If you can remember the nostalgic years of Follyfoot Farm and Black Beauty on your black and white TV set, then you can probably recall with fondness horse riding in an era when health and safety were two words rarely put together! Equestrian life in decades gone by was horse riding without a hat clinging on for dear life, bombing up and down the hedgerows and jumping fallen trees. Riding on the roads or lanes was sharing it with half a dozen cars if you were lucky. We can fondly reminisce but sadly those carefree days are perhaps now a nostalgic memory.
Horse riding is now deemed to be an “extreme sport” with the modern day riding schools battling with safety policies in order to teach new pupils to ride. Riding without a hat would now be deemed to be reckless. Who can forget watching Charlotte Dujardin when she won her Dressage gold in the last Olympics in a safety helmet rather than the traditional top hat. Since then many top riders have followed suit and now compete with safety in mind, leaving behind the traditional. Eventers now compete in cross country with body protector complete with airbags! The older equestrian generation may roll their eyes at the new and safer way of horse riding, but who can afford to get hurt these days?
This beloved hobby is thankfully much safer these days but it is also comparatively more expensive. Buying a horse used to be the most costly part of the hobby, but the money needed in looking after them now outweighs this initial outlay. Shoeing costs have gone up by over a third over the last ten years, with feed prices in some cases have doubled. Hay has seen erratic pricing over the last few years with the weather being the benchmark of some fair prices to the extortionate. Livery costs have been on the rise but you can choose a price to suit your budget. If your horse can live out, this is by far is the cheaper option. However, for most horses, it is imperative to have good quality stabling and turn out which can reflect in higher livery costs. Vets bills have always remained steep but call out fees have increased due to the rise in fuel which the vet has had no choice but to pass this cost on to the customer. So factor horse ownership and riding into the present day, and this will financially stretch any household purse.
So how can you prepare yourself for unexpected bills with having horses inevitably brings? Well apart from selling the family silver, there are ways of making sure you are prepared for those unexpected bills when it comes to the maintenance of your lovely horse or pony. There is the question of whether to invest in horse insurance in helping with the hefty vet’s bills that fall on your doormat or sorting out an unfortunate accident that you have may have encountered with your horse. However, premiums can be at a premium and you need to decide whether your horse needs to be fully covered pending what their job is? Many riders are taking up the Gold Membership from the British Horse Society which part of the membership is public liability insurance for horse and rider. Insuring in this way is an excellent saving but also you must make sure you put some money away for those vets bills which every horse owner will encounter at some point during ownership.
How many times do you read that stable yards have been broken into and their precious saddles, bridles, and rugs have all been stolen? These are all situations that are very expensive to replace or settle. You can again either insure them or a cheaper way is having your tack hallmarked with postcode and address details making it harder for the tack to be sold on legitimately.
So with hopefully your safety policy in place tack up, jump on and have fun on these fantastic, loyal and majestic animals. Equestrian sports have never been so popular and are one of the most rewarding past times out there. But don’t forget to stay safe and make sure you are using your riding hat and body protector together with some money put by….
Written by Samantha Hobden
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