How much does a horse cost? Part 2: Horse Ownership

Arren Wilkinson is keen equine enthusiast , with a journalism background. When he’s not working for you will normally find him with either a soccer ball at his feet or his kitten ‘Alba’ in his arms! This article originally appeared on

The Cost of Owning a Horse

After considering the expenses of actually buying a horse, the next costs to calculate will be how much you will spend owning one. Again the circumstances vary from one owner to the next so do your research and find out prices for your area with each of these variables in mind.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_costtoboardyourhorseThe Cost To Board a Horse

Paying Rent (Board)

Are you lucky enough to keep your horse at home with you? Or will you be boarding at a boarding barn or at a friend’s farm? Do you want to keep your horse indoors in a stall or outdoors? Will it need special care or facilities? Do you need a riding area, particularly an indoor riding arena for during the winter?  All variables will determine how much you are able spend on “rent.” Your location is going to greatly affect how much you will spend keeping your horse somewhere. A boarding facility in Connecticut is (probably, unanimously) going to cost a lot more than a boarding barn in Montana.

If you are interested in taking lessons or training for competitions, factor in the price of keeping the horse at the facility where you want to train, versus the costs and your time of trailering there each session. In some cases, your trainer or instructor may be allowed to travel to you. This is dependent on liability, insurance and trainer-barn contracts, and should be set up with prior approval.

Self/Pasture Boarding

The least expensive type of boarding with the most amount of work for yourself is self or pasture boarding (or if you are fortunate and can have a simple pasture and shelter to keep your horse at home). Think of it as a land-lease agreement. You are the sole responsible person for your horse’s health and diet. Self-board barn owners are very hands-off, keeping the cost of keeping your horse there very inexpensive.

Responsibilities that come along with self or pasture boarding include purchasing and storing hay and feed, organizing vet and farrier appointments, keeping an eye on water tank levels and light pasture or facility maintenance. If this type of boarding is located right “around the corner” from where you live or on the way to/ from where you work, you may not find it inconvenient to feed and check your horse one to two times daily.

If you have to travel out of your way to go there, calculate how much money and time you will need to invest each day in maintenance and feeding and make sure you have enough time after that to enjoy your horse. If you are juggling that with a full-time job and family, think about if the money saved doing the “grunt” work is really worth it.

Approximate price

Per month of self/pasture boarding: No more than $125/month

Annually: $1500 (or less)

Full Boarding

Full board, the most common type of boarding is quite the opposite to self board. Feed, bedding and care should be included in the basic price. Additional services may cost extra such as bringing the horse to turnout, blanketing and holding the horse for the farrier or veterinarian. For busy, full-time working horse owners, this is the hassle free way of owning a horse. Price of full board greatly varies and is dependent on the quality of the facilities (arenas, round pens, pastures, trail access etc.) and its location.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_costtofeedyourhorseThe Cost of Feeding a Horse


If you have property or are interested in keeping your horse in a self or pasture board situation, it is good to sit down and calculate just how much money it will cost you feeding your horse every month.

A rough estimate to how much hay a horse eats is 2% for every 1000 pounds. If it weighs 1000 pounds, 20 pounds of hay per day is the base amount to begin with. If the horse has access to grass and is able to graze, this may be too much hay, if the horse is using more calories to stay warm in the winter for example, 20 pounds/day may not be enough.

So if an average bale of quality hay weighs 60 pounds (which it may not, weigh yourself holding a bale  to always know how much hay is in the bales you buy) and you purchased the bales at $4/bale, you will be spending $4 every three days on a horse that weighs 1000lbs.

This calculation brings you to about $9 per week or $36 a month for the cost of hay. Keep in mind transportation and storage costs for hay have not been calculated.

Hay at $4/60 pound bale for a 1000 pound horse = $36/month

$36 per month x 12 months= $432 annually


The amount of grain required also varies. Simple factors to keep in mind when determining how much to grain to feed include the horse’s age, weight, condition and workload. A performance horse will need to consume far more grain than one used for light, recreational riding. Talk to your local feed stores about the different grain options available and have them help you calculate rough estimates on how much you might spend per day, week and month on grain.

For example, if you take the same 1000 pound horse eating 20 pounds of hay per day that is only used for light riding, 2 pounds of grain per day is all the horse might need. Maybe none at all! A 50 pound bag of grain can cost anywhere from $10 to $20. Using an average of $15 for a bag of grain, the owner will go through a bag of grain every 25 days (50/2lbs=25).

To calculate more specifically weekly or monthly costs, take the price of the bag of grain and divide it by the number of pounds to get the price of grain per pound. Take the price per pound and multiply it by how many pounds the horse should receive to find out how much you are spending daily on grain. Then multiply this by the number of days in the month to see how much you spend per month. Please note that this calculation can also be used when determining mineral or nutritional supplement costs.

