I live in a rural area, we own 105 acres... and 7 horses. Costs are mostly in terms of farrier bills, annual Coggins and Vax, having teeth floated. Most injuries have been treated by us with some loose supervision/advice from the local vets.
Also important to mention: A LOT of us still use horses for ranching! That's right. Pushing up cattle, checking fences, looking for missing cow/calf pairs on large tracts of land. Example: Huband lost a cow/calf pair on 800 acres (not ours, it was a cattle lease) and rather than risk spooking them with atvs and noisy machines, we took the horses and made a day of it. I think we were in the saddle for 6 hours or so, riding cattle trails and through some nasty thorny brush in December.
We don't have a big operation though, ours would qualify as a hobby ranch - We're down to 16 heifers, all of which are carrying, some of which have delivered their calfs and are now cows... and one bull named Angus.
Our 7 horses are easy to keep financially because we get a huge tax break since we have a ranch operation (Small as it is). We also buy round bales in bulk - the horses and cows get the same good hay. Their feed, their meds, their mineral, even vet bills, are all tax free or tax deductible. We've not used that for tack purchases - I have a small tack shop that helps with that.
As far as the haves and have nots of horse ownership - I know a lot of seriously dirt poor people who own horses and take very good care of them. I know a lot of wealthy people with horses that put them in a pasture and ignore them and never ride them. I know people that have been 'barn blind' and starved their old horses to death and argued to the end they still needed to be worked on barrels so they didn't lose their edge. I know salty ropers that grieved so horribly when they lost their roping horse of 25 years that they hung up their spurs and will never have another horse because losing 'him' was so painful. I know people in the reining and show circles... I know a whole lot more people in the rodeo business.
I know people who trail ride and brush pop (We just hit raw, undeveloped acreage, 3000-4000 acres, and we follow game and cow trails. I know barrel racers and bronc riders. I even know a horse jockey that races TB's.
I know bucking horses that can absolutely trash a bronc rider... then pull double duty as a heroic pick up horse at a rodeo.
I know a few people trained in riding English but now ride Western, not many Western riders that went English. English jumping is starting to catch on though, and I see a lot more places with jumps set up in their riding area... mostly around Whitesboro, Texas.
Most of us IN THIS area (Southern Oklahoma/Northern Texas) have no idea what posting to a trot or getting your horse on the bit even means... but we know it when we see it. If that makes any sense at all.
I think... what I'm trying to say here, is in the US, we're literally all over the map. The cultural differences just here in the US are astounding. There is no license to drive per se, at least not in Oklahoma or Texas, that I'm aware of. I honestly can't imagine anyone being silly enough to try to enter an event and NOT be competent in the saddle though. Those few that do and fail miserably don't usually return.
I don't know anyone that wears a helmet or an impact vest unless they're barrel racers, and those are few and far between. They are not required by law or even guidelines, and they'd be miserable to wear in this area. In example, last weekend was mid-90s here with a 70% humidity. Your brains would boil in a helmet and you'd absolutely melt in an impact vest. We ride in hats, caps, or bare headed (I like wearing a cap, but I find when we ride in thick brush or woods, something will always snag it and rip it off and take half my hair with it when it hangs up my pony tail). Dry fit shirts are popular, and a lot of us wear a dry fit type t shirt UNDER a thin cotton western shirt on less humid days... the cotton and the dry fit shirt, once they get wet, will actually keep you cool, even with the long sleeves, and also protect your arms (Locust trees have toxin in the thorns and it will set you on fire immediately), mesquite and bois d'arc trees are just all around nasty with the thorns.)
I'll be completely honest, and once again, this is yet another cultural difference just here in the U.S.... unless you're participating in a high impact event - if you show up in a helmet, people will stare at you like you've lost your mind (Let me pause here and put on my husband's turn out gear from the firehouse... .... okay. Flame on. I'm just telling you how it is here. LOL).
We usually ride with bits in our horse's mouths, it just depends on the horse and the rider, and we usually all wear spurs... but again, it depends on the rider, low heeled western boots or Twisted X moccasins (Also have a heel), and blue jeans - even in the sweltering heat.
Oh yes, lastly - MOST people do not board their horses or keep them in stalls. Some people have barns and the horses have assigned stalls... and the horses are only kept up at night... they're all of them working horses that work cattle or ride fences all day, every day.
Here, if you don't own a sufficient amount of land, have family with land, or know someone willing to let you put your horse on their land, you just don't get a horse. Period. Boarding is not a thing really. Owning enough land to have a horse, or several? Owning a LOT of land (Hundreds or Thousands of acres) for a few horses, or several?
That's pretty common.
"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
Last edited by AtokaGhosthorse; 09-17-2018 at 11:53 PM.