How much does it cost to keep a horse? Especially for first-time owners, one of the most frequently asked questions about horse care is cost. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer. For one thing, there are a couple of fundamentally different strategies for keeping a horse: Will you pay an equine facility a monthly or annual fee to board and keep your horse, or are you in a position where it makes more sense to make a large, upfront investment to buy your own stables and infrastructure?
You may already own some farm land and a suitable barn, or you may be in a position to purchase and maintain a small family horse farm. Maybe instead of boarding horses at an equine center, it makes sense to start your own equine boarding facility. Maybe you’re planning to launch a major horse racing or equestrian operation and need a facility just for your own stable.
Overview of Costs to Own Horses
Costs will vary depending on the level of horse care required as well as a host of other factors. From west Texas to Oklahoma and throughout the southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, drought conditions frequently raise the prices for hay, straw and grain. Vet prices vary considerably as well. It may be important to find a local equine vet clinic with reasonable farm call fees before making the decision to buy a horse(s). If you feel comfortable doing certain things with and for your horse, you can save a bit (no pun intended) on equine veterinary care. Still, equine care services aren’t something you want to skimp on. Even if you plan on administering some basic horse care on your own, you should look to develop a relationship with a local or traveling equine vet practitioner.
As rewarding as it can be, the decision to buy a horse(s) isn’t something you should take on lightly. You may not be ready to build a detailed budget just yet but instead are looking for a rough estimate to determine if owning a horse is within your financial means. It’s difficult to make an estimate of horse ownership costs that speaks to everybody, we can lay out some of the different scenarios, a general cost range, and itemized prices that will help you develop a sound financial strategy for owning horses.
How much does it Cost to Own and Maintain a Horse Farm?
We’ve tried to break down the costs of owning and maintaining a horse farm into different categories to help people understand where their budget is likely to be spent. This way, you can hopefully construct your own cost estimate and budget allowance for owning and keeping horses, both in terms of upfront investment and ongoing costs.
Land, Barn, Trailer ($25,000-$100,000)
Even this range is based on a relatively small horse farm. A sprawling property with dozens or even hundreds of acres along with multiple barns, turnout paddocks, and grazing pastures may cost millions of dollars, especially if it’s associated with a recognizable name in the equine community. It will also give you a sense of where and how you might reduce your overall costs.
|4 acres of farmland||$12,000 ($2k-$4k per acre)|
|Wood barn (traditional)||$45-$55 per sq ft|
|Metal barn (prefab)||$7-$25 per sq ft|
|Barn kit (post-frame)||$7,000-$35,000|
Farm tools ($500-$2,500)
There may be more specialized tools that you need to add to this list, or a couple items you may be able to do without, but this is a good sense of the essential farm tools you’ll need to care for your horses. This does not include your horse tack, which we’ll get to later.
|Shavings||200 (every 6 months)|
|Water hose (flexible)||60|
|Tarps to cover shavings||10|
|Fly spray (summer)||100|
|Grain||40-60 (a month)|
|Hay 4 a bale||28 (a month)|
|Wormer||10 (2 months)|
Vet Care and Miscellaneous ($300-$600)
It’s a good to create a veterinary care plan for your horse and whether that involves a horse vet that makes farm calls or whether this includes periodic trips to the vet clinic. There are bound to be a number of ancillary costs as well, including insurance and utilities.
|Electricity/Water/Utilities||100 (a month)|
|Insurance||75 (a month)|
|Vet check up/wellness care||100-300 (1-2 times a year)|
First Aid Kit Supplies ($300-$500)
There are several first-aid items you’ll want to have on hand for minor cuts and bruises your horse may sustain. Some of these supplies will help you determine whether an emergency vet visit is warranted. They can also help keep your horse calm and safe until the vet arrives.
|Leg wraps 4||6|
|Liniment for sore muscles||20|
|Benadine Solution gallon||70|
How much does it Cost to Board a Horse?
Boarding a horse can be an especially popular choice for people who own a single horse. Not only does it make the most sense financially, but horses are inherently social, herding animals. They like, and even need, the company of other horses. Likewise, your horse will be able to take advantage of the infrastructure and personnel available at a full-scale horse farm.
To compare costs at different horse boarding facilities, it’s important to understand what’s included, what’s not included, and what’s optional. Would you prefer a facility that takes care of everything for you, or one that allows you the flexibility to provide your own supplies and services. Obviously, you’ll also want to consider the facility’s reputation and available resources.
Boarding a Horse ($500-$2,500 a month)
|Board/Rent per month||
|Insurance Liability & Mortality||70 (a month)|
|Farrier (trim)||20 (a month)|
|Farrier Shoes||25 (a month)|
|Salt block for stall||50|
|Grain||40-50 (a month)|
|Hay||20 (a month)|
Horse Tack and Grooming Costs
These supplies and costs are typically determined your plans and activities with your horse. Is it purely for pleasure and trail riding? There is probably little reason to opt for more expensive tack and grooming supplies. If you’re interested in entering the horse in equestrian competitions, the nature of these events and activities will determine what your supplies and costs will be.
|Lead Rope with chain||30|
|Blanket/Pad (for saddle)||50|
Grooming Tools ($350-$450)
|Mane and tail comb||10|