‘A pony is a childhood dream, a horse an adulthood treasure’– Rebecca Carroll
The decision to bring a large, four-legged friend into your life, requires research, careful thought and a few half halts, in order to avoid making costly and emotionally draining mistakes.
Horses are quite capable of stirring all kinds of positive emotions in human beings. That means that there is a real danger of allowing our hearts to rule our heads.
We love Rebecca’s quote above and would certainly not intend to talk you out of going ahead with a purchase – but neither will we sugar coat this huge responsibility.
As much as we might all love horses, it is a fact, that no matter how strong the desire, not everyone should own one.
There are numerous considerations to be met and we have produced what we hope is a helpful trio of tips below, to help you decide whether horse ownership is for you.
Top Tip #1 – Try before you buy
We would recommend that you loan, share or lease a horse or
pony first, for at least six months, or better still through an entire year. You will then be responsible for all or part of the expenses for the horse.
It can be extremely valuable to do this so that the true impact upon your life throughout the seasons, can be fully appreciated. Owning a horse can be as life changing as having a baby.
The daily diary of a horse or pony keeper can look something like this:
If you can bravely make it through a winter, crawling out of bed at weekends when everyone else is still tucked up snugly enjoying a lie in and the rain is lashing down outside, then that’s a pretty good start.
Top Tip #2 – Answer some important questions
It is all too easy to start with how much you plan to spend on the horse or pony itself. However, it is important to firstly start by answering a few key questions.
- Why is owning a horse so important to you?
- What knowledge and experience do you have, or have access to, in order to meet the needs of the horse or pony?
- Who will be your Vet and your Farrier?
- How much time do you have available each day to commit to care and exercise?
- Where would you plan to keep your new purchase?
- Who will care for your horse if you are sick, at work, or would like to take a holiday?
- Who can provide lessons or ongoing training to advance your skills and improve your horse?
This is not a comprehensive list but the answers are critical to the success of any horse buying venture.
One very important thing to recognise is that the initial purchase price of any horse or pony is simply tiny compared to the ongoing expenses you are likely to incur.
Top Tip #3 – Prepare a budget for the costs – both fixed and variable.
Below is a list of things we believe you need to budget for on a monthly basis
- Livery – consider where you will keep your new purchase. There are lots of options available from grass livery at around £20 per week right up to a full livery service which can reach as much as £200 per week. Everyone’s circumstances are different but this is a fixed cost every month and the money needs to be easily available to you. The proximity to your home or work should also always be considered as time spent travelling can prove expensive.
- Feed and bedding – this can be included in the cost of livery or it may not. At current UK 2020 prices for a 16hh horse, allow at least £12 per week for forage and a basic balancer (vitamin and mineral supplement), and £8 for bedding. Total £80 per month.
- Insurance – is very important and you must take out Public Liability Insurance as a minimum in case your horse harms someone, damages property or causes an accident and you are deemed negligent. Some people have this level of cover on their household insurance, so that is worth checking first. Insurance to cover for Vet fees, loss of use and tack etc will raise the price but expect to pay at least £40 per month for adequate cover. We plan to cover insurance in more detail in the near future.
- Farrier – a horse or pony will need its feet attending to, every 6-8 weeks. A shod horse may need visiting more often and an unshod one maybe slightly less. Expect to pay at least £20 for feet to be dressed and at least £65 for a set of shoes.
- Worming, Vaccinations and Dental treatment – you will need to set aside at least £15 per month to cover the cost of these essential aids to managing your horses’ health.
- Equipment – Horses and ponies need a lot of equipment, from a wheelbarrow and yard tools to a saddle, bridle, grooming kit, rugs and much more. If you are a first-time buyer then allowing for all of this could easily cost £1000 (equivalent to over £80 per month in year one).
- Tuition – it is virtually essential to your own and your horses’ development to take regular lessons. This has the potential to improve your partnership, develop skills and increase the value of your horse. We suggest you allow a minimum of £25 a month for this. At Here4Horses we believe that there are few things that improve the future welfare prospects of a horse or pony more than good basic training.
- Unexpected fees – these include the requirement for more expensive feeds or supplements, accidents or injury requiring veterinary treatment or even euthanasia, weather affecting hay supplies and cost, rising fuel prices and the need for specialised treatments like Physiotherapy or simply that gorgeous new saddle pad you have your eye on. These unexpected fees can become very high and we suggest allowing at least £30 per month.
Horses can be skilful at creating emergency situations
That is why we at Here4Horses believe that everyone in charge of a horse or pony should be able to access £500 in cash at any time.
This would represent an emergency fund in case the worst happens. You can then rest assured that the horse or pony can see a vet, be diagnosed and at worst be put to sleep in order to prevent further suffering.
On the basis of our calculations, the absolute minimum amount needed to keep a trouble-free horse in its first year, is an eye watering £365 per month and if you have to pay someone to do some of the work for you then it could be at least £100 more.
Something to think about.
To provide the right level of care for a horse or pony could potentially require a financial commitment every month from you, equivalent to a mortgage on an £85,000 house.
If that fact doesn’t strike fear into your heart then perhaps, you’re ready to go horse hunting.