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How much it really costs to own a horse?

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  • How much it really costs to own a horse?

    Hello! I am a 35-year-old rider who has been riding since I was 12, but never have owned a horse. I'm trying to figure out what it really comes to owning a horse cost-wise on a yearly basis to see if we can even consider it. I live in Northern VA where everything is $$$, and the closest barns are 30-45 minutes away. I've looked at leasing options, but so far have had no luck. What do you think of my chart? Am I missing anything major, or any tips and tricks to save a little? The costs I quoted are from the barn I currently ride at (boarding, show fees, etc), but I know there are some cheaper places in the area too. Please let me know what you think!
    Cost Frequency times Notes Total Notes
    Intital Cost of Horse once
    Boarding fee 1000 month 12 12000 hay & grain usually incuded.
    Food- hay 3 daily 0 1/2 bale 0
    grain 1 daily 0 2 cup serving 0
    bedding
    Other Food
    loose mineral supplement 30 6 months 2 60
    salt block 14 6 months 2 28
    Health
    Farrier-trimming 50 6 weeks 0 0
    Farrier- shoes 185 8 weeks 6.5 1202.5
    Vaccinations 95 1 year 1 95
    Deworming 10 3 months 4 40
    Dental 125 1 year 1 125
    Additional Vet Expenses could be astronomical
    Equine Insurance 200 yearly 1 200
    Supplies- Yearly
    Tack/Grooming Supplies 500 yearly 1 500
    Rider Equipment 300 yearly 1 300
    Training/Lessons
    Training 50 every other month 0 0
    Lessons- own horse 50 group lessons, weekly 52 2600
    Lessons- school horse (kids) 65 group lessons, weekly 0 0
    Clinics
    Half-Leasing Horse out
    half lease rider 200 2 rides/week 0 0
    Competitions- per show
    Coaching 65 per show 1 65
    Horse fee use 50 per show 1 50
    Classes 60 per show 3 180
    Grooming (braiding, etc) 50 per show 1 50
    Transportation (for horse) 75 per show 1 75
    420 total cost of 1 local show
    4 times number of shows a year
    1680 total cost of shows
    $17,150.50
    18830.5 Total cost including shows

  • #2
    It is very good to plan before diving into horse ownership. So good job!

    To your list, you can add:

    * Blankets & Sheets (cost to purchase/repair + cleaning)

    * Vet stuff - if vet or BO/BM is doing wormings, it typically more than $10 a dose (if you are doing, obviously $10 is fine); vets typically charge a farm call or barn call fee, so make sure to bump up the costs there as this is typically shared cost between all owners or barn may pass along to you (or charge a fee for holding your horse)

    * Supplements typically run much more than $60 annually - even just vitamin/mineral supplements. So that may need some adjusting.

    * Horse shows - unless these are unrated local schooling shows, there are all sorts of fees - membership, office, stabling, grounds, etc. etc., so while you may not have been paying these fees when riding a leased horse or school horse, as an owner taking your own horse, I think you will. Have a look at some local prize lists to get an idea.

    * Tack - do you already have your own saddle, bridle, martingale, halters. lead ropes, bits, etc.? Because all of that can be very big ticket with your first horse!

    And I love your "Additional Vet Expenses - could be astronomical". LOL Best to have a minimum of $2,500 set aside for emergencies in a savings account. They always seem to happen at the most inopportune times of year - like right after Christmas!
    ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

    Comment


    • #3
      Well here is a ball park estimate.

      Choose your barn. That locks in your board and lessons costs. You shouldn't need to pay extra for food.

      ??Farrier every 5 or 6 weeks, vet once or twice a year for shots and teeth. So 8 farrier calls a year. Often people use the barn recommended vet and farrier. You can ask your barn of choice about costs.

      I don't consider showing a cost of keeping a horse because it is optional. If you run out of cash or time, you can skip showing for a year. Also show fees vary a lot between the different tiers, schooling to A level rated show.

      As far as gear there will be really big start up costs then less going forward. A good quality new saddle is about $5000, second hand in good shape about $2000. Get a saddle fitter involved and don't skimp here.

      Shop second hand for bridles, blankets, halters, etc. I estimate that the replacement cost for all my gear would be well over $10,000 but I didn't pay nearly that much.

      I assume you have riding clothes already.

      The other hidden expense is vet bills so have a savings fund for when things go bad. You could easily pay several thousand dollars for a short clinic stay.

      On the other hand, I don't show and keep my horse in self board. She is a healthy easy keeper and my.monthly expenses are $200 for the stall and under $200 for feed, so under $400 total.

