The not-so-classy looking barn at Wyvern Oaks. Landscaping is in the works.
There are a few important things to consider about our experience that may differ from yours:
- We live in a part of the world that doesn't see much rain. Therefore, we don't have much grass, which makes supplemental hay (and possibly grain) a requirement.
- Wyvern Oaks is only two acres. Because of its size, we have to manage resources very carefully. If you have more land, it's not going to be so labor-intensive.
- We provide a level of care that's equivalent to what I'd expect at a good-quality boarding facility: fed 2x/day, as much turnout as possible, 24/7 hay, blankets on/off as needed, up in the barn during inclement weather. Obviously for many horses that's not a requirement, but it's what all of ours are accustom to and it works well for us..
#1: It's not as cheap as you thinkAround here, it's roughly $600/mo to board at a good facility. By "good" I mean:
- Daily turnout with a buddy or two on a decent pasture
- A covered arena and/or outdoor arena with lights, round pen, and other amenities
- Blanketing included
- Fans included
- Grain included, supplements fed for no charge
- Less than an hour from town
Aisle and run-in area
None of this includes lessons, vet, farrier/trimmer, showing, etc.
In comparison, here's roughly what it costs me, per month, to keep three horses at home:
- $150-200/horse/month for hay. Cash is a little more expensive because he gets alfalfa, so this is an average. Obviously if I were boarding I'd have to pay extra for alfalfa. In 2011 during the epic drought, this number DOUBLED per horse because hay was $20/bale.
- $100/horse/month for grain. Because I can choose which grain to feed, I feed Triple Crown. It's expensive, about $22/bag (in comparison, I can get a 12% pelleted feed for about $12/bag, but the ingredient list scares me). Cash and Red together go through a 50 lb bag every other day, more or less. Paddy, on the other hand, gets a cup of Triple Crown Lite 2x/day - a bag of grain lasts him almost a month! Cash also gets supplemental beet pulp, and that's an additional $15/bag, which lasts him about 5 days. I'd have to pay extra for the amount of feed Cash gets if he were boarded. Maybe they'd give me a discount for Paddy? LOL!
- $200/month in barn supplies. This includes shavings, PDZ, new buckets/feed tubs (they don't last forever), etc.
So we're up to $900/mo. Not bad, right? But we haven't counted in the cost of the barn, which we had to build and was more than a new car, fencing, which needs regular attention (and really needs to be replaced, which is $$$$$), plus things like the fact that you have to have a truck and trailer to make this all work. I'll get to those things in another post, but just keep in mind that the $900 isn't everything. There are loads of incidentals that aren't really included in this number that you need to be aware of.
Run-in area of the barn
And then there's the big one: TIME. It takes one person approximately 1 hour 2x/day to take care of the boys. I'll talk more in another post about what's required to manage small acreage, but know that I spend a lot of time doing this. If I were paying someone to do it, even if I were only paying them $10/hour, it would cost $600/mo in labor alone. There goes all the savings you're theoretically getting from keeping your horses at home! Of course, the flip side of this is that I get 2 hours of exercise lifting, walking, and just moving around every day that I would not otherwise get. This helps keep me fit and strong in an otherwise fairly sedentary life with a desk job. So maybe I should subtract the cost of a gym membership from the total? LOL!
Of course, if you're lucky and you have 20 acres of grass, a nice run-in shed that came with the property, and you can toss out a round bale every week to keep your horses fat, your costs are going to be a lot less. There is certainly nothing wrong with that style of horse keeping, and in fact I'm kinda jealous of people who can do that! I'd have more time for riding if I could spend less time taking care of the boys, that's for sure!
So, questions? Thoughts? What other things would you like to hear about?