so how much does it cost to actually own a horse?

nibblin(z7 va)August 14, 2005

just curious...

i've been wanting one since about 15 years ago, but my father used the terms 'horse poor', etc.

my MIL just bought one, and i'm worried that we'll have to eventually pay the expense.

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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)


Most people have heard that the purchase price of the horse is the least expensive part of the project. Where you live, the level you are riding and type of horses all influence the cost of a horse. The following figures are generalized figures for first time horse owners:

Here is a link that might be useful: Cost of Owning a Horse

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 10:28PM
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I would also figure in the age of the horse. If it is an older horse, it may eventually cost a lot more for medical care. Some people sell them before they reach that point. Others of us get too attached to do that so we fork over the $$$ for medical care. Horses often live a long time so it is a good idea to decide early on (preferably before you buy) how you are going to handle the old age issue.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 9:11AM
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Very interesting. I saw "insurance" on the cost of owning a horse. What kind would that be...liability?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 12:03PM
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All I know is that it's really expensive. Everytime they need to see a vet you can't just take them by the veteranarian, you have to call a vet out to come see them. Plus they are so HUGE that the vet bill will cost way more. My neighbors have 4 donkeys and a whole lot of work goes into having horses and stuff like that.

I have never had a horse myself but I would love to someday :)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 12:32PM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

I guess it's possible that keeping a horse on your own property might raise your liability in certain areas, but I think they mean something more like livestock insurance where the horse appears on your homeowners' policy as scheduled personal property.

I've never insured a horse, but goats, cattle, and sheep can be insured against death by lightning, vandalism, or fire, and mysterious disappearance, theft, and vehicular accidents. You can get a floater where a certain number of animals, regardless of which ones they are, are covered at the same pre-determined commodity-value each (ie: any 40 cows at $500 each), and/or higher-value animals can be individually identified and insured (ie: Angus bull "Wilson's Pride" tattoo #05-427 @ $2,500.00).

Illness, age, predators, labor and delivery, and other high-probability causes of death aren't covered on the less expensive farm-flock policies. You can get animal health insurance on high-value animals, but it's quite costly.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 12:42PM
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stofferj(z6 PA)

I think it all depends on your particular circumstances. For example, if you board somewhere vs. keeping them at home, are you going to show or not, etc..
I also felt some of the figures on the horse budget were WAY high!

Bottom line: All depends on what you are going to do with the horse. And every horse is different. We have had some that as far as expenses go, we almost broke the bank. Others we have, are next to nothing! Our best buy was a 12 year old pony for my daughter that was pretty much used as a pasture mate for the past 5 years. Paid 300 for her and she only costs us 25.00 every 6 weeks for farrier. She was on full grass (no grain at all) when we got her so she still eats VERY little grain. My daughter (5 yrs old) uses her for all sorts of little shows, both English and Western! So go figure!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 1:33PM
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basilmom(z5 IN)

I'll give you an example:

(based on my TB, William)

7 pounds of grain/day (grain ranges between $8-$13 for 50 pounds).
approx. 20 lbs. grass hay/day (we grow our own - hay varies greatly in every region, beased on quality and type).
Wormers every 8 weeks, range between $5-$35 (I do a power pak once each year which is the high end).
Trim and shoes every 6-8 weeks - again, varies in every region. Here, a trim is $25.00, shoes are $64 for fronts, $80 for all four.
Fly spray...I use a bottle every week, PER HORSE, at $9 a week!
Shots - I give mine myself, but when I didn't, it was a $200 vet call, twice each year. I do my own for about $45 or so, twice each year.
Supplements - because I love this horse to pieces and he's got some arthritis, I pay almost $100/month in supplements. The other horses get probably $18-$25/month in supps. (they all get a hoof supp, lysine and b-1).

Shavings in the winter time...$4.50/bale. I use 2 per stall, every week. Plus the PDZ to keep the odor down.

Equine dentist: $150 twice a year (per horse).

None of this includes the "other stuff". We go through fly masks like crazy around here. Leg wraps, ointments, creams, antibiotic goop, clippers, tack, coolers, clothes for riding, fly predators, eye clear, salt licks, treats, goes on and on. Oh! I can't forget rubber mats and 40 tons of sand - probably $500 or so worth is what we spent last week.

The inevitable emergency vet call STARTS at $250 around here...thats when it's "easy", like a staple in the foot with one x ray, or a simple colic.. A trip to the vet with a series of x rays starts at $300 and goes up steeply from there!

