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Cost of keeping a horse

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  • Cost of keeping a horse

    I was curious about the cost for those who keep their horses at home? Or those who own boarding stables, how much does it cost you to care per horse?

    I realize it varies on region, I am in the midwest (zone 5). But a general over view of things would be very helpful.

    How many horses do you keep?

    What area are you in?

    How much do you spend per month on hay, grain and bedding?

    Again I know it's just a general question, I am not looking to get to specific

  • #2
    It depends on the area and the horse, but I go through about 5 or 6 bales of hay a month. Right now alfalfa is $18.95 per bale, but the price varies.
    Grain, really depends on what you feed... A bag costs me about $25,- but I only feed 2 pounds a day so it lasts me almost a month.
    As for shavings, that depends on how clean your horse is and the management. I use a bag a week ($5), but the floor is packed dirt so urine doesn't pool like it does on mats.

    If you add it all up I guess I spend about a $160 a month on that stuff. Add supplements ($50), dewormers ($3-$12), shoes ($30) and it's about $250 total....


    • #3
      In North Central Maryland.
      3 horses, (2 retired and old (25 and 30), 1 LL eventing)
      $180 month for grain, bedding(Eq. Sr., Omelene 400, Beet Pulp, Alfalfa cubes, 18-20 bags of sawdust) They get minimal grain and only one horse on each of the alfalfa cubes and beet pulp. matted stalls in barn.
      $170.00 month hay - (based on total cost of yearly hay purchased) use about 3 bales a day late Fall thru early Spring, use less than 2 bales A WEEK in spring/summer as they are on pasture all day. (grass mix bales, delivered and stacked $4.00/per)
      $150.00 month smartpaks(plus equitrol (march-oct.))
      $100.00/month vet visits(based on total cost of yearly vet visits)
      $150.00/month farrier(based on total yearly cost, 2 trims, one in shoes)

      Thankfully don't have to call the vet very often, just routine stuff so far (fingers crossed).

      So $750.00 a month for 3
      "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

      "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"


      • #4
        I am in northwest Indiana.

        I pay $3.50 a bale delivered and stacked in my loft for good orchard/alf mix. I live in farm country and have multiple sources for good hay at this price. My 3 horses eat a bale and a half a day in winter, next to nothing in summer. I buy a year at a time, though. Hay cost total: are around $1,200 a year, so around $100/month, $33/horse though really winter costs are much higher.

        Bedding costs are also significantly higher in winter. I spend around $200/month for bedding in the winter to keep deeply bedded, perfectly clean stalls for my horses to stay in at night (mix of pellets and fine shavings). In the summer they are out all the time except for rainy nights or thunderstorms, so $200 gets me through the whole summer. I do not skimp on bedding though, I am sure I could save money here but I like my horses to have comfy stalls.

        Grain is $17.50/bag for Triple Crown Senior. I go through about 5 bags a month, so say $100, another $33/horse though of course some horses eat more than others. One horse gets Cosequin ASU+, another gets omeprazoledirect pop rocks. Those are the only supps I feed besides a loose mineral/salt but they are not cheap.

        Fly spray in summer, fly masks, etc. -- I probably spend another $30/month on random fly control six months of the year.

        Vet is reasonable if there are no problems -- probably a couple hundred a year for shots and teeth. I do fall boosters myself. But then I spent $2,500 in vet bills last winter trying to get my retiree through the winter, and it still didn't work.

        Farrier is $225 every six weeks in summer for two sets of shoes and a trim. In winter everyone gets trimmed, $75 every six weeks.

        NOW -- the hidden costs. My 19-acre farm with barn and small ring cost about $300,000 more than a comparable house alone. So the extra mortgage on that is an expense I would not have if I boarded out and bought in town.

        Tractor is $600/month interest-free for 3 years. Another 2 to go.

        I put in $3,000 worth of fence soon after I arrived to improve a fenceline that was not horse compatible.

        Horses break things -- buckets, forks, gates, double end snaps, crossties. They all cost $$ to fix that would be normal wear and tear in a boarding barn, that they BO would pay for. It adds up, even the three double end snaps my gelding has broken in the last month is another $8 trickling down the drain.

