One of my goals for 2017 was to track the amount of money I spent on the horses. I did so religiously through July. Then I fell off the wagon for a couple of months. I’d stuff feed store receipts into my wallet, ask the vet to email copies of my invoices, and make notes in my daily planner about a check I’d written the farrier. I had every intention of logging these purchases; I just never got around to it. Fortunately, I had some free time yesterday and spent an hour or so combing through my bank statements and making entries into my spreadsheet.
The point of this exercise was observation- I really just wanted to see how much money I was spending.
I divided my expenditures into six broad categories:
- Barn: purchases for the barn itself, which includes things like equipment (manure forks, wheelbarrows, light bulbs, etc.) and stall necessities (shavings, buckets, etc.).
- Competition: expenses for competitions, like membership dues, entry fees, stabling fees, etc.
- Feed: includes hay, feed, supplements, and treats
- Health: the broadest category, which includes veterinary care, farrier expenses, veterinary supplies (like syringes and bandages), and things for the horses’ general well-being like fly spray and wormer
- Tack/Apparel: this might as well be labeled “things I bought at work this year”
- Training: riding lessons and clinics
I further subdivided to those categories, mostly so I could reference things in the spreadsheet more easily. For example, I broke “Feed” into “feed”, “hay”, “supplements”, and “treats”.
Something I enjoy about being solely responsible for my horses’ care is that I make all decisions about what and how much to feed them. At the beginning of the year, I was buying a mid-priced feed and adding alfalfa pellets to it; additionally, Candy was consuming a fat supplement because she was thin. I wasn’t really satisfied with the feed, so I searched around for something else that would be easily available in my area. I settled on Triple Crown Senior, which costs more per bag than the other feed. However, I was able to drop both the alfalfa pellets and fat supplement. The cost works out to about the same per horse, but the horses’ weight is excellent, their coats are glossy, and I don’t have to do anything other than scoop one type of feed into a bucket.
My hay spending has been higher this year than I anticipated, since the supplier I bought hay from last year opted not to bale this year. I had saved enough money to purchase 200 square bales of good quality grass hay at $5.50 per bale, which is the rate I paid last year to have the hay delivered and stacked in my barn. I had a difficult time finding a replacement supplier who would deliver the quantity I wanted- most suppliers wanted to deliver a semi-truck load of 750 bales. While I have plenty of room for 750 bales of hay, I do not have $4,500 to spend on it all at once. I’ve been buying square bales of bermuda for $8.75 per bale at the local feed store; it’s not my ideal situation, but at least it’s good quality.
An interesting point about feed costs: per month, I’m spending about the same amount feeding 3 horses as I did on boarding one horse. That’s not the whole story, of course- this doesn’t factor in the higher mortgage payment, time spent feeding horses and cleaning stalls, or time spent making fence or barn repairs. Still, I think it’s worth it (for me) to have my horses at home!
Unsurprisingly, nearly half of my veterinary spending on was Gina. The bulk of that was early in the year- she had a uterine culture and subsequent treatment for a uterine infection. The cost of AI-ing her was another significant expense, but her other breeding-related costs have been pretty low (ultrasounds, vaccinations, etc.). The other 57% of veterinary spending was mostly a combination of Moe’s eye issues (nothing too major, just minor irritation and weeping that required twice-daily application of two different medicines that he HATED) and Moe’s EPM diagnostics and medication. (I can’t really be too mad at him; over the course of our partnership, his vet bills average out to about $125 a year.) Candy had a few vet visits, too, including a pricey blood panel early in the year to try and figure out why she wasn’t gaining any weight despite the truly impressive amount of food she was consuming. (Turns out Candy is a high shedder who needs to be dewormed more often than Moe and Gina. Candy is so special!)
I’m glad I did this in 2017! This data is very helpful, especially since I can use it to make an informed budget for 2018.
Do you track your horse spending meticulously?