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We Are Flying Solo

February 4, 2015

How Much DOES It Cost To Own A Horse: Vaccination Time

I don't have enough digits to count my encounters with that innocent inquiry, "I want my own horse, how much does ownership actually cost?"

I try not to laugh out loud, honestly, I do.   It was once me.

I may have been known to answer along the lines of:  "Add up everything you can think of.  Quadruple it.  Then, if you still have anything left in your account, throw it in the nearest river just to get used to the idea.  At that point, you're getting closer.  Oh, that doesn't count competing!"

Hey, it's like any relationship:  better to know up front, for BOTH parties!

Wait, You Owe Us A Tale Of Blogger Encounters!

Yes, I do promise, I shall regale you with the tale of the Awesomeness of Archie & Beka from The Owls Approve.  Which means something, because my Awesome standard is pretty damn high.  Well, she may have won a couple extra points for calling me "photogenic," which I find chokingly hilarious & appreciate the shocking flattery.

Fine, Back To Boring, Depressing Bills

The details of the truth, as we all learn at Owned (By) Horse #1, are far more nuanced, regional, & owner-dependent, but that's why they invented spreadsheets.  And the COTH Forums (they are massively entertaining, but do actually contain a great deal of incredibly educated & useful discussions if you have a lot of time & a finely tuned sifter).

However, for whatever little assistance it may offer, I give you a baseline example (click to embiggen):

What I consider my non-negotiables, bare bones.  Sum:  $171. 
The most excellent Dr. Bob administering Solo his spring vaccinations, general (which in Dr. Bob terms means not a detail is missed) health exam, back/teeth check, and pulling a Coggins.  That last is cheaper if we haul to one of the weekend clinics he offers at local venues every spring, but it evens out by costing me $0 in diesel, hookup/load time, or...doing anything.

Unscrambling alphabet soup...
The Quest Gel is an anomaly, I usually buy in bulk from ValleyVet.  But it's included due to an educational/promotional campaign from the manufacturers; I get $7 back for each horse with the purchase of that & my normal EEE/WEE/Tet/WNV vaccine.

Epic Neighbour Richard also uses Dr. Bob, so we coordinate & split the farm call fee, woot!

Add In Hayburner #2

I won't post Encore's invoice, as it includes his annual back injection & may cause cardiac arrhythmia in any viewing humans.  I refuse to be liable, use your OWN vet bills for that!  But his basics are identical, which means, leaving out the wormer, a grand total of $314 for both horses.  If no one throws anything out of whack, gets hurt, or is subject to fecal analysis (translate: unicorn-land).  Twice a year, adding rabies ($18/horse) in the fall. 

In our area, Dr. Bob is a hidden gem, so his prices are significantly lower than others but his experience & sheer talent is off the chart.   

For my partners-in-poverty, where does that fall on your scale? 

She must have many horses; she couldn't even buy the rest of her pants, poor thing...


  1. i won't comment on the costs bc it makes me too sad lol - but love the pics!!

    1. Hey, as long as I can entertain with pictures, my job here is done!

  2. I'm paying something like $70 just for a Coggins, and I don't even remember what vaccinations cost. My big money burner is hay--at $18.50 per 50-lb bale (which Salem blows through in about 2.2 days) or $40 per 115-ish-lb bale of nice timothy, my hay bill is ridiculously high. But I like for Salem to have hay in front of him 24/7 (in 2 large small-hole hay nets), so I make it happen. Even though it kinda makes my bank account whimper and moan and threaten suicide.

  3. I don't want to make anyone vomit, so be warned.

    My spring vet bill, for two horses worth of spring shots/exams and fecal tests, 1 coggins and 2 floats (one with extra sedation, as the baby woke up when they turned the float on...) was 615.44. There might be a bottle of previcox in there to the tune of about 95.00, but I can't be sure without checking my records (previcox keeps the old horse with the blown suspensory ligament moving, bucking and rolling).

    I am going to go back to hiding under my desk and swaying back and forth, now.

    1. *pats Ash* You don't have to hide too far. You'll notice there is NO dental work on this invoice, & my restock of bute went on Encore's invoice which...approaches your total on its own with his injection, LOL.

    2. Your boys are lucky to have you, eventer79, you take such good care of them! It's funny how it seems like the vet bills increase x3 (or more) when you buy that second horse... I was a little shocked at the dent in my first-job-out-of-college budget, but riding keeps me sane(ish) and you can't put a price on that!

  4. I would say mine are about the same, I get spoiled though because I can haul my guys into our track stalls where there is no farm call.

