Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: August 2020 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

This month, I’m happy to report I came in under budget again. I’m less happy to report that a friend’s horse broke my collarbone (I wasn’t even riding…) and I ended up in surgery to repair it with a metal plate. It was a stark reminder that being around horses is risky, but I’m already excited to get back into the saddle again soon!

broken collarbone horse riding

Not how collarbones are supposed to look…

Note: I’m not incorporating surgical expenses in this report. If you’re curious, though, I’ll likely pay $7-8K after insurance. Special thanks to everyone who supports Horse Rookie!

august 2020 horse spending

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


  • $55.00 // Lessons
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month I only got to take 1 Western flatwork lesson on a friend’s horse before breaking my collarbone and being out of commission the rest of August.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for this lesson.)
  • $570 // Reining & Cutting Clinics
    •  Since my horse has been coming back from an injury, a friend asked me to ride hers in three clinics this month — Reining, Cutting, and Trail.
    • Sadly, I broke my collarbone before the Trail clinic and was unable to participate in that one. 
    • (Adjustment: The horse’s owner paid for the other two clinics, so I didn’t need to pay for them.)
  • $112.50 // Clinic Sponsorship
    • A fellow boarder and I decided to cover the expenses of a Horsemanship clinic that one of our barn staffers wanted to attend. I love being able to help others boost their knowledge through education!

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


  • $360 // Third X-Ray
    • My horse got a “final” x-ray so he could be approved for light work. FINALLY.
  • $15.99 // Apple Elite
    •  In anticipation of getting my horse back into shape, I bought a new tub of Apple Elite electrolyte supplements. He gets this daily year-round.
Apple Elite

Click to see the supplement my horse gets daily


  • $12.99 // Supershine Hoof Polish
    • I bought several gifts for the friend that boarded and cared for my horse while he was injured. This Supershine Hoof Polish will help her horse’s hooves look amazing when they go to shows.
  • $11.99 // Shine On Hair Polish
    • This hair polish was another one of the gifts, and it makes your horse gleam like the sun!
  • $2.49 // Braiding Rubber Bands
  • $8.99 // Horse Treats
    • Speaking of things you can never have enough of, I topped off my gift bag with a new pack of Butterscotch Manna Pro horse treats.

New to braiding? Check out our Expert Tips on How to Create the 3 Easiest Mane Braids.

Mane 'n Tail Shine On Spray

Click to see it at Amazon


  • $75.00 // Used Full Chaps
    • Confession: I’ve had a big crush on ProChaps for years. So when a fellow boarder at my barn was selling her full chaps, I had to try them on. As luck would have it, her custom size… is mine too! I scooped these up for $200 under retail 🙂
  • $25.00 // Used Ariat Cold Series Shirt
    • The same friend also offered to give me a super cute (worn once!) Ariat Cold Series long-sleeve base layer. I insisted on giving her some cash, as these usually retail for $65. 
    • The AriatTek Cold Series is super snuggly, so I’m looking forward to wearing this come Fall and early Winter in Montana. It’s also nice enough to be a good clinic shirt since it has a collar and can be tucked in.
ariat lowell shirt

Click to see it at Amazon


  • $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.


  • $460 // Board
    • My horse finally moved back home this month!!! Due to COVID-19 and a popped splint and fracture, he had been staying at a friend’s property since April. 
    • Once my vet gave his let the all-clear, I made arrangements to bring him back to my normal barn. I did so with mixed feelings, as I loved being able to see him without many people around this year. But, heading into colder weather, I’ll need the indoor arenas to ride. Plus, I’ve missed all my barn friends!
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a discount on lessons.
    • Note: Next month, our barn’s board is increasing to $500 per month. That’ll be 50% of my budget, so it’ll be that much harder to come in on budget for months when I’m not bartering for board.
    • (Adjustment: I bartered for board in exchange for clinic management services.)


  • $111.35 // 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.

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $2,032.88

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $947.88

Under-budget by $52.12

Money Well Spent

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

  • In a year when a lot of folks are understandably pinching pennies, I loved being able to help a friend afford an educational riding event that will improve her relationship with her horse.
  • The Reining Clinic was a lot of fun, even though I wasn’t able to participate on my own horse. We were able to dramatically improve our stops and turnarounds. 
  • The used Ariat Cold Series base layer will get a lot of use, so I’m confident it’ll be well worth the $25 I spent on it.

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 certainly didn’t “need” the used ProChaps I purchased this month, but I don’t necessarily regret the purchase since I still came in under budget. I’ve only gotten to wear them once, but I was impressed with how cool they were in the hot sun.

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, 2-day Prime shipping, and competitive prices.

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • Selling My Truck & Trailer (Maybe): I’ve been thinking about this for well over a year, and I may take action on it next month. While I love ((love)) both my little 2-horse bumper pull and my truck, I have to be honest about how little I actually use them. The vast majority of clinics I attend are hosted by my barn, and I rarely show. All of my close riding friends have trailers, so I’m confident I could hitch a ride if needed in the future. Pondering…
  • Cow Working Clinic: My goal is to ride my horse in the early October Cow Working Clinic at my barn. We haven’t been able to do any clinics together this year due to his injury — and now mine, so I’m crossing my finger we can sneak in this one before the season ends.

As I head into September, I hope to be able to get out of my sling, extend my left arm’s range of motion, and get back to riding my horse before Fall. Despite both my horse and myself both having bone issues this year, I’m still grateful for all the time we’ve gotten to spend together — and that we will both recover fully. Having enough savings to cover his vet bills and my surgery bills is also a blessing and reminder that having an emergency fund is important for all equestrians.

Here on Horse Rookie, we talk a lot about how expensive horses are. If you’re not sure you’re ready for the financial responsibility, remember that there are other ways to get your horse fix besides ownership.

Wear a Mask, Pray for Rain & Ride On!

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!