Keeping a Horse

“Keeping a horse costs how much?” is a question often asked, and the answers may be as various as are the horses themselves.

From $2.50 ($74.19 in 2021 dollars) a week upwards.

Pay $10 ($296.74 in 2021) a week and you get the best care for your horse that can be offered.

Better to board your steed outside than in your own stable.

 A gentleman competent to talk on this horse boarding topic once said: “I have known horses to be kept for $1.75 ($51.93) a week, but said horses were nothing more nor less than the Brighton skates (worn-out horses) which do service for rural bonemen (junkmen). But a respectable horse will not endure such treatment. He will need at least $2.50 as the bare cost of material in the shape of oats, meal, hay, bedding, etc. Add to this shoeing at $.50 ($14.84) a foot and you have the approximate cost of his bare living.

“I am supposing that you have your horse all equipped and I am considering only the cost of feeding and repairing him. I am also presuming that your horse is only for family use, or in other words, the horse is a luxury, not one of the necessities of life. Perhaps if you take the boarding price at an everyday baiting stable, you can figure for yourself. As horse food varies so in quality we will not attempt to itemize expenses, but will rather make a clever Yankee guess at it.

“I believe that at one of these everyday baiting stables you can keep a horse for about four dollars ($118.70) per week and have your carriage washed. This of course does not include shoeing or clipping. Nor does it include the tipping that is expected in order to interest stable employees especially in your horse.

“Now consider what you get for the $4. Your horse is fed, bedded, stalled and made as comfortable as the ordinary animal needs. He is rubbed down when sweated from driving, he is curried and otherwise cleaned every day, his bedding changed, and in fact, taken better care of than a full grown man for double the amount.

“Your carriage will need washing twice a week at least, and I assure you carriage washing is one of the most disagreeable jobs in the world. It has an unexplainable terror for the green hand, and the old-timer traces his rheumatism, neuralgia, kidney complaint or lung trouble to it. I know many an old-timer who will not attempt the labor of carriage washing without first warming up on a good sized bottle.

“Now if you don’t drive your horse sufficiently the stable owner has an employee take the animal out for a walk, as carefully as you would take out a child for exercise and airing. You can see, therefore, that beside the outlay for material, the livery stable keeper has to pay for labor.

“I also forgot to state that your harness must be cleaned, another source of trouble to the employee. Perhaps you have a telephone, and your horse and buggy is driven to your door by the stable hand. More labor. In fact I don’t begin to recall all the trouble it is to take care of your horse for four dollars a week.

“Now your horse must be shod, or at least his feet must be looked to once a month; more often actually. The ordinary shoes will cost you $.50 apiece; these may be good enough for you and they may not. Now, your carriage, if a good one, will not cost much to keep and repair. This is one of the consolations of keeping a horse.

“You can’t afford to pay four dollars and extras? Well, there are places where you can keep your horse for $3.50 (103.86), and somewhere it will cost you only three dollars. But you cannot expect to get the earth at these rates.

“But we will suppose that you have money and want your horse, which is a costly one, taken care of accordingly, and kept where he can associate with high-toned steppers.

“They will cost you six dollars ($178.05) a week for board and routine care. Maybe you desire a box stall; for a dollar ($29.67) extra you can have the box stall. Your horses feet need attending to say once in three weeks, and although you probably won’t need a new set of shoes just yet, when you do, you will buy a set that will cost you not two dollars, but three dollars ($89.02) for you are not up in the horse world, and are paying six dollars a week for board and one dollar for a box stall. Speaking of shoes, reminds me that their wear depends altogether on the horse, his style of trotting, and his weight. I know one mare that will wear her hind shoes in five days.

“Let us suppose your desire to keep your horse in a private club stable. You can do so if you wish to pay $10 a week for it. Again you have advanced in the horse world.

“Undoubtedly you have a blooded horse, and knowing his value you leave nothing undone for his safety and comfort. Therefore, besides your $10 a week, you have fees for the hostler (groom), as you wish the latter to devote extra time to your property.

“One of the things for which you are supposed to fee is the elegant shampoo, after a drive, so that your steed will not take cold. This operation, including scraping, blanketing, re-blanketing, bandaging with alcohol, etc., will take the hostler two hours.

“I might also add that the feet must be washed and the animal given a brief walk. These are luxuries, but they are almost necessary.

“I’ll consider the question of boots. There are knee boots, thigh boots, scalpers etc. Boots come high. I have seen a horse go out of a stable with $250 (over $7,400 today) worth of boots on him. I also know one colt who has $65 ($1,928.83) worth of boots on.

“But this $10 a week horse also needs dietetic treatment. Accordingly you buy potatoes, apples, flaxseed, etc., which while they don’t cost a fortune, can’t be got for nothing.

“Then you want a veterinary dentist to examine the animal's teeth. He won’t do it for nothing.

“Stable blankets and sheets cost something. Many horses take a keen delight in tearing up their sheets. Blankets are of various descriptions and prices, and of different thickness and material.

“In fact, this $10 a week horse must be treated as though he were heir apparent to a crown. He needs to be clipped, too, about twice a year, and it will cost you three dollars each time. This clipping is a preventive to his taking cold, as long hairs retain the moisture and thus increase the chances of taking cold.

“In some cases peat moss is used for the feet. This peat moss cost three dollars and four dollars a bale. It is a source of considerable trouble to the hostler and maybe to the horse and owner, if the hostler does not attend to his business.

“I forgot to state that in summer you will have to get slippers for your horse, but this will scarcely increase the expense.

“Harness? A harness will cost $100, handmade. One of this kind wil last for years without requiring a stitch. You also can get a good harness for $65 ($1,928.83), a poor one for $25 ($741.86).

“A first class box top buggy will cost you from $200-$250($5,934.85 to $7,418.56); an extra good one will cost $350 ($10,385.98). A Woodard cost about the same. A poll for a pair will cost from $10-$25.

“Carriage repairs do not cost a trifle, yet if you have a good carriage the expense is lightened. It is a good rule to exchange your carriage after three years' use, and get a new one instead. Divide the extra money you have to pay by three and you will get the yearly cost of carriage repairs.

“This kind of a horse - this $10-a-week animal may cost you $700 ($20,772) a year or more. He will not cost you much less. Your four dollar a week horse will cost you about $300 ($8,902) a year. If you have your own stable in the suburbs, you will have to hire help and you will find that either horse will cost you more than in a club or in a private stable, and may not be attended to so well. It isn’t everybody who can afford keeping a horse is it?”