Are you planning to purchase the horse of your dreams? You may be longing for a magical white horse or an epic black horse from the finest horse breeds in the world. However, before jumping into the decision, it’s essential to sit down and calculate the costs. You might be able to rescue or adopt a pony or horse for just a couple of hundred dollars, but that initial purchase price is only a small part of the overall cost. So how much does it cost to own a horse?
Although performance horses may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can purchase a horse today with $10,000 or even as low as $100. Yes, the average cost of a horse seems affordable, but keeping and feeding it comes at a higher price. According to a horse ownership survey conducted by the University of Maine, the average annual cost of owning a horse is $3,876 per horse. Where does that huge amount go? And what affects the price of horse ownership? Let’s dig deeper to find out what and why.
A Horse Ownership Cost Breakdown
Food and Supplement
A massive portion of the expenses in owning a horse goes toward its food. Most adult horses weighing 1,000 to 1,100 pounds can consume around 1.5 to 2.5% of their body weight every day in hay and grain, which means a lot of forage. A bale of hay can cost $4-11 per bale, but it can be as high as $25 per bale in some areas experiencing drought. Depending on your equine’s need per vet’s recommendation, you may also need to supplement your horse. Six month supply of loose mineral supplement may demand $30.00 or 0.17 per day.
Food Cost: $4-11 per bale or more
However, it’s not only feeding a horse that can be costly. Keeping it will cost you more money, especially if you don’t have your own land to keep it on. Not all of us can provide space or afford to keep our horse in our place; that’s why boarding at a local stable is an attractive option. The monthly fee varies considerably depending on the location, facilities, and services offered by a stable. Keep in mind, the boarding fees of stables in an urban areas are usually more expensive than rural areas.
A full boarding option where all your horse’s daily needs will be provided by the stable can cost somewhere between $300 to $700 or more per month. That sounds like a lot, so if you want to save money, you can opt for a self-care board where the facilities will be provided but you have to care for the pony. This option may only cost you around $100 to $200 per month, but you have to provide the food and bedding and travel to the stable a couple of times a day to care for your horse. If neither of these options suit your needs, you can also opt for a pasture board or partial boarding, which are more affordable than a full-care board.
Boarding Cost: $100 to $700 per month or more
The training costs depend on the type of training you and your horse need. A professional trainer may charge $45 to $80 per hour or more, depending on the trainer’s goal and experience.
Horse Training Cost: $45 to $80 per hour
Health Care Costs
Maintaining your equine pets’ health is also valuable as it can make a difference in its lifespan. You surely don’t want to lose your horse worth $50,000 or more just because of an illness that could be prevented by a visit with your vet. Here’s a look into the amount you might have to spend on your horse’s veterinary needs.
Vaccines can help protect your horse against several deadly illnesses and other widespread diseases, including tetanus, rabies, Eastern and Western encephalitis, and West Nile virus. Vaccines to other diseases like influenza, Potomac horse fever, anthrax, and more may be needed depending on the veterinarian’s recommendation. But, competition horses at higher risk of exposure to contagious respiratory viruses surely need a boost of respiratory vaccines twice a year.
Horse owners must also consult a vet to know what diseases are prevalent in their region and where they’ll travel and vaccinate their pets accordingly. In general, core vaccinations cost around $22 to $47 or more depending on the type. Coggins testing, a requirement for traveling, cost $37 to $87 depending on urgency. You may also have to pay for a health certificate for about $40 and microchipping for around $60 or less.
Vaccine Cost: $22 to $47 or more
Deworming is also critical for your horse’s health because even if parasites are naturally part of your pet’s intestine, and some are beneficial, others can be fatal. The most common parasites are bloodworms, tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms, and bots. Suppose your horse is experiencing loss of appetite, colic, fever, anemia, sudden weight loss, and other infection symptoms. In that case, you need to consult a vet to have a proper diagnosis through a fecal exam to determine the type of worm that has caused the illness and the appropriate treatment. Deworming every three months may cost $0.20 per day or more.
Your equine will have a hard time eating if its mouth hurts, so getting your horse’s teeth checked annually is essential to help it stay useful as it grows older. Serious health issues like tooth abscesses or cancer can also be spotted earlier if it has a regular dentist checkup. Most horses also need to get their teeth corrected and floated yearly or every six months. You may have to pay around $80 to $250 a year to the dentist, but it can save you some money in the long run.
Dental cost: $80 to $250 per year
Horses with long, flowing mane and tail hair like Friesians need regular grooming to look neat and beautiful, and it can cost you around $10 to $125 or more, depending on the services provided.
Grooming Cost: $10 to $125
Regular farrier visits are also a must for horses because their hooves need proper trims to prevent abnormal hoof balance and other hoof health issues that can lead to collapsed heels and arthritis. According to Wilson, “Maintaining balanced, healthy hooves is like keeping your vehicle tires in great condition.” Prices can vary depending on the horse’s lifestyle, type of shoe, and other additional farrier services. Hoof trimming costs around $30 to $75 per visit while shoeing costs $75-300. For corrective shoeing, you can expect to pay more as it requires additional care and work.
Total Farrier Cost: $105-375 every 6 to 8 weeks
Tack and Equipment
When riding your horse, you need tack and equipment to make you and your horse more comfortable, thus requiring you to invest more. A bridle and tack can cost around $100 and up while a saddle and saddle pads cost $3,000 and $75. Your horse also needs a blanket to keep it warm during cold seasons, costing $140 to $600. Your horse may also need more than one blanket design to adapt to different environmental conditions. Thus you may need to spend more than what you initially expected.
According to Krishona Martinson, Ph.D., an equine specialist at the University of Minnesota, a horse weighing 1,000 pounds excretes 50 pounds of manure and urine each day. And these manures need to be disposed of properly. There are many ways to do so. Some owners choose to invest in a compost bin to convert it into fertilizer and on the fields. Others opt for dumpsters costing around $55 to $238 per load, depending on the size. Another option for horse owners is to hire a hauling company to remove the manure off-site once or twice a year, which might demand $100-300 per horse per year.
Manure Removal Cost: $55 to $300 per year
Your horse is an investment, and it is undoubtedly valuable. Thus, it’s a smart choice to get insurance. It provides financial relief since it can cover costs associated with illness, injuries, and even mortality. The horse’s breed, age, specialty, and sale value influence annual insurance policy cost, but it is typically 2.9 to 4.5 percent of the horse’s value.
Licensing and Registration
Getting your horse registered for competitions like dressage, racing, and other equine events would require you to pay a certain amount. A dressage horse registration, for example, can cost around $35.
Cost: $35 or more
Truth be told, owning a horse is really costly. And unless you’re ready to spend $3,876 or more annually for 25 or more years, you’re probably not ready for this lifetime commitment. But, if this amount fits in your budget then, go ahead and live your dream. If not, why not check out other options that can satiate your desire like joining horseback riding lessons and horse camps? These options are less expensive, but they offer fun riding experience and adventure without breaking the bank.