Ask the horse person

My turn! Ask me about anything horse related.

What kind of cough drops do you find work the best?

Should a family with no money and no place to keep horses ask for five horses to be given to them? :smiley:


Why do some people kick them in the stomach?

I work for a school that offers equine degrees. One question I get asked a lot is why are there so many more women than men in those degree programs. Do you have a theory about that?

Two questions:

Why do horses have fancy names for parts of their bodies that lots of other animals have, but we do not use for them?

Why don’t horses like me? Seriously. I have an engraved flask with “spookmachine” on it. They won’t come near me at all.

So, are you a centaur or something?

Do you have property to keep a horse, or do you board somewhere (assuming you own)? How much does the upkeep cost?

Sarahfeena - Horse costs can vary based on location, so I’ll give you a rundown for my location, near Nashville, TN. BaneSidhe can tell you about where she(?) lives. I now have 13 acres, but board around Nashville can cost $150/month for pasture board (horse out in the pasture, you’re responsible for feed costs and feeding) to $300/mo for stall board (they provide the feed, provide the stall bedding (shavings) and clean stalls daily). A training facility or rich folks barn would charge more. My thoroughbred eats 100 lbs of grain a month, which costs about $24. Hay has doubled or tripled in cost this year because of a drought. Irish has pasture, but I keep a bale open for him in his run-in shelter so he can nibble. Horses with no forage can eat a bale ($5-10 depending on what kind and where you buy it) every 3-4 days. Some horses have large round bales in their pasture, which are running about $80 now, but I don’t like it because the hay is out in the rain and the area gets trampled down and muddy. Shoes should be reset every 8-12 weeks,depending on your horse’s feet. That’s about $75 eash time. Vet costs - if your horse is healthy and only needs routine shots and annual Coggins test, that’s $120/yr. I can give my own shots (except rabies) and since my horse is no longer in a public barn I’m not required to keep a current Coggins.

I’m sure BaneSidhe will be able to give a good estimate.

BaneSidhe - What kind of horse(s) do you have and what kind of riding do you do? I have a TB and a mini as a companion horse and I’ve trained in dressage, although I don’t compete. I also like to trail ride and do a little jumping.

Obligatory pics:




I pay $135 per regular trimming and shoeing (four shoes; hot-fit; side clips; one to two resets per warm-weather set) and $185 for winter shoes – studs and snowpads added. Ben gets his tootsies done every six to seven weeks. My farrier and I try to time the first winter shoeing so we can reuse one set for the whole season.

Oh, yeh, the OP wanted to answer questions. :wink: Okay:

What kind of riding would you like to learn to do, or at least get to try on a well-trained horse? I’d love to try reining, though I’d probably fall off. :smiley: I’d also love to ride a piaffe and passage, though my Training Level Ben and I will never get that far.

Have you been lucky enough to have your horse of a lifetime yet?

What’s your favorite breed? Why?

EddyTeddyFreddy - $135! Wow. Of course, my farrier does cold-shoeing, and Irish has pretty decent feet for a TB. I’m lucky that he can usually go about 10 weeks, but he’ll occassionally lose a shoe, and in Tennessee we don’t have to worry about weather, although I won’t ride more than a walk/trot on really frozen ground. It doesn’t freeze much here… What does board and feed run up there?


Board, as you might imagine, is all over the lot depending how near one is to an urban center, or how horsey the locale is. I’m in a particularly expensive area, and the high-end barns around here are over $700 per month. I think the premier eventing barn is up to $900. A training barn would be about double those figures. I pay $225 for rough board – they turn Ben out and bring him in, and give him his food (three meals per day), but I muck his stall and paddock, do his water buckets, and buy all his feed. Full board where I am is I believe $450 or $500. We ain’t fancy, but we’ve got an indoor ring, which is a godsend in the Northeast.

Grass hay runs about $7 to $9 per bale. I believe in feeding lots of hay and as little grain as possible, so Ben goes through a good-sized bale in about three days. Or two in the winter when I’m feeding more for warmth. Shavings are close to five bucks per bag. The price of grain varies depending on which kind you buy. I feed Triple Crown Senior, runs me $13.95 per 50-pound bag, but I feed only four cups at breakfast and at supper, so that’s not much of a cost. Supplements, though… Whew.

I had a teacher in 7th grade who would go on and on about horses if you set her off. (We’d take turns setting her off - managed to keep from doing any real work in that class for pretty much the whole year.)

One thing I remember her spending a whole class period talking about: the “check rein”. Apparently, it’s used in dressage, and holds the horse’s head in an inhumanely uncomfortable position.

But my SO is also somewhat of a horse person, and she tells me this is nonsense.

What’s the straight dope on the check rein? Evil?

Listen to your SO. She’s right about the checkrein having nothing to do with dressage. Draw reins, now… But I digress.

The checkrein (also called an overcheck) is used on harness horses to keep them from lowering their heads below the desired position. Horses that are raced in harness – trotters and pacers – usually wear them as straps running from the bit, combining into a single strap up the face, between the ears and down the topline of the neck to attach to the part of the harness that goes around their body. To wit.

Carriage horses* also wear them to maintain their head position. They may have the overcheck single strap, or a pair of straps/reins running from the bit up through a loop near the ear and down to the body. Like this.

Now, there are practical reasons to prevent a harness horse from being able to lower its head way down. But in the heyday of fine carriage driving, overchecks were often used to haul the horses’ heads cruelly high because that was the fashion. There’s a passage in Black Beauty illustrating the horrors of that practice.

  • Not all carriage horse wear checkreins.

Yup. Costs vary. Mine seem to be higher than St.Germain or ETF. I’m in an expensive area at what I guess would be an mid- to upper- end barn. (There are some around that are much more expensive, but mine is full care and is far from the cheapest in the area). I also show, so my horse has more vet expenses than if I didn’t (more vaccinations since she travels and is exposed to more plus I have her on some joint maintenance).

I pay $525/month for full care board. If I wanted training on top of that (I don’t), it would be an additional $300/month.

My farrier comes every every 6 -7 weeks and charges $175–and my horse has shoes only on the front feet. But she has crappy feet.

I estimate it’s about $1,000/year for various vet visits. That includes vaccines (I don’t give them myself) and a legend/adequan regime (joint care).

My horse is on Cosequen (joint supplement). I think I spend about $500/year on that.

Horse dentist comes out twice a year for floating, and it’s $50 each time, so that’s a cheapy!

Then there’s tack, blankets, etc I don’t want to add up how much I’ve spent on that over the past year–but most of it is an optional expense once you get the basics.

Then you get to add in what you actually want to do with the horse. I compete, so there are show bills, hauling bills, lesson bills…

You can get insurance on your horse. I have mortality and major medical. I don’t think you can get the medical without having mortality first. The cost of that is a percentage of your horse’s value.

BaneSidhe, What type of riding do you do? How long have you been at it?

That brings up another question…what is the value of a horse? Say I wanted to buy a horse for pleasure riding, what should I expect to spend?

Hoo boy! That varies tremendously, depending on, for example:

Level of training
Level of competition experience/success
Geographic location
Quality: conformation, soundness, disposition

You can pay a few hundred bucks or a few thousand or a few tens of thousands or… well, you get the picture.

My horse is older (25) and I no longer ride her so I don’t get her shod, and I pay $30 for a hoof trim. She has pretty good feet so that’s all she needs. Yesterday she got cornered and kicked pretty savagely by another horse so I had to have the vet out - it’s things like that which can drive the costs of horse ownership way up. I really want to pit the horse that kicked mine. The whole situation has made me very angry and I’ll probably end up moving my horse (I pay $100/month for pasture board and that includes hay & senior feed currently) over this.

I should add-I’m in the midwest, where lost of horse things are cheaper than on the coasts.

Former riding instructor (English/eventing) and barn manager here. The question is slightly unanswerable… the question “how much is a horse” is a lot like “how much is art.”

Depending on your area, you could buy an older, well-behaved but not highly trained horse from $1,000 to $10,000 where the low end represents rural Michigan, and the high end anywhere on Long Island. I would say, on average, 2,000-5,000 buys the average pleasure rider (which to me means, trail riding, lessons in the discipline of your choice and some casual competition) a safe and appropriate mount. On that budget though, you’re going to kiss a lot of frogs.

Want some unsolicited advice? Sure ya do!
-Never buy a horse before investing in at least one full year of regular lessons (if you can’t afford them, you probably can’t afford to keep a horse).
-Never buy a horse under 5 for your first horse. Some people have made a go of it, but they are outliers. Chances are, you will be making a very expensive mistake.
-Never buy a horse simply because its pretty/a certain color/looks just like your favorite childhood horse. As the saying goes: “you can’t ride a pretty face.”
-“Buy the mind” – a first horse should have a calm, inquisitive, disposition. Place some odd object in the ring (a tarp dropped in a heap works great) and ask the horse to approach it. If it marches up to the object confidently = very good. If it approaches it cautiously, sniffing or snorting = good. If it refuses to approach the item = bad. If it pitches a fit when you gently and persistently insist it approach the object = very bad.
-I would advise against boarding your first horse at home unless others in your family are very knowledgeable about feeding, daily care, and horse health emergencies. I had been riding for about 15 years when I bought my first horse and was often grateful to have my trainer within hollering distance.

In Ann Arbor Michigan, I paid $350/mo. for stall board which included 12 hours turnout, feed/hay and worming (facility with attached indoor arena, outdoor arena, and access to trails). I paid $55/8 weeks for front shoes/rear trims, $28/mo for joint +hoof supplements, about $130 for spring shots & Coggins test.

Great advice on horse-buying, Hello Again. Especially the point about buying a young/green horse if you don’t thoroughly know what you’re doing. Most especially, NEVER buy a young horse for a child so they can “grow up together.” :eek:

Horse people have a saying: Green + green = black and blue.