Everything you need to know before you saddle up

A lot of young girls and boys dream of having their very own pony. Don’t let them gallop away with their imaginations (and your savings) before you know exactly what you’re getting yourselves into The decision to become a pet owner is a big one, but choosing a horse as that pet is monumental. They require more time, money, dedication and sheer hard work than you may realise or be prepared for. ©iStockphoto.com/DZM Those who own or care for horses would rarely choose any other way of life. However, a quick look at the Equine sub section in DoneDeal’s Animals section will give you some idea of the cost of the horse itself, plus lessons and equipment. Accommodation You need to make practical choices about how and where you’re going to keep your horse. There are several options available in terms of accommodation, from full livery (where you pay to have your horse boarded in a stable) to keeping your horse at home. Here’s a more detailed look at what’s included in each option and what you can expect to pay: Full livery (approx. €100-150 per week) stable hay feed bedding turnout muckout DIY livery (approx. €50-75 per week) stable hay turnout the owner is responsible for feed, bedding and mucking out Grass livery (approx. €30 per week) horse is outside all the time all other costs, such as additional hay in winter, are the owner’s responsibility Own stable at home Obviously, all costs fall on the owner, including: bedding – between seven and 10 euro per bale; you’ll need approximately two bales per week feed – an average of €10-12 per week, depending on the size of the horse hay – small square bales cost around three euro and last about two days; a large bale costs around €25 and lasts about six weeks Additional expenses Horses are expensive to buy and to house, but that’s only the start of it. There are ongoing costs to ensure your horse’s health and wellbeing, which you’ll need to keep on top of. These include shoeing, vaccinations, worming and dental care. For these additional essentials you should be prepared to spend another €800 per year. Quality time Of course, finances are just one aspect of loving and caring for your four-legged friend. You’ll also need to set aside a great deal of time, as horses are emotional creatures that need company and plenty of exercise. The amount of time you actually get to spend with your horse each day will depend on the accommodation they’re in: Full livery – you’ll just need to ride the horse, so about two hours a day DIY livery – this involves mucking out the stable and feeding your horse as well, so around three hours a day Grass livery or keeping the horse at home – you can spend as much time as you want with your horse It’s important that your horse gets enough attention. You can help to develop a strong bond with your horse by including plenty of grooming, chats and cuddles in the time you spend together. Think it through A horse is not your average pet, so take the time to decide if you can really afford one, in terms of both money and time. Can you afford all the expenses and do you have plenty of spare time and energy to exercise and care for the animal? If yes, then many happy years lie ahead for you and your equine friend. Don’t forget to look through Equestrian section and read a previous article on equestrian life. #Schoolholidays #Horses #Animals #Equine #Equestrian