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Any advice for someone who doesn't know one end of horse from another. How expensive is this likely to be?

(194 Posts)
Spero Fri 15-May-15 14:24:54

Grateful for any advice, just starting on my research here for next year.

I am not remotely interested in horses, but my daughter is. Her only dream is to have a pony. We live within half a mile of a riding centre/stables so I was wondering if it is feasible to think about getting her a pony which could live at the riding centre and she goes round a few times a week to do whatever it is you do with these animals.

Once she is in secondary school in 2016 I expect to free up about £500 per monthin child care costs.

So if I can take the hit on buying a pony (I assume a few thousand or depends on what you want?) I assume if there is space, he or she could live at the riding centre if I pay for it.

do you think £500 a month is feasible for livery, saddles, whatever else? Tack seems eye wateringly expensive from the little I know.

i have heard of people sharing or loaning out a pony - would this be a good idea in case the reality of a pony doesn't quite meet my daughter's dream? I think she is quite realistic has she has been having lessons for two years and been on pony camps etc so she knows the score.

marialuisa Fri 15-May-15 14:43:14

I think it depends how much work you are willing to do. For part livery in my area it would be fine (typically £50 per week including all hay and basic feed). It wouldn't be enough to cover a pony on full livery competing throughout the year plus the "incidentals" which can feel endless some months.

Geonoacake Fri 15-May-15 14:57:36

Which area of England are you in? Livery varies massively depending on area. I keep mine at home so no livery costs and reckon to spend £300 per month on hay, straw, feed, vets, insurance, farrier, saddle fitter, back lady and any extra (often unnecessary!) tack and rugs. I'm in the South east so basic DIY round here would be around £30 per week.

weshallneversurrender Fri 15-May-15 14:58:36

ditto above, it depends on what you want from the pony if your DD is interested in competing, then your costs could go through the roof.

Remember that each horse/pony is not equal, so certain 'types' of horse will often cost less in terms of feed, etc. than others. I have a 16.2 HW hunter type (a very big, fairly stocky horse!) and i expect to spend approximately £300 - £400pcm for his keep, but hes on minimal feed (though uses a lot of bedding) and he doesnt compete, and i do all of the work myself. 500pcm should be enough for most standard type horses, but if you are looking at 'full livery' (so all care, etc. is included) or part livery (often certain parts of care are included and others arent, it varies from stable to stable) you might find that you need more money to pay for those services. DIY livery (do it yourself) is the option that seems most popular and is cheapest, but you cant underestimate the drain on time that horses are either. If she is on DIY and doing all the jobs herself and/or visiting every day, expect for her to be spending 1-3hrs a night down at the stables. This could be an issue if she is approaching GCSEs/A Levels/etc.... and make sure you discuss what happens to the horse should she choose the university route! whether it goes too/sold/loaned out/etc.

Make sure you get a reputable insurance company also, as horse claims can run into the tens of thousands for something that looks minor, as there are certain companies with a slightly less than stellar reputation.

Im happy to provide a full breakdown of my monthly costs if you wish, feel free to inbox me! Having a horse and setting it up doesnt have to cost the earth if you are smart about what you buy, and go for functionality instead of pure attractiveness!

Honestly, dont make the mistake of thinking that a horse needs to be flashy and talented - most standard, average horses will happily pop a 1m course and do a walk/trot/canter prelim test to a decent standard. Get something safe and unflappable, even if its ugly or not quite the 'dream' horse that she might be picturing, as nothing takes the fun out of horses faster than repeated falling off, or her not being able to ride with her friends because her pony gets too wound up.

Spero Fri 15-May-15 15:06:48

Thanks that is really helpful - I hadn't even thought of competing; at the moment I think she just wants to go off on hacks and plait its mane etc, but I did catch her looking wistfully at some horse boxes on the motorway...

We are in Wiltshire so I guess that is in the more expensive area of country.

I don't think it will be feasible for her to go to stables every day, I was thinking 3 times a week.

thanks weshallnever, I would be interested in a break down of your costs; this will make 'my' research look very impressive when the Finance Committee (me) meets to discuss the plan.

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Fri 15-May-15 16:10:53

I would strongly recommend a share arrangement to begin with, to see if the reality meets your daughter's expectations.

Booboostoo Fri 15-May-15 16:24:53

There are different types of livery:
- DIY is the most economical but you need to do everything from turning out/bringing in, mucking out, being available for farrier, vet etc.
- part livery takes on some these jobs for you but be careful to specify exactly what you will be getting for your money.
- training livery includes everything including riding. A pony may need this for a period for retraining, preparation for competition, while you are on holiday, etc but with a bit of luck you can avoid this costly option.

There are also big costs differences between keeping a pony at grass or stabled. Hardy ponies can live out all year round but you have to deal with the mud and rain and may need the option of a stable if the pony is injured. Stabled is more expensive but many places get so wet in the winter it's the only option. Avoid any yard that keeps ponies stabled all the time as that makes most of them loopy.

