Yearly Cost of Owning a Horse

Working in the horse business, I often get asked how much a good horse costs. Unfortunately, the question is almost always along the lines of, ‘how much to buy’ rather than ‘how much to keep.’ The sad truth is that far too many people are buying horses and then finding that they cannot afford to keep them.

This ignorance is in part the fault of individuals working in the horse business as breeders, dealers or trainers. After all, if a potential client is unsure if they can afford to buy a horse, telling them that owning it is even more expensive is a good way to lose the potential sale. Of course, some sellers are honest enough to explain this, but far from all.

If you know someone looking to buy a horse, you can do them a big favor by letting them know the financial implications in advance. Of course, it is hard to quote an accurate number as costs vary from $200 to $325 per month according to a study done by the University of Maine. Prices are about $2,419 to $3,876 annual expenditure per horse. However, here are some tips on how to do a rough calculation.

First of all, ask if the horse will be stabled with someone else or will be stabled with them. If stabled with someone else, then phone around to see the monthly costs of stabling (including bedding, food, and labor) as this will be the main monthly expense. Depending on where one lives, regularly stabling can be as little as $150/month or over $1000/month. In general, the urbaner the area is, the more expensive stabling is.

Trimming and shoeing are also important for your horse. About every 6 to 8 weeks, the horse’s hooves need to be trimmed, which costs between $75 and $125 each time. These maintenance bills amount to roughly $350 per year. Corrective shoeing, which costs even higher, may sometimes be required. Trimming and shoeing are also important as it will keep your horse sound.

You will have to spend for veterinary care, even if your horse is not sick. Veterinary cost is rather nominal, $30 bucks or so for routine care. Additional fees include vaccinations twice a year, de-worming every six to eight weeks, and having your horse’s teeth floated once a year. All in all, a typical, normal, healthy horse will cost about $500 per year.

A saddle is also necessary because it prevents your horse from having back sores. Find the saddle that best suit you or your child and your horse. Buying a brand new saddle is not necessary and not recommended. Aside from a saddle, you might also want to purchase a bridle, saddle pad and bits, which can cost below $750.

You will need grooming equipment and tacks such as brushes, shampoo, fly spray, ointments for small injuries, leg wraps, hoof picks, blankets, and other linens. If you do not want to haul these grooming supplies out to the barn each time, you can purchase a tack trunk. It is strongly recommended that you ask the professional in the barn for help in getting these things. Upon asking the professional, he or she can provide you with information on where to get cheaper products.

None of this is intended to discourage one from buying a horse. Instead, it is to help one understand the financial commitment involved with owning and keeping a horse so that one can prepare for it.

3 Signs That You Are Ready to Breed Your Mare

Have you sat down recently and had a long hard think about your new and upcoming horse-breeding business, and whether or not it is worth it to begin breeding the equines, as opposed to running a different sort of equestrian business? Have you been debating with yourself, trying to decide whether or not it is a right decision for you to begin the process which ultimately ends in you breeding your beloved mare?

Do not worry. A lot of other breeders, whether or not they are already successful, profitable, and established breeders, have either encountered this problem and resolved it already or are going to meet it soon. You are not alone, and you should never forget that. Breeding a horse, especially a stallion or other form of a thoroughbred horse, is a huge and sometimes unattainable decision that we must all make when we are in the equine ‘business.’

1. The ‘Due Process’
Before you begin to breed your mare, you need to have a significant amount of capital saved up and ready to go. It is important not to use all of your spending money and savings as well as your 401k when it comes to business, and especially the equestrian business. Breeding horses is a sometimes unsustainable, at times profitable and most often extremely volatile business. It is somewhat comparable to a ‘stock in the sense that you can hit a home run ‘over the green monster’ or seriously dig yourself into a hole that you will never be able to get yourself out of.

