How Much Do Horses Cost? Understanding the Costs of Horse Ownership

on May 17, 2024

A detailed answer to the question “how much do horses cost” from a long-time horse owner!

horse in red blanket - how much do horses cost

When I was a kid I dreamed of owning horse. When my dream finally came true as an adult, I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared for the ongoing costs of owning a horse.

From initial purchase prices to boarding and shoeing, there are many different types of costs associated with owning a horse.

My horse brings me so much happiness, so I am determined to give him the best quality of life possible, which costs money. In this article, I’ll break down the various expenses associated with owning a horse to give you a clear picture of how much it really costs.

Boarding or Stabling

The number one cost associated with horse ownership is boarding or stabling.

Unless you have your own land and facilities, this represents a signficant sum every month!

Even if you do have your own land, there is cost to maintaing the pasture, fencing, shelters, etc. So don’t underestimate the hidden costs of keeping horses on your own property.

I converted an old outbuilding on my property into a run-in barn for my horses. Sometimes you may have to get creative when keeping horses at home!

For example, I made these homemade insulated water buckets for my barn when it threatens to get below freezing here in North Carolina.

If you are going to pay to keep your horse somewhere close to where you live, be prepared to shop around to compare facilities. Boarding costs vary greatly depending on location, amenities, and the level of care provided.

Full-service boarding facilities may offer amenities such as daily turnout, feeding, and stall cleaning, but these luxuries come at a higher price. Self-care or pasture board options may be more affordable but require more hands-on involvement from the owner.

Where I live in central North Carolina, monthly board ranges from $350 to well over $1000 per month.

When you are considering the costs of horse ownership, the monthly investment you make in a place for your horse to call home should be at the forefront of your mind.

Hay, Feed, & Supplements

Horses need access to forage (grass or hay) all day every day. Keeping up with their forage requirements is the second most significant cost after stabling.

If you are boarding your horse then feed costs are usually included in the monthly cost. If you are keeping your horse on your property, you mostly likely will have a hay bill (unless you live somewhere that grass grows year round).

Most horses also get some grain each day, and many take supplements for joint or hoof health.

Depending on factors such as size, age, and activity level, horses can consume a significant amount of feed each day. The cost of feed and supplements can vary depending on your location and the quality of the products you choose.

I have spent between $40 and $100 per month per horse on feed and supplements (in addition to forage costs).

Initial Purchase Price

The most obvious cost associated with owning a horse is the initial purchase price. The price of a horse can vary dramatically depending on factors such as breed, age, training, and pedigree.

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to MANY thousands of dollars for a horse.

Warmblood breeds are all the rage in English riding circles, so they will be more expensive just due to their breeding. Otherwise, training and age will contribute most to the purchase price of a horse.

Keep in mind that the purchase price of a horse is usually a very small investment compared to the care and keeping of a horse over it’s lifetime.

It makes sense to spend more to purchase a horse that will provide a safe and enjoyable partnership for you both!

Veterinary Care

Another things to consider when asking “how much do horses cost?” is veterinary bills.

Regular veterinary care is crucial for keeping your horse healthy and addressing any medical issues that may arise.

Routine expenses such as vaccinations, dental care, and deworming should be factored into your budget, along with potential emergency veterinary expenses.

I budget about $600 per year per horse for regular visits for immunizations, Coggins testing, and dental work. That’s just for the basics.

I’ve had vet bills for emergency situations as well, such as when one of my horses developed “choke” on Christmas Eve and had to be seen immediately. I’ve also had to have x-rays performed to determine if my horse needing speciality shoeing.

How Much Do Horses Cost: Farrier Services

Regular hoof care is essential for preventing lameness and maintaining your horse’s mobility.

You’ll need to schedule regular visits from a farrier to trim your horse’s hooves and, if necessary, apply horseshoes. My farrier comes every 5 weeks year-round, while others will come more frequently in the summer and less so in the winter.

The frequency of farrier visits will also depend on factors such as hoof growth rate and the type of terrain your horse is exposed to.

Farrier services can be a significant ongoing expense, so it’s important to budget accordingly. I spend $60-$100 per month on farrier costs for each horse.

Equipment and Tack

Once you’ve purchased your horse, you’ll need to invest in equipment and tack to properly care for and ride them. This includes items such as:

  • Saddles
  • Bridles
  • Halters
  • Sheets and blankets
  • Grooming supplies
  • Riding apparel
  • and more

The cost of equipment and tack can add up quickly, with high-quality items often coming with a hefty price tag. I recommend looking for tack at consignment sales and buying secondhand on Facebook Marketplace if you are looking to stay within a budget.

Training and Lessons

If you’re a new horse owner or if your horse requires additional training, you may need to budget for a lessons or a trainer.

Lessons can run from $50 to several hundred dollars. Many equestrians take single or multi-day clinics with professionals to improve their riding or troubleshoot issues that arise with training their horse.

I mostly do my own traing, with lots of help from talented trainers on YouTube. I have even built my own DIY horse jumps to train at home.

