Ballpark Estimate: $3,000 to $8,000 for a horse; $1,000 per month food, care, and boarding
Some of the best things in life are free, while others can certainly come at a hefty cost. Few can deny the magnificent beauty and power of a horse, but fewer still can actually afford to call one their own. Horse ownership can bring you much enjoyment, but it also requires a large investment in the purchase, care, feeding, and boarding of the animal. If you’re worried about the commitment involved, it may help you to know that many horse owners feel that despite the high cost, it is well worth it when they consider the enjoyment they get in return.
Try Before You Buy
Horse ownership is a long-term commitment, and you’ll have to be prepared for the responsibility. Therefore, some horse riding instructors recommend that you get your feet wet before you jump right in. For instance, you may want to take horseback riding lessons so you will be comfortable riding and handling basic horsemanship responsibilities before you invest in the cost of a horse. You might also consider leasing a horse to see what’s involved in the care and grooming before you buy your own.
You can also join a horse club or association, such as the United States Equestrian Federation or the United Professional Horsemans Association, and network with the other members to find out more about the trials and tribulations of horse ownership and get some advice on where to buy a horse and what kind of horse will suit your interests. If there’s a specific horse breed you are considering, you can also join a local or national association dedicated to that specific type, such as the American Quarter Horse Association.
Are You Prepared?
Keep in mind that with a goldfish, a hamster, or even a cat, you can let your instinct be guide you on picking an animal that looks good, has the coloring you like or just “feels” right. While you can take such risks with these types of pets, with the purchase of a horse, you need to choose with careful inspection and research. Therefore, when you decide to invest in the cost of a horse, it’s of the utmost importance to make sure that the horse is in good health and will be a good fit for your riding ability, taste, and personality.
How to Find
To find a horse, you can look in the newspaper for horses for sale or check in tack and feed stores for ads provided by customers. You can also do a search online for horses for sale in your area. There are a number of equestrian websites that have classified ads of private horse sales. These include Equine.com, HorseFinders, Horsetopia, Horseville, and DreamHorse.
You might consider purchasing a horse through an auction. This can make it easy to focus your search on a specific horse breed, but with this method you won’t have the time to research the horse’s history as you do with a private sale.
The price for a horse can span a wide range, depending on a number of variables. The type of horse you select, its breeding, age, size, and ability are all factors that will affect the amount you can expect to pay. In addition, whether you plan to use the horse to ride trails, or whether you want one that will do well in horse competitions can also impact the purchase price a great deal. Remember that the cost of a horse is just the tip of the iceberg in what you’ll need to budget for this expense. Horse ownership involves many levels of care and most of them can add up quite quickly, so before you take the plunge, you need to be prepared.
Boarding Your Horse
If you live on a farm, you may be able to keep your horse on your own land. However, most people will need to find a barn that will let you pay to house your horse either in a stall or pasture. This can require you to go several times a day to feed the animal and clean out the stall.
Another option, if it is in your budget, is a full-service barn arrangement that will handle all of the chores including feeding your horse, cleaning up after him, exercising him regularly, and overseeing regular grooming and health care responsibilities.
You should also be aware that if you do decide to keep your horse at home, while you will save on the cost of boarding him, you’ll still need to be prepared for some upkeep costs. For instance, you will need to keep your land in good condition, which includes maintaining your fencing regularly and keeping your pasture in good shape. In addition, you will still need to cover the costs of food, grooming, and health care for the horse.
If you decide you want to have your horse boarded, you can compare barns to determine what seems like a good fit. Be sure to ask what your responsibility will be and what the barn will be willing to handle. The price will vary depending on the size of the horse stall. They usually measure 8 x8 feet or 12 x 12 feet. You’ll also need to know if food and hay are included in the price. Other extras that can add up quickly if they aren’t included in your boarding fee include use of the horse trailer, tack, saddle, other riding supplies, and veterinary costs.
What you spend on your horse will depend on the breed you desire. Some horse breeds are well suited for trail riding and recreational use, while others are a good choice for showing, jumping, racing, or engaging in equestrian events. Horses with certain pedigrees are better suited for the latter categories, and will typically be more expensive. In addition, the more training that a horse has received, the more expensive he will be.
Cost for a Horse
When deciding if you want to own a horse, the first expense to consider is the horse’s purchase price. On the less expensive end, you can consider a Quarter Horse, which is a good choice for recreational horse riding. These cost about $1,000 and can increase in price to about $5,000 or more, depending on how old the horse is and how much training he has received. (Many horse owners recommend looking for a horse that’s about 10-15 years old, since this will be more affordable than a younger horse and may also be easier to control. Since horses live to be 25 to 30 years on average, this should give you many years to enjoy your animal.)
If you plan to show your horse or ride competitively, you might consider a more expensive breed, such as a Thoroughbred horse. These cost from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on what you get. You can also find many horse breeds that fall somewhere in between the high and low extremes.
The price to buy a horse can range from $1,000 to $10,000, with most people spending somewhere in the lower to middle of the range.
Hay, oats and grain for your horse will cost $30 to $50 every month.
The most economical option (barring keeping the horse on your own property) is a price of $50 a month for space in a pasture where your horse can stay. If you prefer for your horse to live in a barn stall, this can cost from $100 to $1,000 a month, depending on what type of feeding and care is included.
Necessary vaccines, horseshoes, hoof trimming, and dental care can also add up. For instance, that can cost another $300 annually on routine medical and dental care, while farrier service (setting and caring for your horse’s hoofs and horse shoes) can quickly add up to another a cost of $400 a year or more.
The cost for horse equipment, such as a saddle, bride, horse blanket, grooming supplies and anything else you need to ride your horse can cost and additional $1,000 to $3,000 or more. The good news is that you don’t have to invest in these items annually. If you purchase good quality tack and equipment, they can last you for several years or longer.
You can expect a cost of $40 and $100 an hour on private riding lessons. Expect to take at least one horse lesson per week.
To give you an example of an average cost of a horse, assume that it will cost $5,000 to purchase your horse and it will cost another $2,000 for horse clothing and equipment. This would mean your up front cost would be about >$7,000. Then assume that the other, ongoing horse care costs can be $500 per month for food and boarding ($6,000 a year), $100 a month for medical and dental care and farrier service ($1,200 a year), and $300 a month on riding lessons. ($3,600) Over the course of the year, this can add up to a price of almost $1,000 a month, or close to a cost $12,000 a year to own a horse. This total does not account for illness or other unexpected expenses that can pop up.
Less Expensive Option
If you simply can’t come up with the money necessary to purchase your very own horse, but you can’t relinquish the dream of owning a horse, you can search for other alternatives. Some senior citizens or people moving to new locations might be seeking a good home for their older horse and will give him to you at no charge. This can be a great approach, but it’s important to remember that while you won’t need to pay up front, you will still need to budget for the monthly expenses. In addition, older horses can begin to accrue high medical bills, so you need to be prepared for this as well. Expect that it will cost $200 to $300 for each basic veterinary visit your horse requires. Any complicated illness or treatment needs can become very expensive. But if you can plan ahead for these expenses, you can relax and enjoy the many benefits of horse ownership.