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Basic Needs and Costs

As the old saying goes, “there's no such thing as a free lunch” and the same thing applies with horses. There is no such thing as a free horse! Before buying a horse (or accepting one for free), you should carefully consider the true costs of horse ownership. As you'll see, even providing just the basics for your horse can be an expensive exercise. So make sure you've factored in these costs before you make your final decision:

  • Agistment – It’s common for people to agist their horses rather than keep them at home, because many horse owners are urban dwellers. But even if you have the space, a busy schedule may mean that you need to agist your horse. Agistment costs can vary depending on the type of facility (e.g. a large commercial stable vs. a small rural setup). The price can also depend on whether the horse is kept in a stall but given daily access to pasture or paddocks, or kept in a field with a "run in/run out "type of housing. The cost can also be higher if the facility also has a riding arena.
  • Your own stable – If you're one of the lucky people who has their own stable and can look after your horse yourself, remember that there are other costs that will need to be factored in. There's the cost of feed and bedding (e.g. straw or wood shavings) and there's also the cost in terms of time required to do twice-daily chores (e.g. feeding, watering, turnout, exercise and cleaning out the stall). You'll also need to consider how to manage or remove discarded bedding and manure from the stall. You'll need to erect and maintain a fenced area for turnout, along with paddock and pasture if you have the space. So think about the costs of electric fencing or post and rail or board fencing. And of course, you will need year-round access to reliable, good quality water.
  • Feed costs – If your horse is agisted, the pasture or hay that your horse consumes is generally included in your fees. However, there could be extra costs for any other feed types or supplements that your horse may need (see the section on nutrition  for further information).
  • Vet costs – Even if your horse appears to be healthy, regular preventative care from your vet is recommended. Keeping your horse up-to-date with vaccinations against serious (potentially deadly) infectious diseases is important (click here  for more information about vaccinations and to use our handy calculator to work out recommended vaccinations for your horse).  And regular dental care will help to make sure that your horse's teeth and mouth are in good condition (click here for more information about preventative dental care).
  • Farrier costs – Regular hoof trimming is needed to help keep your horse's hooves in good condition and prevent lameness. Every horse is different, but generally, hoof trimming every 6-8 weeks is recommended. Some horses may require shoes, depending on the type of surface they will be working on, the amount of work they will be doing, and the condition and conformation (shape) of the hooves.