      Included in this monthly feed bill is $50 a month/$600 a year of a good vitamin mineral supplement.

      I buy hay by the ton, and I weigh my daily feedings, so I can calculate how long a ton lasts. Since I know my price per ton, I can figure my price per pound and my price per day. Unless you know your price per pound and weigh your hay, your feeding costs are wild guesses.

      Horse is barefoot and very healthy.

      I have however splurged on a truck and trailer!

      Comment


      • #4
        Kudos to you for doing your research. A lot of these costs will vary depending on what type of barn and training program you end up in, but I'm sure you realize that.

        A few of the items on this list look off to me, but my riding experience has mostly been on the West Coast, so regional differences may apply.

        1. Grain is usually not included in the cost of board, with a few exceptions. You'll also want to account for supplements/medications which may add up, especially for horses with ulcer issues, arthritis, etc.

        2. You usually won't get charged separately for trimming + shoes, it'll generally be one bill. Out here on the west coast, a standard set of shoes runs about $175 - $225. But if your horse needs any special or corrective shoeing, it'll be more. Also, in most barns I've been at, the horses are on a 6 week schedule.

        3. Most horses vet vaccinated twice a year, once in fall and once in spring.

        4. Dental work is typically more than $125, especially if your horse needs more than a routine float.

        5. If you're starting from scratch with a new horse, you will likely spend *much* more on tack and grooming supplies than $500/year. You'll either need a saddle if you don't have one already, or a visit from a saddle fitter to ensure yours fits your horse properly. You'll need at least one bridle (ideally one for schooling and one for showing), boots/polos, saddle pads, bits, standing wraps, and other assorted "stuff" (wound care ointments, shipping boots, blankets, feed tubs, etc.). Every week you will realize you need something new. Even if you stick to the lower end and and try to find things used, you're likely spending at least double or triple your budget for this stuff. Also, with wear and tear you'll be replacing stuff on a fairly regular basis.

        6. $300 also seems low for rider equipment per year. If you own a horse, your riding gear will wear out faster and need more frequent replacement. If you need new breeches a few times a year, or new paddock boots, a new helmet, etc., you'll be spending much more than $300.

        7. If you're a first time horse owner, work a 9-5 type job, and you'll be 30-45 minutes from the barn, I'd plan on having your horse in at least part training. Rates differ, but this will make sure on days you just can't get out there (or don't feel like it), your horse will get out of his/her stall.

        8. The cost for horse shows seems a bit low too, and I feel like this would fluctuate depending on the type of barn you end up at, the type of horse show (schooling show vs. A show), the distance of the show, and what you're showing in. For example, if you're doing the hunters you may need to pay for braiding and fancier show attire. If you're in the jumpers, it'll be a bit more casual.

        9. Misc - You'll want to have a good chunk of money set aside for random costs that come up. It's not just vet bills, unfortunately. Your horse's back might change so much you need a new saddle. Or your horse could end up with arthritis requiring bi-yearly injections. Or your horse greatly benefits from regular chiropractic work. Or your horse has GI issues and needs a special diet. Stuff like this happens all the time, and it's best to save some money saved for when those bills come. You need to have a pretty solid "buffer" for these types of expenses.

        Good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          Great list! My equine insurance is in the thousands, not the hundreds...but I have major medical in addition to mortality. I would also budget more for equipment. You never know when something will break, disappear, or there will be some sort of training aid that you need. I would add fly spray in there too; that sh*t adds up! My horse also has PEMF and chiro treatments every 4-6 weeks, but that is optional.

          Comment


          • #6
            This looks pretty close, but you may wind up with maintenance expenses depending on the horse and the level you want to compete at. Chiropractic, acupuncture, magna wave etc can run $100-200 per visit. You will like need shoes more like every 5-6 weeks. Definitely more for supplements; cosequin and a multi vitamin will run $100+ a month. Plan ahead for all the maintenance, nothing worse than a horse starts going really not well at all or becoming dangerous because the owner doesn't want to spend the money for the maintenance. Horse's backs were not made for us to sit on them, and their joints weren't made to go in circles. We create a lot of wear and tear, which can be mitigated, but it costs money. Good luck and happy horse shopping.

            Comment


            • #7
              You absolutely do not need to budget $5000 or even $1000 for a saddle. You can get a perfectly good saddle for well under $1000, new or used. I would look at used, from a tack shop you know well and can trust, or new. Synthetics are very affordable, easy to clean, and great for starting out.

              Full board should include hay and feed. And feed is usually twice a day, not once a day, IME. Some barns charge extra for blanketing and unblanketing and holding for farrier and vet, others include it in the board.

              I don't know anyone who carries insurance on their horse.

