Horses are expensive. Like way more than the average pet expensive. I have two cats and they cost me about $75 a month total with the cost of high end food, toys and litter. Just getting Gen’s toes trimmed and his supplement costs well over that price…and that isn’t counting the cost of board, medical care, equipment and all of the other things that go along with being a horse owner. I know that I live in a very expensive part of the country. For example, my aunt and uncle are horse people in Arizona and they were lamenting the cost of board…which was $450 and was at a place with individualized care and has shows on property several times a year. That is way less than what I pay to board Gen at the backyard farm he is at in my area. Knowing that my view on the cost of horses is different than people who live elsewhere, I don’t think anyone out there would say that owning horses is cheap.
I have done blog posts in the past about all the fun stuff I could have or do if I did not have horses, such as for the same price I pay for board I could take a week-long trip to Hawaii…twice a year. All kidding aside though being a horse owner has had a major impact on my financial life…and it is not always for the better. I am sure I am not the only horse person out there who lives on less, way less, just to be able to afford a horse. Why do we do this to ourselves? How can we justify owning horses when they cost so much?? We essentially take hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month and just pour it down the drain. When you put thousands of dollars a year towards your house you are building equity, when you put thousands of dollars a year towards your horse…you just putting thousands of dollars a year towards your horse.
Horseback riding is consistently listed as one of the five most expensive hobbies in the world. It is often right behind sailing. It is a hobby for the rich…that most of just skrimp and save to try and be able to afford. How did horses go from being something that many people had to being a hobby of the super-rich? And why do those of us who are not super rich try and own horses?
When I look around the parking lot at a tack store I see beat-up cars that are usually on the older side. I bet every person in that parking lot could afford to drive a luxury car if they didn’t have a horse habit. When I look around at my horse-free peers it is hard not to be envious of the fact that when they go out to eat they can get a drink with dinner, or get their nails done every week. I work hard, really hard, and I have to be careful about every single purchase I make. When my phone went swimming in the Atlantic this summer I had to just live with not getting voicemails and missing text messages using a phone that was several years old because I couldn’t afford a different one.
Owning horses is not a logical financial decision. Not only do they cost lots of money, they take up lots of time which means we have to control our work hours (or not get a second job). If I put the 20-30 hours a week I used to spend riding in to a second job I would be increasing my financial well-being instead of tossing money in to a bottomless pit. Already since I have stopped leasing I have found my life to be easier financially. I had to buy three new appliances last year…and I was able to pay cash for all of them even if some took a bit to save up for. Mind you, my three new appliances don’t even come close to the cost of leasing and competing a horse.
So do I seem a bit…bitter…at my financial choices in life?? Well the other day I was messing around online and found something called a mortgage calculator where you can put in a bunch of variable to see how long it would take you to pay off your mortgage. With horses I have 24 years to go. Without leasing and having Gen I shave 4 years off how long it will take me to pay off my home! 4 years! If I do not lease another horse and put that money instead towards my mortgage that means I only have 20 years to. The really scary part? Without any horses (I feel even guilty typing this because I love Gen) but just for arguments sake if I took what I paid for Gen and put it towards my mortgage I would pay off my mortgage 18 YEARS SOONER. I could have everything paid off in 6 years if I did not have a horse. So from now on when people ask me what a horse costs (because they are always curious) I am simply going to say 18 years.
Part 3: Horses are draining…and I am not talking about water…