Horse Cost Calculators
It is worth noting that the cost of keeping the average horse (over 10 years) is generally more than 10 times the cost of buying the horse. Consequently, when considering if one can afford a horse, the question should be 'Can I afford to keep it?', rather than 'Can I afford to buy it?'. The following table summarises the typical costs, with explanations after the table. As costs vary depending on circumstances, see the horse cost calculators above to determine what a horse would actually cost you.
|Item||Typical Monthly Cost||Notes|
|Professional Stabling||$200-$600||Price depends mainly on location, but within given area will vary. If you self-stable, then you do not need to pay these costs.|
|Self-Stabling||The following 3 costs are applicable only if you put the horse in your own stable. If you use a professional stable, then the following is normally included in the monthly fee.|
||$30||Cost of straw bedding. Special horse bedding is generally more expensive.|
||$30||If you have lots of grassland reduce this amount. If you have a small amount of grass or your horse needs special food, increase it.|
|Insurance||$0-$40||Not essential, but may be worthwhile (especially if you want protection from major vet bills).|
|Farrier||$15||Cost of basic care. If you need irons (e.g. ride out a lot on hard surfaces), double this amount.|
||$5||Costs in USA, double this if you live in Europe|
||$25||Some years will be zero. However, one serious issue of colic can cost thousands of dollars (unless you are covered under a good insurance policy.Averaged over all our horses, we allow for $25 per month (and we treat minor injuries and illnesses ourselves).|
|Saddle & Tack||$20||A good new saddle costs about $2000, although you can get a good used one (if you don't mind the cosmetic damage) for about $500. Allow about $500 for rugs, briddle, leads and so on. Items wear out so need to be repaired or replaced, so these are not one-off costs. Also, your horse can change shape as it ages so a saddle is seldom good for the lifetime of the horse. Allo $20 per month.|
|Consumeables||$10||These depend a lot on how you use your horse, whether you have a fly problem and so on. See below.|
|Other||$0-$200||Training, showing and so on. See below for details.|
|Total Monthly||$170 to $935|
|Total Yearly||$2040 to $11220||As an example, if you pay $3000 for a horse, it will probably cost you more each year you keep it than it cost you to buy it. So, before committing to a horse, make sure you can afford to support it.|
|Over 10 years||$20, 400 to $112,200||As an example, if you pay $3000 for a horse, the costs of keeping the horse over 10 years is 7 to 37 times the cost of buying it.|
It should be noted that the above is typical costs only. A minority of horse owners pay much more or much less than this. For example, if your horse is competiting at international standard it will likely be far more expensive (e.g. large fees for transport, training, speciality food, physio-thearpy, and so on). At the other end are owners which leave their horses on the field (no need to buy bedding) and are blessed with lots of quality pasture (no need to buy food). Consequently, the various costs need to be closely examined in light of what you are using the horse for, how you are keeping it, and what local costs for various items are.
The cost of stabling varies from about $200 per month to about $1000 per month depending mainly on location (stables near towns or cities are much more expensive) and on what is included. If you stable the horse yourself, you do not need to pay stable costs but will need to pay bedding and food costs (see below).
Many stable managers offer the option of 'livery' or 'field rent'', where your horse is kept on a field rather than in a stall. This is far cheaper than keeping the horse in a stall as the materials costs (e.g. bedding) are much lower, as is the labour (e.g. mucking out). A third option is to have the horse on a field during the good weather months (thereby reducing costs), and in a stall during the winter months (thereby providing shelter from harsh weather).
The most common form of bedding is straw, which costs about $1 per day. If you buy it in large bales (e.g. 200 kg or 500 pounds) it can be half or less the price of small bales (e.g. 12kg or 25 pounds). For a comparison of bedding performance and costs, click on bedding comparison.
Most horses require about 3% of their bodyweight in food each day. For example, a 500kg horse needs about 15kg of food per day. This varies depending on the type of horse and the amount of exercise it gets.
If your horse is on grassland most of the day, it may not need any additional food (unless the grassland is completely eaten down). Horses which are in their stalls most of the day will require hay or other supplemental food. Depending on your region, hay in large bales costs about $0.10 per kg (so $1.50 per day per horse). Many regions are more expensive than this and hay in small bales, while more convienent, is also more expensive per kilogram.
In certain cases, hay is not an adequate food, and more expensive alternatives are required. For example, old horses often have dental issues, which prevent them from eating sufficient amounts of grass or hay. They require supplemental foods (e.g. grain or musli) which can give then additional energy (calories) with minimal chewing. Horses used for sport are also often fed grain or musli, largely to give them a trimer figure (a horse fed only on grass or hay has an enlarged abdomen to accomodate the large amount of fiber and longer digestive period).