        Trailer is paid for, but I don't know I would have bought one if I boarded. My car is an F150, worse gas mileage and more expensive than I would have bought if I paid someone else to haul my horse. But with horses at home I feel like I must have a way to haul them to the vet at the very least -- plus it is nice to be able to trailer out for lessons and shows or even to ride with friends occasionally.

        Liability insurance.

        It is by no means cheaper to have a single horse or two or three at home. Plus, if I boarded, I wouldn't have 3 -- I would have 1, maybe 2 when 1 retired. But I wouldn't be nearly as happy -- I love just going out after dinner, feeding and playing with my horses. Seeing their shiny, happy, goofy selves in my yard is priceless:






        • #5
          Gosh, not only is it dependent on where you live as to the cost of supplies, it depends on how much pasture you have, how much hay you have to feed, how easy or hard keeping the horse is, etc.

          I have 8-ish acres of grass. I spend about $300 on grass seed and $300 to have someone no-till drill it. My hay guy has $20 round bales (about 600lb) at $25/ea which means 24 bales for that $600 at, by Winter feeding rates, 1 bale a week among 3 horses. If I had to buy smaller square bales, I'd spend more on hay than on maintaining the pasture with seed.

          But add to that the cost of the diesel to run the tractor to mow the pasture.

          I have 2 very easy keepers - 1c beet pulp a day, with a v/m supplement, some amino acids, and that's about it. I think I added that up one day and it's less than $1. They get hay 4-5 months a year. My harder keeper is hardly hard keeping, with the exception of when she was heavily pregnant the first 3 months of this year and is now nursing. She would get a whopping 1lb of alfalfa pellets or beet pulp and the v/m supplement and amino acids.

          My horses are out 23 hours a day, but I do keep the stalls bedded, and in really bad weather they might be in overnight or for a day. I've switched to Stru-Fex and it's about $7/40lb bag, but even when mare/foal were in the stall 24x7 or all night, for a couple of weeks, I added maybe a bag a week.

          Vet and farrier costs are going to be about the same whether you board or keep at home. Costs for farriers varies WILDLY. $300 for 4 shoes some places, $100 others, $30 for trims some places, 60 in others. Vet fees are all over the place too, largely depending on the farm call - some make it a flat fee, some distance-based, etc. The nice thing about boarding is for routine vet calls you can usually have the farm call split amongst everyone using the services, unless of course it's "your" vet and not the barn's vet.

          Costs for keeping at home - taxes on the land you wouldn't otherwise have, $$ and time spent with general upkeep. I use Horseguard electric tape which was loads cheaper to put up than board fencing, and loads cheaper to maintain.
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • #6
            I try not to think about this but:

            1. $1664/yr for barefoot trimmer but I am laying him off and taking four sets of hooves back myself. If I have to go to the chiropractor once a week anyway, I might as well get my money's worth.

            1.1 Then there's cost of tools as they wear out.

            2. Hay was $4/bale last yr, don't know about this year; I just know I have 22 acres of lush pasture and need 365 bales of hay because two of my four horses are insulin resistant and can't spend long hours in that pasture, even though they wear muzzles every day.

            2.1 We will have to pay $10/hr (each) to two people for 4 - 5 hours loading at the hay field, then un-loading/stacking in the barn. Mr. & I used to do it all, but he is 63 & I am 64 and we just cannot hump hay, by ourselves, in 90 degree weather anymore.

            3. ~$3.50/day supplements for the two healthy horses.
            3.1 ~$5/day supplements for the two IR horses.I don't feed bagged horse feed, I mix everything myself.

            4. ~$500/annually on vet calls.

            5. $646 in 2010 for maintenance on all the equipment (Mr. does 98% of it, so that's just parts).

            5.1 $5,114.00 in 2009 for maintenance because both tractors had major failures that required they go into the shop. Those failures both involved hydraulic pumps that were beyond Mr.'s expertise and his tools. One tractor is 41 yrs old, the other only 5 yrs.