              I am totally impressed by your skill at formatting a table on a BB!
              Rack on!

              Comment


              • #8
                Insurance and farrier costs look low to me, mortality is 3.4-3.7% of insured value and major medical is going to be at least $200 on its own most likely. Farrier you cannot go 8 weeks between shoeings, it is going to be more like 5 weeks. Your horse will almost inevitably need some kind of supplement or meds on occasion, and you may have vet costs for things like joint injections depending on the age of the horse you buy. So, whatever your monthly budget is, leave yourself a bit of a cushion for those unexpected things that crop up here and there, because with horses they always do!

                Comment


                • #9
                  A lot of it is going to be, as mentioned, barn specific. I've never been somewhere where grain was separate (which also means you have to find a barn that feeds what you want fed), but have been places where specific grain or alfalfa/cubes were available with additional cost. Also had fan fees, heated water bucket fees, blanket changing fees, horse holding fees (vet/farrier/etc).

                  Agree as well that haven't ever seen an insurance premium that low. And depending on the horse, you might have to think about maintenance injections, which is $$$/joint anywhere from every 6-12 months.

                  Also, just to put it out there, if you are shopping with a trainer, there is generally a commission. So that's not just a flat value. Never mind the vetting costs involved during the hunt - there's a lot involved in the 'start up' cost of a horse.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I moved to Northern VA from the Midwest, and if you want to purchase a decent quality horse to compete in the local A shows (Swan Lake in PA, Showplace in MD, Upperville, etc.), you should plan to pay around $50-100k for a hunter, probably more flexibility for a jumper (i.e. retrained event horse). Don't forget commission on the purchase price (10-15%). I now ride at a place with more fixed rates, such as $1800 for full training board, or $1400 for partial training. It saves the agony of an "a la carte" boarding place where you may think the cost is going to be $650 but after all the add-ons, you're staring at an $1150 board bill and you had to shlep out there in DC's evil traffic to do/buy things yourself. If not included in board, lessons run around $75-90/each; if you get a young horse who needs groundwork, plan on $35-55 a session.

                    A good farrier in this area is around $200-400 a month depending on if your horse needs standard shoes all around-pads or anything extra is going to jump to $350-450 prettyyy quick. The endless rain, mud, moisture and various other VA elements means that all the places I've kept my horses schedule the farrier every 4-5 weeks max. In 4 years of boarding horses around here, I've never had a horse go longer than 5 weeks without a trim/reset. Beware: Multiple tack-ons (which may require glue-ons) and abscesses are a fact of life in the tropical rain forest that is VA, so brace yourself.

                    Don't forget maintenance/injections, insurance to cover your horse for major medical and mortality at 3.4-3.8% of the value. A $50k horse runs about $1500/yr to insure, give or take. For reference, hock injections which aren't covered by insurance cost about $600 plus an exam and sedation, so $800-900 total.

                    In essence, I would say take what you estimate and then double it. If you have a horse that's a hard-keeper or suicidal, quadruple it. That will be your approximate yearly expense. NoVA is NOT CHEAP. I just realized the most valuable thing I own after 31 years of life is my saddle, which technically my dad bought me for Christmas... I don't own a car, an apartment, or anything, because horses are so expensive. But they're really fun and there's nothing like riding in VA horse country

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jumpoff87 View Post
                      I moved to Northern VA from the Midwest, and if you want to purchase a decent quality horse to compete in the local A shows (Swan Lake in PA, Showplace in MD, Upperville, etc.), you should plan to pay around $50-100k for a hunter, probably more flexibility for a jumper (i.e. retrained event horse). Don't forget commission on the purchase price (10-15%). I now ride at a place with more fixed rates, such as $1800 for full training board, or $1400 for partial training. It saves the agony of an "a la carte" boarding place where you may think the cost is going to be $650 but after all the add-ons, you're staring at an $1150 board bill and you had to shlep out there in DC's evil traffic to do/buy things yourself. If not included in board, lessons run around $75-90/each; if you get a young horse who needs groundwork, plan on $35-55 a session.

                      A good farrier in this area is around $200-400 a month depending on if your horse needs standard shoes all around-pads or anything extra is going to jump to $350-450 prettyyy quick. The endless rain, mud, moisture and various other VA elements means that all the places I've kept my horses schedule the farrier every 4-5 weeks max. In 4 years of boarding horses around here, I've never had a horse go longer than 5 weeks without a trim/reset. Beware: Multiple tack-ons (which may require glue-ons) and abscesses are a fact of life in the tropical rain forest that is VA, so brace yourself.

