Affording A Horse: Are You Ready To Buy?
When asked how much it cost to own a horse, I usually reply, “They cost everything!” While I’m (mostly) joking, for many horse owners this can feel like the truth. In fact, the price tag on the horse is usually cheaper than what you can expect to pay for other expenses each year. Owning a horse is a major investment, and it’s best to be prepared before you buy. Let’s break down what affording a horse really looks like.
The term “boarding” refers to keeping your horse at someone else’s farm, rather than your own. This is the most common option for horse owners and there are many farms dedicated to housing horses for other people.
Full Board includes all of the care and necessities that your horse needs – stall and/or pasture, hay, and water. Sometimes these places also include grain, bedding, or training as well. These boarding prices vary based on what is included, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $800 per month.
Self-Care Board is exactly as it sounds. Your horse has access to the facilities and you provide the rest. You are responsible for providing food , bedding, and cleaning up for your horse. This can save you money, costing between $50 and $150 per month, but is time consuming and requires physical labor.
Co-Op board is a lot like Self-Care Board, however you split the chores (such as feeding or mucking stalls) between yourself and several other horse owners. The pricing varies and depends on the number of people in the Co-Op. If you are considering this option I suggest you discuss prices with the other boarders.
Additional Boarding Costs
There are other additional costs for your horse’s living environment that might not be covered in your monthly fee. Additional expenses to consider:
- Bedding – $80/month
- Feed Supplements – $40/month
- Trailer Storage – $25/month
- Handling Fees – $15/month
- Grain – $40/bag
Veterinary expenses are probably the most costly when thinking about affording a horse. At the most basic care, you can expect your veterinarian to come out at least twice a year. Once for fall vaccinations and dental work, and once for spring vaccinations and an E.I.A. test. Your vet can talk to you about what routine procedures are right for your horse. You can expect the appointment to cost between $100 and $200. Most vets also charge a “farm call” fee for traveling to your horse’s location. This is around $50 but can be split with other horse owners if you arrange to be seen at the same time.
While your horse may be generally healthy, you must always be prepared for emergency vet visits. Horses seem to find a way to turn up lame or colicky when you least expect it. I have owned my horse for seven years without any health issues, then he suddenly tore his meniscus and is on long term recovery. The vet visits and treatments add up quickly. It’s a good idea to set aside at least $500 per year for emergency health needs.
A farrier’s job is to trim and maintain your horse’s hooves. The frequency of appointments depends on your horse’s feet but are usually every six to eight weeks. If your horse is barefoot the cost is about $40 per trim. If your horse is shod it will cost more depending on the type of horseshoe. It’s best to consult with potential farriers to get an estimate on horseshoes.
There are several items and tools that you will need to get for your horse that are not a recurring cost. This can seem expensive up front but are worth the investment.
Saddle and Bridle
A saddle and bridle are essential if you plan on riding your horse. Saddles can be quite expensive to buy new ($1000 to $3000) but you can find a quality used saddle for much less ($300 to $600). Bridles run about $75 a piece, but you can find DIY tutorials for creating your own out of nylon rope.
Grooming supplies are relatively inexpensive and are sold individually or as part of a set. I probably spent $50 on my grooming kit that has three brushes, a comb, hoof pick, and carrying case. It’s recommended that you replace your brushes every year or two as they get old and collect dirt.
Blanketing your horse is optional and unless your horse has health issues that require it they don’t need a blanket. However, horses who are clipped or don’t grow a thick coat are often blanketed. There are many different types of blankets ranging from $100 to $300.
More expenses can pop up throughout horse ownership. These are the main costs that you can expect upfront and throughout ownership. So, are you ready to buy your first horse? Affording a horse is just the first step in buying your first horse. Equine Overload is creating their first-ever E-Book: A Guide To Buying Your First Horse. Coming Soon! Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about our book’s launch and other exclusive content!