Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So Your Daughter Wants a Horse?

Is your daughter so interested in horses, that she would like you to buy one for her? You're not alone. We always want to provide wonderful learning opportunities for our children, but from an ownership perspective, how much does it cost to own a horse?

We can start with the purchase price. Although some horses can cost tens of thousands of dollars, for a first-time rider/owner, a good horse can probably be found for well under $1,000. Let's conservatively say you can find one for $600.

The next expense will come in stabling fees. If you happen to live on a 10-acre parcel of land, you might be able to save a significant amount of money on boarding, by keeping the horse on your property (if your community zoning laws allow it). If not, monthly boarding fees can run anywhere from $200-500 per month. Let's again suppose you can find a very affordable place to keep your horse, which is also a short drive from your home and it only costs $200/month. With the cost of the horse, that puts us at $3,000.

As it turns out, the board was so cheap, because it didn't include feed. An average horse can eat about 20 lbs. of hay per day (1/2 bale). That can also vary, based on how much a horse grazes, but if we calculate 183 bales of hay at about $2.50/bale, that adds a approximately $450 more in just the first year, bringing our grand total up to $3,450. Most horses should also get some grain, so we can conservatively add another $150 a year, bringing our total so far to $3,600.

Some boarding fees include bedding, which can run about $200/year, so we'll again be conservative and assume that's included in the $200/month boarding fee. We'll also assume that bargain of a boarding fee includes mucking of the stalls (stall cleaning), so we wont tack any additional expense onto that.

Your horse will need to get shots twice a year, so do plan on paying a veterinarian about $300 per year, bringing our total up to $3,900 per year. You'll also need to pay a farrier to keep your horses' hooves properly-trimmed. That can sometimes get expensive, if an animal needs shoes (just like kids, huh?), but we'll assume it's healthy in that regard and you'll only spend another $100 a year, bringing your total up to $4,000. You're almost ready to go. All you need now is another $500 for tack, which includes a helmet, saddle, blanket, bridle and other riding equipment. If your daughter has little or no experience on a horse, you'll probably want to make sure she gets good instruction, so add another $1,000 per year onto our total and when it's all added up our the first year of horse ownership will run you at least $5,500.

This assumes you don't want mortality insurance on your horse and your daughter doesn't have expensive tastes in horses, stables, clothes or riding lessons. The good news is, that initial $5,500 investment drops by at least $1,000 in year two, because you won't need to buy a new horse and tack every year (at least in theory). In subsequent years, spending $4,000 per year on a horse can be done, provided the horse stays healthy and you don't end up buying a horse trailer, so your daughter can go riding in other places. Some horses can live for 20 years or more, so assuming your daughter will never let you sell "Blacky" or whatever your horses' name is, this purchase could approach nearly $100,000 over the life of the horse.

Why do we lay all this information out for you? Because Camp Anokijig offers a reasonable alternative to buying a horse- use one of ours! We have more than 50 horses at Anokijig, many of them formerly owned by parents just like you. We also have dozens of miles of riding trails, all the tack, hay, safety equipment and proper riding instruction that any youngster needs. All this can be had for just $580 per week and that includes food, lodging and all the other fun activities at Anokijig! If you would like more information on our Ranch program, follow this link.

$5,500 vs. $580 The math makes the choice look simple, but we know kids always do their best to complicate things. Even if your daughter insists on her own horse, why not encourage her to spend some time learning her way around them at Anokijig, before buying one of her own? She might fall in love with one of our horses and decide she doesn't want one of her own or she could just decide horses weren't her cup of tea. Either outcome could end up saving you thousands of dollars and countless headaches.

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