Horse crossing

A horse crossing sign in Clark County

According to a 2019 survey by the Clark County Executive Horse Council, owners are facing an increase in equine-related expenses, both direct and indirect. The survey contains a total of 675 responses from equine (horse or members of the horse family) owners around the county. 

According to the survey, annual direct expenses, such as general care and food, cost owners an average of $4,595 per equine each year — an increase of $1,298 per equine since the council’s 2014 survey, which had 276 participants. 

“Everything has gone up in price,” Alice Heller of the Clark County Executive Horse Council said.

Julia Richard of Quarry Ridge Farm in Battle Ground said she has felt the economic impact of the rising prices of hay. 

“Hay has gone up significantly (since 2014),” Richard said. 

Richard also mentioned how many hay farms are switching over from hay production to hemp production, something she expects to increase the price of hay even more over the next few years.

Along with hay, Richard noted the large overhead cost that comes with owning an equine business. From an increase in farrier prices to saddles and equipment, Richard said just breaking even and being able to pay for the barn expenses is her goal. 

“If you had to make a living doing it, that would be tough. Especially with the price in property now,” she said. 

Barbara Hort of Farmhill Equestrian in Ridgefield echoed Richard’s thoughts about prices, mentioning how people in the horse business “just don’t make money.” 

“It’s a money losing business. Nobody makes money in the horse barn business. Not little, not big, no one. We’re all in it for love, devotion and foolishness,” Hort said.

“Taxes are rising all the time. The insurance costs are just astounding. There are lots of costs that are really going up very, very rapidly,” Hort said, adding that although she has not seen a decrease in business, she can see it happening. 

According to the 2019 survey, equine owners are spending an average of $5,349 in property expenses annually, an increase of $1,041 since 2014’s survey. 

“I think where the decrease is being seen is in facilities where they would have pasture boarding. Where the horses need open pasture,” Hort said, mentioning how throughout her 35 years in Clark County she has seen development cause a strain on the dairy businesses and pastures in the area; a strain she now feels is affecting the equine community. 

Hort said boarding facilities and pastures are losing acreage and space to conduct their business due to the counties push to create “less acreage” stables and boarding facilities. 

“The problem is that the facilities are being pressured to conform to standards that are inappropriate,” she said. 

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