Save Money On Owning A Horse, A Guide For Current And Prospective Owners

Jonny Mahon Mar 30, 2023
10 People Read
owning a horse
Table of Contents
  1. Save Money On Owning A Horse; A Guide For Current And Prospective Owners
  2. The Costs Associated With Horse Ownership
    1. Recurring Bills
    2. Variable But Necessary Costs
  3. Let's Look At This In Detail
    1. Board
    2. Full Board
    3. Self Board
    4. Pasture Board
    5. Owning Property
  4. Farrier Fees
  5. Routine Health Care
  6. Equipment For Your Horse
  7. Consumables
  8. Association Membership Fees
  9. Vet Bills, Bodywork
  10. Equine Insurance
  11. Hauling Or Truck And Trailer
  12. Training/Lessons
  13. Show Fees
  14. Impulse Purchasing

Save Money On Owning A Horse; A Guide For Current And Prospective Owners

There is definitely a certain joy to owning a horse. As a trainer, I had a gap of a few years without having my own, and although I love my job and have a strong love and appreciation for each and every one of these special animals, there's something extremely rewarding about horse ownership.

Often my students express an interest in buying their own horse, most of the time they are young teenagers with no means of paying the entire cost of horse ownership themselves so this is a conversation I mostly have with their parents.

horse ownership

When we have this conversation I have a tendency to skip over the purchase price and go straight to the cost of owning a horse, it can be terribly discouraging for a rider to start window shopping for their first horse only to have their dreams dashed by the cost of all the expenses.

The reality is that horse riding is expensive and the cost of horse ownership brings that to new heights. It's very true that the cheapest part of owning a horse is the initial cost of buying one.

The Costs Associated With Horse Ownership

If you're reading this article looking for a dollar amount you won't find it here, the cost of keeping a horse will vary greatly depending on where you live so you'll want to do some research yourself.

horse ownership

I can however give you a summary of all or most of the costs associated with horse ownership, it is very important that you get realistic figures for each of these as you don't want to be left in a position where you can't afford your horse.

Recurring Bills

  • Board or feed/bedding/hay if kept at home

  • Farrier fees

  • Routine care from your vet

Variable But Necessary Costs

  • Equipment costs - saddle, bridle, halter, grooming kit, etc

  • Consumables - tack cleaner, supplements, sprays, etc

  • Association membership fees

  • Vet bills, bodywork

  • Equine Insurance

  • Hauling or truck and trailer

  • Training/Lessons

  • Show Fees

  • Impulse Purchasing

So if you've made it this far, past the daunting list of what expenses to expect with horses, then read on and we'll break it down a bit further.

Let's Look At This In Detail

There will be a few points on this list that I will refer to as 'more being less'. What I mean by that is that you may save some money in the short term but in the long run, it will probably cost you more in other ways.

Board

When it comes to choosing a barn for your horse there are a few factors involved and it's up to you to do all the research you can when choosing a facility.

Look at things like how happy your horse will be living there, is your trainer based at that barn, and the social aspect of the barn; do you know anyone there already?

Full Board

Your horse's health and happiness at a barn that provides full board will go towards saving you money in the long run as a barn that is a stressful environment for them, or maybe has poor footing will cost you more in the likes of vet bills, supplements, and bodywork.

Having your trainer based there is often worth considering too. Your trainer may charge a little more for teaching off-property, and you may only have access to them on the day they visit for lessons/training.

horse board

Another way to save some money on boarding costs is to offer to do some of the labor like stall cleaning. Many barns, especially at the moment when staff is hard to find, are grateful for that extra support and often give money off full care board.

Pro Tip: Always pay your board bill on time. Horse bedding, labor, horse feed, and sometimes lease fees all have to be paid for by the barn owner or the trainer. The monthly cost of running a boarding facility is huge and they rely on the boarder's bills to cover these operating costs.

Self Board

If you're in a position to do self-care boarding this is often a great way to save money on your horse, especially if you get on well with the other horse owners at the facility as you can always trade chores as a way to make it easier.

Pasture Board

This is another way to cut expenses for your horse depending on your situation and requirements. You will most likely sacrifice an indoor arena or possibly any arena at all but it's often a cheaper, low-stress way of horse boarding.

Owning Property

Based on how many horses you own or plan to own then purchasing or possibly leasing a small barn is another option. This is not realistic for a lot of people but I have seen some horse owners pay full care board on multiple horses and always think that could be going toward a mortgage instead!

Farrier Fees

As an owner, it is your duty to provide the best possible care for your horse and a good farrier is paramount to your horse's health, this is one of those 'more is less' points.

farrier

You may get lucky and find a cheap farrier that does outstanding work. If you do then treat them like gold, otherwise shell out a bit more money for one that has a good reputation.

If your goal is to have an all-around healthy horse, taking care of their feet will be a large part of this, especially for riding horses. You could also consider having your horse go barefoot, famous rider Conor Swail has one that goes without shoes. However, this is not an option that will work for every situation, talk to your farrier.

