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How Much Does a Horse Cost? (2021 Update)

Oliver Jones

Horses are so much fun to own. They are interesting to look at, enjoyable to ride, and a joy to bond with. However, owning a horse comes with a great deal of financial responsibility. The purchase of the horse itself is just one minor cost to worry about.

Horses can live to be about 33 years old, which means that they require a much longer and more expensive commitment than other pets. There are several costs to consider when taking care of a horse for that long. Here is what you need to know about the cost of owning a horse both immediately and in the long run.divider-horse

Bringing a New Horse Home: One-Time Costs

The first thing to think about is the actual cost of the horse itself. Costs may greatly vary, depending on the age of the horse you obtain and where you happen to get it from. If you are really lucky, you might spend nothing at all. If you are looking for a horse with a stellar bloodline, though, you can expect to pay upward of about $3,000-$5,000.

Horses with Blanket_Anastasija Popova
Image Credit by: Anastasija Popova, shutterstock

Free

It is possible to get a horse for free if you are willing to do the legwork, and if you are not concerned with how old the horse is. Instead, of going to a breeder or even a humane society, your task will be to find someone who is looking for a good home to send their horse to because they can no longer care for the horse themselves.

Many people get too old to care for their horse safely or experience changes to their financial circumstances that keep them from being able to provide for their horse. In cases like these, horse owners are more worried about finding a safe and loving home for their horse than making money. Place an advertisement in your local newspaper, and contact 4H clubs to connect with horse owners looking to rehome their pets.

Adoption

  • $25-$500

Adopting a horse instead of buying one involves working with the humane society or another kind of animal rescue center. If horses are not common pets where you live, you may have to reach out to rescue centers outside of your community to find one that cares for homeless horses.

You can expect to pay an adoption fee to help the rescue facility recover any costs they endured while fostering the horse before adoption. This fee can be anywhere from $25 to more than $500, depending on a variety of factors, including the length of time the horse has been housed, the type of horse they are, and whether the horse has any special needs.

Breeder

  • $500-$5,000+

Buying a horse from a breeder is the costliest option but the most flexible. You will be paying for pedigree, showmanship, and breeder expertise. You can expect a horse to cost anywhere from $500 to more than $5,000 from a breeder. Pricing will vary from breeder to breeder, so comparison shopping is always a good idea.

List of 4-8 Breeds and the Average Cost

Standardbred $500-$3,000
Arabian $1,000-$5,000
Holsteiner $3,000-$10,000
Oldenburg $4,000-$20,000

Supplies

  • $800+divider-horse

List of Horse Care Supplies and Cost

rodeo cowboy
Credit: Margo Harrison, Shutterstock
Food (Hay, Fruits, Veggies, Salt, etc.) $100-$300/Month
Feed Pan $10-$30
Water Trough $25-$100
Halter $25-$200
Lead Ropes $10-$50
Hoof Pick $2-$10
Grooming Brush and Comb $5-$20
Fly Repellent $5-$30
Saddle $100-$500
Bridle and Bit $50-$250
Stirrups $20-$100
Lead Ropes $10-$30
Blanket $50-$150
Washing Accessories $25-$50

Annual Expenses

There are many yearly expenses to consider when deciding whether to adopt a horse, and these expenses will continue throughout the horse’s life, so serious thought should be put into whether recurring annual expenses may become a burden at any point in the future. Here is what you should know about the annual expenses that come with owning a horse.

Health Care

  • $300-$600 per year

Yearly healthcare costs can add up quickly, so expect to put away $300 to $600 each year to cover all your expenses. First, your horse will likely need about $100 worth of dental care every year of their life. Checkups can run anywhere from $200 to $300 a year. Then there are things like vaccination costs to keep in mind.

These are just cost estimates for a healthy horse. If your horse ends up needing surgery or physical therapy, you may end up looking at thousands of dollars in healthcare bills before the year is up. Luckily, emergency and extensive care are not typically needed when horses are well cared for.

Check-Ups

  • $200-$300 per year

Every horse should be checked by a veterinarian two or three times a year, and each checkup visit should cost about $100 unless an illness or injury needs to be addressed and treated, in which case, the cost could be more. Scheduling checkups regularly is an important step that should be taken to catch problems early before they become too expensive or complicated to deal with.

painted palomino horse
Credit: Olga_i, Shutterstock

Vaccinations

  • $110-$190 per year

Horses should be provided with a deworming medication every two or three months, which costs about $15 each. Vaccinations are typically administered twice a year, which includes boosters for diseases such as influenza and tetanus. Vaccination booster visits can cost between $25 and $50 each.

Dental

  • $75-$125 per year

Horses need dental checkups just as they need health checkups. Their teeth need to be cleaned by a professional regularly, or they may get cavities or develop other dental problems (like the need for a root canal).

Emergencies

  • $0-$10,000+ per year

Emergencies are never planned. A horse can go their entire life without ever needing emergency care, while others may require such care several times before they become seniors. It all depends on the genes, diet, health, happiness, and quality of life that a horse experiences. Some emergency services cost only a couple hundred dollars, but others, like surgery, can cost upward of $10,000 or more.

Insurance

  • $300-$12,000+ per year

Equine insurance is available to horse owners, but the type of coverage and the cost can vary depending on the type of horse that an owner wants to insure. Insurance policies that cover medical emergencies, mortality, or both can be found through veterinarians and independent companies. The cost of equine insurance is typically based on the value of the horse that will be covered.

Horse with Blanket
Image Credit By: ulleo, pixabay

Food

  • $125-$350 per year

The typical horse can eat between $100 and $300 worth of hay bales each month throughout their lives. Horses enjoy eating fruits and vegetables to supplement their diets too. They also need salt and sometimes supplements, depending on their access to fresh foods. This adds another $25 to $50 in monthly food costs.

Environment Maintenance

  • $60/$170 per year

There are just a few environmental maintenance costs to consider when it comes to owning a horse. The biggest expense would be boarding if and when it becomes a necessity. If owners do not choose to board their horses and instead keep them at home, fencing installation, maintenance, and repair costs are unavoidable. Also, toys should be purchased and provided to horses for mental stimulation and exercise.

Boarding $18/year
Fencing Maintenance/Repair $20-$100/year
Toys $20-$50/year
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Total Annual Cost of Owning a Horse

  • $1,000-$2,500+ per year

The bottom line is that owning a horse is expensive. You never know when an unexpected expense will arise, and even if there are no surprises, it can cost thousands of dollars each year just to meet the minimal needs of a horse.

Owning a Horse on a Budget

If you are on a budget, owning a horse might not be the best option for you. Too many financial variables may come into play that makes it impossible to meet the needs of a horse at any given time. Renting a horse for occasional rides or taking a horseback tour once or twice a year might be a better option.

Saving Money on Horse Care

There are not many ways to cut costs as a horse owner. However, you can save money by letting your horse free range for food instead of making them rely solely on you. They will not need nearly as much hay, fruits, or vegetables that you must buy. The savings of free-ranging your horse can add up at the end of the year.

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Conclusion

Now you have a clear idea of how much it costs to own and care for a horse in the long term. Deciding whether to purchase or adopt a horse is a big decision to make and one that should never be taken lightly. But the rewards of owning a horse are well worth the investment that they require, both emotionally and financially. Are you leaning toward owning a horse anytime soon? Let us know why or why not in the comments section below.

submit a pet pk horse


Featured image credit: Credit: touristgirl, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.