Horse owner feedback please

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by s6bee, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    Hi everyone,
    I am hoping I can get some feedback from other horse people to help me decide what I want to do.

    I currently own 2 horses. We board them at a local facility. It's nice, they are very well taken care of, trails, indoor arena, etc. I clean stalls 3 x week to help knock the board down on one. But with 2, it's still quite expensive.
    My question is, my husband and I are in the beginning stages of looking for a home with land. There is very litte out here we can afford, but I am wondering if it's worth it to bring them home with us? Looks like I would have to build a small barn ( cost??). I need at least 5 acres by town rules too. On average, what is your cost per horse? I know it's going to vary by region. They currently are both young, only one on a cheap supplement and get a simple diet of hay and pellet feed.
    So other than Vet and ferrier costs what should I expect and is it worth the daily grind?

    Thank you.
  2. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    Getting rid of our two horses was the best thing we ever did. We never had time to ride so we were feeding and shoeing for nothing. Ours had a a 12 x12 stall that was covered on all four sides for the weather and rain purposes and they only went in it when it rained or was extremely cold. They had a 4 acre pasture to roam. All they did EAT. Plus we had to keep hay for them.
  3. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Songster

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    I have never boarded horses, but, let's try to break it down. I also have two horses her on three acres. Considering average sized horses--between the two they should eat a bale a day, plus grain at night. 40 lb bag of grain costs me about $10-12 and lasts longer than one month.

    Figure they can graze on pasture for about 5-6 months out of the year. you would need to buy hay for 6 months.--say 200 bales to be safe. find out costs of hay in your area. them I paid $4/bale.

    Bedding--straw or wood shavings. I prefer shavings and right now we buy them by the bale at $4/bale--this is expensive. We have located a guy who will truck them in bulk--much cheaper. but for bedding--we add a bale every other day--not needed so much in warmer weather as they will stay outside and not need to come into the barn. You will need wormers, vet and ferrier.

    Barn. You will need stalls 10x12 per horse, plus area to store hay, bedding, and a place to cross tie them.(not abloutley necessary as you could do this in their stall.) My barn is a glorified garage--20x24. If all you plan is to keep horses in your barn--this will suffice, but it is small. If you do a pole barn style--posts are every 8 feet, so you could consider adding on length wise later (which is what we are doing).

    Hope this helps--it will give you some numbers to work with anyways.

    On a personal note--I highly recommend keepin them with you!!There is nothing nicer than to look out the window and see your horses in the pasture. While you are out with your chickens, you will always go out and give your horses a scratch, got some time between loads of laundry, go out and groom them. they are alot of work--if you want to look at it that way, but for me, AI would have to classify shovelling horse poo as a hobby--it is very therapeutic. I wouldn't have it any other way!!!
  4. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    Well, are you or your husband DIY'ers who could do a lot of the barn work yourself? That saves a lot of money, as can throwing weekend barbecues to enlist your friends as slave labor.
    As for your other question, of course you would be happier with your babies close by! You get to ride more often , see them more often, and your relationship with them can onlty improve with the increased contact.
  5. mergmet

    mergmet Songster

    we have 6 horses, summer time they get about 1/3 of a bale a day each, we have been having drought here, so the grass has needed some help

    winter they each get 1/ 2 to 2/3 bale per day, and grain once a day. I feed strategy, which is a pretty good all around feed. the only supplement they get to that is a mineral block - free will

    I have a barn that was here, but you really don't need any more than a 3 sided run in shed. depending on your part of the country maybe even less. If they get along they don't even need separate stalls. my horses want to be out more than in, even in serious rain unless its time to eat they prefer staying out.

    I keep them unshod since we ride mostly around here on sandy ground. they get trimmed about every 6-8 weeks, so get the local cost for that.

    I keep them on the wellness program with the vet which is an annual fee for 6 month checkups and shots. additional services when needed are at a discount. I think this runs me about $150 per horse per year. I also keep current coggins so we are ready for anything.

    I worm every 6 weeks, you can buy in bulk online and save a BUNCH over local retail. ask your vet what they recommend for your area. Even if you buy a 6 months supply you can save from country supply or one of the other vet/pet sites

    I love having them here, even though we also don't ride as much as we would like. I have 2 that are unrideable, we rescued them from a poor situation where they were starving.

    I agree with the person who said "bring them home!" you also might spend more time with them in the backyard instead of down the road.

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2008
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Hi Stephanie,

    Hey, Ilived in W NY before I moved up here, with two horses whose board I partly worked off doing stalls 3x/wk [​IMG]

    The biggest consideration is probably facilities -- when you no longer have an indoor or a good outdoor ring, and perhaps not much in the way of trails, will you still enjoy your horses. Which totally depends on what you like to do. If you just like hanging out with them, and riding recreationally a few days a week, and are not all Serious about some discipline, keeping them at home should be no problem -- but if you show or are Serious about some particular discipline that requires consistant training in an arena with good footing, it is going to be quite a lot more expensive than you might think to keep them at home and you may be best off continuing at a boarding barn.

    A very basic minimal sand or stonedust ring of, say 60' x 120', that is built to LAST and will not turn into a potholed muddy mess, is going to set you back at least $5-10,000. Even so, it will not be usable during the winter and will pretty much require you to own at *least* a lawn tractor ($2,000 and up) to keep it loose and level. Fencing around it would cost extra. It will require its footing topped up or replaced every 4-6 years.

