The Do It Yourself Part of Our Horse Ownership

The comments on SMTT's HORSE HUSBANDS – THE MONEY TALK were really fascinating to me. My husband also rides so horse costs aren't a secret with us. The part I found more interesting was what people spend money on horse-wise: some on shows, some on tack, some on expensive horses, some on all of the above.

So I wanted to talk about how I make it possible to own horses. Before I get to the list, I want to say that I fully admit that I am a very privileged person. I have 3 horses and know that I'm lucky to be able to. However, as the title of my blog alludes to, I (and my husband) work very hard to make that happen.

All of my complaints could be this meme
Some of the ways we keep costs down: 

We board at a self-care barn. Hay and water are provided as part of board, but stall-cleaning and grain feeding are on us. Honestly, most everything else is on us.

We clean stalls ourselves three days a week. One day a week one of our leasers cleans in exchange for riding (the number of days fluctuates as leasers change). The three other days we pay someone to do them. We used to go to the barn six days a week and do stalls every day. It was crazy and this is a bit more sane. 

We lease/share-board our horses out and use the funds from that to pay for stall cleaning if the leaser choses to pay instead of doing stalls. 

Our barn has no electricity - not just no lit arena - there's no lights or plugs anywhere. So we have to do this cleaning/feeding in the early morning before work in the winter.

Because it's a very small barn, when the owner is away, we pitch in and help out. We spent yesterday morning feeding hay to all the horses at the barn, dealing with a leak, and feeding the cats and chickens on top of feeding and cleaning our own horses.

There are 12 chickens, but I can never get them all together in a photo
We built all of the jump standards (except for the plastic step-style pole holders) in the arena. And bought all the cups.

When all the jump poles got claimed for erosion prevention, we went to Home Depot and bought more. 

We built a mounting block when someone else's horse took out the previous block in a temper tantrum.

Mounting Block - water bucket in the background

We have dragged the arena with our own truck.

One Saturday - while my husband was away - I got an email saying the well pump had broken and all boarders would need to bring their own water from home for the next few days. I had to construct a water tank out of a trash can, some plumbing materials, and a hose. I strapped it into my truck bed, filled it with water and then wheelbarrowed buckets of water to each horse's stall. 

We now use that same water bucket to bring water to the barn to wash our horses since we cannot use the limited drinking water for baths. 

We have had to dig fence post holes, mix cement, and install fence posts. We've also had to fix the fence boards multiple times. 

We have to re-gravel our paddocks every year before winter. This involves shoveling and wheelbarrowing tons of gravel. By ton, I don't mean a lot, I mean 2,000#. Last year was 12 tons. I know this because the quarry charges by the ton. 

I make my own "Smartpaks" out of little tupperwares and fill them weekly with each horse's supplements that I purchase much more affordably from other vendors.

We built our own feed bin to store the grain we buy and feed ourselves. 
Shelf for supplements

I've had one of my saddles for 15+ years. The other one I had to buy to fit Nilla, but I bought it used at a tack swap. 

Dijon's bridle is probably 10+ years old. My stirrup leathers are original to the 15 year old saddle. 

There's no bathroom at our barn. 

Almost everything I own tack wise is used (there are some exceptions like my new bridle and some saddle pads, but the vast majority is used).

There are other things, but this was already pretty lengthy.