Owning a horse has been a glorious dream of mine since I was a wee thing. More than one Christmas I asked my parents for a pony. Christmas morning, with a heart full of hope, I’d race out to the back yard and search for that beautiful steed I longed for. No dice. The closest I got to my dream was a collection of Breyer horses.
It was decades before I could buy that equine o’ mine. I had to grow up and marry a really nice guy who not only earns a decent living, but actually is okay with me spending so much of his hard earned cash on a hobby he has no interest in pursuing himself. We also had to move away from L.A. to an area where facilities to keep a horse were plentiful and merely rather expensive as opposed to heart-stoppingly outrageous.
Financially, I would have been much better off if I’d kept the Breyers (which have increased in value) and skipped the full-size, live-action equivalent (which sucks up lucre faster than a shop-vac). How expensive is it to keep a horse? Take the money you have in your bank account. Multiply by two. Add in whatever take home pay the government lets you keep. Throw in those quarters you just found in the sofa cushions. You’re half-way there.
Buying the horse itself is the cheap part, and in some ways the easiest. You can always find someone’s back yard “pet” they’re willing to part with for only a couple thousand. Of course, there’s a reason they’re selling so cheap, and I learned the hard way a whole textbook full of reasons.
My first horse was a supposed “beginner friendly” mare who reared (with me riding). It took a lot of work and a huge loss to sell her on down the road. I lucked out with couple of nice geldings next (Rudy and Ben), although Ben was probably ten years older than advertised. I took a chance on another mare next (the fearsome Georgie), who took off like a bat-outta-hell at every opportunity. Bye-bye Georgie.
Next came Indy, a wonderful Morgan gelding who put the fun back into riding for me. I swore off mares forever. Then Indy got a little hitch in his git-along and I had to retire him. And wouldn’t you know it–the next horse I fell in love with was a mare. Beautiful Belle, who occasionally takes off like a much more lackadaisical, less committed bat-outta-hell. What is it with mares and running off?
I do enjoy her, but just standing around in her stall, she costs me bucks (the paper folding type, not the kick up her heels kind). Besides the obvious room and board, there are feet to trim and shoe, maintenance items like wormer, vaccinations and bi-monthly Legend shots (which keep her joints moving). There’s the expense of tack (the cost of saddles alone is enough to make you swoon), fly masks in summer and horse blankets in winter. There are treats (Belle loves her treats). Then of course, when I do finally climb on, there are the weekly riding lessons during which I valiantly strive to counteract age and gravity to look graceful in the saddle.
All to fulfill a dream. Yes, I love it. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to own and ride a horse. But if only once in a while I could find a twenty or two in those steaming piles of manure.