Salt, Minerals, Water, Electricity
Most horses benefit from access to sale and minerals. Water is required not only for drinking, but also if one washs down horses or stables periodically. In addition, electricity for lights, when cleaning out stables on dark winter days. However, these items are relatively minor costs.
In some countries, you are legally required to insure your horse (in case of injury to other people or damage to property). You may wish to insure your horse for veternairy costs, loss of use, death or theft, or accidental injury to yourself. The cost of such insurance will depend on the level of insurance and individual circumstances, but for basic cover one should allow $40 per month. For guidance, click on horse insurance.
Farrier and Worming
A horse's feet normally need to be trimmed about once every two months, which costs about $30 per time. If he is wearing irons, they will need to be removed and the horse reshod at the same time, which costs about $30 additional.
Horses should be wormed periodically, with most veternarians recommending 3-4 times per year. You can do this yourself, but will need to purchase the medication to inject into the horse's mouth. In the USA, this costs about less than $10 per time, whereas in Europe the medications are about four times as expensive. If you live in Europe and take a trip to the USA, you can save a lot of money by bringing back your maximum allowance.
Vacinations and Veternairy costs
If you show your horse or compete, the horse organisations involved normally require that the horse is vacinated against the common contagious diseases. In addition, to protect your horse, there are a set of mimimum innoculations (e.g. Tetanus) which your local veterinarian can advise you on.
In the event of injury or illness, there may be substantial additional costs. For example, a horse with colic which requires treatment at a horse clinic can cost between $1000 and $5000 (depending on how severe the colic is and whether surgery is required). Depending on the specific circumstances, your horse insurance policy may cover some or all of the costs. Consequently, even if you are insured, one should budget for unexpected additional medical costs.
A horse should have its teeth checked by an equine dentist each year, and any required work done. Usually, the only work is required is filling down of spurs or sharp edges, which costs around $100 in total.
Saddle, Tack, Rugs
A good saddle costs about $2000, with additional costs for tack and rugs. However, these are not one-off costs, since both tack and rugs can wear out with use, requiring repair or replacement. Furthermore, over the lifetime of a horse, its size and shape changes, requiring saddle changes. Although the old saddle can be used as part-payment for a new one, there is a cost involved in changing saddles.
You may wish to purchase a fly sheet and/or a fly hood to protect your horse from biting insects. Also, a fly hood will help protect the eyes from flies which not only annoy the horse but can transmit bacteria to the eyes of the horse. Cost about $150. Depending on manufacturer, your horse and luck, some people find that these last multiple years and others a season or less.
Insect sprays to protect your horse. Also, it is hard to ride a horse which is fighting with flies so will likely need insect spays for summer rides and training.
Particularily with older horses, a rain jacket and a warming jacket may be required.
Medical supplies for treating of minor horse injuries: disinfectant, sprays, bandages and wrappings
Riding clothes for yourself.
The above covers the basic costs of keeping a horse. Some additional potential costs include:
- Training. If you decide on additional training for yourself or your horse, the costs can be substantial, depending on the amount of training desired.
- Showing. Many exhibitors purchase fancy saddle and tack for the horse, and exhibition clothing for themselves. In addition, you will need to borrow or rent a trailer (if you exhibit infrequently), or even buy one if you exhibit frequently.
- Vet costs. This is a big unknown. We have one horse (aged 24) which has had almost zero veternairy costs in its entire life. Another which costs about $1000 per year in general illnesses. Another which got colic two months after we got it (cost $3000; if we had arrived at the clinic 6 hours later it would have needed major surgery and would have been $8000) and has never been sick since. Averaged over our 10 horses, we allow for about $300 per horse per year. Some years it is much more, some less.
- Maintenance Fencing and Pastures. If you keep your horses on your own land (as opposed to stabling them with a professional stable), one needs to consider the time and money required to maintain your fencing and pastures. Some years you will only need minor maintenance for fencing (e.g. repair the occassional brooken wire, straighten occassional fence post). However, other years more substantial work may be required, and eventually fence posts rot and need to be replaced. If one takes the total cost of replacing all the fencing and divides it by the number of years the fencing is good for, one has an idea of the annual cost (for us it is about $200 per horse per year). Likewise, pastures should be cleaned and replanted periodically to ensure that weeds do not eventually take over.