Monday, December 19, 2011
All I Want for Christmas is a Horse!
However . . . a life with horses is not without challenges (as every horse owner knows and which makes for wonderful blogs!) especially financial ones. So what would the reality be if you DID find your dream horse under the tree? Hopefully, you would also find all the necessary tack and equipment wrapped and ready; otherwise, you'll be spending some big bucks. I am still using tack from a decade ago, so I hadn't priced saddles and bridles in ages. Saddles from the Stateline online catalog ranged from $400 to $2,000. These weren't custom made or custom fit, so if Santa brought you a horse with an odd back, you'll be spending even more. Bridles ranged from $30 to $180.00 (most without the bits) Helmets went from $40 to $130. Then there're halter and lead rope, brushes, hoof picks, and buckets. Those are the absolutely necessary items if you are going to ride a horse. That doesn't include board.
I've pared down my horses' needs to a minimum. We have seven acres of grass, reasonably priced and easy to get hay, and two easy-keepers. Both get a small amount of grain, but Relish gets an expensive supplement for his hooves since I keep him barefoot (which keeps farrier costs down to $65.00 every six weeks for two.) BUT we had to invest in a barn--$25,000 ten years ago--granted it's large enough to house our tractor, which is important for mowing those seven acres, and my husband's car parts and equipment--as well as good fencing--$5,000.
Are you adding this up all you "wishing for a horse" folks? That's the price tag if you keep a horse in your backyard. I live in a rural area, and the nearby barn with indoor arena charges $250 a month IF your horse can be used for occasional lessons. I know it is much higher in urban areas. Ouch. If you go for riding in a big way there's also trailering, lessons, show gear, entry fees . . . And don't worry, your horse WILL need a vet, even if it's just for yearly immunizations, which run about $175 per horse in my area.
On top of financial realities, there are also huge time and energy commitments. Horses need at least twice a day care. If you are doing it by yourself, it is a responsibilty that can not be forgotten EVER. If you are paying someone to care for your horse, see the above price tag. And lastly, when you ride horses, note that "helmet hair" was not a description coined by soldiers, and that you will always have manure on your boot soles and hay clinging to your clothes.
Now: Who wants a horse under their Christmas tree? If you are still screaming "I do!!!!" you are one of us--the truly horse-obsessed!
Merry Christmas and may you find the gift of love and laughter under your tree this year!