There is a post doing the rounds on social media this week that asks ‘How much does it really cost to keep a horse’. I’ve done the calculations – read the time frame before you fill it in though – I filled in one weekly figure as an annual figure the first time I did it and nearly had a heart attack when it told me I’d be spending 35k a year on a horse. (I’m not mum I swear).
As for the real figure, I feel it is worth it. It will never be the whole cost though. It is hard to measure the cost of having a horse in pure monetary terms. Horses will make their way into your heart and head and they are unfortunately an animal that will make you work hard to keep them alive and well due to their propensity for injury and the fact that they are essentially built as a table on stick legs. Owning a horse is at times a bit like letting your heart go for a stroll across some train tracks.
I actually think that long term – having a horse is saving me and not just saving me money. If I didn’t have horses in my life I’d imagine I’d actually spend more money on therapy and medication than I currently do on the equestrian lifestyle. In my everyday life I get stressed, I get agitated and I get impatient. I have a hectic day job and a hatred for queues, traffic and rude people. I am unable to sit quietly and relax, hate not to be multi-tasking and would implode if my daily routine involved going home after work to sit in front of a tv. The tension and stress and irritation disappears as soon as I sit on a horse’s back or go into an arena to teach a lesson. I often leave the yard at 9pm and honestly can’t remember what had me like a twisted ball of first world problems just a few hours ago.
Given my personality if horses were not involved in my life there would be a distinct possibility that I would also have to spend quite a lot of money on bail and a solicitor as I am sure I’d end up being arrested for going all Kill Bill on a queue skipper or a rude colleague or an ex.
My horse also saves me money on gym membership and health costs. As evidenced by the likes of Operation Transformation, we are at the moment a nation fighting obesity. I have often been asked how I can eat a lot and still be slim and the answer is simple – after work I ride horses, I am outdoors and active and I go home afterwards and work on cardio to improve my fitness and co-ordination to help me to ride better. Having and looking after horses involves a lot of physical labour and I’d much rather work my muscles on the yard than in a gym. Being outdoors and active is so much better for my physical and mental health than being inside and sedentary. If not for my horse I know in Winter months where the dark greets you leaving the house in the morning and leaving work in the evening it would be all too tempting and easy to go home and stay inside and eat my feelings.
As for those feelings, ask any horse owner or rider – there are days when the ass falls out of your world and it can be a lonely world sometimes but the one thing that will help is to bury your head in a mane and wrap your hands around a horse’s neck.
Finally, when I think of all the friends I have been lucky to make in life, horses are a very common theme. Being involved with horses is rarely a casual affair, they tend to consume your life and with that comes a bond and support from other likeminded people. I dread to think how many amazing people I wouldn’t know now had I not allowed myself to be dictated from an early age by a passion for horses.
So yes, horses are expensive and by all means add up and marvel at how much one will cost you but do not forget to factor in how much it might save you.