Dr Platzhund answers a reader’s question about the costs of buying, maintaining and keeping a horse as a pet.
Q: I’m considering horse riding as a hobby and would like to know if I can buy a horse and home it at a stable where I can pay storage fees. But I’m undecided on the type of horse to buy and what I should know before buying one.
A: Many people jump blindly into buying a horse, and are then are disillusioned when they learn that keeping a horse isn’t a hobby – it requires a lot of dedication. You need to commit to spending time bonding with your steed, creating trust, and understanding horse agriculture. It’s recommended to ride your horse at least every second day. Horses are also expensive, ranging between R20 000 and R100 000. Maintaining it is also costly – stabling at a yard costs between R24 000 to R60 000 per year, excluding veterinary bills and food. I suggest you first develop a relationship with a reputable riding stable’s owners from whom you intend to buy from and stable your horse. This will help you to bond with a horse, negotiate a rate for buying and housing it, and learn of the horse’s history. You need to consider the sex and age of the horse, what injuries and illnesses it has had, and the cost of its upkeep. If you’re still keen to own the equine, then the management of the yard and their resident veterinarian will help you source and evaluate the health, soundness and temperament of the potential horse. Horses vary from miniature ponies to Clydesdales (a powerful breed used for pulling heavy loads), and riding horses. I highly recommend you gain experience with riding lessons, understand the full spectrum of owning a horse and how the stable yard operates, before diving into a hobby which may be unaffordable and time constraining.