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True Cost of Keeping Horses

Owning a horse can be a labour of love but its also hard work. Chores include collecting manure, repairing fences, feeding in the rain and cold, cleaning out water troughs, waiting for the vet in the middle of the night. A horse can live well into its 20’s and even sometimes into its 30’s. Many RDA horses come to us late in life after one or more other careers and will need extra care and attention as they age. All RDA horses are carefully selected, road tested and health checked. Some may require additional training to adjust to their new careers.

Photo courtesy of The Age (Pat Scala)

Photo: Pat Scala - courtesy of The Age

There are many costs attached to keeping a horse as outlined below:

  1. Purchase, loan or lease - whether buying, leasing or loaning, the initial outlay on actually getting a horse is the cheapest part of the deal; it’s the ongoing maintenance that really costs.
  2. Shelter - Horses need shelter from heat, wind and rain. A horse has to be kept in a paddock or stabled. If RDA does not own or lease a property it has to pay for agistment – this can cost anything between $15.00 and $200.00 per week.
  3. Maintenance - whether RDA own or lease a property there are still costs involved in fencing, pasture management, building of shelters and so on, all of which have to be maintained.
  4. Feeding costs - even paddock horses will need some supplementary feed when grass becomes eaten down. During the drought bales of Lucerne hay soared to prices of over $20 per bale. Feed prices fluctuate throughout the year, so RDA needs to budget extra money for those times.
  5. Equipment – RDA needs to purchase
          a. Horse equipment - brushes, feed bins, water containers, first aid kits and rugs
          for winter months or to keep flies off in summer which will need to be repaired
          and replaced every couple of years; as well as correctly fitting saddles, bridles,
          headcollars, blankets, lunge ropes.
          b. Rider equipment - gloves, hats (which have to replace every 2-3 years or after
          a fall), gloves, boots, first aid equipment, ramps, dips or mounting blocks and
          special equipment to assist our riders to get on and stay on the horses.
  6. Safe storage area - is needed for equipment when it is not being used on the horse.
  7. Shoeing/trimming - every 6-8 weeks ranges from $25 for a trim up to $100 for shoeing
  8. Veterinary costs - for regular preventative measures against diseases such as tetanus and strangles (annually); dentist visits (annually) – and worm control. The possibility of unexpected expense because of illness or injury should be remembered. Veterinary care is not cheap.
  9. Coaches – many RDA centres have volunteer coaches but even volunteers must be properly trained, accredited and provided with ongoing support and guidance.
  10. Transport – RDA may transport horses to get horses to its riders.

Horses are the key to all RDA operations; without them we could not provide the range of services and activities that we do. They offer total unconditional love, good humour and patience. RDA needs to provide them with good food, loving care and attention as well as a safe and nurturing and stimulating environment in which to live.

You can support the work of RDA through donations of money, services, equipment and/or resources, the loan or donation of suitable horses, or your time.

We need companies or individuals to sponsor the purchase of suitable ponies and horses, horse and rider equipment, feed, veterinary supplies, fencing, stabling, 4WD, floats or horseboxes.

If you think you can help please contact