One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is do you have time to look after a horse or pony. Horses need daily care regardless of the weather, schedules, or holidays. Keeping a horse on your own property is a 365 day a year job. Although you certainly won’t be spending all of your time looking after your new horse, it does require a commitment, and you'll need to figure out how to fit that commitment into your already busy schedule. How much time does it take to look after a horse or pony?
If you keep your horse at home you can count on spending at the very minimum:
- Feeding and checking drinking watering twice daily: 10 minutes
- Taking a horse out to pasture and mucking out a stall: 15 minutes
- Visually checking for signs of illness and injury daily: 5 minutes
- Daily hoof cleaning: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Beyond the Minimum
All of these chores can take much longer, and these are only minimum times. There are many things that can affect the amount of time that you’ll need to spend caring for your horse. Watering your horse may only take a few minutes in the summer months. But, ice and snow can make that a much bigger job. You might find yourself spending time breaking ice out of buckets, lugging water hoses, unfreezing pipes, or unthawing water heaters that stop working.
Winter time can make feeding a much bigger job too. Bales can get frozen in, or approaches to feeders, gates, and waterers might have to be maintained to keep them safe for everyone. Horses can damage stables, equipment, and fences, and that means you will spend extra time if repair and maintenance.
Stall cleaning time will depend on how long your horse spends in its stall, what type of bedding you use, and how often you clean it. Skip a day or two of cleaning, and you might find it takes you longer to clean up that if you had looked after each day.
And, it might only take a minute or two to glance over your horse to make sure it is injury free and healthy, but finding an injury might add to the time. Dressings might have to be changed, the horse might require hand walking if it can’t be turned out, or any number of scenarios can result in your spending more time with your horse than anticipated.
The time you spend looking after your horse will be in addition to any grooming, training, riding, or driving time you will want to spend. Most people find they spend more time looking after their horses than the actually do riding.
If you are boarding your horse, you may add in travel time if you are in a self-care facility, or you could go for months without ever seeing your horse as long as you pay the bill at a full care boarding stable. Boarding is the least time-consuming way to keep a horse. But, the convenience comes with a price, and a full-service board can cost thousands of dollars over a year.