    1. Hauling in can save some costs, certainly! I can take the horses to the clinic, it's only about 20 minutes or so. However, after asking my truck how much that cost in diesel (I have a cool computer thingy plugged in that I calibrate with each fillup, so it has very accurate calculations, my own taxi meter!), plus the 1/2 day lost with hooking up, loading, unloading, etc, a $25 visit is MUCH cheaper!!

      Add in the fact that Encore has decided Dr. Bob's beef cattle are the embodiment of the devil itself (there are literally dents in my steel trailer ceiling, sigh), & it makes no financial sense. Also, for some reason, my boss expects me to show up at work occasionally, which is really annoying.

  5. I was trying not to think about this. I want to say spring shots+farm call and coggins runs me about $150 and then teeth would be another $120-ish? Ugh. It's still winter here, so putting that off a little longer.

  6. I do my own vax with the exception of rabies and of course coggins.That would be East/West + Flu+ Rhino + Tetanus + Potomac + West NIle. Reasons not to freak out about doing it myself:

    Val has never reacted (have his medical records from 3 yrs old on).

    I give him injections monthly.

    I'd rather give injections separately over several days than use a 5 or 6 way.

    The (wonderful) small animal practice who comes to the island only has one of three vets who will mess with a horse confidently - the nearest equine practice is a 7 hour round trip. Timely scheduling is super hard sometimes.

    Ordering form Valley Vet is so much less expensive. My next door neighbor shares the freight and we order together. I want to say it comes to $65 in the spring. Then I get rabies, boost the West Nile and get my coggins in the fall which comes to another $50. Spring dentist visit is usually $180, and that's with no happy juice.

    Hay however is another (sad sad) story. Figuring in time and fuel, my $10 - $12 50lb square bales end up at $18 apiece. I go through 100 - 125 a year and refuse to multiply that out. *tears falling*

  7. I think last spring's vaccs, coggins, general physical, and farm call landed me around $150 for one horse. A float is about $80 and I worm as needed - about $10 (not including the fecal). Not too bad.

  8. With four horses, I just sort of shrug and give the vet my credit card. It's usually in the neighborhood of $1200-1500 for shots, dentistry (the basics), and Coggins. I try not to think about it too much...

  9. OMG, jenj, four might kill me. I will note that NO dental work was needed, but we do check every time, so that is not factored into this round. Encore needs a float once a year, Solo oddly goes two years, his just don't grow very fast.

    This is just basic, what I consider required vaccinations & Coggins for one of my horses. Drugs, injections, dental work, chiro, hay, oh these are all topics unto themselves!!!

  10. Omg. That first graphic. I can't even... :) $300 is about my yearly cost for both of my dogs (heartworm/flea/tick meds, shots, vet check). The horse? He's actually cheaper. I do vaccinations myself, and split the cost of ordering them with the barn. That makes them about $50 annually. The coggins call is usually also about $50, as I split it about 9 ways with the barn, too. Then there are the yearly checks for something my idiot-accident-prone gelding does to himself (or this year, I do to him....let's not talk about that). Those usually run about $100. So, hm. Grand total of $200 for the horse, on an average year.

    That can't be right.

    How is my horse cheaper than my dog? Oh right. That's only when he doesn't have something catastrophic happen... which is rare.

    Oh and dental. That's about $125 a year. I only worm twice a year (Stable herd, no fecal result indicators. I hit for tapes and encysted only.)

    Okay. The horse is looking more expensive. Also, I am absurdly cheap...

    1. Haha, I totally get absurdly cheap!! Now that I have the horses at home, I want to switch over to worming guided by fecals. Problem: Been working 60 hr weeks & vet is NOT on the way to office! They don't seem to want to run by & pick up poo, sigh.

      Y'all are going to make me hunt down an invoice with dental work on it, aren't you?

      I totally agree that doing vaccines yourself is much cheaper, I can actually buy good ones at our local co-op. That is an option I may look into in the future, esp as I do other bulk orders from Valley Vet.

      However, the biannual visit itself I would still do -- it is my chance to have Dr. Bob put his eyes & hands on my horses when (in theory) something is not wrong with them, for his magic powers to point out something that may be developing (it's happened!), & address any questions (ok, plus he loves to talk, tells awesome stories, & is so educational - last fall, he stood next to his truck, looked at my top pasture and spit out what amounted to a ten-yr mgmt plan for my fields in about 5 minutes while my eyes bugged out, but he was nice enough to write some thing down for me, LOL).

      He knows both horses inside & out & has been a critical team member in cooperation with Wonder Farrier for at least 5 or 6 years; it's been invaluable to me, especially when we are competing/working & management/support needs intensify! :)

    2. I think if I had a Dr. Bob instead of a Dr. Ratherbetreatingcows, I'd be pretty committed to having him come out and take a look at my horses, too. :)