Cost of Owning a Horse
Your Child Wants a Horse
It depends. That is the answer you’re likely to get when you ask, “how much does a horse cost?” That is because there are a lot of variables that determine the value of a horse, and the on-going expenses of keeping a horse.
The purchase price of a horse depends on its training, breed, age and who is selling. Generally a horse that is well trained, a registered purebred, young and being sold by a trainer or breeder will be more expensive than a retired show horse, grade (cross-bred) horse or one that is in its late teens or older being sold by the owner. A very young horse might be lower priced, but will not be a good choice for a child because it will lack training and experience.
With all this in mind an appropriate horse for a child can cost $2,000 or more. Ponies are not necessarily cheaper because they are smaller. A good pony can cost as much or more than a horse.
In Addition to the Price of the Horse
Tack, which includes a saddle and bridle, is the largest expense after buying the horse or pony. Used saddles can be a very good investment. Many saddle shops sell used equipment that children have outgrown. Again, solicit the help of an experienced horse person. Have them inspect the saddle to be sure it is in good repair. This helper can also determine if the saddle fits the rider and the horse. Always ask if you can take the saddle on a try-out. You can often find a high quality used saddle for half the cost of a new one. A saddle can last a very long time if they are kept clean and conditioned.
The cost of feeding and housing a horse depends on whether you’ll board it or keep it at home. The minimum requirements for good horse-keeping is a shelter from the wind and space to exercise. The shelter can be as simple as a three-sided run in shed, or as elaborate as a closed in barn with fans and automatic fly control systems. The ideal space requirement is two acres per horse. Barbed wire fences are a big no-no. Board fences are the most desirable, and the most expensive. Electric fencing materials are less costly and very effective unless the horse gets frightened enough to ignore and run through it.
Good quality horse feed ranges from $6.00 per bag to $14.00 in most areas. Hay is also variable in cost depending on species and where you live, ranging from $3.00 to 8.00 per bale. If the horse will be stalled bedding will add to the daily cost.
Boarding your horse is a good choice for the first time horse owner. It gives you time to learn horse management, saves time, and can sometimes be less expensive in the long run. Full board means the stable owner provides the feed, hay and labor of caring for your horse. It is most expensive, ranging from $250 and up depending again on where you live, and the stable. Partial board can mean you are renting a stall or pasture and providing your own feed, and/or labor or some variation short of full board. Add training and instruction to these basics and the annual cost can double. The bottom line of annual horse care ranges from $1,500 to $5,000.