I don't think anyone adds it all up....if I did, I'd be tempted to give them all to charity *blush*.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 2:40PM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

I added it up assuming $4.50 for a 60 lb bale of average horse hay, used the middle to low side of your ranges, left out special suppliments for William, farrier at 8 week intervals, fly spray only three seasons of the year, one vet emergency every other year, and only allowed $40/month for 'other stuff': $3,389 per year for one horse. And that's allowing nothing for maintenence and repairs on buildings, fences, pastures, or trailers, and nothing for start-up costs (tack, buckets, brushes, blankets, etc...), nothing for books, lessons, or magazines, and nothing for water, electric, or transportation.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 5:10PM
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basilmom(z5 IN)

Thanks DP. Thanks a lot...;)
Our saving grace is that we don't buy hay, AND we don't grain at that capacity in the summer (forgot to mention that).

It is a horribly expensive hobby and I think horses get into bad situations when people don't go into it with their eyes wide opened.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 5:28PM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

Absolutely. A local breeder has been in the news recently after having 120 horses confiscated by Greene County deputies. A judge ordered him to put up a $65,000 bond to get them back, to cover the Humane Society's costs for transportation, boarding, and vet care. He can't do that, so they're being adopted out instead, and he still goes to criminal court next month.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 6:47PM
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I agree, the expense is not in the purchase of the horse, it's in the cost of keeping it. However, if your horse is an "easy keeper," you will save a lot of money on stuff that might be a necessity for another horse. Our (large) pony is on straight grass, and made it through the winter even on just hay, no grain. That saved us a bundle. Her feet are great, so we have her trimmed every 8-10 weeks, and she goes barefoot, which saves a lot of money. Around here, it is easy to find an apprentice farrier to trim my mare for around $15, and mine actually trims in exchange for lunch and a batch of brownies/cake/cookies. I do vaccines myself (which is not difficult, and your vet or a horse-wise friend can teach you). The only shot the vet has to give is a rabies shot, which is once a year, and some vets will actually dispense you one instead of insisting on coming out to inject your horse themselves. I don't think it's really necessary to have a horse's teeth floated twice a year unless you know that the horse has a history of dental problems. Most "easy keepers" won't need supplements, and often you can find them at discounted prices on the web if you do need them. The same for fly spray. It's important to deworm regularly, but I use generic products bought online at a discount. The FDA regulates what's in them--there's no reason to pay full price for a brand-name (it's the same for human meds). The same for equipment--I don't buy the expensive halters/leads/etc. My pony doesn't wear a blanket in winter, and the only time she came in a stall this year was to have a baby (and she only got to come in for that because it was 40F and raining that night). In my opinion, a lot of horses don't need all the pampering that we give them--I think they're tougher than we give them credit for.

The main cost I incur is monthly board bill. I pay $300/month, which is full care pasture turn-out, and this price includes 4, hour-long lessons per week with a trainer. I should add that my pony's baby stays free, although when he's weaned, he will be charged, but at a much lower rate. I live in "horse country," and people get away with charging a lot for board, because the "city folks" will pay that much. I justify my board bill because there's an indoor arena where I can ride year-round, and the lessons are important for my step-daughter to improve her riding, as she's getting better than me at it now...

There seems to be a sort of curving relationship between the cost/value of a horse and how much it's expenses will be. The high-dollar show and race horses seem to cost a fortune in feed/farrier bills, and have a tendency to run up enormous vet bills for health problems, emergency surgeries, etc. The "cheap" horses, such as childrens' ponies, pleasure horses, etc, seem to have very few problems, good feet, and don't cost much to feed. On the opposite end, the "free" horses--the giveaways and rescues, end up costing a lot in the long run, because lets face it, nobody gives away a perfectly good horse. There is almost always some big hidden problem that needs treatment after the horse has been adopted.

You wanna hear how much it costs to keep a Thoroughbred around here? Most farms in my area charge $25 PER DAY to keep a broodmare/yearling/weanling. Plus extra charges for farrier, vet, meds, etc. I can't imagine paying that much to keep a horse, but on the other hand, those horses are investments, not for pleasure. Their owners are counting on selling/racing them and making a profit above and beyond the money they've spent on their board costs.