Routine Health Care

Just like the routine maintenance on your car, this is a necessary horse cost for us owners and another thing you'll want to stay on top of to prevent issues from escalating. Most of the time these visits are simply for vaccinations and teeth floating.

It's also a good way for your vet to cast their eyes over your horse and comment on anything abnormal that you may have missed, it also gives you an opportunity to ask any questions regarding their care. I don't know a single vet that would charge extra for either of those so take advantage of that time to voice any concerns you may have that could prevent further vet visits.

The best way to save money on these regular appointments is to line them up with other horse owners, some vets may even do a bulk fee with some trainers that could save a little cash.

Equipment For Your Horse

Buying equipment for your horse can easily get out of control if you're not careful. We all know how it happens, you go to your local tack shop to pick up a few things and you leave the store a thousand dollars later with full bags.

horse saddle

Try sourcing out a good consignment store as it's often not difficult to find all or most of what you need, I have often bought good used equipment for much less than what you would pay for new.

Whether you end up buying new or used always try to buy the best quality you can, that cheap bridle might seem like a good idea at the time but they don't last like good quality leather.

Consumables

Sprays, tack cleaner, horse shampoo, and first aid kits are all part of the cost of owning a horse. There are many recipes online for sprays like fly spray, but I haven't had much success with these.

Your two best options to cut costs is to buy bulk, or on sale, and to look out for the human version of some products. You can easily use things like people's shampoo and conditioner on horses or Polysporon for minor cuts and abrasions.

Association Membership Fees

This is almost always an annual fee with little room for discounts, although some organizations make their fees a little cheaper if paid before the year starts.

USHJA

Also, take advantage of any discounts provided by associated companies. Most associations provide a level of liability insurance and some memberships offer extra insurance at a lower rate, something like your saddle that could cost thousands to replace can be covered for minimal cost.

Vet Bills, Bodywork

Unfortunately, vet bills are one of the unexpected costs we encounter in horse ownership. Unless it's an emergency see if any of your barn buddies need a vet visit within the timeframe that you need one so you can save on the farm call.

Another way you might be able to save a little money is to learn some basic vet care. For example, know the difference between lameness and muscle soreness. You can even take online courses to learn basic horse first aid.

Regular bodywork is a great preventative measure for your horse, seek out a reputable professional for this and keep your horse's body in good shape.

Equine Insurance

We all hope the worst will never happen to our horses but if it does, insurance is a great asset to have for what is probably at that stage an already stressful situation.

Sadly the average horse owner doesn't have the money for sizeable surgeries or treatment, and although it doesn't cover routine procedures like getting their teeth floated it does help with emergency veterinary care, colic surgery, and even things like scoping and treating for ulcers.

Hauling Or Truck And Trailer

Whether you have a trail horse or a serious competition horse you're probably at some stage going to want to bring them somewhere.

A good horse hauler can be expensive, if you have a friend from the same barn going to the same destination see if they would like to buddy up to make it a little cheaper.

Better still, lots of owners won't mind popping your horse alongside theirs if they have their own truck and trailer, especially if you offer some gas money to sweeten the deal.

Training/Lessons

Like us, horses are best kept in work and moving, it keeps them in shape and their body weight at a healthy level, and good work is good for their minds. Regardless of your discipline, regular training is best for both you and your horse.

horse coaching

If you want to save some money maybe consider taking semi-private lessons instead of private ones, if there's a clinic you would like to attend you could audit it rather than ride. You also can't underestimate the value of a great trainer. One lesson a week with a top coach may be more productive and cheaper than 2-3 with a less experienced one.

Show Fees

A lot of us love to show our horses, but this is certainly a cost that can escalate quickly so careful planning and a practical approach is best here. If you or your horse is young or inexperienced consider attending B-rated shows or even schooling shows, we all had to start somewhere.

Be organized. Food at most shows, including schooling and B-rated shows, can be a little pricey. Pack your own and save your money for the entry fees instead.

horse shows

Impulse Purchasing

Although the lure of fancy grooming supplies, saddle pads, or a nice new lead rope can seem too much to resist. As horse lovers, we want to spoil our horses but instead, think about putting the money away for any unexpected expenses that may occur.

Better yet, take those lightly or unused impulse purchases you've already made and sell them, horse care isn't cheap and a few hundred dollars could come in handy.

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Table of Contents
  1. Save Money On Owning A Horse; A Guide For Current And Prospective Owners
  2. The Costs Associated With Horse Ownership
    1. Recurring Bills
    2. Variable But Necessary Costs
  3. Let's Look At This In Detail
    1. Board
    2. Full Board
    3. Self Board
    4. Pasture Board
    5. Owning Property
  4. Farrier Fees
  5. Routine Health Care
  6. Equipment For Your Horse
  7. Consumables
  8. Association Membership Fees
  9. Vet Bills, Bodywork
  10. Equine Insurance
  11. Hauling Or Truck And Trailer
  12. Training/Lessons
  13. Show Fees
  14. Impulse Purchasing