once. That way you can all split the farm call fee, saving you a bit of money.
Feed and Worming
If you have your horse in full board, feed and worming are often included in your monthly rate. If they’re not though, you need to speak with your trainers and vet to determine what feed is right for your horse. Once you know what feed you’re going to use, go buy in bulk! It seems like a lot of money up front, but it is so much cheaper in the long run. Also, ask for rewards cards. I feed Triple Crown and when I buy 10 bags, I earn 1 free. As far as worming, there are different opinions on how often a horse should be wormed. Some people say every two months. Z gets wormed every 6 months and that is what my trainer goes by as well. You give it once in the spring and once in the fall.
-Hannah + Z