                      Don't forget maintenance/injections, insurance to cover your horse for major medical and mortality at 3.4-3.8% of the value. A $50k horse runs about $1500/yr to insure, give or take. For reference, hock injections which aren't covered by insurance cost about $600 plus an exam and sedation, so $800-900 total.

                      In essence, I would say take what you estimate and then double it. If you have a horse that's a hard-keeper or suicidal, quadruple it. That will be your approximate yearly expense. NoVA is NOT CHEAP. I just realized the most valuable thing I own after 31 years of life is my saddle, which technically my dad bought me for Christmas... I don't own a car, an apartment, or anything, because horses are so expensive. But they're really fun and there's nothing like riding in VA horse country
                      The OP didn't specify what level of horse, barn, program, or showing they are targeting. I fall in the middle here - OP, I would say that you should consider your spreadsheet to be on the minimum/low side, but if you're not going to be in a rated training/show program, I wouldn't expect double or triple what you've calculated. Agree with others who say to budget for training - either training rides, or whatever training program your barn offers.

                      There are a few local facilities, of varying levels, who publish rate sheets online - might give you a few more price points to compare.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have a question about the $1,000 board budget. That seems high to me for plain board and my impression from this forum is that usually the higher-cost boarding barns include (and require) that the horse be in a training program. Does that mean that the horse is being trained or the rider is getting lessons? So would her budgeted amount for lessons be unnecessary?

                        I pay much less for board but my horses are retired so I'm not in a fancy barn with great riding facilities.

                        I think her budget for vet supplies and grooming is a good start but a tad low. I can't seem to get out of the vet supply store without spending over a hundred dollars, but I suppose that depends on whether I'm treating an injury or abscess. And some horses are just more injury prone. One horse may go through bedsore boots like dirty socks and another may never need them. It would be interesting to actually make a detailed list of vet and grooming items, although everyone's list would be a bit different.

                        Okay, I started a list but I kept coming up with more so I decided to stop, although it made me think about another category of stuff which is self care and car care products. For example, hand wipes and lotions for me to clean myself up, and bags, duffles, and tubs to keep horse things from touching/dirtying my car. For that matter, I actually ended up getting a different car that was more suited to the dusty roads and conditions at the barn.

                        Also, I store my own hay at the barn so I have to buy new tarps a couple of time per year and I have my own hoses and attachments, so depending on the barn, you may need unexpected grooming and cleaning items.
                        "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PeteyPie View Post
                          I have a question about the $1,000 board budget. That seems high to me for plain board and my impression from this forum is that usually the higher-cost boarding barns include (and require) that the horse be in a training program. Does that mean that the horse is being trained or the rider is getting lessons? So would her budgeted amount for lessons be unnecessary?

                          I pay much less for board but my horses are retired so I'm not in a fancy barn with great riding facilities.
                          Boarding costs in the metro DC area are directly related to how close in to DC the barn is and as you indicate, the amenities/program offered. For a stall at a place with good daily care, okay grass turnout with an indoor and an outdoor, and somewhere around 45-60 min from DC, $1000 is average to low IME. Go further out and/or field board, or take away the indoor, etc, and you can certainly keep a horse for less.

                          ETA: and no, it wouldn't typically include training/pro rides in that cost. At the barns I'm thinking of, it may cover care costs such as daily grooming.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Seems like we have very similar situations. It costs me about $17-20K annually all-in, so I think your estimate is pretty spot-on. I will say you should bump up your insurance estimate. Get mortality and major medical....you'll be glad you did.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I certainly know barns in my area that charge up to $1000 a month just for board. Not including training. A standard full care oarding barn with indoor arena is about $600 to $700 depending how far out you are. So even there, if you added on training rides or lessons it would quickly take you over $1000.

                              But board is the easy part of the equation because you can get a straight answer and a list of included expenses from the barns you are interested in.

                              The unforeseeables are vet bills, OTC health products, and supplements not provided by the stable.

                              Since I do self board I have my own equine first aid kit and duplicates in my trailer. May not be necessary if the barn supplies these at no cost.

                              But it is going to cost you at least $20 in supplies to treat a hoof abscess.

                              Then there is clipping. You can buy your own clippers for the cost of getting a good clipper in. But you might not want to take your first time clip job into the hunter ring!

                              Oh and sheath cleaning for the boys. Again you *can* do this yourself

                              And if its a mare, depending on her skank factor, you might want to put her on Regumate for the summer show season. That stuff is not cheap! Now I quite like my mare under saddle when she's in heat, forward and happy and cruising around looking for a party, but she also bothers the boys and pees in the alleyway.

                              If you get nonspecific diarrhea probiotics will cost a bit.

