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The Cost of Rehab

I wish I could put a definitive number on it. That would be easier when I talk to owners. The truth is the answer varies horse to horse. 

Emotionally it is very expensive. Everyone involved wants the horse to feel better. I lose a lot of sleep over these horses. Rehab is not linear. There are highs and lows all sprinkled in random orders.  It takes months of dedicated work to get the horse headed the right way and years of work to truly make a permanent change. There are leaps forward and set backs. Not every horse is a success story. Every horse makes improvement but not every horse improves to the functional ability required from the owner. In those cases horses are retired, sold or euthanized. None of which are wrong answers. 

There are no guarantees with rehab. It’s a risk. Not rehabbing guarantees a continuously uncomfortable horse that will deteriorate at a rapid pace. Rehabbing doesn’t guarantee return of desired function. Our goal is to regain function to the extent the horse can be comfortably managed.  The horse gets to decide what that looks like. Horses with a lot of pathology may not have good days every day. But they should be able to have more good days than bad. When the bad out number the good and we can’t get that cycle reversed, hard discussions must be had. 

Rehab comes with risk of injury. Horses are in dysfunction. As we try to restore function, weak systems can fail spectacularly. Often times horses get worse before they get better. Persistent patience is required for rehab. Showing up every day even when it feels like no progress is being made. 

Rehab is a financial commitment. We will just throw some numbers together. 

Board will run $400 to $800 per month depending on the facility. 

There will be additional supplements $50 to $100 per month. 

Bodywork $75 to $150 every month 

Rehab professional $800 to $1500 per month. 

Hoof guru $75 to $500+ per month

Dentist $150 to $300 every 6-12 months 

Maintenance medication $50 to $300+ per month 

Veterinary care. This number varies. But on average people will spend $2500 to $5000 on veterinary fees while in rehab. There are always outliers that cost less or more.  This is generally diagnostics, injections, therapies, etc. 

There will likely have to be tack changes which is an additional expense. 

There will be diet changes. For some owners this may actually save some money. For others it will be an additional cost. 

So an easy, straightforward (😂) rehab is going to cost a MINIMUM of  $8,650 for four months.  

A lot of owners want to try to do it themselves and save some money. If you are taking weekly lessons with a good rehabber, you might be able to eliminate about $1,600 of that cost over a four month time span. But it’s going to require you to commit 6-8hrs per week to your horse’s rehabilitation, not including trailering time to lessons. You also need to be prepared for progress to be slower than if the horse were with a professional.

If you try to eliminate too many professionals from the team to save money, you will set yourself back in the long run. It’s all the things or none of the things because only doing some of the things doesn’t work. 

Bottom line… rehab is expensive. The longer the horse stays in dysfunction, the more costly it is. 

Pre-hab to prevent dysfunction is ALWAYS cheaper.

Photo credit: Bare and Balanced Hoofcare, Lisa Mitler

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