The cost of training and lessons can vary depending on factors such as the trainer’s experience and credentials, as well as the frequency and duration of sessions.

Trailer or Trailering

Many horse owners also invest in their own means of transporting their horse. I’ve owned multiple trailers over the years and they represent a significant expense.

First there is the purchase price of the trailer to consider. There is a huge range in trailer prices, anywhere from under $1000 for an older used trailer that needs work, to close to $100,000 for a high-end multi-horse gooseneck trailer!

Also be sure to factor in maintenance costs associated with your trailer including tires, pain touch ups, wiring repairs (a common repair) and more. You will also likely have to pay for registration for the license plates and possibly property tax every year.

Horse Shows

Horse shows can represent a significant expense for horse owners.

They often require membership in a professional organization (such as the United States Equestrian Federation) in addition to entry fees for the show and often per class.

If showing is in your plans, be sure to factor in the associated costs and how often you want to enter shows.

Miscellaneous Expenses

In addition to the major expenses outlined above, there are numerous miscellaneous costs associated with horse ownership.

These can include things like grooming supplies, medications, tack repairs, and insurance premiums. While these expenses may seem minor individually, they can add up over time and should be accounted for in your budget.

Owning a horse is an amazing experience, but it’s important to understand the financial commitment involved.

From the initial purchase price to ongoing expenses such as boarding, feed, and veterinary care, the costs of horse ownership can add up quickly. By carefully budgeting and planning for these expenses, you can ensure that you’re prepared to provide the best possible care for your one or many horses!

I hope this post answered the question “how much do horses cost?” and helped you understand the real costs of horse ownership.

DIY Insulated Horse Water Buckets

on January 26, 2021
completed DIY insulated horse water buckets

Looking for an alternative to expensive heated water buckets or fancy insulated water bucket covers?

If you want to make your own insulated horse water buckets, here’s a super cheap and easy DIY fix.

Do You Need Insulated Horse Water Buckets?

horse in a stall in a barn

We live in North Carolina where winters are for the most part very mild.

But occasionally we get hit with lows in the teens.

This presents a problem for keeping our horses’ water from freezing!

I personally am not comfortable with using electric heated water buckets due to the fire risk. Our barn is quite a ways away from our house and there is no way I can monitor them closely enough.

I needed some way to keep the horses’ water from freezing on a 18 degree (F) night so I decided to DIY some insulated horse water buckets.

I am happy to report their water did NOT freeze!

I spent less than $20 insulating four buckets so this was a cheap solution as well.

Read on to learn how to do this yourself!

DIY Insulated Horse Water Buckets Materials

horse water buckets

Here are the water buckets I wanted to insulate.

Just your standard horse barn water buckets.

roll of reflectix and duct tape

I bought a roll of Reflectix at my local Lowes Home Improvement. It is essentially very sturdy foil bubble wrap with amazing insulating properties.

I bought the smallest roll (33 square feet) and it was about $17. I also bought a roll of cheap duct tape – any will do.

How To Make Your Insulated Buckets

starting insulated horse water buckets

I wrapped some Reflectix around the bucket (slightly at a angle since the bucket’s sides aren’t straight) and cut it.

I only overlapped it a few inches.

duct taping the side of the water buckets

I then slid it down so the top was lined up with the underside of the top rim of the bucket and taped it together.

You can see how it has to be at an angle to match the shape of the bucket.

how to tape the bottom of the insulated horse water buckets

Then I started folding and taping up the underside of the bucket.

I taped the first piece to the bottom of the bucket so it wouldn’t move.

completed bottom of a water bucklet

Here is a completed bottom of a bucket. You can see I was generous with the duct tape!

I then went around the bucket and secured any flaps with duct tape.

how to tape the top

I also went around the rim and secured the top to the rim. Since this is what is holding the insulator on to the bucket, you want to make sure it is very secure.

I added some Gorilla Tape I had to the top of the buckets to make sure it held. I’m not sure this is necessary but I had it handy so I figured why not reinforce it!

It took me about an hour to wrap and tape all four buckets.

So far they have held up to several weeks of use!

Overall a very easy and cheap fix for insulated horse water buckets in the barn in the winter.

This method would work for any water you need to keep from freezing – for your dogs, cats, chickens, garden, etc.

If you are new to horse ownership, be sure to check out my resource for determining the real cost of horse ownership here.

$35 DIY Horse Show Jumps

on October 9, 2020

Horse show jumps are surprisingly expensive. You could easily spend thousands of dollars on just a few jumps!

Here’s how to make your own jumps at home for only $35 each.

DIY horse show jump in yard

I’m not an accomplished woodworker by any stretch but I was able to make this basic horse show jump in an afternoon with minimal help.

Read on to learn how!

Gather materials for your DIY Horse Show Jumps

supplies for DIY horse show jump loaded into back of SUV

I think the best thing about this horse show jumps project is that you can get all of the materials at your local building supply store.

No ordering from an online horse company – just head to your local Home Depot or Lowe’s!


