Such questions always seem to make people tense and argumentative.
The simple fact is this - horses are expensive. That is all there is to it.
MANY people assume boarding is 'expensive' and keeping them at home is 'cheap'.
Welll....let us say basic board is 300 dollars a month in your area. That's 3600 a year. That may be far LESS than it costs you to buy more land in an area that allows horses, build a barn, put up fences, seed a pasture, put in a drive to the barn, and pay for someone to feed the horses when you are sick, hurt or out of town. You may pay a premium for small loads of hay or bedding when you keep horses at home. You must also consider your time. Keeping horses at home...plain and simple - is a burden. They do not stop pooping or eating on holidays, or when you're sick, or tired, or have to stay late at work.
The cheapest way to keep horses is with a simple 3 sided shed, out in a pasture. This is least possible up north - and more possible in the south, less possible on land that does not have good natural drainage....but every style of horse keeping has its 'pro's' and 'con's'. Saving money is great....if it really saves you money....
Some people can keep the costs down more than others - but there very often is a 'cost' reducing the 'cost', LOL.
You can save on your hay bill if you use pasture - but it costs something to maintain pasture. You can save money by using less bedding, but the horses and the stable will be dirtier, your neighbors are more likely to complain about it, and the horses will be more likely to slip or get hurt. You can save money and buy cheaper hay, but if your horse swallows a nail and needs surgery, or colics due to poor hay, well, you haven't saved much.
Say you have pasture. That 'reduces costs', yes?
Well, first of all, you must buy more land. And that is expensive. So is property tax on more land.
In most parts of the USA, this means you have grass for the horses for SOME PART of the year. Part of the year, the grass will grow very quickly (spring) and may make the horses sick - they must eat less grass and eat more hay. Part of the year the pasture will be not growing, all eaten up, droughted out, or covered with snow.
So in most parts of the USA, even if you have pasture land, you will also need to buy hay.
To maintain the pasture, you can spend little money and let weeds, shrubs and brambles gradually take over until there is very little nutrition to be gotten from the pasture. Or you can fertilize, treat for weeds, perhaps add lime.
Pasture means fence. You can buy very cheap fence materials, and risk injuries and escapes. Or you can spend more money and have a secure fence that is less likely to injure horses.
Fence, even fairly cheap fence, is expensive.
Having pasture means buying land. That means paying property tax on that land. That means that if the land is muddy, there will be pressure from the local government to fix that. That means excavation, fencing off 'sacrifice areas' where the horses loaf when the pasture ground is wet.
I will also correct some inaccurate information given before -
"Don't have your manure hauled off, just make a place for it".
You cannot do that everywhere. If you have more farm land, it is more often possible. But even if you do have a large farm, the local government agencies have a say in how you handle manure, and each township and village has different rules. You may be REQUIRED to have the manure hauled away periodically, to build a good wide driveway out to where it is stored, and to build a concrete based storage bin (with a cover) to store it until it is picked up.
In some areas, not all, you are allowed to compost your manure. But in MOST farm areas, you are limited in where you can spread your manure or compost. Generally, not within 200 feet of a well head, and generally, if any of your neighbors complain about it, they can make enough trouble that you will be told to stop spreading your manure.
If you are legally a farming business, that can help. But if you are not a farm business, and especially if you have residential homes near to your pasture, you will find that your neighbors and the local township has an awful lot to say about what you do with that horse manure.
Edited by welsummerchicks - 8/10/11 at 12:20pm