Horse & Hound is trying to find out which areasof Britain offer the best “value for money” for riders, and wants to hear whether you get a good deal in your neck of the woods or whether prices of shoes, livery and competing make you wince.
Obviously there will be some geographical variations – livery is bound to be more expensive in the ultra pricey south-east, where property and land prices are through the roof.
In areas with an abundance of livestock farms there will be plenty of grazing to be had, and – if you’re lucky – a local farmer may even lend you some sheep to help with the grassland management.
After livery and insurance, one major outlay few horse owners can avoid is shoeing. No farriery governing body sets prices for shoeing – it is all down to the farrier’s own costs and facilities, and, to an extent, what the local market will pay.
Even in areas where there are plenty of farriers, someone with a good reputation and a full appointments book can charge that bit extra. One highly rated farrier in Gloucestershire can charge £70-£80, whereas in South Wales shoeing can cost as little as £40 per set.
Tuition is another field in which costs vary wildly, even among instructors of similar standards. Group lessons are quoted at £17 per hour in the Midlands and £22 in Middlesex, while if you want to ride in Hyde Park you’re looking at £50 per hour.
Then there are competition entries. While affiliated events seem to operate on a relatively level playing field, it is the unaffiliatedsector where fees vary the most.
A journey of just a few miles can show significant variations in prices for the same competition. At one centre in the West Midlands last winter, you could do a preliminary dressage test for £5, while next door in Warwickshire the fee for the same test was £10.
H&H intends to build up a picture of where in Britain riders get the best value and where they don’t, so have your say by completing the great value reader survey in the 26 June issue of Horse & Hound.