Is there something like a ‘free horse’? Not at all! Apart from the purchase price of a steed, you will also need to spend weekly, monthly, or annually for its care, maintenance, food, shelter, and overall wellbeing. The yearly cost of a horse also depends on the age, breed, and purpose of keeping a horse (whether it’s for the race, riding, or just a pet).
So, what does a horse cost per month? Well, that is exactly what we will try to estimate in this article! Read on to find out how much does a horse cost to keep and care for, along with identifying the different variables that play an important role in influencing horse ownership expenses.
Estimated Monthly and Annual Horse Costs by State
Owning a horse may be more expensive in one state and somewhat affordable in another. Here is a compilation of the average annual and monthly horse costs by states:
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Factors Impacting Cost of Horse Ownership
Owning and taking care of a horse is undoubtedly more challenging than keeping any other pet. Besides, there are multiple factors that influence the cost of horse ownership, in addition to the actual cost of the equine itself.
Here, we’ll be taking a look at five of the most basic expenses:
One thing is definite. If you intend to keep a horse on a farmhouse or garden suburb, then definitely the cost of food will be lower because horses can graze on grass.
The cheapest way to house your new equine buddy is to keep it near your home. However, boarding it on your own property is usually difficult to do, especially when there is no availability of adequate field area for good pasture and other essential facilities. Besides, building a horse shelter from scratch can be a cumbersome task. It is a huge investment when you are short on funds and space.
Livery Yards and Farm Fields
Due to the hassle of housing a horse at one’s private property, horse owners tend to lookout for fields or livery yards that are available for rent. Many farmers offer their fields for rent at an affordable price, but hardly provide any facilities for the animal. In fact, manure removal and maintaining the portion of the field where their horse dwells may become the sole responsibility of the horse owner.
On the contrary, livery yards are usually equipped with various facilities such as tack rooms, jumps, schooling arenas, etc. Furthermore, the yard fully maintains the horse fields used. These are therefore more sought after by horse owners and cost slightly higher too.
The cost of housing a horse may greatly vary depending on where you reside and what amenities you are looking for your steed. For instance, if you live in an urban area, you will probably need to hunt for a stable in the locality to keep your horse. Partial stable boarding can cost around $500 monthly, and up to $1500 in metropolitan areas. Whereas basic pasture boarding usually starts from $100 per month.
Full stable boarding is understandably the most expensive, at times going higher than $1000 per month, as they are equipped with indoor stalls, well-maintained barn spaces, ample space to gallop around, training arenas, etc. Also, if you are looking to include services like quality feeding, farriers, and special care such as putting on and removal of fly masks and blankets, expect to pay much more than this.
When it comes to horse-keeping, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that food is where a big chunk of the money goes. On average, the yearly food amount sums up to $1000 and sometimes even higher.
How much feed a horse requires highly depends upon its size, breed, and exercise routine. An average horse, that weighs around 1,100 pounds, needs to consume hay and grain in accordance to a minimum of 1.5% to 2.5% of its body weight daily. Nevertheless, the equine can survive on grass alone if the pasture is of good quality and of the adequate size of at least 1.5 to 2 acres. However, winter feeding in liveries and farms calls for getting a sufficient stock of hay and storing it in a dry, clean place.
Hay & Grains
On the other hand, horses that are kept in stables and have scarce access to rich pastures need to be given an additional feed of hay all year round for survival. Furthermore, the animal may also require some hard feed such as bale and grains for extra energy, if it is performing tedious tasks. Those horses that are let out to graze freely on grass tend to require less hay. Moreover, the price of hay varies as per its type, quantity, and time of purchase. It costs $100 to $250 per month to feed hay to a typical healthy horse monthly. You can also get mixed qualities of alfalfa or timothy hay as well as hay mixed with grass for as low as $10.
In addition to grass, grains, and hay, horses also enjoy indulging in fruits and veggies to supplement their regular diet. You can also get supplemental prepackaged food for them as treats or to boost their nutrition level occasionally. This can increase your horse food costs by $15 to $30 each month.
With pet-keeping, comes veterinary cost associated with the animal. Hence, horse owners need to be fully aware of how often their horse will be needing routine visits to the vet and how much that would cost per annum.
Vaccinations & Deworming
Horse owners must ensure that their pet gets all its vaccinations and deworming done in accordance with the American Association of Veterinary Practitioner standards. The annual costs for this may vary from $50 to $150 depending on whether you opt to get done with the process on your own or have a vet handle it. Deworming medicines, priced at $15 each, should be given at least once every three months. Whereas, vaccinations cost between $25 to $50 each and are typically administered twice a year to protect against diseases like tetanus and influenza. If you need a detailed breakdown of horse vaccination costs, then we’ve got a separate article on that as well.
A horse’s dental health is often overlooked and can lead to complications in the long run. However, the animal requires dental care as much as it requires routine check-ups. Estimated at $75 to $100 every year, dental visits ensure that the equine’s teeth are thoroughly cleaned and maintained by a professional on a regular basis. This prevents cavities and other dental problems, which may lead to a costly root canal treatment.
Did you think caring for your steed’s hoof is optional? Well actually, it isn’t. Poor hoof health can actually lead to infections, outstretched joints and may also make the horse permanently lame in extreme cases. It is therefore vital for horse owners to dedicate a portion of their time to caring for their equine pal’s hooves daily. In addition, you need to take your horse to a certified farrier in every six to eight weeks time.