            I know there's more, but just putting this in front of my own nose is making me reach for medication-------


            • #7
              My 20 head live outdoors full time so no stall maintenance. The ones in individual pens take a few minutes a day to rake out (goes into the compost/manure pile and from there is used on garden/landscaping or sold when a year or two old). Buy my hay directly from ranchers usually in 1250 lb "big" bales...at an average of 20 lbs/horse/day that means a bale every 3 days....bale costs vary a lot by year and by season....last year they were delivered for $60/bale so a dollar a day per horse....now double that but first cutting is only a couple weeks away and while forecast price is higher than last year it is beginning to come down a bit...looking at around $100/bale which would be about $33/day or $1.62 per horse per day for hay. I don't have grass to speak of on 40 acres of desert but there is some and I'll be planting a dryland pasture mix (broadcast seeding) after I have pens up in a sacrifice area....this will allow for 5-6 weeks of grazing in the late spring/early summer if we get decent winter rain/snow. Most of the seed is for perennial grasses so giving them a good start and not overgrazing should keep things doing reasonably well for awhile. Pretty easy keepers for the most part so only ones getting grain/supplements are late pregnancy/lactating mares and youngsters (that haven't sold) during their yearling year. I do all worming and shots so no vet costs in those other than purchasing supplies. I also do most of the farrier work so that too is minimal.....each horse gets done by the farrier about twice a year, otherwise they wear pretty evenly on the desert soil and being out/barefoot all the time. I do more rasping than nipping and the only ones shod are ones working a lot.....hooves tend to be really hard and tough in this climate and to hold up well without a huge amount of attention. Training is done either here (basics) or I'll send one out that I'm thinking of showing. So....my total direct expenses run about $1200/month more or less...or about $2/horse/day. My land pays for itself with a renter in the second house, my taxes are about $1.20/day for the entire 40 acres and two homes (ag zoned/used). Fencing and corrals/pens are all paid for, I ride out if I want to go riding off the place (have an entire mountain range about a mile away plus plenty of open range down here in the valley). Truck is ancient but runs OK and is a pulling machine. Trailer is older stock trailer that does great for horses, cattle, furniture, hay or whatever....also have a flatbed for hay hauling if I want to use it...no payments on either and insurance is minimal...about $75/month covers them all plus the older jeep....no one else uses my vehicles so have an operators policy rather than individual coverage on each...and they are all paid for as well so no payments to make.
              Colored Cowhorse Ranch
              Northern NV


              • #8
                Definitely depends on situation and local costs. We bale our own hay- if I had to buy it it's $2.50-4 bale, $15-25/round bale depending on availability and quality. I do pay a guy to do our round bales- we cut and rake, he bales at a bargain price of $8/roll. Because I have pasture, most of my horses aren't fed any hay for half the year or better, any they only get grain in the winter. Grain prices keep going up. I feed shell corn and a local mix- both of which are near $8/50# (more than double what they were 3 or 4 years ago). I've fed name brand feeds and haven't seen any difference. I rarely feed supplements, though I do like Diamond V yeast- a very inexpensive way to increase feed efficiency. I'll feed calf-manna or oil to the young or old if I think they need it. I don't do supplements "just because".

                Sawdust- I just got a dumptruck load for $250 just to save me the trouble of getting it by the pickup load ($15 from one place-they load, or free from another place if they have any-you load). It'll last me probably 6 months or better because I only have 4 in the barn.

                Farrier- My guy only charges $15 trim/$35 4 shoes, and I rarely have anything trimmed or re-shod at less than 7 weeks, my farrier is on an 8 week schedule but since he lives just a couple miles from here it's not a problem for him to stop in extra if I need him to. Some of my pasture rats only get trimmed a few times a year unless the ground is excessively wet or dry- they have excellent feet that wear well naturally, and those horses certainly don't do any work!

                Wormer- I don't think I've paid more than $2-4/ tube in many years, but I don't have a problem with buying 50 at a time when it's on sale, either!

                Vet- I have a healthy, self-preserving lot. I do my own shots- just the basics. I don't do Coggins on anything that's not leaving the farm. Coggins and health papers around here are about $15 if you haul in, just add farm call if not. I don't see the point of "well horse" visits, and my vet would think I was crazy if I called him for such. Because I've had horses for years, I have quite an accumulation of OTC stuff, and might spend $10-20/year on replenishing supplies. In a year I might buy one jar of SMZs and one bottle of Banamine from the vet. The dentist does teeth @ $60. I haven't bred any mares in a few years because of the crappy economy, so my vet costs are next to nothing.

                I do have a bunch of other costs, like fuel, fertilizer and equipment maintanence but they vary wildly. I also spend at least a couple hundred on fence every year- if we can find the time this year we need to tear out and replace a few thousand feet of old fence that's getting beyond repair, and fence posts aren't cheap!

