Budgeting

Cost of Owning a Horse: April 2021 Expense Report

How-Much-Do-Horses-Cost-3
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.)

Unlike last month, when I purchased a new (used) saddle that obliterated my budget, April came in almost on budget. Though I’d intended to list my previous saddle for sale, I didn’t get around to cleaning it or taking photos yet. I need to focus on that next month if I want to recoup the cost of my new saddle. (And I do!)

april 2021 expenses

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month

EDUCATION

$315.00 // Lessons

  • My goal is 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work).
  • This month I was able to do 3 semi-private western, 2 semi-private jumping, and 2 cow working lesson.
  • (Adjustment: I traded social media management services in exchange for one lesson ($45).

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

$75.00 // Ranch Riding Show

  • I decided to enter a local ranch riding show, which included a reining pattern, boxing a cow, and a trail class.
  • Though I rarely compete, several friends were doing this show—and my coach encouraged me to try it!

HEALTH

$180 // Bodywork

  • Much like humans, horses can benefit from periodic chiropractic adjustments.
  • This month, I scheduled both my horse and the jumping horse I’m borrowing for bodywork. 
  • Proactive healthcare (like chiro) helps horses stay healthier, perform better, and avoid injuries down the road.
  • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for both sessions ($180).

$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements

FUN

N/A

GEAR

$75.99 // Portable Saddle Carrier

  • I’ve had my eye on this Stubbs saddle carrier from Big Dee’s for a while now.
  • I have limited tack room space, and 3 saddles. This stand would be a handy addition to better organize my tack, or take and store my saddle at a show or clinic.
  • It also has storage space that’s perfect for grooming supplies, treats, and other essentials. I love it!
  • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for a gift card ($75.99).
saddle carrier

Click to see it at Big Dee’s

$11.95 // 4x Wonder Brush

  • I’m obsessed with these brushes! My horse loves when I use them on his neck especially. 
  • The Wonder Brush is also the best at removing dried sweat marks after a ride.
  • I bought extras to give to my friend for her mini horses. 
  • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for a gift card).
wonder brush

Click to see the Wonder Brush at Amazon

$138.50 // Branded Barn Apparel

  • Our barn runs an online Stable Shop with branded gear, and I ordered a soft-shell vest and sunshirt. 

$55.90 // Fulmer Bit

  • The horse I’m borrowing for jumping lessons is quite big and strong. (I call him Freight Train!) I needed more control than my Turnado twisted snaffle could offer. 
  • Check out Fulmer bits at Amazon if you want to try one yourself. 
fulmer horse bit

Click to see it at Amazon

$34.99 // Weaver Leather Shedding Tool

  • My friend has four miniature horses, and they grow incredible winter coats every year. 
  • Come April, they’re always in need of a major grooming session. 
  • I decided to invest in a heavy-duty shedding tool that’s actually made for cattle. It is amazing.
weaver leather shedding tool

Click to see it at Amazon

$3.99 // Fiebing’s Saddle Soap

  • Confession: I’m not good about routinely cleaning my tack. At most, I’d use quick and easy leather wipes.
  • Knowing that I was going to try and sell my old saddle for a good price, I knew I needed to step up my leather cleaning and conditioning game. So my friend gave me a tin of conditioner and told me to also buy Fiebing’s saddle soap.
  • It took several hours for me to clean all my tack, but I can’t deny that it looks so much better now!
fiebings saddle soap

Click to see it at Amazon

$301.50 // Saddle Alterations

  • My friend is a saddlemaker, and she agreed to take a look at the used saddle I bought last month.
  • I struggled with the stirrups, which were set farther forward than I needed and felt stiff. She wet the fenders and rehung them farther back and with more swing. This made all the difference.
  • Additionally, she updated the hardware and saddle strings to match the headstall and breast collar she’d made for me previously. She even added my initial to one of the latigo keepers!
updated saddle

My friend did an amazing job with alterations!

online horse courses

INSURANCE

$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.)

STABLING

$450 // Board

  • Board is currently $500 per month, I prepaid my barn account for a while to get a 10% discount.
  • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a discount on lessons.
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic marketing services in exchange for this month’s board.)

TRAVEL

$107.52 // Fuel for Barn Visits

  • This figure is an average. It’s calculated by taking the IRS mileage rate for 2021 (56 cents) x 4 visits per week x 4 weeks per month. 

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,911.49

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,152.54

Over-budget by $152.54

Money Well Spent

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

  • Spoiling my horses with periodic chiropractic sessions is always worth it. I can tell they enjoy it, and the move more fluidly after these treatments.
  • Having my friend adjust my new saddle was totally worth it. Resetting the stirrups has made it much easier to do things like lateral work, during which I need greater leg movement. Plus, I love the matching hardware!
  • The Wonder Brushes are inexpensive, yet incredibly effective. I like using a second brush to clean the shedded hair out as I go. I’ve also noticed my horses’ coats are extra shiny after I use these brushes.  

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?

  • I though the Fulmer bit would be a safe purchase, given my coach had let me borrow hers to try first. Unfortunately, when I did a recent jumping clinic, the instructor suggested a stronger bit to keep my horse from leaning on my hands. So I may need to get a second bit in the near future…TBD.
online horse courses

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: Much of the time, I make my horse-related purchases on Amazon. I love the selection, expedited shipping, and competitive prices.

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • Resell Western Saddle: Come May, I really want to get my old saddle cleaned, photographed, and listed for sale on Facebook and eBay. My hope is that I can sell it for at least what I spent on the replacement saddle. 
  • Neck Strap: As I get to know my loaner jump horse better, I’m realizing that a neck strap might be a helpful tool. It would give me something to hold onto that isn’t my reins. Neck straps are useful for not getting “left behind” over jumps.
  • Additional Supplements: The horse I’m borrowing for jump lessons would likely benefit from more/better joint supplements. He’s 15 years old, and I’m riding him 4-5 times per week. I want to be sure he’s supported and comfortable.

After going over budget so often this year, I was relieved to get (much) closer in April. If you’re surprised how expensive horses are, remember that there are plenty of other ways to get your horse fix besides ownership.

Happy Trails!

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!