'Back in the day' when there was NO other method of transportation other than horses (and maybe railroads), how on earth did people afford them? Nowadays of course care, facilities, riding, etc. have become fancier, and prices on land and such have gone up a lot, I know, but obviously those horses were doing pretty well as far as living and being prolific goes.
Yes, they weren't treated as well perhaps by the general population, but how about Native Americans, for instance, who had horses? There was nothing fancy about anything with them--no fancy tack, feed, whatever, and of course most of them were not involved with the industrializing USA. Granted, the land was shared by them all (which is a much healthier way to go about things) but I highly doubt most of those horses had shoes, or regularly visited farriers, or got their hooves trimmed, or got vaccinated. And yet they existed just fine apparently. Also, Amish people, even nowadays--they only use horses. Granted I think they don't treat them very well but everyone knows that a horse can't work for you if it is not healthy, so that in itself is good enough incentive to keep a horse healthy.
So, what I'm asking is, besides general inflation, increasing land prices, and all the extraneous fancy stuff we do with them, why is keeping a horse still so expensive? Is it possible for someone who is middle class to keep a horse reasonably inexpensively if one sacrifices, for example, luxuries such as fancy electronic entertainment equipment in the home, a large house, etc. etc. and doesn't do the extra fancy stuff like get high end training or enter shows and contests, etc.? Maybe like the Native Americans? I know it may sound crazy to an experienced horseperson but I wanted to get that question off of my chest so I could move on to other things.