The rising cost of horse care

Economies worldwide are taking strain. We hear about massive national debts, crude oil prices, and experience for ourselves the pressure of increasing costs of keeping our horses.

If equestrian disciplines could be labelled as ‘the sport of kings’, then many equestrians could be called the ‘princes and princesses of paupers’. The costs of keeping horses and anything to do with them seems to have shot through the roof. The HQ team decided to take a look at the economy and some of the factors that influence the price of horse care.

How does the economy affect your equine relationships?

How does the economy affect your equine relationships?

Basic costs

As a leading supplier of feed, shavings and tack, Midfeeds has kept a close eye on price trends in the equine sphere. HQ spoke to Renee, who provided information regarding price increases on the things that our horses just can’t do without, namely food and grass. “In 2012 a bale of eragrostis was sold at R29.50. Our current price on eragrostis is R46.00. This constitutes an increase of 56%. In 2012 a bag of Epol Rider Pellets was sold at R195.08 for 50kg. Our current price for Epol is R197.11 for a 40kg bag. In effect this is an increase of 26.5%. The price of Equus has also increased by 26% since 2012,” says Renee.

Western Shoppe assisted us with some information regarding the prices that we experience with our horse’s shoes. Shoe and nail manufacturers such as Mustad, Cemtec and Malaysian have kept their increases to the bare minimum at sub 8% over the last year. What does, however, have a huge effect on SA is our volatile exchange rate. Most of our equestrian apparel, tack, shoes and boots, for example, are imported. Purchased in euros or dollars for the most part, they are easily affordable until you factor in the exchange rate. At the time of writing these stood at R12.40 for $1.00, R13.92 for €1.00 and R19.27 for £1.00.

Fuel prices

shutterstock_141892351Fuel prices are another major influence. When the price of transport goes up, it affects every stage of the supply chain, from the cost of raw materials (which will push up the price of a bag of food) to the price of delivering that bag to your yard. The fuel price is affected by:

  • the cost of crude.
  • increase in international energy demand.
  • oil supply.

Crude oil prices have risen dramatically over the last few years, driven by strong global demand, limited spare oil production capacity, and continuing political instability in certain oil-producing regions. These influences don’t look set to improve in the near future.
(Sources: and


Drought is a huge factor in determining the yield of our maize and wheat crops in South Africa. In an article in Bloomberg Business it is stated that: “South Africa will probably cut its estimate for the production of corn in 2015 by 0.6% after a drought earlier this year damaged crops in the continent’s largest grower of the grain, a survey showed.”

The worst drought since 1992 hurt crops in the Free State and North West provinces, which accounted for almost two-thirds of corn output last year, and prompted the nation to import the grain for the first time in almost a year … The yellow maize price has risen 12% so far in 2015.

This same drought has put South Africa’s wheat crop at risk. With both maize and wheat making up a large part of horse concentrate mixes, it does provide some very real concern for manufacturers and consumers alike.


South Africa’s well documented ‘loadshedding’ programme has also had a huge impact on manufacturers. Processing plants, extrusion of raw ingredients such as maize and barley, pelleting machines – all require electricity to run. Most manufacturers have had to bear the expense of the purchase and installation of massive generators that are capable of powering all their machinery during power outages. Ultimately the burden of these added costs fall to the consumer – and our horses are the biggest consumers of them all!

Stoic SA

All is not lost though. South Africans have a reputation for being hardworking, innovative and relentless when it comes to sticking to something that they believe in. Keeping horses may mean cutting down on some luxuries or the number of shows that you can compete at in a year. If you have the capital to do so, then buying in bulk is an excellent way of saving money.

What we are sure of is that the South African equestrian consumer is making every cent count. Horse lovers want affordable quality and value for money in every aspect of their horse’s care, from stabling to competing and everything in between.

Text: Mandy Schröder

The full article appears in the August issue of HQ.


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