Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cost of Improvement

Expo 2016

So, I sometimes go on to the Arabian Marketplace and look at horses, not because I am looking at replacing Ashke, but because horses. I am blown away at the prices that are sometimes listed. Then I compare those prices to the prices listed on Craigslist, Dreamhorse and Equine Now. The range varies greatly. It got me thinking about why we would be willing to pay what we pay for a horse. 

Anytime you look at purchasing a horse, unless you are paying for proven performance in the show ring, you are purchasing potential. I think that is why most breeders sell their horses as weenlings or yearlings, because all you have is potential (not to mention selling young shifts the cost of care and training onto the shoulders of the next owner). If you keep a horse, develop the horse and then sell the horse, you will never recoup the cost you've put into that horse. It's not a break even endeavor.

Ashke came to me free of charge. So, for me there was no initial start up cost. He was seven years old and halter broke. Let's look at the cost of horse ownership:
    • Boarding                        $ 38,000
    • Shavings                        $ 1,800
    • Supplements                  $ 5,200
    • Farrier                           $ 4,600
    • Vet/Chiro                      $ 5,000
    • Sundries                        $ 3,500
 So, for simple horse ownership at a barn that meets my needs (indoor arena, separate paddock with run for Ashke) my costs since April of 2012 are 58k.For most breeders, some of those costs would be more incremental: mortgage for property vs boarding costs, shavings only for horses stalled inside, farrier services would be reduced and young horses should not need as much supplemental support (you would hope). And this is my cost over six plus years, whereas most breeders will sell young.

Setting those aside, there are other costs associated with horse ownership, if as a rider, you have specific goals in mind. In my case, Ashke and I are competing in Working Equitation and want to 1) improve our scores, and 2) advance up the levels. That requires effort and discipline on my part. Hard work on Ashke's part. And a great relationship with a trainer that will support our goals.

Ease of Handling, July 2016

I think the biggest cost comes from the time spent in the saddle working on specific dressage movements. I have committed to riding four to five days a week, with one dressage lesson a week, to improving my riding, Ashke's physical and mental development, plus clinics and practice days specific to our sport. The time commitment to make this happen is significant. But it has improved both his physical condition, my physical condition and our ability to perform.

Spring 2018

In the end, this is a cost heavy sport. It costs time and money, to just keep the horse, let alone prep it for showing. I really love the changes that dressage has brought to the shape of his body, to the muscle development and his increased ability to do what is asked of him. I love the relationship we have now developed and how much he is willing to try. All of that has no monetary value - just emotional value.

July 2018


  1. Good post. I had a coach who said that the cheapest thing about owning a horse was the purchase price and she was right. I always say that I could spend my money on drugs but horses are way better. :D

  2. I would definitely agree in most situations horses are not a profit machine. When everything goes right performance breeders do make profit, maybe not an astronomical sum but more than they put in depending on the circumstances. I made a profit on selling Ramone, a decent one too - but I didn't factor in my time costs, just upkeep and $$ invested into him in the form of shows and lessons. When my non-horse friends who know my profit story on Ramone ask me why I don't do it full time I tell them it's kind of a fool's errand, but selling them after a couple years means my hobby costs me less money in the long run than if I had kept the horses lol.


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