Like most horse crazy girls I had dreamed of keeping my horse at home since I started my first lesson. My parents however did not share the same dream and so boarded until I went out into the real world. I decided to turn this dream into a reality when Hobbs started getting older and I really wanted to provide him with a nice retirement and also have another horse. This started the learning experience of a lifetime.
IS KEEPING YOUR HORSE AT HOME CHEAPER THAN BOARDING?
There are many different scenarios that make this hard to answer so I will just address how it pertains to me. Boarding at a show barn here is $1200 per month excluding blanketing in winter months (add $50 for that) and including lessons/training rides. Realistically if I boarded right now it would be for 2 horses ($2400). I wouldn't have my mini and Hobbs would go somewhere that does retirement (probably at a cost of $300 per month). Do I pay less than that total of $2700 per month to keep my horses at home? Yes, but if you add up my time probably not. Time has a value too.
Things to consider are the upfront costs ie buying property and building (if not already established). My mortgage increased 325% from our last house to our farm. This cost of course varies on area, price of building supplies at time, what you build, etc. I did not build a huge fancy house, it's about 500 square feet bigger than my last house but we went from a home in a neighborhood to 10 acres. You pay for acreage around here. My main requirement in building was that I wanted a nice barn. Adding more paddocks and an all weather ring would be in my long term plan. Cost of building the barn alone was mid five figures. And fencing and gates? About half of that. Then add stall mats for 5 stalls plus aisle ways, cross ties, buckets, feed bins, fans, manure carts, something to pull the manure carts so they can be dumped, pitch forks, brooms, blower (so I don't have to sweep), water troughs for paddocks, etc.... And if you have your own barn you definitely need a truck and trailer. And a tractor, a bushhog, a finishing mower, jumps, etc... This is just the list that I am running off the top of my head. There is more I am sure. I don't have a total cost of it all because I honestly don't want to know. It was alot. Much more than I had imagined. So back to the question, is keeping your horses at home cheaper? If we take the $1200 a month board for one horse per year that comes to $14,400. Pay that for 30 years and you come to $432,000. Though I can't give you an exact amount of what we spent it was ALOT more than that. Alot. Sure you could build something more simple and not as nice of a barn but I think my cost was pretty normal and way short of extravagant. Also remember that board price included training. But we still aren't factoring in something...
Someone has to take care of the horses and maintenance around the farm. I do all of this myself (husband helps with maintenance and mowing) except I have barn help on Saturday evenings so I can attempt to have a social life. If I need to go out of town I have to make arrangements for horses to be taken care of. I need to take off of work for the vet, dentist, or whoever else is working on my horses. Fortunately my farriers are friends and they know my horses so I don't have to be home for them. I would say 3.5 - 4 hours of my day is spent riding, doing horse care, and barn chores. If you didn't want to do this yourself then you would need to hire someone at an extra cost. I also go get feed every 5 weeks and hay every 2 weeks. If you want to know how to eat whatever you want and maintain a slim figure come muck stalls, unload and stack 25 bales of 60# hay, 50# feed bags, and then riding of course. Gym? My gym is in my barn (ok so you can save on gym membership).
And for those who are wondering about taking in boarders to help with costs or in exchange for help. Hell no. Horse people are a pain in the ass. Seriously, we are. Some don't pay, some horses are destructive, some people don't respect your time or belongings, some don't show up when they are supposed to, etc... No, I've been down that road.
I think maybe for multiple horses over time that it is probably cheaper to keep horses at home if you are doing it all (or most) yourself. Keep in mind doing it yourself does take a toll. There are no sick days and God forbid I should get hurt and can't do it myself...But the other side is that I look out the windows of my house and see my horses everyday. I see them first thing in the mornings and I get to kiss them goodnight. I know more about my horses moods, habits, and ins & outs than anyone. This also helps me build an amazing bond with them. That. That right there is what makes it worth it.