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Buying a horse part 1: How much does a horse cost?


Now and then people ask me to help them find a horse for endurance. It can be daunting because there are so many horses out there and they want THAT special one. Which of course then puts the pressure on us all ;) . 

I'll do some blogs to hopefully help you think about the options when you want to buy a horse (and it really does not matter if it's for endurance of another sport, we need to know if what we want is realistic)

One of the biggest problems is budget vs expectations. Very often the budget is not all that big, the expectations, however, can be a tad bigger...
So if you are thinking of buying a horse, now or in the future, here are some tips and perhaps sobering thoughts...

The road to producing a foal is long and can be expensive

Have you ever wondered how much it costs to breed a foal? 

It's a little more complicated (and expensive) than just bringing a mare and stallion together for some nookie once and then wait 11 months to get an amazing foal.

It can involve a lot of trips to vets to scan, inseminate, flush out, trips to a stud or stallion, and when the foal is born there are some risks of complications for mare and foal as well.

Finally a lovely healthy foal

So what do you think the cost is for producing a foal, let us do some calculating:

  1. What is the general covering fee for a decent stallion?
  2. What would be the cost for vet fee's and work to get a mare pregnant?
  3. A mare is pregnant for 11 months and needs extra food, how much would be spent on feeding her in this time and for the 6 months, she (hopefully) has a foal at foot?
  4. What sum would you add for the potential of the foal if dam and/or sire have competed (well)
  5. Breeding horses is a risk, should there be a little money put aside for that risk?
  6. And of course we hope foals get born without complications but we might need a vet, and if all goes well there is also registration fees and such.

So, what kind of figure are you at? Scary isn't it, and this is just the foal!

Growning up safely

So while we are doing our sums, let me ask you another question: 

How much does it cost to keep a horse per year, just basic costs like:
  • stabling (if you use that it will add the bedding to the cost)
  • good quality hard feed besides as much grass and/or hay as possible
  • Of course we need the farrier, we need jabs and we want the horses teeth checked. 
  • Fences need to be maintained and safe.
  • Pastures fertilised, topped and perhaps rolled and/or reseeded
A youngster will need these costs for 3 to 4 years (depending on maturing into a strong enough horse to take the next step to being a ridden horse)

Jot this estimate down together with the foal estimate you did.
How much of your budget is left now?

Starting a horse can add cost (and not everybody is good at starting horses...)

And then after a few years the foal has hopefully (!) safely grown up to a lovely healthy sensible horse that can be started under saddle. Perhaps you can do this yourself but chances are you might need someone to help. 

Usually, we will have a some extra costs in this period as the horse might need some more food, it might need shoes and some equipment for riding. We might have to travel here and there to get some experience.

And when we want to compete we have cost for memberships, entry fees and travel cost.

Competition will add cost

So after we have done these calculations, let's see if our budget and expectations were again meet the costs?

A lot of people are looking for this nice sized, nicely build, well moving 3 to 5 year old, perhaps 6 even... 
Looked after really well with all the care given that it needed, well handled and an easy-going personality
Preferably with parents that have done well in competition, maybe a nice special colour...
Ridden would be ideal, some competing even better because we can speed things up nicely and don't have to wait. It would be good to buy from the breeder so we know its history.

Our budget? Most of the time 2000-3000, sometimes a bit more. And of course there are those that understand the cost of producing a good horse.

Herd life is vital

Most breeders can not produce the horses for the money most buyers want to offer unless they really have little cost but that is rare.

Not every horse will become the size the breeder wanted (or the sexe, or olour). Breeding is a bit of a gamble, and sometimes we get the horse everybody wants, but there are times we get something else that might be a little harder to find a person for. A breeder might get a horse that has a few weaker links (conformation, or needs a rider that is a bit more experienced) that will have to go for less than its worth (!!!).  To not loose too much money on the horses that will not make the cost, the others will have to be a little more expensive. And then there is potential to think about as well...

And when there are a few too many horses, breeders might need to reduce, winter coming up can be a good reason ;). So sometimes you get lucky and find that amazing horse for little. But more often than not you have set yourself up for disappointment, a lot of visits, some vettings that fall through, and in the worst-case buying the wrong horse.

Baby Watt when I bought him

So how did I get my horses?
I bred a few and I bought a few. The times I did buy them I bought them as young horses. A risk because anything could happen growing up, and would they fulfil that potential? (which is the same worry for any horse I breed of course). But the good thing is I know everything about their life and I am as far as possible in charge of what happens.

I could never have afforded a horse like Watt, with his pedigree and conformation and ability, if I had wanted to buy him as a ridden horse. I simply do not have the money. It does not mean that he would have been too expensive or overpriced, I simply did not have the budget to fork out that amount in one go.
He has still cost me the money they would have asked for an older Watt and experienced... I have just spread the cost over the years I have had him. 

And look where we got!

Watt du Colombier at the European championships 2019
Webinars galore!
Minding the mind....

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