If I were you, I'd mention to your MIL that you've always wanted a horse, and are interested in how much it's costing her to keep one. That way, you know about how much it would cost YOU to either get your own horse, or if you have to help her with expenses down the road.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 7:05PM
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apcohrs(z5 IL)

I always tell people, a horse = a car. Depending on the horse and what you want to do with it, the car could be your dad's hand-me-down, dependable sedan. Or it could be a Ferarri - where you put your mechanic's kids through college.

Me, I have had a very very bad year for vet bills (suspensory tear, new heaves diagnosis, new navicular diagnosis, possible deep digital flexor tendon tesr... sigh) I'm putting BOTH my vet's kids though college.

But he was a sturdy, healthy boy for the previous 10 years.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 11:09AM
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melee_AL(z7 AL)

(grin) I was just thinking of the car analogy myself. I think you are the only one who can answer your question, nibblin. Are you the kind of person who buys a luxury sedan or SUV, or are you a Corolla kind of person? Do you change the oil in your car yourself? If you have expensive tastes and don't like to do 'scheduled maintenance' yourself your horsekeeping costs will be in the upper part of the local range.

If you are new to the horse game, how about taking some riding lessons? You'll want to do that before you buy yourself a horse anyway. A good instructor will be a helpful mentor to you if you do decide to buy a horse. You'll probably also meet local horse owners hanging around the instructor's barn and could ask them about the range of horsekeeping costs in your area.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 12:04PM
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You know, you can also check into the possiblity of leasing a horse, too. Usually, the lease price is similar to the monthly cost of board and feed, and that way you can see if you're really going to be able to afford it, as well as if you like the horse, and if you are actually going to have time to enjoy the horse.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 5:19PM
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nibblin(z7 va)

thanks for the replies and the info.

i have to admit, there might be a little spark of the greenheaded monster here, but i was so ingrained that horses are for the rich...

i can't have one...i might be able to afford one, but my job certainly does not allow me to keep one. i'm away for weeks sometimes, and my schedule is always up in the air.

as for the horse being kept, the finances as i've discussed them astound me. there is no WAY that down the road, we will not be responsible for something to keep this animal, whether related to the animal specifically or not. we'll probably be having to compensate in some way in some other area. frankly, it upsets me.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 6:52PM
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melee_AL(z7 AL)

Nibblin, since you're going to end up paying for your MIL's horse's upkeep, seems only fair that you should be able to ride and enjoy it, too!

If your MIL is in good enough physical shape to ride a horse, she's probably in good enough shape to do the grunt work to take care of it...should cut down on the expenses somewhat :)

Good luck, hope things work out for you!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 7:35PM
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nibblin(z7 va)

ha ha...
i certainly intend to ride this horse sometime! i'm actually pretty happy for her, and understand her reasoning for getting one. heck, i'd do it if i could. why shouldn't she be happy? and i'm serious about that..why not?

the horse is full board, and was a TB rescue, but cost much more than a 'regular' rescue horse. like previous posters, the cost is not in getting the horse, but KEEPING the horse.

no grunt work. that's all taken care of in a very expensive area. no riding for now...the horse has an abcess and is lame. after 1 week of purchase.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 7:51PM
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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

Then there's the cost of paddock boots, riding vest, new helmet every time they fall off onto their heads, new summer breeches, new winter breeches, rain coat, winter coat, gloves, brushes, riding crop, T-shirts that say "Tack shopping Queen", T-shirts for the girls that say all sorts of things, shorts for the girls that have "RIDE" or horseshoes on the butt end, pillows that have stuffed horses in a pocket, Breyer model horses, Breyer trucks, breyer horse trailer, horse writing paper, horse fridge magnets, horse watch, horse earrings, shoulder brace for when someone breaks her collarbone, dermatix for when someone puts a 1 1/2" scar on her face,.... Bet you hadn't even thought about those costs!!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 9:46PM
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It seems like it costs more to board a horse, but once you buy the farm & all the supplies...well that really adds up- lol Plus it seems like I never him time to ride because I'm always caring for the farm & horses! I'm serious about this!

We do most of the stuff ourselves (vaccinations, first aid, trimming, worming) so that saves money. We also keep ours on pasture to save money & time (no barn cleaning, cost of bedding, grain & hay). Plus its better for the horses. Of course they do need hay during the winter-which is our biggest horse expense. We give them a little grain as a treat.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 12:17AM
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Siamese, I can identify! I have to work to pay for all the "fun stuff," but by the time I have shoveled the barn, done the chores, etc., I am just too doggone tired to brush the horse and get ready to ride. Horse has a dadgum good deal on her hands. She's a well fed pasture queen. My gelding is just too old to ride so he's the pasture king.

