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May 2024

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.