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!
1/9/2013 10:27:40 pm
Thank you for posting your horse keeping expenses for the year. I think it takes "guts" to put that info on your blog. I have kept track of the dog expenses one year and was surprised at how much I really spent. Hobbies of any sort usually are not "cheap" but there are some that are really more expensive than others.
1/10/2013 10:25:29 pm
Sharon, it was REALLY hard to post this last one. Talking about money makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Too often we make assumptions about people by what kind of car they drive, how big their house is, etc. I know it looks like we must have "money," but I can't tell you when I last went to a movie, bought a new pair of shoes, or even a new blouse. I meet my household obligations, but every extra penny I make goes to the horses.
1/9/2013 11:50:48 pm
that there is a "money in" row cracked me up: ) i really appreciated your budgeting posts.
1/10/2013 10:20:28 pm
I know, huh?! That cracks me up, too. I use Quicken to generate those reports; that program sort of assumes there is a two-way cash flow. I WISH there was money in. That would make this whole thing a lot cheaper. :0)
1/10/2013 01:40:31 am
I too appreciate your budget posts. Not calculating the cost of the pony doesn't make it disappear!
1/10/2013 10:30:11 pm
CFS - you are right, this is not a hobby; it is very much part of the fabric of my life. The only reason I use the word hobby is because the non-horsey people out there see this as something that you can take up and discard once bored.
1/10/2013 10:33:33 pm
Lauren - our relatively low board is probably the main reason that I can afford two horses. I have heard how high board is elsewhere, and I am always stunned! How can people ask and get those kinds of numbers for just housing and feeding a horse? Shocking! And yes - come to CA! We'd love to have you. :0)
1/10/2013 10:35:38 pm
It was a hard thing to share, Sarah, but I know it is an interesting thing to read for people in other parts of the USA. Your board bill probably makes mine look like spare change! Speedy and Sydney thank you for the good health wishes. :0)
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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
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: