The question I'm often asked by friends and family is how many horses I have. I almost always answer with a rye smile saying, "One too many."
Disregarding the comedy, there does seem to be a magic number of horses to have on your property and this article is hopefully going to give some clues to that number.
A few questions for you...
Are you boarding horses or do you have them at home? When in comes to finances, strictly speaking, it's cheaper to board horses than own them at home. But only if you have one or two. If you have three or more it becomes much cheaper to own a property capable of housing your horses. Why...? Because, at a certain point the cost of boarding out ways the cost of a bigger property. Property is expensive. And we know it's not fair to house your horses in a small 100 x 100 space their whole life because horses need to be able to express their whole range of motion to "feel" free. That includes the gallop. Your horse needs space to gallop. (Full range of motion = larger sense of freedom.)
But having enough space to gallop is expensive. We're talking about three to five open acres or more. And that might be a big new mortgage. So here's a basic breakdown of the finances.
|Boarding - depending on area||Own your own place|
|1 horse: $500-$1000/month||
Extra mortgage and maintenance:$1500-$3000/month
|2 horses: $1000-$2000/month||2 horses don't quite make it worth it|
|3 horses: $1500-$3000/month||3 horses or more make it worth it! (Go buy your own property)|
Of course the above table is a massive generalization, but hopefully you get the point. When it comes to finances, it's usually better to board your horse than own your own property until you get three or more horses. But that leaves a new question...
Regardless of where your horses live, how many horses should you own for the horses sake? To help answer that I have a new table for you.
|1 horse gives you time to commit and engage completely without distractions or extra obligations||
1 horse gets super lonely. Horses are family animals and to give them everything they need to thrive they need family
|2 horses gives company to the single horse problem. Now your horse has a friend||2 horses presents a problem. When you want to ride one the other is left behind and can become anxious|
|3 horses gives even more company and gives you the ability to ride one out and leave 2 behind to be together||3 horses presents a new problem. When you bring your friend around to ride your second horse you still leave one behind|
|4 horses gives you the ability to bring your friend along to ride and leave two horses at home to give each other company||4 horses presents a new problem. Now you're so distracted with all your horses you don't have time to make friends, and you're left all alone at the barn by yourself|
Round and round we go, looking for the ideal number of horses to have. On one hand, having too many makes you what we call in the industry, "horse poor." It means you don't have enough time or money for anything but the horses that are quite literally eating the green right out of your wallet, the minutes right of the clock, and taxing the land they live on. On the other hand... if you only have one horse, you subject that horse to slightly less natural form of lifestyle. So, like most things in life, there is no perfect answer.
As it turns out, the only right answer is the one you have inside you. What makes you feel right? For many people, having one horse is perfect because you progress so quickly to higher levels of horsemanship without distraction or worry for herd bound behaviors that arise in training sessions. And that is fine as long as you're not a hard case that makes life for your horse miserable. For other folks, like myself, I never like looking into a field and seeing a single horse. I know horses well enough to know they are herd animals. So in all of this... I believe, we're left with a new question. If you choose to have one or more horses, how do you deal with ill behavior related to herd attachment?
How do you help a horse not be so attached to the herd, so you can make the progress you would like to make if you owned just the one horse? That way, you can have the best of two worlds. You can make progress in spite of distraction and you can have more than one horse to add value to his or her life experience.
To answer that, stay tuned. Next week I am going to post a new article on how to help horses with extreme herd attachment issues.
Thanks for reading. Comment and share below. God bless!