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.