Here is what you will need for one jump with standards and a pair of cross rails (prices are estimates):

The total for these supplies at my local store was under $35.

Even better, I was able to transport all of the supplies in my SUV.

Make all of your cuts & sand

wood for diy horse show jump on picnic table

After you get the materials for your horse show jumps home, you can cut the lumber to the sizes you will need.

First, we cut the 4×4 in half. These will be the uprights of the jump standards (supports).

supplies on picnic table

Then, we cut the 2×4 into 8 equal parts (so roughly 1 ft each). You don’t want any sharp edges so I marked one corner with the angle cut I wanted and let my husband cut. These will be the feet of the standards.

Then he cut four 2×2 inch blocks from the balustrade. These will become part of the jump cups that hold the rails up.

You’ll want to do some light sanding to make sure there aren’t any sharp edges or splinters that will get you later.

The sanding took me under 10 minutes.

Measure & drill holes in the 4×4 standards

3/8 inch paddle spade drill bit

You will use the carriage bolts as the holders for your jump cups.

We used a 3/8 inch spade bit to drill the holes. It is the perfect size since the bolts are 1/4 inch thick.

man using square to measure wood for drilling holes

Next I measured out the holes in the 4x4s for the jump cups.

Be sure to use a square to line them up in the middle of the 4×4 to make everything work!

I started 12 inches up from what will rest on the ground and put a hole every six inches up to 3 feet.

That was five holes total on each standard to drill with the 3/8 in. spade bit.

4x4 with holes drilled in it 6 inches apart

Here is one of the 4x4s with the holes drilled.

DIY Horse Show Jumps: Attach feet to upright

feet attached to jump standard upright

Next you will attach four feet to each upright in the pattern shown above.

Use your exterior screws to attach the feet to your upright.

I used two screws per foot and made sure they were flush with the bottom of the 4×4.

Drill holes in your blocks and assemble jump cups

DIY horse jump with wooden blocks and rope

If I remember correctly we used the same 3/8 in. spade bit to drill holes through the center of the wooden blocks.

Then cut the nylon rope in half and thread one piece through two of the wooden blocks.

I used double fisherman knots to make a loop in the end of the rope to I could hang it over the ends of the carriage bolts.

There is likely a better way to do this but it is working fine for us.

jump pole set into jump cups

You want the blocks to be slightly tipped in so they make a stable support for the pole while also letting it roll off easily if the horse catches it with his hoof.

Assemble and admire!

DIY horse show jump completed

Bring your landscape timbers over to place them into the jumps cups and admire your new jump!

I was so happy with how our DIY horse show jumps turned out!

Since all of this wood is pressure treated you don’t need to paint it, but you could of course.

If you want a taller standard just use a 10 or 12 foot 4×4 instead. If you do I may also suggest longer feet (such as 18 inches each) since the upright will be heavier.

I have a few other DIY horse projects on this site, including these homemade stall name plates and these homemade insulated water buckets.

Any questions? Please leave a comment below!

DIY Horse Stall Name Plates

on September 30, 2020

How to DIY some cute horse stall name plates for only $1!

two horse stall signs with names

I have been wanting stall signs for our little horse barn but there was no way I was going to pay $25 each to have them made. That’s just crazy!

I found wooden plaques at the craft store for less than $1 each and went to town. These are the perfect easy horse stall name plates.

Get a cheap wooden plaque from the craft store

small oval wooden sign

We made a trip to Michaels and found a bunch of options for pre-cut wooden plaques.

My daughter picked this oval plaque that measured roughly 6.5″ x 5″.

It was a good size for our stall doors. You can find thicker ones with beveled edges if you want to pay a little more.

With our coupon (always use a coupon at the craft store!) they cost 70 cents each. We bought three.

Get out the acrylic paints

painting stall signs with acrylic paint

Next we dragged out our stash of acrylic craft paints.

If you have a certain color in mind you can buy a bottle of paint for less than $1 at Michaels.

We applied one coat and let it dry.

DIY Horse Stall Name Plates: Create names

Cricut design studio with names

I used my Cricut Joy and the Design Space program to create the names for the plaques.

I used permanent black vinyl and some transfer tape to move them to the signs.

If you don’t have a way to make the vinyl you could definitely use stencils and paint to get the names on the signs!

Attach twine with hot glue (optional)

twine glued to back of name plate

Since I wanted to see how the stall sign would look hanging, I attached a short piece of twine with hot glue.

You will definitely want to use high temp hot glue to fasten it securely.

horse name sign hanging on stall door

Here’s how the horse stall name plates looked hanging.

We decided to attach the other stall signs with high strength stick-ems instead of hanging them.

We ended up liking how they looked like this better than hanging and changed Harry’s sign.

It’s definitely just personal preference.

$1 DIY Horse Stall Name Plates Summary

name plate hanging on horse stall door

Our horses finally know which stall is theirs!

Any questions about creating your own DIY stall signs? Leave a comment below!

DIY horse stall name plate pin