From Endurance to Dressage
This is the final Horses Are Expensive 3.0 report of the year, and I have to say good riddance to bad rubbish. The first year I did this, I learned a lot about my spending habits and how I could control them. The second year that I reported my equine expenses, I learned that the lessons learned in 2012 had stuck quite firmly. For this go round, I can't say that I learned a single thing.
At this stage in my life, I am an expert at budgeting and sticking to it. I sacrifice when required, I pay my bills, and when possible, I stick what's left into savings. With that, here's my last ever report on how expensive horses can be to keep in California.
Nothing dramatic happened in December, so my expenses were average. I took a few lessons, but the show I wanted to do got cancelled, but not before Speedy abscessed, so I wouldn't have been able to go anyway. With nothing standing out, I decided to compare my annual spending from 2018 to 2019 to see if I noticed any trends.
This report is far more interesting. Even though I switched my supplements from Platinum Performance to Horse Guard which cost 57% less, I still spent $3,551 more in 2019. Putting front shoes back on Izzy increased my farrier bill, and Blue Truck needed a few repairs. Other categories rose by small amounts, but two areas in particular stand out as money pits: Tack or Gear and Veterinary Costs. Apparently I indulged in some retail therapy while Speedy was recovering. Out of curiosity, I ran a report to show exactly what I bought that ran me $1,259.
For future reference, spending a little here and a little there will add up to a hefty sum. Given that my vet bill was 83% higher than the year before, I also ran that report.
The three grand wasn't from one big injury or illness. Instead, Speedy just kept needing things. He abscessed four times - I took care of the last two without the need for the vet. He sliced open both front legs. He knocked a tooth loose which we tried to save by wiring, but then it ultimately needed to be pulled anyway. Both horses needed their annual vaccinations, and both felt the need for body work off and on throughout the year. I am hoping for a cheaper 2020, but in the meantime, I need to get out to the vet to get my wall calendar. It's free, and it's a good one.
It's a good thing that I really like these guys because I could be living a fancier and cleaner life with a better padded retirement account without them.
Forget it. I'd just blow it all on therapy.
While it doesn't yet show up on my expenses for November, trading in Blue Truck and Juke in exchange for Newt is going to alter my spending in not-so-fun ways. Trucks big enough to haul three horses are a lot more expensive than cute little cars made for zipping around town.
I spent most of November adjusting my budget to account for the bigger truck payment and added fuel costs that I'll incur from here on out. Juke got around 30 miles per gallon while Newt seems to get about 15. Newt's monthly payment is nearly twice as much as Juke's so that means both my monthly payments and fuel costs will double.
When I look back over the month, I am actually surprised that my overall spending looks so low, although not going to a show "saves" a lot of money. So does not taking regular lessons. The truth is, I spent a lot on "stuff." I bought new girths, muck boots, and the double bridle. Selling some old stuff helped even things out though. And when I look at those costs, I got super great bargains on all of them.
In late November I went on another round of spending while I was in the midst of trying to cut spending. How I rationalized all of that, I simply don't know.
I bought Newt's floor liners (which I'll pay for with my school detention check. Oh, how I loathe running the detention program, but I love getting that check.). I also bought new tall boots, the browbands from the Dressage Pony Store - more on those in another post, and a new blanket for Speedy. I'll pay for all of that in December.
So yes, horse are expensive, especially when you keep buying stuff!
Confession time - I hate writing these posts. At first, they were really interesting. I loved monitoring how much I was spending. Way back in the beginning, publishing my monthly expenses helped me curb my impulse buys. Today, I just feel frustrated by how much I "have" to spend to keep my horses healthy. Of course, I also spend a lot to enjoy them.
I think it would help if I could just let go of the idea that maybe next month will be cheaper. It won't be. This is how I choose to spend my money. When I have more money, I just spend more. And you know what? Right this very minute I am contemplating spending $50,000 on a new truck. Talk about an expensive hobby.
So yeah. Horses are expensive. Version 4.0 won't be any better.
They're even more expensive if you do all the things: shows, lessons, vet, farrier ... Somehow, I managed to squeeze in an awful lot considering September only has 30 days, and I went back to work.
My biggies for the month were the same as any month: board, farrier, lessons, gas, and that whopper of a vet bill. When looked at individually, none of the charges are all that exorbitant. It's when I put them all together in one month that they make me cringe. Especially that vet bill. I have been paying that sucker down bit by bit all year only to watch it creep back up even as I made another payment. I am so glad that thing is paid off.
Out of curiosity, I changed the parameters of the monthly report to show how much I've spent thus far in 2019. My September bill looks pretty hefty when viewed as a percentage of $16,338, my year-to-date expenses.
Then I started digging though my report customizer and found a report that I've never used before - a two year, side-by-side comparison.
It is interesting to note that some years, I spend quite a bit more in some areas than others. Veterinary Costs, I am looking at you. In 2019, I definitely spent more on my truck and the farrier, but a lot less on supplements. Bye, bye, Platinum Performance ...
On my report, I can click each dollar amount and a detailed list pops up. Here's what it looks like when I click 2019's Veterinary Costs.
I like reports. It's interesting to see where my money goes. What we spend our money on is truly a reflection of our priorities and values. Some might even say our spending is a barometer of our core life values. I recently saw this interesting statement about core values.
While some people ... might expressly share their core values, often the best way to identify these values is to watch how they behave.
It makes me wonder what my spending says about my own values. I think self-reflection is what is called for here.
August felt far more expensive than the numbers would suggest. Getting a full refund from my RAAC entry helped. (If you'll remember, Speedy developed an abscess days before the show, and we didn't get to go.) Plus, I saved a ton of money by not going to RAAC at all. No gas, no groceries, no incidentals. It's funny how not showing is such a great way to save money.
I also missed out on some lessons. With Speedy's abscess and school starting, I just couldn't seem to get my schedule to match up with my trainer's. We only managed one lesson for the entire month.
I had to spend the money somewhere though, so I bought two pairs of Thinline reins and a few other things. An old endurance friend has generously been selling off some of my endurance tack which I have turned around and "reinvested." I was able to (mostly) pay for the hoof testers and knife as well as a new tub of Numotizine, all of which I hope I never need to use.
Blue Truck put a dent in my budget as well. I had a ton of work done last December which I paid for when I received the bill. At the time, it seemed as though the bill was a bit light, so for several months I messaged the owner asking for the rest of the bill. When I got no response, I assumed I was wrong in how much I owed. Turns out I wasn't. I finally got the bill in August. Womp, womp.
Between the entry fee and a tank of gas, it cost me $158 to show Izzy. Of all of my expenses for the month, that was one one which I was most happy to spend. In fact, I am disappointed that we're on the back side of the show season. I think it would be great to get him to another show as soon as possible. There are a few things coming up this fall, but there are also a lot of conflicts. Of course, the perfect show weekend for Izzy falls on the same weekend as a different show that Speedy and I had already planned on doing.
First world problems. In this case, they're problems I am glad to have.
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%