The cost of owning a horse goes far beyond the initial purchase price… yet too many people place their focus on that initial expense and give no thought about the rest until it’s too late. When you purchase a house you look far beyond the down payment you’ll be expected to put forth; you also look at the monthly costs of the mortgage as well as other necessary living experiences.
Only after these expenses are calculated can you safely determine whether you can afford the home, right? It’s important that you put forth the same due diligence when isolating the true cost of owning a horse.
Whether you purchase a horse for $500.00 or $5,000.00 one thing will remain true–if you keep your horse for many years you will ultimately spend far more for his living expenses than you laid out for the purchase price.
- Stabling Fees: One of the primary costs for horse owners is the monthly stabling fee.
Monthly stabling fees can vary widely depending on where you reside and the stable you choose. Stables with handy amenities such as indoor riding arenas will also cost significantly more than basic stables that provide nothing more than food and shelter.
Stabling fees can range anywhere from $200.00 to $500.00+ per month. Let’s calculate stabling fees for the lower end: $250.00 x 12 months = $3,000.00
Ouch, we’re already up to $3,000.00 per year for stable fees and we’ve barely started. The stabling calculation assumes adequate hay and feed will be provided to your horse and that his stall will be cleaned out daily. But many stables will either require you to feed and clean your horse (called “rough board”) or charge you extra for those services.
And remember that $250.00 is a very reasonable price, so depending on your location you may very well pay more than $6000.00 ($500.00 per month) on stabling fees… can you say Fairfield County?
- Food Costs: If you are stabling your horse and the cost of food is included in their monthly rates you can ignore this expense, but if you are considering keeping the horse at your own place you will need to consider the costs of food.
Horses should consume approximately half a bale (20 lbs) of hay daily, though this number can be increased or decreased depending on your horse’s size and access to grazing pastures throughout the day. Going with the standard of half a bale each day, you’re looking at approximately 183 bales of hay each year. The cost of hay can vary but let’s assume a cost of $2.50 per bale, 183 bales x $2.50 = $457.50.
In addition most horses should receive some form of grain, say 3 pounds of sweet feed daily. A 50-pound bag costs between $7.50 to $8.00. 3 pounds daily would be 1095 pounds each year, which equals about 22 bags of Pacer, 22 bags x $7.50 = 165.00.
And keep in mind we purposely calculated a below average price and quantity of daily sweet feed intake. Most owners will pay slightly more for their grain and feed 4-5 pounds daily between breakfast and dinner. So adding together the minimal hay and grain expenses above we have a total of $622.50 yearly for food, not including any food supplements you may provide your horse.
- Bedding/ Shavings Expenses: Unless you can make your own, you will pay $4.00 to $5.00 per bag for the bedding that will be placed within your horse’s stall. The good news is if you clean the stall daily (preferably more than once) one bag can last a week before requiring a replacement. So if we assume one bag per week at a cost of $4.50 then your approximate yearly bedding expense will be $234.00.
- Veterinarian And Farrier Expenses: Two significant costs of owning a horse are veterinarian and farrier (blacksmith) expenses. If your horse remains perfectly healthy then yearly vet expenses will generally run you around $300.00 for immunizations, the vet call fee, teeth floating, etc. That’s not too bad all things considered, but if your horse colics or falls ill then you can quickly see medical fees in excess of $500.00 or $1,000.00 just for that one isolated incident.
Farrier expenses are a little more predictable. If you plan to keep your horse unshod the average cost of a foot trimming will normally run around $25.00 to $30.00. Assume he will need to be trimmed at least 4 times each year, totaling $100.00 annually.
If you decide to shoe your horse you will find the expenses far higher; the average cost for shoeing runs about $80.00. Shod horses should also be checked at least once every other month. So assuming you pass on shoeing your horse and meet up with no unforeseen medical problems, the combined veterinarian and farrier costs will run around $400.00 annually. Add shoes or stumble across an unforeseen medical problem and the cost can jump much higher to well over $1,000.00.
And that’s not all!
There are quite a few other miscellaneous costs that will come up should you decide to purchase a horse, such as quarterly de-wormers, horse toys, tack, etc. Try to ensure you will have enough money on-hand that should an unforeseen expense come up you can easily address it. The approximate expenses within this article were intended to give you a brief overview of the cost of horse ownership assuming the best circumstances. Your actual costs may slip in even lower or far higher depending on location and how much of the above you can provide yourself.
A horse is a serious investment, so the cost of owning a horse should never be underestimated or overlooked. That being said, if you can afford a horse it’s an investment you’ll ever regret making.
Note: Use this article as a basic outline regarding the cost of owning a horse, but don’t take it as gospel. Do your own price research by calling local farmers and horse supply distributors.