There are some ways to have a pony more economically:
- working livery: your pony is used by the riding school in exchange for reduced livery. Make sure to specify the details, I.e. how many hours will the pony be used, which days, what level riders.
- part-loan: you share the pony with someone else so you share all the jobs and costs as well. Again you need to specify the details in advance.

Fixed costs are:
- feed
- worming
- farrier (shoeing more expensive than trimming)
- bedding if stabled
- vaccinations
- teeth
- insurance
You are also likely to need saddle fit checks and /or physio.

One-offs you need saddle, tack, grooming kit, rugs but it is easy to go overboard with all these!

Mitzimaybe Fri 15-May-15 16:27:05

She'll probably promise to do lots of the work herself, but when it comes to it, she won't. Make sure you are ready for that.

Re. telling one end from the other - the front end bites, the back end kicks. Simples!

Sorry, not very helpful.

Pixel Fri 15-May-15 17:52:10

If your daughter is anything like me she is looking at the horseboxes because she's trying to see of there are any horses in there, not because she harbours dreams of Badminton wink.

Sounds like a share arrangement would be the best solution for you if you can only commit to three days a week. Owning a pony seems a lot of unnecessary worry and expense if you are having to pay someone else to look after it for most of the week. Of course if your daughter is set on her dream of owning a pony then you could always get someone else to share it and pay you towards the costs but that is not always as easy as it sounds. You would need to find someone you like and trust and who is reliable.
Having said all that, £500 per month sounds plenty to me as long as you buy something sensible.

Sierraspider Fri 15-May-15 20:17:53

I've just bought myself and my daughter a pony... things that we spent to get us started, to give you an idea were:

. Full set of tack (we bought all 2nd hand tack all together cost a round £350)

. 2 new rugs at £60 each

. A hay net and full grooming kit £20

. Horse insurance £25 a month

. A months livery £100

. 5 stage vetting for the pony we viewed £280

. Transport to get the pony to her new home £150

. Horse wormer £14 and feed to last a month £20

. 2 feed buckets £10

. Then £1500 for the pony itself

I'm not sure how much that totals (not sure I want to add it up?) But thats what we spent in getting a pony, starting out with nothing.

Agree with all the advice given so far, make sure you look carefully when shopping around for a horse and I tried the pony I bbought twice to be sure she was suitable.

MrsDeVere Fri 15-May-15 20:31:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Fri 15-May-15 22:33:42

Thanks for all the excellent advice, my daughter confirms that she would like to have a part livery when the pony could be ridden for lessons in the day and she would go every day after school - she seems to have thought it through but only time will tell if enthusiasm and reality will meet.

My dad has said he will disown me if I do this as he thinks it is obscenely expensive but another friend points out that whilst all her friends were doing drugs and getting pregnant she was down the stables, completely wrapped up in her horse, so I quite like the idea of distracting my daughter from the other temptations of teenage life.

And she does seem genuinely enthusiastic and has been for the past two years. I would like her to find her 'thing', I think everyone needs a 'thing'.

mrslaughan Fri 15-May-15 22:55:56

my husband has made this point to a friend - all the teenage girls at many of the stables we have been at are workiing all day in the weekend for a lesson at the end of the they are actually working towards something they want (good life lesson), they are not chasing after boys or hanging out 'round the shops getting into trouble.

Yes you could go the whole hog and by a pony and keep it, but have a look on preloved there are also ponies and horses to share - you could have an arrangement where it is 'hers' 3 days a week and the owner rides it another 3 days - much cheaper option, and you can walk away after the required notice period - far lees risk and liability!!!

AuntieDee Fri 15-May-15 23:46:55

A loan would be a good idea. Having your 'own' horse is a big difference to having lessons once a week.

To be honest if you only want to go 3 times a week I do think horse ownership isn't for you. It's not a hobby, it's a way of life...

AuntieDee Fri 15-May-15 23:48:03

The other thing you have to consider is that if she is only going 3 times a week then someone else will be doing most of the work and will have a better bond with her horse - this can be quite upsetting for a young girl

Spero Fri 15-May-15 23:50:16

She wants to go every day.

I am trying to be realistic and I don't think that will happen.

the idea of sharing/loaning a pony sounds a good one.

I am not stupid and I am aware of the responsibility involved in looking after animals. But I do get a bit impatient with this 'its all your life or its nothing' attitude. But don't get me started because I have been down this road on countless dog threads.

Booboostoo Sat 16-May-15 07:57:35

Horses are a much bigger time commitment than dogs.

If you keep a horse stabled on DIY livery you need to visit twice a day. Once to turn out and muck out in the morning and once before it gets dark to bring in and ride. This can be extremely demanding. Riding in the winter can be a challenge unless you have access to an arena with lights.

