How Much Does It Really Cost to Own a Horse?
Horses are expensive animals to buy and keep, but the rewards of having a horse are immense.
They provide companionship and activity that all ages can enjoy. There are a range of disciplines to partake in such as show jumping or dressage.
Before considering ownership for the first time or leasing a horse, you must first understand the costs.
This article explains what goes into the expense of owning a horse and provides helpful advice on budgeting correctly for this fulfilling adventure.
Choosing a Horse
Choosing a horse should not be taken lightly. The type of horse you choose can affect the ownership cost. Dependent on their age and health, different horses may require various levels of care. This can impact the cost and time the horse requires. For example, a horse that suffers with laminitis may require specialist shoeing, feed and veterinary care.
When selecting a horse, consider breed, age, size, health and temperament as factors. Different breeds have different needs; some demand more personalized care than others.
Horse breed types come in various shapes, sizes, and temperaments. Some of the most popular horse breeds have their characteristics and needs that must be taken into consideration when selecting a horse, which include:
- Thoroughbreds are known for their pace and dexterity and are often used as racehorses and show jumping.
- Quarter Horses are known for their strength and are found in rodeos and alternative western riding events.
- Arabians are known for their intelligence, beauty and stamina, making them popular for endurance.
- Paints and Appaloosas are known for unique color patterns, making them popular in the show ring.
Estimating the value
The cost of horse ownership can vary greatly depending on:
- Its breed, especially if there are records of pedigree bloodlines
- Body weight
- How much education and training they’ve had
- Health problems
The history behind the horse, including if they are previous competition horses and have records of their achievements can impact their value. So it is important to research the market value of horses to get an accurate estimate of what you’ll be expecting to pay.
In addition, it is a good idea to have a veterinarian examine any potential purchase to ensure it's a healthy horse.
You may decide to buy a horse to be ridden a few times a week. Or you may want a competition horse for upcoming equestrian events. So consider that horses bred for competitions like racing may have a higher price point than others that require lower maintenance.
Another key factor is to ensure that when buying a horse for ridden activities, that they are the right build and size to carry you. For the horse’s welfare, you should never ride a horse that is too small for you. Horses such as draughts can be good weight carriers, whereas thoroughbreds are typically finer and carry less weight. Always check that the horse you ride is able to carry your size and weight.
Determining the weight
You can use a horse weight calculator when buying a foal or an adult and assess the breed, gender, and estimated size of your choice. Similarly, you can use a horse weight chart to keep track of the horse's growth and dietary requirements.
Typically, a heavier horse will require more feed than a smaller pony, but thankfully it doesn’t majorly contribute to a difference in expense costs.
When considering the size of your horse, you don’t need to worry too much about the price difference of equestrian goods. For example, a larger horse may require a larger saddle pad or halter, but the prices remain the same/ You’ll just need to ensure you choose the right size for your horse.
The cost of horse ownership also on the level of care it requires. Generally, the average cost can be divided into feed and nutrition, veterinary care, and housing.
Feed and nutrition
Feed and nutrition are paramount for a horse's fitness and well-being. Horses require a balanced diet of hay, grain, and other minerals to satisfy their nutritional needs. The cost of feed can vary depending on the quality you choose.
Additionally, the feed needed will depend on your horse's size and activity. So, consult a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the best diet for your horse. You can incorporate a horse feeding chart to monitor what it's eating and how much you spend each month on produce.
Keeping track of horse feed budgets
A chart will also track the feeding ratio for horses so you know what your horse likes the most and avoid horse-feeding mistakes.
Feed is one of the most important aspects of horse ownership and can range per month depending on the type of horse and its activity level.
The type of feed you choose will also affect the cost, as some meals are more expensive than others.
Veterinary care and costs
Veterinary care is needed for your horse to thrive. Routine care check-ups, insurance, and treatments are important to ensure your horse stays healthy and is covered.
The cost of veterinary care can vary depending on what your horse needs. Common veterinary services include:
- Worming program
- Dental care
- Hoof maintenance
- Emergency care
Vet bills can pile up, especially if there is an emergency appointment you need to schedule. The prices range from $50 to $500 per visit. However, you can spend thousands of dollars if surgery is required. Therefore, it is a popular choice to have insurance to help cover the cost of any unexpected veterinary fees.
Housing is another important factor to consider when owning a horse. Horses need a secure and restful habitat, from a stable or barn to a pasture or paddock.
Stables and barns are typically more expensive than pastures and paddocks, as they require more maintenance and upkeep. The cost of housing can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per month.
Ideally, horses would have sufficient turnout with room to roam, graze and practice other natural behaviors such as grooming other horses.
What to Consider When Horse Riding
When horse riding, the safety of both the rider and the horse is important. It is essential to have suitable gear for you and the horse, including:
- A helmet, boots, gloves, and a back protector
- Saddle pads
- Fitted saddle and bridle
To continue enhancing your knowledge of riding and horse care, consider taking horse riding lessons. While this increases the annual cost of horse ownership, learning the correct horse riding posture and using the right aids is essential to avoid future horse riding injuries.
Especially if you're a first-time rider and buyer, horse riding training is a much-needed investment to improve your skill level.
Keeping Your Horse Active
Whether you want your horse to compete in events or just have the best equestrian home workout, keeping your horse active and healthy is a good idea. There are a range of activities you can get involved in. Polo, trail riding, horse sports and games to name just a few!
Based on your horse’s health and fitness level, you can establish a good exercise regime that will build fitness whilst offering enrichment to their day to day lives. If you are unsure of your horse’s capabilities, seek advice from a veterinarian or specialist.
Final Verdict: The Cost of Owning a Horse
Owning a horse is a big commitment and requires time, money, and effort.
The average cost of owning a horse can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per month depending on the type of horse, its activity level, and the services needed.
Feed, veterinary care, housing, and equestrian goods must be evaluated when horse shopping.
So whether you're a first-time horse owner or adding another stallion to the collection and want to venture into horse events 2023, ensuring you have enough in your monthly budget and an emergency fund is essential.