    As far as the considerations you cite -- finances and workload -- the sensible thing to do, which is also almost always best for the horses, is to have them live out 24/7. To do this, you will need a good deep run-in shed, but not necessarily a 'real' stall barn as long as there will be some way of shutting them into all or part of the shed in case of medical emergency. You will also need the area around the shed to have good all-weather footing, which may exist naturally on a sandy-soil hilltop but is more likely going to involve buying some 3/4-minus and roadbase, perhaps to the tune of a couple thousand dollars. And you will need as much paddock area as possible, crossfenced into at least two paddocks and preferably more. A 5 acre parcel would work fine for two horses as long as you can devote most of it to pasture.

    You will need a hay storage area -- a weatherproof existing outbuilding may do it, or one of the heavy agricultural-duty hoop house type things (NOT the cheap carport types), or an additional part of their shed. Tack etc can be stored there or in the house, depending how often you ride. You WILL need somewhere for the farrier and vet to work, ideally an aisle or crosstie type area, but an option if you are short of space is to build one stall (useful in medical emergencies too) and put rubber mats or that SoftStall (or whatever they're calling it these days) stuff on the floor, and DO NOT BED IT unless a horse actually has to be kept in overnight.

    If you buy a property with no usable outbuildings already on it, I'd say as a ballpark figure plan to spend something like $15k for a run-in and hay shed, plus another $5k for footing and fixtures and so forth, plus whatever you have to spend on fencing. (Note that fencing can be *expensive*, esp. if you don't have solid safe perimeter fencing already there). You could do it for less than this, at least for a while (e.g. store hay outdoors under a heavy-duty ag type tarp) BUT you won't like the extra yearly costs that involves. Also you can do it for less than this if you're willing to build the shed yourself.

    If you do the "out 24/7/365" plan, which honestly is healthiest for most horses, you will feed hay about 6 months of the year, plus may need supplemental summer hay if your grazing is insufficient (depends on soil, moisture and how much area you have -- even on decent land you will need AT LEAST 2 acres per horse to support them solely on grass, or grass-plus-grain, over the summer). FWIW, my hay bill this year was about $1200; that's for 19 big square [650 lb-ish] bales for 3 horses for the winter.

    When the horses are living out, your chore load is generally much less than when they are stalled half of each day. (Plus, next to no bedding to buy, and less manure pile to dispose of). In summer, I check them daily, reset fly masks, flyspray if needed, refill water tub if needed, and give them a little grain to tuck the TB's hoof supplements into. This takes about 5-10 min per day. In the winter, every day I hay them 2-3 times (8 am, 4 pm and 7 pm), grain them and pick poo from in and around the shed, and refill heated water tubs. This takes about 5 min in morning, 5 min in evening, and 20-30 min in the afternoon.

    I do put my guys (including a 20 yr old TB) in their stalls overnight about 4-5 nights per year, when it is horribly cold and windy or when there is a night-long driving rain from the south, which their shed offers less protection from.

    One thing to be aware of is that while you might THINK you'll have more time to spend with the horses when they come home, most peoples' experience (including mine) is that you spend LESS time riding or otherwise training them when they're at home. I still can't quite figure it out [​IMG] but it's quite common. Perhaps because you have not set aside the time to go to the barn, or because other tasks are more pressing, I dunno. But, be aware it could happen [​IMG]

    Personally I figure I am saving a LOT A LOT of money keeping the guys at home -- one year's worth hay and grain, which are really the only regular non-vet-farrier expenses I have, costs me about the same as just 2 months' board around here =:0 HOWEVER, it is really hard to keep the one non-retired horse in work, because we don't presently have the money to shell out for a proper riding surface and because I just dont seem to make the time to ride that I would if he were boarded.

    All in all I *love* having them in the backyard, but it may not be great for a competitor on a budget, is all I'm saying [​IMG]

    Good luck, sorry this is so long but hope it helps,

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2008
  7. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    Thanks guys for the advice. One horse is my daughters ( she's involved in Pony Club, 4-H, Hunter paces, etc.) so she shows a lot. Me, I just trail ride. My hope was to find a place where I could bring mine home, and board another one or two and cover the cost of keeping my daughters where he is. I have a trailer and have access to a ring in the winter if need be, but it will get old I'm sure. I guess my thoughts about this was, before I know it, my daughter will be off to college, and there is no way in H*@! I will sell him just because she's not here. So I wanted a place to bring him to in case she didn't take him to college. I just want to make sure I'm not making a mistake with my dilusions as I so often do. People are telling me outside Vet costs & ferrier, it's an average of $100 per horse per month. Hay has been the biggest issue here for us. Right now it would be $5/bale, it used to be $3 this spring. We had no second cuttings around here as I know many others didn't have a first!
    I'll keep looking. I just really want to find something with a building already!
  8. mergmet

    mergmet Songster

    you all are very lucky if you can get hay for those prices. We are up to $8-$9 per bale for small sqare bales. I felt very lucky to contract for my 800 bales this past spring at $6 each

  9. suenrob

    suenrob Songster

    Jan 22, 2008
    Ft. Myers, FL
    I pay 13.00 a bale!!!!!!!![​IMG]
  10. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    Yeah I know, sorry guys! I heard in Arizona it was going for 11.00. God knows how they can afford to feed the horses.

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