                I've got 16 at home, and it costs less to care for all of them than it does for my one horse that's at the trainer's.


                • #9
                  I have two horses that at the moment live out 24/7 (although building a barn atm). Mare is a hard keeper, gelding easy. They go through a bag of grain ($19) a week, bag of beetpulp, BOSS and 1-2 bales of hay ($6-$15). So for my two give or take $250-300 a month..

                  The nice thing, I can unblanket in the morning and reblanket at night on those spring and fall (something i couldnt before as I could only get to the boarding facility once a day). I wake up to see them

                  Nothing like having them at home.
                  I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.


                  • #10
                    I have 6 horses to feed. Three boarders + 4 personal.

                    My mare and pony gelding live out 24/7. Easy keepers.

                    Grass is okay, so I am throwing the two a bale of Timothy/Orchard a day @ $7/bale. $210/2 = $105/horse

                    I go through 4 bags of beet pulp for them each month @ $10/bag. $40/2 = $20/horse.

                    Both trims. $40/horse.

                    Well water. Free.

                    My time = 40mins/day to soak and feed, groom/check over, fill water, blanket/re-blanket, etc. 20mins/horse @ $5/day = $150/month

                    Total for field living, easy keepers = $315/horse.

                    My two warmblood geldings are in 12 hrs/out 12hrs. Moderate keepers.

                    No hay when out. A 1/2 bale each when in @ $7/bale. $210/2 = $105/horse

                    Grain: Each of them gets 5lbs. of Senior feed daily. 10lbs/day total. 300lbs/month = 6 bags/month @ $25/bag = $150/month/horse = $75/each.

                    Shavings: Bed stall w/4 bags to start @ $7/bag. $28. Add 1 bag/day $7. $210/month/horse.

                    Feet: Fronts @ $100/pair per horse.

                    My time: 1hr/day/horse stall cleaning, bringing in, feeding/soaking, grooming....@ $12/hr = $360/month/horse

                    Total for stalled, moderate keepers = $850/horse. **Note: One is a boarder. She pays $450/month. No where near what her horse is costing me (even when you deduct her farrier cost that she pays)

                    I am not sure how accurate these estimates are since they don't include including the vet fee for routine shots - $350 per horse/year, fecals for worming - $50 per horse/year, dentist 2x/year - $200 per horse/year, or insurance $1,000 per horse/year. These are approximately $150 extra/month per horse.

                    They also don't include the barn utilities, supplies, equipment/fuel/repairs, farm insurance, maintenence, lawn care, along with a monetary value for my time to perform the maintenence/repairs that need to be done.
                    Last edited by sar2008; May. 26, 2011, 10:13 AM. Reason: spelling...


                    • #11
                      I'm in Lexington, Ky. I have four horses at home on about 8 acres. All out 24/7.

                      I buy $225 bales (60 lb each) of grass mix hay in the fall at about $5/bale which lasts all year (Oct/Nov through Mar/Apr with some left over).

                      Buy maybe $50 to $100 worth of grain per year.

                      Farrier is $25/horse, so $100 every six weeks.

                      Give my own shots, so pay only for vaccines.

                      Wormer ~$300 year.

                      Buy a few bags of shavings a year in case someone needs to be stalled.

                      Buy several salt blocks a year.

                      Teeth floated every year or two depending on the horse.

                      Coggins for three horses every year, but vet is friend so I pay only for test.

                      Basically around $700/horse per YEAR. So, not bad at all

                      However, that's not including water bill, fence repair, mowing, etc., and the 10-acre farm in this location wasn't cheap
                      "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."


                      • #12
                        I am in Iowa and have 8 horses at home. Farrier--trims only, runs $25 per head. I spent $4200 on hay last year, alfalfa grass mix, some very good some just good enough, we had a very rainy year.
                        $900 on grain (oats/corn/alfalfa pellet mix). Lucked out with vet bills only for dental work and one with abscess so about $600.
                        Approx. $600 on supplements (msm, mineral, b-l pellets,flax seed and raspberry leaf) I buy grain in bulk--I have a bin, and contracted for all my hay in March. Have used same hay guy for several years. My horses are turned out 22-23 hours per day with open front shelter available at all times. On pasture for about 4-5 months supplemented with hay by about August and all hay the rest of the year. All are in good flesh and healthy, ages range from 3-23.
                        That's about it for basic expenses. It comes to little less than $75 per head per month which I think is pretty reasonable.


