Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: April 2020 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

How much do horses cost? Here’s my answer for April.

These reports are intended to be a tool for horse enthusiasts who are considering buying (or leasing) a horse and want a transparent look at the real cost of horse ownership.

(If you’re new to these expense reports, make sure to read the “reminders” section here for background on my finances.)

So far, I’ve been over-budget every month this year. Ouch. April is no exception, and you can read on to learn why.

Summary Breakdown

Finally, remember that if you’re not exploring barter opportunities, you need to start! Sign up for our email list to get 7 ways to trade for horse expenses and lower your cash out-of-pocket burden.

Cost of Owning a Horse This Month


  • $90 // Riding Lessons
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 1 semi-private Western lesson and 1 semi-private jumping lesson. My horse is temporarily staying with at a friend’s place during these early phases of the COVID situation. While I’m not doing all my normal lessons, I did get both coaches up to the new farm for a lesson this month. 
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 2 lessons.)

If you’re taking lessons (or about to start), check out our 13 best horseback riding boots for lessons.


  • $205 // Farrier
    • This was my horse’s normal shoeing appointment. He gets trimmed, new shoes, and pads in the front.
  • $140 // Spring Vaccines
    • This was my horse’s normal Spring vaccines appointment.
  • $520.33 // Hock Injections (Round 2) and Associated Medications
    • After my coach mentioned (twice) that it was time to re-inject my horse’s hocks, I scheduled a vet call. I’d been hoping to go longer between injections, but perhaps that will be the case next time. 
    • Cost includes a tube of Bute, sedation, and other medication used during the procedure.
  • $46.39 // SmartPak Daily Supplements


  • N/A


  • N/A


  • $14.58 // Liability Insurance
    • I have a liability policy in case my horse ever (accidentally, of course!) causes injury or damage. My Equisure policy covers $300,000 per occurrence and $600,000 aggregate.
  • $57.50 // Mortality & Major Medical Insurance
    • I also have a mortality and major medical insurance policy through Northwest Equine Insurance. It covers up to $10,000 in major medical expenses and the cost of my horse if he were to die. (Note: He WILL live forever.)
  • $70.42 // Tow Vehicle Insurance (Progressive Commercial Policy)
  • $12.75 // Horse Trailer Insurance (Progressive Commercial Policy)
  • $12.42 // US Rider Equestrian Roadside Assistance Membership
    • Think of this like AAA when you’re hauling a horse trailer. (FYI, regular roadside assistance programs will NOT service or tow horse trailers if you breakdown.)
    • I have the Classic Membership Plan from US Rider.


  • $0 // Board (Modified)
    • Since my horse has temporarily moved during COVID, my normal barn was kind enough not to charge me for holding his spot for when we return. 
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a small discount on lessons.
    • Normally, by this time, I’d be bartering clinic management services for board each month. We’ve rescheduled the clinic we had to postpone in April, but it remains to be seen how many clinics we’ll be able to do this year. This may impact my ability to barter for board significantly. 


  • $55.68 // Fuel for Barn Visits
    • This figure is an average. It’s calculated by taking the IRS mileage rate for 2019 (58 cents) x 4 visits per week x 4 weeks per month.
    • For April, I cut this cost in half since I wasn’t going out nearly as much as usual.

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,225.07

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,135.07

(Over-budget by $135.07)

Money Well Spent

What am I particularly glad I spent money on this month?

  • It’s hard to feel good about spending month on hobbies right now, but I’m grateful to have my horse for mental health and exercise. Like all equestrians, I eagerly await the day we can all truly return to ‘normal.’

Wonder how expensive horses are where you live? We break down the average horse cost in all 50 states

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • The used girth I bought in March was the proper size for my old saddle, but it turns out to be too big for my new one.
  • It’s possible that it’ll fit during colder weather when my horse plumps up for winter and grows his thicker coat again. For now, I’m borrowing a smaller girth from a friend.

Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)

How could you save some money?

  • Barter, barter, barter: Periodically trading for things like board and lessons helps lower my bills a lot. Bartering is what allows me to take 3 lessons per week and ride in so many clinics. If you want to get 7 ideas for how you can trade for some of your expenses, subscribe to our email list!
  • Watch for price drops: If you have a product you use often, keep an eye out for sales on Amazon or in your local tack stores. Apps like Honey can help you do this automatically by applying coupon codes and checking prices for you. Click here to try Honey for free.
  • Compare costs before you buy: Most of the time, I make my horse-related purchases on Amazon. I love the selection, 2-day Prime shipping, and competitive prices.

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • Ummm…nothing? Like many people, I’m waiting to see what happens with the economy and my main business before making any “extra” purchases.

Being over-budget four months running certainly underscores just how expensive horses are. If your normal plans have to be adjusted, remember there are other ways to get your horse fix besides ownership. Now is the time to get creative.

Happy Trails & Wash Your Hands!

P.S. If you hate buyer’s remorse too, check out our Horse Rookie Must Haves on Amazon for equestrian gear that’s worth every penny!

P.P.S. Buying your first horse? Check out 60 Questions to Ask When Buying the Horse of Your Dreams and our Beginner’s Guide to the Best Equine Insurance

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!