Can You Afford a Horse?

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Purchase Price

There are many factors that affect the price of a horse, including:

  • The age, breed, sex and size of the horse
  • The seller’s reputation; whether they’ll be financing the purchase or accepting payments With that being said, it’s important to consider how much you’d realistically be willing to spend. Furthermore, you may want to research the current market conditions for horses in your area. For example, if there aren’t many horses for sale locally, you may need to reconsider just how much money you’re ready to invest. Or perhaps you could travel out of town in order to find a more desirable horse.

A Good Barn

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Boarding cost is highly variable depending on the location and quality of the stable.

Nationally, boarding in a private barn runs from $500 to $1,500 a month. For a group stall, expect to pay $200 to $800 per month. The best way to find out what it will cost where you live is to call some stables in the area and ask how much they charge for full or partial board (full board means they feed your horse as well). However, keep in mind that up-front costs for building your own paddock can make boarding more expensive over time than buying land and building a barn on it.


Feeding is a critical aspect of horse care, and it’s also where you’ll spend most of your money. Horses need to eat hay or grass so they can get the right amount of nutrients in their diet. The amount of food they need will differ depending on their size, age, and activity level. As a rule of thumb, a healthy adult horse requires at least 2% of his body weight in food every day. That’s 14 pounds for every 100 pounds your horse weighs! A 1,100-pound horse would require more than 20 pounds per day!


Next up is the farrier.

Think of a farrier as a dentist for your horse. If you’re going to be riding, your horse will need to have his feet trimmed regularly to keep him sound and healthy. The cost varies from area to area, and depends on several factors such as weather conditions and whether or not the horse is shod (has shoes).

A barefoot horse that’s ridden lightly might only need trims every 4-6 weeks. A performance horse that’s ridden heavily might need trims every two weeks, or more often if the shoes wear quickly.

Vet Expenses

Vet Expenses

At a minimum, you can expect to spend around $200 per visit on your horse’s health. This might include yearly checkups, vaccinations, and tests that are needed throughout the year. However, you should always count on unplanned vet visits to be more expensive than planned ones. Therefore, it is always a good idea to set money aside for emergencies as well as regular care.

Insurance and Liability Issues

A key item to consider before diving into the world of horse ownership is insurance. Unless you are a billionaire, I’m sure you will want to protect both your horse’s life and your wallet. Insuring a horse can be expensive, but it is an important step in being able to truly afford a horse. There are two main types of insurance for you and your horse: mortality/major medical insurance and liability coverage.

Mortality/Major Medical Insurance

This type of equine insurance will cover veterinary expenses if your horse gets sick or injured. This is the kind of coverage that can literally save a horse’s life. The cost of this type of coverage depends on age, breed and discipline history; however, the average cost is $1 per day per $1,000 worth of coverage (source). It provides peace-of-mind that should anything happen to your animal, he will have access to the finest medical care available at whatever price.

Liability Coverage

Liability Insurance provides protection if you or someone associated with you injures another person or damages their property while handling or riding your horse (source). If something happens while riding a friend’s horse, some policies will provide secondary liability coverage for these events as well (source). The average cost ranges from $100-$300 annually (source).

Equipment and Other Accessories

Equipment and Other Accessories

Even if you have a cheaper horse that doesn’t need to be competed, there is still a wide range of accoutrements, equipment, and gear that you will need. Some of these are essential for the safety of both your horse and yourself whereas others are more dependent on what kind of riding you do. So, before making your final decision as to whether you can afford a horse or not it is important to make sure that you consider these additional costs:

Saddles, bridles, halters and lead ropes

Horses are controlled by being directed through pressure points in the mouth (bridle) and around the girth (saddle), so even if you don’t compete your horse they will still require at least a bridle, saddle pad and either a saddle or a surcingle. These items get used frequently which means that they can become worn out or broken quickly – especially when riding in poor weather conditions. Halters and lead ropes are also essential for catching your horse safely out into the field. Your horse may also require additional bits depending on how much work it does or how sensitive its mouth is; horses with small mouths often benefit from having two different sized bits for wetter days when their mouths swell slightly!

If you want to own a horse, be prepared for the financial commitment that comes with it.

“Horses aren’t cheap.” That’s what my husband said when I raised the topic of buying a horse for Christmas one year. “But, my dear,” he continued, “they’re worth it, and you don’t want to underestimate the value of having one around.”

I try not to take his words as gospel; I think he was just being sweet and trying to console me for giving him yet another reason to be stressed about money. But that’s why I asked him this question: how much does a horse cost?

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