If you are thinking of buying a horse, be aware that the cost of purchasing your horse may be the least expensive item in your horse budget. Read on to investigate the other “hidden” costs involved and make a horse budget so that you can ride without the stress of an economic monkey on your back.
Your initial investment may be in the horse itself. Although prices vary depending on the age, training, and quality of the horse, the typical cost of a decent show horse is about $20,000.
I hope your mouth isn’t gaping yet, because that’s the least of it. Other costs you will incur include recurring charges that quickly add up.
Your horse will need to live somewhere, and your basement or garage isn’t the place. You have a couple choices: either you can build your own barn and work yourself to death caring for it and your horse, or you can board your horse at a stable.
At first it may seem less expensive to put the horse in your backyard. It could be true, but you will have expenses of a barn (building, maintainence, repair), food, fencing, bedding, and so on. In addition, you will be responsible for mucking the stalls, feeding, turning the horses out, etc. It can be an awful amount of work. I don’t know about you, but although my intentions would be good, after a while mucking out stalls every day would not be appealing.
In my opinion, the better option is boarding at a reputable full-care stale. Firstly, they will take care of your horse – and do all the dirty work. Secondly, there are trainers, equipment, and people around in case of an emergency. It’s also a social atmosphere where you can meet people with the same interest as you.
Boarding can be expensive. In my area boarding runs $350 to $450 per month. You may be able to find less expensive boarding in your area (or it could be more). I’ve seen boarding as inexpensive as $250 per month, but the quality of the stables was questionable.
Thankfully the most expensive tack is a one time investment. If you choose a quality saddle, for example, with regular cleaning, conditioning, and care, it can last you a lifetime.
Saddles range from as little as fifty dollars all the way up to thousands of dollars. Western saddles are more expensive, on average, than English saddles. A good quality English saddle will cost about $1,500 to $2,000. For Western, you may be paying double.
One way to reduce the costs of owning a saddle is to buy one used. For example, I recently purchased a Hermes Steinkraus (Close Contact) saddle which would cost $3,800 new for $1,500 on a net auction site. It is in excellent condition, and properly broken in already!
Other tack includes items such as bridles, halters, lead lines, boots for your horse, grooming equipment, stirrups, girths, bits, blankets, etc . . . These items may not last as long as your properly cared for saddle, and may need replacing every 2 or 3 years. Expect to pay at least $1,500 for all of these items. If you show your horse, plan on even more.
Riding clothes for yourself can add up as well. A helmet is an absolute necessity. Expect to pay between $50 and $75 for a safe one.
Other highly recommended items include: Chaps ($125), Boots ($100), Crop ($15), and Gloves ($20).
If you are planning to show, you will need show clothes. For english riders this includes breeches ($100), spurs ($25), show shirt and tie ($100), show jacket ($300), “tall” boots ($300). Western riders have similarly priced outfits.
Other items you don’t want to forget about are jeans, t-shirts, socks, and lots of towels for all of the showers you will be taking after being at the barn.
You can easily spend about $1,000 on clothing. If you are like me, you can spend even more!
Another recurring charge is shoeing your horse. Unless your horse has an easy life filled with green pastures, and no riders, you will need to shoe your horse every 4 to 6 weeks.
You definitely do not want to neglect this service to your horse, especially if you ride! Without proper shoeing, your horse may become lame.
A farrier will probably cost you about $125 for each visit, although this could run higher if your horse has special needs.
Having a Vetrinarian is absolutely essential. At the minimum, your horse should have a check-up and his teeth floated (filed down . . . unlike our teeth, they grow) once per year.
Other regular vetrinary costs include worming, and immunizations.
Obviously, like with humans, horses are prey to injury and sickness without warning. Costs for vetrinary care in such a case is difficult to put a figure on. To prevent astronomical medical costs, you may wish to get health insurance for your horse from special insurance agencies.
“Typical” Vetrinary Costs per year: $500.
It is absolutely essential that you have lessons prior to owning a horse, and highly recommended that you continue them after owning your horse. You may also wish to purchase educational items such as books or videos, or attend seminars.
Your horse may need to have training as well. Young, typically inexpensive horses will need training from a qualified professional.
Estimate educational expenses at around $250 per month.
Horses certainly can be expensive. Let’s tally-up our estimated costs of ownership: One-Time Fees
- Horse: $20,000
- Tack (initial investment): $3,000.
- Clothes(initial investment): $1,000.
Total Estimated Initial Investment:$24,000.
Yearly Recurring Charges
- Boarding: $5,400
- Medical: $500
- Shoeing: $1,500
- Education: $3,000
- Tack & Clothing (replacing items): $400
- Misc.: $400
Total Estimated Recurring Yearly Charges:$11,200.
The recurring horse-related charges can definitely cost more than the horse! Thankfully, there are ways to lessen your expenses without skimping on quality. For example, try to find used items in good repair instead of buying new ones. This is one method I use, and it has served me well.
Another method I employ is shopping on the Internet. You have the opportunity to compare prices from stores all over the world.