Buying a horse is a financial decision that should make sense. But,we watch people buying horses and sometimes wonder what they were thinking. Here’s a perspective that is often overlooked by new horse buyers. A “free” horse costs just as much for hay, grain, wormer, vet bills, and miscellaneous expenses as a $25,000 Will Howe “dream” horse. At first blush, the “free” horse would appear the better financial decision. For sake of discussion we will assume the “free” horse is healthy and not part of the reason for the price.
Unless you are truly fortunate (and we talk with a lot of people who apparently aren’t), the “free” horse will likely cost as much or more than the $25,000 horse. No, we haven’t been drinking the high-powered cough medicine. But, we have observed a number of horse owners for several years and gained some insight from it.
A horse will consume 26 round bales per year. At $45 per round bale, this means your horse will cost $1,170.00 per year for hay excluding waste from weather and equipment handling expense. Wormer four times a year will cost $50.00. One vet visit with vaccinations and Coggins $200.00. These are all conservative figures not taking into account board, grain, and other expenditures. So $1500 per year is an extremely conservative estimate. Over five years ($1,500 x 5 years), you spent $7,500 whether you ever saddle the horse or not. We will assure you our maintenance per head isn’t that low, but maybe you run a more efficient operation. The $7,500 you expended doesn’t take into account training expenses if the horse is going to be ridden. All these expenses except the training start the moment you bring the horse home.
Our question is why would you spend $7,500.00 caring for a horse you can’t even ride? If we were going to spend that much for maintenance for an animal, it is going to be one that can be used and ridden. Maybe we’re just cheap, but if we take on this kind of financial responsibility, we want something for it. We want to ride the horse!
If you are looking for a horse, give some thought to making it a good financial decision. Horses generally aren’t a good investment in terms of saving for retirement. They can be a wonderful investment in years of fun, good times, and lasting memories. We want to help you see that paying good money out every month for a horse that you can’t catch, saddle, and ride is not a good financial decision. In fact, it makes just as much sense as buying a boat without a trailer that you keep in your backyard. If you can’t afford the trailer and the gas to go to the lake, you really don’t need the boat to be honest about it.
If you average the up front purchase price for a well-broke and already trained horse and spread it out over the time you own and ride, the initial expense doesn’t add all that much to the monthly cost of ownership. A $25,000 horse averages $5,000 per year over the five-year example we used. A sound horse without a lot of age will hold most of its value if you take proper care of it. Assuming you want to enjoy yourself and ride, the relatively small depreciation of your horse growing older is minimal.
Many people buy what they think will be a cheap horse that ends up at the trainer for 90 days to six months. The training charges run anywhere from $600 – 800 a month. So they spend $3,000 to 5,000 on a mount that may not even have the mind and disposition for a quality trail horse. The vet bills and expenses don’t stop just ’cause you take the horse to the trainer. Folks end up spending far more for a horse they can’t ride than if they had gotten a quality trail horse from the start. They could buy and ride the $25,000 horse for two years, sell it as an emergency fire loss for $20,000 and have spent less than the “free” horse someone “gifted” them. Give some thought as to why you want to spend more for a horse you can’t ride than for one you can enjoy. If you are buying a horse to ride, use, and have fun owning, then don’t waste your money by trying to cut corners. Penny wise can be dollar foolish!
By the way, if you need a boat for your garage, we got a buddy with a bass boat that saw the lake twice last Summer. Ah, it’s barely September, he still might get it to the lake this year!