                              I would caution against taking on a horse if the basic care expenses are a stretch for you because the unexpected will be a crisis.

                              I keep my basic life expenses low so I don't need to worry about extras or little luxuries. But certainly I have known people at my barn who were maxed out at $350 a month total care costs and couldn't afford a saddle or lessons ( of course they were newbies with rank unbroken rescue horses so unfortunate all around). So make sure your basic board lessons and shoes which will be at least $1500 a month is financially sustainable for you.

                              It is really sad when people try to save money by going longer between farriet visits as the horse always suffers long term. Don't ever try to save money that way. Barefoot horses it isn't so crucial, but shod horses need their trims.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                These are all super helpful! The $1000/board is for "Full Board" at my current stable and I know it includes hay, grain, turnout, blanketing...I'm not sure if it includes holding for vet, etc. I didn't include the 'start up costs,' ie, the horse itself or tack, just because I know that can vary a lot based on what horse and what tack. (But considering I spent about $400 on show clothes this weekend...I definitely know it can add up!) I hadn't thought about injections, etc. I hope to show locally, but not rated...ie, mostly schooling shows. I like the facilities of the show barn and the friendliness of everyone there, but I don't think I can do the price tag of going to Florida or Ohio every year!

                                And thank you to the poster who wrote about the specifics of Northern VA horse problems...I also hadn't thought about the moisture for hooves. This is all fantastic information; thank you!!

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Redlei44 View Post

                                  Boarding costs in the metro DC area are directly related to how close in to DC the barn is and as you indicate, the amenities/program offered. For a stall at a place with good daily care, okay grass turnout with an indoor and an outdoor, and somewhere around 45-60 min from DC, $1000 is average to low IME. Go further out and/or field board, or take away the indoor, etc, and you can certainly keep a horse for less.

                                  ETA: and no, it wouldn't typically include training/pro rides in that cost. At the barns I'm thinking of, it may cover care costs such as daily grooming.
                                  It's sad but true. I've looked up probably 30+ barns in the area...if you're lucky you can find someone who has a few stalls and access to an outdoor, but it really only drops it to $700 or so...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    This is great!

                                    I'm going to echo others about planning for more frequent shoeing (my horse is on a 5 week schedule) and also planning for a higher expense on insurance. Someone mentioned that a $50k horse costs about $1500 to insure, this is similar to my experience. BUT, if your horse is $25k, it will not be $750. The major medical is typically a flat fee ($600ish with my carrier, if memory serves) with the mortality portion being variable based on the horses value. So a $20-25k horse would be more like $1000ish.

                                    I can't speak to show expenses, mine are much higher, but it's also an expense you can forego in a pinch. Training will depend on the horse you end up getting and your goals. I spent less upfront on a green prospect, knowing that I would be paying more for training.

                                    Whatever you come up with for the year, add a 10% oops tax, and you'll be in good shape.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Far less complicated, and obviously not quite as accurate, but I saw someone once recommend that you budget your monthly board cost X2 (not including showing). I've found that to be a good rule of thumb in my now 18 months of horse ownership (like you, I was a lifelong rider but didn't get to own until I was in my 30's). I don't necessarily spend it each month, but it's been averaging out to around that, and my horse is in fairly pricey shoes (and a 4-5 week farrier schedule) and has been running his fair share of vet bills. I'm in a slightly less expensive area than NoVA, but not by a whole ton (central MD). Granted, I'm not paying for full training or insurance on a very expensive horse. But in terms of basic upkeep (supplements, routine supplies/equipment, farrier, normal vet bills) it has been holding true.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Hey OP, I'm also in NoVA and the other people from the area have already commented with some good advice. I'd add to your insurance columns (for a horse that you're planning on showing, it will almost certainly be >$200 per year), the routine vet care column (your horse may need joint injections, diagnostic work, etc. and that's just maintenance, not even the crazy stuff), your equipment fees (what if you have a blanket shredder, or your horse needs a muzzle, or your stirrup leathers wear out, all those questions. I'm pretty conservative with my tack and even so the cost of maintenance and replacement does add up), and your show fees (the fees you listed seem pretty par for the course for the local shows in this area, but even the local shows will tack on office fees, ambulance fees, etc. Not huge numbers but they do add up if you show multiple times per year. If you're planning on any of the rated shows, you'll want to budget closer to $1-2k per show depending on the program you're in.). The recommendation to have a pool of money for emergency vet work is a great one, and I also like having a pool of "fun money" for things that may come up - if the barn decides to go XC schooling and you want to tag along, or last minute hunter pace, or signing up for a clinician coming to town. The not-necessary-but-super-cool thing fund

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