Normally you should not “over invest” and spend a lot of money on supplements. Try and see how the horse’s health is, and then discussing any potential nutritional deficiencies with a veterinarian, farrier or a professional.


$15/50=.30 cents per pound

.3 x 2 pounds daily=.60 cents daily

.60 cents x 7= $4.20 of grain weekly

.60 cents x 30= $18 of grain monthly

$18 x 12 months= $216 worth of grain annually

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_veterinariancostsVeterinarian Costs

The price you pay for your horse’s health care is an inevitable cost of being a good owner. Standard veterinarian expenses include annual vaccinations and dental checkups, feed supplements, and dewormer. All will vary in price from region to region and if you can avoid paying a full “farm vet call” in any way, you will be able to reduce your veterinarian costs every time you have a vet out.

New studies suggest a 2-4x/year deworming program is best suited for managing a horse’s “wormy situation.” Too often (every two months) will create super drug resistant worms. The best way to save money on worm infestations is to maintain a stall and pasture free of decomposing “horse apples”.

Cost of annual vaccinations plus vet call:    $200

+ dental checkup                                          $150

+ dewormer (3 times per year)                     $50

Total                                                             $300

Include a “buffer” and calculate another $200 in additional veterinarian services/ feed supplements. You can never have too much money saved when an emergency vet call is needed. $200 will at least cover a basic farm call and services.

Approximate annual vet expenses: $500

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_farriercostsFarrier Costs

Equally crucial to horse ownership 101 is selecting a reliable farrier. Different types of riding and equine activities shape how much money you will spend each year on your horse’s feet. Some only require a monthly or every other month manicure (or would it be a pedicure?). Others will need ultra custom fancy shoes, “Pradas” in terms of horseshoes and will need a farrier every four to six weeks.

For two, very vague and general options, we can compare the approximate annual prices to a horse that goes barefoot, natural or otherwise known as without shoes, compared to a one that has a standard set of four horseshoes.


Trim, all four feet

every six weeks                                $50

Annually (52/6= 8.6, 8.6x$50)=      $430



Standard full set/4 shoes and trim

every 12 weeks        $150

every 6 weeks            $80*

Annually (52/3= 4.3, 4.3x$150, 4.3x $80=344)= $645 + $344=$989

*This is an example of reusing the shoes, setting new shoes on the horse every other time he/she see’s a farrier (money saver!). If the farrier suggests new shoes are needed each time for specific reasons, your costs will remain the same every 6 weeks. Factors include how much the horse is worked (wears through the shoes), its footing conditions, and the state/health of the horse’s feet.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_tackandgroomingsuppliesTack, Grooming Supplies and Additional Equipment

If you have ever been to a horse expo or a well loved local tack store, you know that the possibilities of things to buy are unfathomably endless. Local “tack swaps”, second hand sales and good online shopping tactics can reduce costs associated with your beloved equine, but the equipment and daily supplies to take care and to ride a horse are always things to budget into your costs.

Picking up a horse catalog is the easiest way to estimate your tack and equipment costs. Big purchases such as saddles, saddle pads, bridles, girths, cooler sheets, boots, tack trunk, shampoo and grain buckets, a new helmet and a complete set of grooming and first aid supplies will cost you an initial investment of normally over $1000. Replacing or repairing things that wear out such as girths or blankets become annual costs. Monthly costs may include fly spray, a fly mask in the summer and your horse’s favorite treats. Each month you may want to calculate $50 for “the little things” or tuck the unspent money away for a bigger investment and or emergency fund.

Initial tack and equipment costs: $1000+

Annual costs of equipment and supplies: $50 x 12 months= $600

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_othercoststoconsiderOther “Optional” Costs

Included in the list below are all secondary costs beyond the basics of horse ownership. Today’s market is flooded with must-have products, bombproof insurance policies, god-like clinicians and boosting/magical supplements that might not be completely mandatory to have for your four-footed friend but in any case, a bonus.

  • Lesson Costs
  • Training and Clinic Costs
  • Supplements
  • Equine Insurance
  • Truck and Trailer
  • Show Costs
  • Specific discipline equipment (i.e. barrels, poles, jumps, etc.)

In Conclusion

Before you throw in the towel, or horseshoes in this case, on your horse-owning dreams as a result of the start-up and annual costs, think about how rewarding and refreshing it would be to have a horse of your own. The initial costs may be intimidating, the long term costs constricting but the final conclusion is that you will always run into costs in order to do the things you love to do. Don’t let the costs of owning a horse turn you away from the equine world. Rather calculate and monitor your budget. Know what you can and cannot afford, your limits and equally important, remember to set aside time to enjoy your new horse!

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