Grass livery is less hassle but you still need to visit once a day and it is possible you will end up trying to deal with an injured pony and a broken fence in the middle of a rainy night in a field with no electricity or water, with ground too boggy for a trailer to get through.

When I kept mine stabled at home I still had to be up by 7.30am to turn out ( or they trashed their stables), I mucked out four in one hour, in winter I had to be there by 3pm to bring in and ride two, then at 11pm I hayed, skipped out and did final checks. Luckily now with the DCs the horses live out 24/7 but it can still be difficult. One Saturday I was late checking on them in the morning as I was looking for an emergency dentist for DH who had just driven off. I was carrying 18mo DD and found one horse had broken out of the starvation paddock and was loose on the farm, his companion was going bonkers in the field, and the third was on three legs as he'd caught a back leg firmly in his rug. I had to go to the builders and ask them to hold DD while I sorted out the mess and then 'enjoyed' the pleasure of the emergency vet for the third horse's ligament injury - a lovely day all in all!

Your. Best bet if you want working livery is to involve the RS in the choice of pony as they will be using it as well. You have to have a super RS you can trust because they need to keep to the hours/days agreed and only put the type of rider agreed on the pony when your back is turned.

Finding the right pony is a whole other post!

GatoNaranja Sat 16-May-15 08:15:07

Don't forget that you will need someone to look after the pony whenever you go on holiday / away for a night / your dd is ill / even when you go out for a day and won't be back until after dark sometimes!

MrsDeVere Sat 16-May-15 08:46:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Sat 16-May-15 09:02:19

Don't worry, despite my ignorance about horses I has noticed the difference between a horse and a dog. But I have always had pets thus appreciate that animals are not toys but have needs of their own for feeding and exercise that must be met every day regardless.

We can't possibly look after a horse in our garden which basically fits 2 rabbits. Therefore I am going to have to ask someone else with a stable and a field to do most of he looking after and I accept I will have to pay for that.

So I am very grateful for he heads up on costs I hadnt even thought of. But if I can afford it and bit ends upmy daughter only goes 3 days a week then this is a question of my financial imprudence, not a question of animal welfare surely?

That's what I was getting impatient with - the suggestion that we should not do this unless my daughter is at the stables much more frequently.

MrsDeVere Sat 16-May-15 09:20:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Sat 16-May-15 09:37:01

How am I being rude?

Sorry if you think I am but I really don't see what on earth I have said that is 'rude'.

I have expressed impatience is all. At one post. Everyone has been very helpful and I now have a clear idea of costs and other issues.

But I don't think it is a problem if my daughter can't go every day, so long as someone else is looking after the pony, which I accept will need a lot of looking after.

Floralnomad Sat 16-May-15 09:49:50

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a horse/ pony on a livery arrangement and only visiting when you want ,be that once a week or once a day - however that is not what most children 'want' from horse ownership which IME is the whole hands on experience which you will not get because yards that do full livery generally have routines and horses like routine . Can I just caution against part / working livery at a riding school - often the pony is being used when your child will want to ride ( weekends / after school/ holidays) and also will be being ridden by a complete assortment of potentially rubbish riders . You also need to be very clear on who is responsible for tack / vet bills etc if they are damaged whilst being used by the riding school .

Sierraspider Sat 16-May-15 09:59:15

Spero - it's not a problem if you can't go every day. Our new pony is in grass part livery and we go every other day, once a day. It costs £100 pcm for this. If you don't have a stable/ get a native breed it is much less expensive to put them at grass livery. Where my mare is there is a shelter, electricity and running water which is very handy for someone who can't get down every day. I'm lucky in that the field owner 'does' (feeds and picks out feet, poo picks) my pony when I cant get down. Good luck (ps I had a pony when I was younger on loan and it certainly kept me out of trouble)

Spero Sat 16-May-15 10:05:29

Flora - I totally get that and think it is one of the most important lessons for children about owning an animal - you get out what you put it.

My daughter is already upset that the dogs gravitate more to me than her (because I bloody feed and walk them!) but not so upset that she will put more effort into it.

If she was like that with a horse, I accept it would be an indulgent waste of money to pay for a pony that she rarely engaged with. But to be fair to her she has been very keen now for two years and rides every week. She is in pony club and has her 'mucking out' badge (!) so I assume she is knows that its not all riding through the fields with the wind in your hair.

I think she is keen to get as full on experience as she can, accepting that we don't have our own stables and land so that experience will always be limited. If it is so limited that it sucks all the enjoyment and fun out of pony ownership, I guess only time will tell.

But thanks again everyone - you have been more helpful than I dared to dream! I will print this out and put in Horse Folder (you have also helped my OCD about filing, I love having new things to file) and we will keep thinking about it.

If it happens at all it won't be for another year so I have time to ponder and digest. I appreciate its a big decision and horses are way out of my league of animals I have had any previous dealings with. But I hope I do appreciate both the pleasures and the pains involved in being responsible for any animal.

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