From Endurance to Dressage
The short answer is $21,101 and change.
The long answer is that horse keeping in California, like anywhere else in the country, will cost pretty much whatever you have to spend. Did you keep track of what you spent in 2012? Do you even want to know?
I live in a moderately priced area of the state so compared to the coast, board is relatively cheap. The flip side of that particular coin is that I pay a higher board bill than most other local riders as my arrangement is a bit of a boutique barn. My total cost for board, feed, and bedding for my two ponies ran $6,150 for 2012.
Most farriers in California charge a similar rate. Rural farriers probably charge less while farriers in the largest metropolitan areas can charge more. There's also the issue of quality; the brand new guys and the flaky guys charge less while farriers like my own, AFA Certified, can charge a bit more. I keep shoes all the way around both my boys and like them done every five to six weeks; their healthy growth warrants the quick turn around. My horses were shod nine times during 2012 which cost me $1,980.
My horse trailer will be completely paid for in three months; I can't wait. The horse trailer payment warrants it's own blog post which I'll write as a celebratory post once I make the final payment. For 2012, I made 12 payments of $350 each and paid for several repairs. The total was $4,430.94.
I took a lot of lessons, at least 55, during 2012. Most were with my trainer, but a few were with clinicians. I think this is one spending area where the benefit seems worth far more than the actual cost. The total I spent on lessons was $1,935.
I went to eleven shows in 2012, three of which were two-day shows which sport a pretty steep price tag. I also took my boys to two ride-a-test events which are similar to schooling shows. I also paid for my memberships to USEF and CDS/USDF. I spent $2,166 on show fees and memberships this year.
Like everyone else, I love to buy new tack or other barn stuff. I try to keep it to a minimum, but I still spent quite a lot this year on fly sprays, breeches, and other items. Thank goodness I don't have a tack store anywhere within a hundred miles. As it is, I spent $1,051.56 on a variety of tack and gear items.
Thankfully, my truck has been all mine for many years, which means no payments. I only use the truck to pull my trailer or to pick up heavy loads like cubes or bedding pellets. Half of what I spent on the truck was for new tires, registration, smog certification, and oil changes. The other half was for gas to and from shows. The total spent on my truck in 2012 was $2,209.79.
My vet bills were much lower this year than in 2011. Speedy had a nasty bug last year that cost more than $900 alone. My whole bill for 2012 was only $1,177.13 which included dental work, vaccinations, dewormers, four eggs per gram tests, a chiropractic visit for each horse, some Banamine, and a little Fluphenazine. Not too bad for two horses!
I suspected that my annual expenditures would be close to $25,000. I am glad I was wrong. Keeping such meticulous track of my spending helped me spend less.
Reporting it so publicly also helped me spend less. It's really hard to justify spending more than $20,000 on a hobby when some families are struggling to survive on less than that. As I would think about buying this or that, I would think to myself, I am going to have to report that, and I've already spent such and such amount. How greedy do I need to be?
I won't be repeating this series next year. I think it has been a valuable exercise and the information I gathered will certainly help guide me in making smart choices this year. These last few months especially have shown me that I can show restraint; I don't have to buy myself every little (or big) thing that crosses my path.
Here's to a year of self-control, continued moderation, and gratefulness for the life I get to lead. And ponies, keep your shoes on, and please stay healthy!
Thank goodness this is nearly the last post in this series. I say nearly last because I want to do a final one that sums up my expenditures for the whole year.
Sneak peek? I spent $4,000 less for the year than I had expected to spend. I am pretty sure that keeping such close track is what helped me save those 4,000 bucks.
Here is the accounting for December. I think I spent the least amount of money in December than I did in any other month. There was only board, feed, the farrier, my trailer payment, lessons, and my CDS renewal which includes a USDF group membership. The tack and gear items were paid by my $100 winnings from my CDS chapter.
This tells me that the absolute rock bottom I can pay to keep my horses is around $1,200 a month, which doesn't include any vet care. For the year, that works out to about $14,400. A year-end report is in the works; watch for it.
Thank goodness this series is almost finished. I no longer want to know how much my hobby is costing. I get it; it's a lot. The good news is that my annual total will be several thousand dollars less than I thought. Yah?
I'll do another post at the end of December and then a final post to show how much I spent in each category. I haven't checked, but I am pretty curious about which one thing costs the most. I suspect it's probably board.
Here is November's accounting for both horses.
This month was also slightly cheaper than the summer months were.
Hubby and I have finally finalized our summer vacation plans which means that I now have to really watch what I spend over the next 7 months, especially since I also got a recent pay cut. We like to travel, but leaving the country is expensive. We didn't go anywhere this past summer because we got the puppy so I had extra money to spend on shows and clinics. That won't be the case for 2013.
I am not going to not show next year, but I might not get to do the over-nighters, especially three of them, like I did this year. The Tehachapi shows are on the list since they're as local as I can get. Aside from that, I haven't thought much about what shows to do in 2013. I'll see what my budget looks like after the new year rolls around.
I would love to know what everyone else around the country is payng for feed. I stopped by the feed store last weekend to pick up next month's feed supplements. RM takes care of the hay, but anything else I want to feed I take care of myself.
I usually don't look too closely at the receipt as I've been buying the exact same thing for years. For this trip however, I picked up something for our barn owner so I needed to see which portion of the bill belonged to her.
Wow - was I surprised. When I first started feeding beet pulp, a 50 pound bag was just under $8.00. I paid $20.22 this weekend. The rice bran was no better. I seem to remember that running about ten bucks a bag. It's now $19.55 a bag.
As I write this, I am realizing that I first started buying these feeds at least fifteen years ago. Crap. I'm getting old. Back when candy bars were only a quarter and gas was less than two bucks a gallon ...
I use a small mom and pop feed store that's been around since the 1950s so their prices might be a tad higher than say, Tractor Supply Company. So what does everyone else pay? I'd really like to know.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%