I have to say that they did not cost much in vet bills, feed, or bedding until he got old. Now, it is a whole different ball park. Love the old mug so we pay.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 12:35AM
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melee_AL(z7 AL)

Hmmmm...if I was going to have to foot the bill for MIL's horse, and it was a strain on my finances, I would move the horse to a less cushy barn. Don't ask, just make the arrangements. In my book, MIL loses decision-making authority if she is unable or unwilling to shoulder the responsibility for her horse.

If MIL is unable to support her horse in the manner to which it would like to become accustomed, I would at least insist that she try to trade stableboy work for part of the board bill.

Of course that's real easy for me to say, maybe not possible in your situation..

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 11:08AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Last time I figured it out, my horse expenses averaged out to about $120 a month.

I keep her at home and do the grunt work myself, but trims are $45 and hay is $5 a bale where I live.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 4:53PM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

Well, if I lived where some of you do, I guess I'd have to give up the horse :0(
I have always had a horse, since I was a kid. Nowdays I don't ride much, but just need to see her out there every day for peace of mind. My horse is an easy keeper. I know this may rile some of you that really work at your horse habit, but mine is a pasture ornament. No grain in summer, she's hog fat (part percheron). Small amount of grain, 1/2 bale of hay daily in the winter. So far only had vet bills for shots and 1 time had to have stitches. I have had this horse for 9 years. We trim her feet when they need it, but she has excellent hooves, never a problem even if I can't get the farrier out for a while. $25 when he does come. I did breed her 2 years ago, $200, had an absolutly gorgeous colt with NO problems. No stall cleaning, she stays out all year, with a shed in the pasture for when she chooses to use it. I don't really know how you'd tell to buy one, but a horse like this is an easy keeper in almost every way. She's not even hard on my poor old 100 year old fences. Guess I'll keep her :0)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 5:21PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

my 3 run on pasture year around-so the cost is grain, hay vet and farrier bills. hay cost 375. for 100 bales, lasted 8 months--vet bill, if they stay healthy--is about 250 a year.grain, about 6. every 2 weeks.farrier, to trim only, 15 a horse--when i can get him. out of this, one is a "easy keeper" which means you try to let her get only enough feed to make her think she's been fed!mine are only pasture ornaments--but, we love them, and they're slick and healthy.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 5:23PM
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This all kind of reminds me...we bought our pony at Christmas time. My MIL was totally against us getting the pony--talked about it being a frivolous expense, that we should not be wasting our money, that we were spoiling our daughter, etc. So ends up that pony was pregnant and I say, "okay, we are going to sell the baby, because we absolutely cannot afford a second pony." And everyone was in agreement, including DD. So the pony foals, and guess who starts crying about how we can't sell the baby?! Apparently, it's her new GRANDSON, and she even carries pictures of him in her wallet! Now MIL wants to BUY the baby from me, and keep him as her pet so she can feed him carrots and talk baby talk to him. Sheesh!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 10:02PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Broodyjen, LOL. That's a funny story.

I'll say it loud and say it proud... my horse is a pasture ornament, too! She was a broodmare in her former life and isn't broken to ride, which is perfect for me because I don't really have the time/inclination to ride anyway. I get a profound enjoyment out of seeing her and being around her. It's as simple as that, worth every penny.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 1:36PM
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basilmom(z5 IN)

oh geeze nibbles...a TB rescue? My heart liteally skipped when I read that!

If the horse is off the track, I'd guess the chances of some medical condition cropping up is at least twice that of the average horse. Ask me how I know :(.

Here's to hoping for the best for everyone involved!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 9:45PM
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Typical cost is $200/month if you self-stable and $400 a month is you use a professional stable. However, at one extreme I know a horse breeder that does it for $50/month (no stables, field bred and raised, trims feet himself, does most vet work himself) and at the other extreme there is the professional stable near towns at up to $800/month just for stabling. Also, vet costs are a big unknown, $200 in a good year and $8000 if you have a major disaster (e.g. colic needing an emergency operation). At the following link there is a list and explanation of all costs. See which are applicable to you, then phone around for local costs (e.g. stabling, farrier, feed), then plug these costs into the on-line horse cost calculator at that link.

Here is a link that might be useful: horse cost

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 3:58PM
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