Keeping a horse is an expensive business wherever you live, but, as Horse & Hound magazine’s best value survey found, costs can vary from economical to extortionate in different parts of the country.
While, as you might expect, lessons, livery and competition are dearest in the home counties, horse owners in the more remote parts of Scotland, Wales and even Cheshire pay hefty mileage costs for veterinary treatment, shoeing and transport.
Items such as hay, straw and shavings vary little from north to south, east to west, while the cost of shoeing, teeth rasping and vaccinations vary wildly around the country.
- Buy hay and straw off the field if you have transport and storage.
- Consider big bale hay and straw.
- If you can develop a system with friends whereby you all help with each other’s horse care, DIY livery can be a low-cost option even for full-time workers.
- Call-out costs can be a killer in remote areas. Consider grouping together with other horse owners for routine work such as shoeing, vaccinations and tooth rasping.
- If school hire is costly, share a lesson with a friend working at the same level — your horse will benefit from the company and you from the tuition.
- You may be able to negotiate rates if you book a block of lessons or regular school hire, although you are often required to pay up-front.
- Talk to local landowners about paid-for access to their land. If a small group of riders can provide a farmer with extra income, he may be prepared to upgrade existing tracks or create new ones.
- Want to hunt but can’t afford it? Consider going on the less popular weekdays or offering your services for gate-shutting — although you’ll need an agile body and well-mannered horse for the latter.
- Remember that if you accept cash from friends for a lift in your lorry you may need an operator’s licence and relevant insurance. Customs and Excise can impound lorries, which are not correctly licensed.
- If hunter trial entry fees are out of your reach, offer your services as a mounted steward. You’ll learn a lot, it’s a good way to teach manners to a youngster and helpers are often invited to have a tantivy at the end of the competition.