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The True Cost of Horses

psychology tips Feb 12, 2024
horse bucking and throwing his rider

Every now and then, I've had an interesting conversation with another horse person about the cost of something to do with horses. 

It frequently goes along the lines of them saying that something I am doing in relation to my horses is "so expensive".

And first and foremost, let me get out of the way, that yes, I am extremely fortunate to be able to have horses and do what I do with them, and to have supportive parents who have been a huge part of it as well. I am by no means flush with money. Every dollar is accounted for and there are a million things I do to be able to afford my horse habit that people don't see. I have zero social life, I only go out to eat a handful of times a year, I don't drink, in fact, I very rarely spend money on myself at all (clothes, decorations, etc.), I work a full-time job in addition to another 15-20 hours a week of side jobs, and many more things I do to make money, save money, and redirect it to my horse habit.

So yes, I am lucky that I have $150 that I can spend on a calming supplement rather than having to use it to put food on my table. But I also work hard and tailor my life for that "luck", and if that $150 is going to break me and cause me not to put food on my table, I am cutting it way too close to be able to afford horses and my lifestyle, and something else needs to change.

So anyway, moving on, when I have someone talk about how expensive something I do with my horse is, they often don't figure the cost of *not* doing that thing, or the additional benefits of doing it.

For example, when I posted about putting my new horse on a calming supplement to help take the edge off so that I could hopefully really ride him and stop getting thrown off every now and then, someone commented that the calming supplement was very expensive. 

And it's true, it's not like it's a $1/day deal. But what they failed to take into account is the cost of me not paying for the calming supplement. There's the chance I get thrown off and unable to ride for a certain period of time (which already happened). Now my horses that I pay for are just sitting around. My goals and progress that I was hoping to make are put on hold. Now I'm spending money going to the chiropractor or acupuncturist to try to heal my body. Or even worse, I am spending an outrageous amount on our healthcare system to get x rays or treatment for something more serious (already happened as well). That $150/month supplement is looking pretty darn cheap when you think of the $1000 hospital bill for x rays (which is on the cheap side of the amount of care you could potentially need for a serious injury). Or the hundreds of dollars spent on chiropractic/other work for less serious injuries.

Or the hundreds spent on a new helmet. Or the money spent on paying someone else to ride my horses to keep them going while I'm injured. 

That's not even taking into account the absolute life-changing serious injuries that would completely derail you from normal life.

What about if it happens coming up on a competition? Then I lose all of the money on entry fees when I have to scratch. 

What about if my horse hurts himself when he gallivants around and now I have vet bills and downtime for him?

It's the same for the LandSafe Equestrian clinic that I host every year. No, it's not a $5 ticket to participate. But if the tools you learn and experience you gain can save you from even just 1 bad fall where you get injured, or a busted helmet, then the clinic has already paid for itself, sometimes many times over if you would've had a serious injury that requires a good bit of healthcare.

My point being that the next time you are faced with a decision on whether to spend money on something that would improve your safety, make sure you take into account *ALL* of the costs associated with doing/not doing it. What are the costs of getting injured? Not just the medical costs, but also the time costs, the loss of ability to enjoy your horse, the cost of paying someone else to keep your horse in work. The loss of additional saddle time and progress in achieving whatever goals you have in the near term? 

You look at a $150 supplement and see me spending $150. 

I look at a $150 supplement and see me saving $1000 or more (and intangible things like more ride time and not being hurt).

The same discussion about buying horses at various price points can be had, but that is a topic for another time...

Pictured: the adorable, extremely athletic Lamborghini who just can't quite always keep a lid on his high octane at the moment.

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