You guys! I just figured out the perfect comparison that makes justifying the cost of riding so much easier!
I'm sure we've all felt guilty or felt the need to defend our expensive hobby at one time or another, either to ourselves or to others. Some parts are easier to explain, like we buy show clothes instead of fancy designer jeans, or we choose to spend the weekend at a riding clinic instead of a ski trip. But there's always still the unavoidable fact that we spend hundreds of dollars every month on food and board for our horses and that's a cost we can't skip for a month or easily reduce.
In Alberta right now, an average 25 pack of cigarettes costs $14.66. For a pack-a-day smoker, that ends up being $5,351 over the course of a year, or $446/month. For many people, that's more than the cost of board! Depending on your level of board and location, you may even be able to include your farrier and vet costs into that number.
So, the next time someone asks how you afford to have a horse, just say that it costs about the same amount as being a smoker!
This comparison doesn't end with money. You can use it to defend almost any facet of your riding:
"Riding is dangerous" - yes, I might fall and injure myself, but it's better for you than smoking!
"You smell when you get home from the barn" - which would you prefer, eau de cheval or tobacco smoke?
If you both smoke and ride horses, unfortunately this comparison doesn't work so well. In that case you should clearly give up smoking and stick to the horse addiction (and come on, it's not like giving up nicotine is hard or anything...)