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Frequently Asked Questions



Q1)  How much does it cost to keep a horse and what does it take to keep a horse?

Depending on what type of horse you have, what type of discipline you are involved in and where you are able to keep your horse, the cost varies.  There are several options available to horse owners, the two most common are keeping a horse at a boarding stable and keeping it at your own home property.  

    The cost of keeping a horse at a boarding stable for pleasure riding or training in a discipline other than racing, usually covers the feed, bedding, and turnout (if that is available).  Any supplemental vitamins or medication are the responsibility of the owner as is farrier work (every six to eight weeks) and veterinary expenses which include regular check-ups, immunizations and vet visits to an ill or injured horse. Check to see if the barn is on a regular worming schedule and whether or not this is included in the monthly boarding cost.  Prices vary according to geographical location; shop around and visit many stables before you decide on a home for your horse.  Questions to ask the stable owner include:

  • What is their daily routine?  Is pasture or paddock turnout part of the program?
  • How often do they clean stalls? Is the barn clean, safe and well-ventilated?  Is fencing in good repair?  Are the stalls an adequate size (at least 10 x 10 feet) and in good shape with a water supply?
  • Is there an outdoor and/or an indoor riding arena?  Will the riding times for the arenas fit your schedule?  When are the riding arenas busy?
  • What type of disciplines or riding occupations are the horses and owners involved in?  Dressage?  Western riding?  English riding?  Is there a trainer available for lessons?
  • Is the barn reputable and the manager concerned about quality care?
  • How do they handle emergencies?  What do they consider an emergency?
  • Is there a written contract that reflects an acceptable agreement?  What are the liability considerations?
  • Is there a farrier available?
  • Is it okay to bring in outside trainers, farriers or vets?

Keeping a horse at home is usually more economical if you have an adequate facility and the time and energy to give your horse proper care. Check to make sure your local ordinances permit horse keeping and find out what minimum acreage is allowed.  Prices for hay, grain and bedding will vary.  You will need to ask at your local co-op or veterinary clinic if they carry grain and its price.  Finding a source for decent hay can range from fun, educational, interesting or tricky to your worst nightmare. Be certain that if you are new to buying hay that you consult with someone who is knowledgeable about the different types of hay and what constitutes good hay and bad hay.  There is one guarantee, though: the day you decide to "put up" your hay supply (in a barn loft or storage shed) will be the hottest day of the year!  There are several options for bedding and your local co-op may carry the wood shavings that are most commonly used.  Consult equine publications for other suppliers in your area.

As you immerse yourself deeper into the world of horse ownership, you will develop a network of resources in the form of friends, acquaintances, trainers, breeders, brokers, veterinarians and other assorted horsepeople.  Generally, horsepeople love to talk about horses, so don't hesitate to get them talking - they can be a valuable source of information - if you check it out.  

To keep a horse at home you will need (at the very least):

  • At least a 10 x 10 foot stall inside a building - a barn, pole building, etc.
  • Or a "run in" or three-sided shed outside to provide protection from the weather;
  • Safe fencing around a paddock or pasture for turnout with an adequate water supply or water access;
  • During freezing weather a source of unfrozen water;
  • At least one-half acre of well-managed pasture per horse for pasture turnout with the option to rotate pastures;
  • A supply of hay, grain and bedding and the equipment to haul it and the room to store it;
  • A place to dispose of manure and the equipment to haul it or spread it;
  • An area with safe footing in which to ride;
  • The time and energy to properly care for your horse; a support system of friends or family to help is an important consideration.

Other aspects to consider when deciding where to keep your horse:

  • Will your horse be lonely and therefore possibly bored, mischievous or destructive if kept alone at home? Horses are social animals that naturally live in herds. Is keeping a companion horse or animal an option?
  • Will you enjoy the company of others at a boarding stable or benefit from group activities or lessons?

The most important aspect of horse keeping is educating yourself about the subject.  In addition to reputable trainers and trusted horse owners, there are many resources available that provide valuable information about the care and keeping of horses. 

Check the categories of barn building, buying horses, feeding and care, lameness, veterinary care, training and conditioning to the left. 

There are also many other web sites that contain valuable information.  They are listed in the Links area under Miscellaneous Links and Equestrian Links.

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