A horse should typically make two or three visits to the vet for routine check-ups. This can cost a minimum of $100 each unless there is a serious illness or injury that needs to be treated. It is therefore advisable to never skip a routine checkup. This way, the onset of a complicated issue can be noticed and treated, before it reaches a stage where it becomes expensive to cure.
Fortunately, emergency or extensive visits to the vet are not usually required for a horse if you already shower it with optimal care. However, in case your steed does end up needing physical therapies or surgery, expect to see an inflated healthcare bill by the end of the year.
To sum up, routine visits to the vet cost somewhere between $485 to $600 yearly. This is inclusive of vaccinations, deworming, care for minor injuries, and routine checkups. Add in the yearly horse dental care expense, hoof maintenance, extensive care in terms of surgery, therapy, and emergency injuries to the health care bill and the total amount can climb up to go beyond $1000 – $1500 annually.
Don’t forget that there might be some additional cost of maintaining a horse!
It is obvious that you’ll have to incur additional expenses if you chose to keep your horse on your own property. There will be a need to purchase basic medical products to treat minor injuries and cuts, shampoos, grooming kits, bedding, etc. Furthermore, at times you may also require to repair or replace equipment and fencing around your horse shelter. All of this can add to the total cost of owning a horse by approximately $800 annually.
Tack & Grooming
Since you’ve bought a horse, or perhaps considering getting one, you would surely want to ride it, right? Of course! This means that you’ll now also have to invest in a good quality saddle pad, stirrups, bridle, bit, halter, and leash. Getting these as a complete set that would last you a good eight to ten years will cost not hundreds, but thousands of dollars. Break the amount into a monthly budget and it will be a figure of approximately $200.
Emergencies & Insurance
Your horse can gallop through its entire life without requiring any emergency care. However, some may need it several times depending on their genes, health, diet, and overall quality of life. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to keep some funds aside for emergency care which can range between $0 to $10,000. Horse owners can, and should, also invest in an insurance plan for their beloved pet.
Last but not the least, there are training costs that you will have to bear as a horse owner, especially if you are a novice rider or looking to try a new riding style. Private horse-riding lessons can start from as low as $25 per hour and go up to $700 – $800 monthly.
Furthermore, opting for specialized training can cost you as much as $500 for a weekend only. Apart from this, if you are planning to train your child to ride the horse, additional training may be required for the horse itself.
FAQs Regarding Annual and Monthly Horse Costs
Horse ownership is neither too easy nor affordable for everyone. Hence, it is advisable to first plan a realistic long-term budget to see how well you will be able to manage the anticipated expenses.
Here are a few things you need to know:
Annually, it would cost an average of $4,000 for regular care and maintenance of a horse. However, it depends on a few factors, including the type of feed, vet bills, type of shelter, farrier, supplies, tack, and activities. Before making a purchasing decision, you must research these factors and evaluate the expense yourself.
Just like a pet cat or dog, horses also require regular care, maintenance, vaccination, treatment, grooming, etc. However, it would cost more than small pets. On average, the vet fees solely go up to $485 per year, including tests, vaccination, deworming, standard check-ups, minor emergency injuries, etc. The cost of hoof maintenance is another expense to consider which would be $350 per year whereas shoeing is more expensive.
The boarding cost of a horse is almost $500 monthly. The basic stall board price may seem expensive, but still, most horse owners prefer it regardless of the overwhelming cost. Although fancy amenities may not be the primary necessity of a horse, investing in the wellbeing of your champ is never a bad idea (of course when you can afford one).
The minimum cost of having a horse would be $5.01 per day and it goes up to $1,828.65 per year. The expense of keeping a horse at home relies on the setup or equipment you would need. Definitely, the cost will reduce if you already own a horse or have a suitable shelter for the newcomer. Moreover, if you have grass or pasture around the residence, then the food price will also go down. In short, if you have all the required equipment and environment to keep an equine at home, then it is definitely a great idea!
Some people love horses, but they can’t afford to keep them either because of finances or other reasons. Here are a few things they can do to express their compassion towards horses without owning one!
Lessons – horse riding is always fun especially when you’re an animal lover; you can make a lot out of it. It’s a great way to learn the basics and you can also get the chance of feeding and cleaning stalls of the fellow.
Auctions & Horse Clubs – You certainly don’t have to be a horse owner to be a part of the show. It will be definitely a great experience to take lessons, assist at shows and attend meetings.
Volunteer work – Another way to keep around the stallion is to serve as a volunteer at therapy barns and horse rescues.
Horse ownership comes with a lot of perks and unseen expenses too. It is similar to raising and caring for a baby who is completely dependent on you for feeding, cleaning, and other stuff.
When estimating how much does a horse costs yearly, understand that there are several other costs to ponder upon apart from basic food and shelter. These include regular cleaning, standard vet check-ups, and vaccinations. Furthermore, hoof cleaning, shoeing, and a lot of other unavoidable responsibilities are also part of the game.
However, the good news is that you can still be around horses without owning one. So, choose a suitable option for you according to your circumstances. If you are willing to invest in horse ownership even after estimating the monthly costs to care for one, there is nothing more exciting than bringing your mighty pet home!