A lot of veterinary issues will arise with the mare, the foal, and the female. If you are caught off guard with these insane medical expenses, which you undoubtedly will be if you decide to become a horse breed, then you need to have some form of a ‘financial parachute’ that you can and will be able to deploy at any time.

2. You Have People Or Hired Employees To Help You
This tip is important. You can not and will never be able to do it all yourself; maintaining your facility, and the horses themselves, is a lot of work. You will undoubtedly fail if you attempt to do it all on your own. You will need to have the help of family, friends, or better yet, employees.

When you do decide to breed a mare for the first time, it is good to have a skilled set of veterinarians and friends to help you. You will need to procure for yourself a qualified vet, and also have a trainer as well as a friend or two who has a lot of experience in breeding, so that they may assist you along in the process.

3. Make Sure You Do Your Research
You will undoubtedly need to shove your nose in some books (unless you fancy Google for those kinds of things, that is) if you are planning on breeding a mare or a stallion of some sort. Not only is a full understanding of what foaling and breeding are required, but also you will need to know what kind of foal to raise, how to raise it, and when to do it.

4. Final Thoughts
It is a challenging path to delve down into, breeding horses is. Unless you have passion, time, friends and family, coworkers and employees, a large sum of capital (money, that is to say) and a lot of drive, then you will end up failing. Not only this, but you will find yourself in a depressing hole with tens, nay hundreds, of thousands of dollars wasted away, due to your lack of knowledge and your unwillingness to fix the issues that will undoubtedly arrive.



Essential Equipment For a Small Horse Ranch?

If you have the space for it and are inclined to own horses, then you have for sure asked yourself this question: what is the essential equipment for a small horse ranch? Before you even get a horse, you will have undoubtedly thought of the things you will need to care for that horse. For ranchers, most of the things you would need to start and successfully care for a horse is already available on the farm. Things like pitchforks, shovels, and wheelbarrows that are typically used to clean after the horse/s are just the same as the ones you would normally use on a day to day basis on the farm.

Speciality items
There are, however, some specialty items that you will need to pick up. These may include things like the tack for driving or riding your horse, the brushes you use and so on. Some items like water troughs or feeding buckets can be repurposed from old barrels or buckets around the farm. It is important to note that, if you do decide to repurpose these items instead of buying new ones, ensure that they aren’t items that had toxic materials in them and that they are cleaned thoroughly before allowing your horses to use them. Also, make sure that they do not have any sharp ages.

What not to buy first
There are some things that you might want to buy first because of excitement. There are things like saddles, bits, and bridles. It is advisable that you do not give into that excitement and wait to buy these things after you have brought your horse home. Doing this gives you a chance to custom make them to specifically fit your horse. Be sure you do your research and compare the prices you find with those on amazon – they have many items for cheap. That being said, here is a list of the essential equipment for a small horse ranch.

  • Feed tub – Large buckets or water trough
  • Water heater – You could also buy heated buckets if you live in a location where freezing temperatures occur.
  • Barn and Pasture Maintenance: Pitchfork, Manure Fork, Wheelbarrow, Stable broom,  Premise spray for insects
  • Handling and Grooming: Breakaway Halters, Curry Comb, Hoof Pick,  Body Brush,  Lead ropes, Mane Comb, Cloth (your typical washcloth is fine), Fly repellent

Of course, you will need the barn and space where you can store their food as well as let your horses run free. The best thing about this sort of thing is that these necessary preparations give you a good sense of what you will need. You can get everything else as the demands arise. You do, however, need the number to a good veterinarian who can give your horses a clean bill of health every so often or be called out in times of emergency.

What Does It Cost To Own and Raise a Horse

What does it cost to keep your horse at home? Having a horse at home will change your whole life. You should ask yourself a couple of questions before you embark on this journey into another world, the world of horses.

First and foremost, you need to know if you are allowed to have horses on the property. Contact your Zoning Office for your area and go from there. If it works out, you need money to build or renovate a barn, shelter and storage area as well as fences and all accessories for raising horses.

