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Cost of Owning a Horse

Updated on January 6, 2012
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

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.


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    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 5 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Ronnie, that was funny. Leave it to your horse to put you in your place!

    • profile image

      R. J. Lefebvre 5 years ago


      I enjoyed your hub. When I was in the USAF in Torejon, Spain in the early 1960's, my friends and I use to ride horeses as a joyable past time. We used to visit farmers for a little chat and a drink of water. One time while out in the country (remote, no one around) my friend was a couple of a hundred feet relieving himself, I decided to race my horse so he would have to catch up on me. Ha ha, My horse stopped dead in its track when it came abrest to my friends horse with me landing sitting on the ground in front of my horse.


    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

      This brought a lot of memories back when I had my horse Abbey and shetland pony Dee - they were the best of friends and I miss them.

      They are a big expense to keep, especially adding the cost of the blacksmith, worming treatments and annual vaccinations. Worth it though. Thanks for the hub and the lovely memories I have of both my "girls."

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 5 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • dare2baware profile image

      dare2baware 5 years ago from UK

      I had a horse for 10 years. He was totally over priced at £2000, but I saw him, he neighed at me and he was the one I WANTED. He was very head shy. Mistreated by the riding school. Not loved by his owner. Him and I 'clicked' as soon as we saw each other.

      The buying is the easy bit. The keep is the harder bit. In those days we had little money. I was raising 5 children and my husband was working, working, working. But as I said, I WANTED this horse.

      My horse MAX came with tack which was NO good. It was 'ill-fitting', so after turning him away for three months we bought everything new of a professional saddle fitter. His bridle we had made to measure. Max deserved it all, after the life he had. He had more hay, more blankets and love than any other horse I know to this day. He enjoyed his beer and raw, organic eggs weekly and bags and bags of carrots. He was holistically treated until the day my daughter wanted to join the show jumping and he had to show a vaccination passport. So against my knowledge we had him vaccinated. 2 hours later he colicked and had to be put down 2 weeks after. I spare you the horrible details. He never recovered and we couldn't hang on to him any longer. It would have been cruel. Our vet bill came to £5500 followed by a cremation and collecting the ashes (which are in my conservatory in a wooden box with a lamp on top ;-). The cremation costs where £600 some 7 years ago.

      Apart from the emotional pain we suffered, I would have had another horse. But I must say that my love for Max has not allowed any space for 'replacement'.... I have never seen a horse since I 'clicked' with.

      My daughter and me shared Max. I rode along the beach every morning, my daughter did the schooling, mucking out etc. she was NEVER at home. I remember when she was full of flu one xmas and she insisted to muck out and clean Max even though she was running a high temperature. IT is a VERY committed, TIMELY and responsible task to look after a horse. BUT very rewarding.

      PS. Personally I think it is a brilliant idea for a child to care for a horse and face the responsibilities it brings with it.

      Thank you for sharing your article. It brought back fond memories of my unconditional, much loved and missed 'friend'. ;-)