                        • #13
                          How many horses do you keep?

                          What area are you in?

                          zone 6- PNW

                          How much do you spend per month on hay, grain and bedding?

                          I buy hay annually- 400 bales lasts me a year and costs about $2400, so about $66/month/horse.
                          I buy pellets and alfalfa cubes monthly and it costs about $160/month, so about $53/month/horse
                          I buy shavings by the truckload at $365/load and it lasts about 3 months, so about $40/horse/month.
                          Total about $159/month/horse. Full Board at a stable with a barn, turnout and a riding ring around here goes for $350-450/month. I am not sure if the amount of hours I put into feeding and mucking and turning out is worth the $200-300 savings. But I know my horses live a better life than any horse at any local boarding stable for many reasons
                          "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                          • #14
                            I have two horses and two minis (just got my second mini). They are turned out with run-ins. I'm fortunate that except for annual vacs & teeth my vet bills are very minimal.

                            $100 - 250 lbs of TC Senior per month
                            $10 - beet pulp
                            $45 - Average cost per month for trims
                            $25 - Hay. I only feed hay in the winter, I buy a orchard grass mix at $3.25 per bale and feed about 1/2 bale per day.
                            $25 - Vet costs

                            Of course, I keep a good reserve in hand because planned costs often have a way of being blown out of the water. The projections above are the annual costs divided by 12 months.



                            • #15
                              I live in NJ and keep two horses(easy keepers) and one pony at home. It varies in the winter and summer. In winter, I spend about $340 a month for hay, shavings and grain. It's less in summer because I dont feed as much hay and use less bedding.


                              • #16
                                Ok no one is allowed to hate me on this:

                                Mini, Mini Donk, 16.2 gelding and dwarf

                                Hay - 1 round bale of the best coastal hay in the area - $45 every 3 weeks (delivered right into the feeder).

                                Grain - 150#'s of Healthy Edge a month for gelding $14.00 x 3 = $42 a month

                                Alfalfa cubes - 3 x $11 - $ 33 a month

                                Senior for dwarf - 1 x $14 a month

                                4 squares of hay @ $4 = $16 per month for dwarf

                                $160-170 per month for all 4.

                                I trim myself.

                                Vacs/coggins = $300 annually

                                Total for the year about $2,300

                                All are fat (mini's maybe a little too fat), sassy and happy.


                                • #17
                                  Wow, hay is a lot cheaper than where i live (Texas)! Right now I'm paying about $8 a bale for coastal although costs should go down after our first cutting. The cheapest I've ever seen it though has been $4 per bale, and that's in the field. On average I would say we $6 a bale in the summer months and $8 when supplies dwindle. I also feed my horses a alfalfa/mixed grass hay which is trucked in from Colorado and delivered to our barn for about $12 per bale. I have four horses and a pony living at home and we probably go through a bale of both coastal and the alfalfa mix hay daily (call it $19 per day).

                                  Shavings are about $6.50 per bag (we don't have the room for bulk) and we average 1/2 a bag per horse daily. (or $13 daily)

                                  Grain, almost everyone eats something different so it would be impossible to arrive at a meaningful average cost. None of my horses are hard keepers, although one is on Wellsolve Weight Control, which is very expensive at $22.69 a bag. Another one eats Strategy Healthy Edge ($16.29 per bag), one's on Sr. ($18.99 per bag) and the 2 year old is on Ultima Growth ($24.29). I generally buy a bag of each every other week, so call it about $41 per week or about $6 per day.

                                  I have a part-time groom who cleans stalls and water buckets for $20 per day.

                                  Excluding electricity and water, our horses cost us $58 per day, or $1740 per month for four (and the friend's pony), Ouch! However, $560 of that is to pay the groom. If I were to eliminate the groom it would cost us about $1,180 a month, or about $300 per month per horse excluding farrier costs and vet bills, which I would be paying regardless if I boarded my horses or kept them at home.

                                  Boarding costs here run anywhere from $650 to $850 per month at a decent hunter/jumper barns with good facilities and trainers. So, I'm saving anywhere from $215 to $415 monthly per horse kept at home vs. the costs of boarding at a trainer's barn.