Do you have the money to spend on horses? I say “horses” because they should be in pairs or at least with another grazing animal. So you would need to buy two animals. They are meant to be in a “herd” and that becomes their family. One or two, either way, it will take money to buy them. Prices vary greatly depending on what you want to do with it. Show quality, pet quality, or breed, etc.

If it is a normal size quarter horse, of about 15hh (60 inches at withers) in the Winter it can eat 1 small rectangle bale of hay and 4 scoops of grain or so per day. There are many kinds of “mixes” of grain depending on what type of work your horse is doing. Feed mills can deliver in quantity bags or loose bulk to your “hopper” in your barn for the best deal. This only works if you have enough horses to eat it all before it gets moldy and if they all can eat the same kind of grain.

If there’s nice green grass (and they are able to eat grass), then you may not feed much grain or have them inside at all. This means no bedding expenses or cleaning out stalls. A lot of boarding places use this method. (But will charge the same high rates and make more money.) Please be aware that some horses cannot eat grass and that is why they are being sold.

You would also need bedding if kept in a stall, as well as a place to store it. For shavings, you can buy it in a 50-pound bag or you can buy it loose in bulk for less if you have a storage area for a truck load of loose shavings that won’t get wet! Straw bales are also used for bedding especially if they are going to give birth.

In a stall the size of 12 x 12, that has a base and a rubber mat, I would use 1-2 bags in the warm months and 2-3 bags in the cold months. If it was straw, I would use 1 bale. If I had a pregnant mare that was due any day, I would use 3 bales or more, depending on mare size.

A horse would need some shots yearly and other shots less often, blood tests and certificates of health, especially if you show your horse. For show horses, there are entrance fees and special clothing and tack, along with lessons. If the horse is registered you also have the expense of joining the club and transferring ownership, just like a car title.

Most horses will need their hooves trimmed every 6-8 weeks. Not all horses need shoes, but all must be trimmed. Some horses have slow growing hooves while others need it done every time you turn around! Shoes are about $5.00 a piece or more.

The horse would also need worming paste twice a year or more depending on where you live and what the horses are kept with, such as cattle. It is also available in pellet form which can be cheaper and easier to do if you have a lot of horses. It is mixed with their daily grain ration when the horse is fed alone.

And don’t forget vet care. Be prepared for bills that are $150.00 or more per visit, depending on what’s going on.
The other big question of importance is time. Do you have the time it takes to care for horses at your home? Usually, I am at the barn for an hour each feeding for 6-8 horses. That does not include riding or training. There is heavy lifting involved so some people hire help, which would be another expense.

What does it cost to keep your horse at home? Please see the list below to help you on your horse journey. Before buying a horse at all, search local places to see what prices are for your area. Carefully pick from the best search engine results with the most personal reviews or “stars” in Google. If they have worked with a local marketing firm like SEO Boston, they aren’t going to have a problem getting your attention so you can read the reviews.

  • Purchase of one horse or two varies $500.00 – up
  • Hay $5.00 – $8.00 per 3 foot long bale
  • Straw bale -$2.50 – $4.00 per 3-foot long bale
  • Grain $5.00 – $50.00 per 50-pound bag
  • Shavings $4.00 – $8.00 per 50-pound bag
  • Wormer paste $8.00 per tube
  • Wormer pellet $8.00 per 8oz bag
  • Vet call generally $85.00 per trip more or less
  • Shots per year $200.00 if showing your horse or more
  • Supplements per month $10.00 and up
  • Feet trims without shoes $40.00 per horse for 6 trims $240.00
  • Paperwork if they are registered, price to join club varies at $75.00 and up
  • Send in forms to transfer ownership varies $10.00 – $75.00 and up
  • Building a barn or shelter plus all accessories $3,000.00 and up.
  • Hired help- pay per task and not per hour – amounts vary greatly

Having a horse is not just taking it out on the grass with a water bucket. Horses are not tomato plants!