Cost of Owning a Horse: August 2021 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.)

August was really hard, there’s no denying it. I offered to part-lease the horse I had been borrowing for jumping lessons in order to help offset the owner’s expenses. He was a truly lovely horse, and I felt it was worth a few hundred dollars per month to be able to continue riding him exclusively.

Only a few days after making the offer, however, the gelding broke his leg playing in the pasture and had to be put down. It was a tragic and unexpected situation, and it’s still hard to believe it happened. I was lucky to make it to the barn in time to say goodbye, and I’m grateful for that. 


Rest in peace, goofball.

Now, though, I find myself without an English/jumping horse. My own gelding isn’t a natural jumper, and I want him to be able to stick to what he’s good at—reining and cow work. 

I’m trying to decide whether to purchase a second horse, which wasn’t part of my plan financially. I really miss being able to do English lessons and progress in my jumping. In the meantime, here’s the recap of where my horse funds went for August:

august 2021 expense report

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month


$180 // Lessons

  • I typically aim for 3 lessons per week—jumping, western flatwork, and cow work. 
  • This month, I did 4 western flatwork lessons. 
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services in exchange for 3 lessons.)

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

$450 // Reining and Ranch Riding Clinic

  • I participated in our barn’s one-day Reining Clinic and rode in half of the following day’s Ranch Riding Clinic.
  • The first day, I rode my gelding. The second day, I rode the horse I borrowed for jumping lessons. (He could do both.) 
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services for my spot.)

$275 // Ranch Horse Competition Show Fees

  • This was the last local ranch riding show of the season, and we actually won our first class!
  • I paid for both my entry fees and my best friend’s, since she hauled our horses to the show several hours away. 


$30 // Fecal Count Test

  • After a reminder email from Smartpak about annual health requirements for the ColicCare program, I had the vet do a fecal count test so he’d current on his records.

$90 // Bodywork

  • After the show, I scheduled a bodywork appointment as a little treat for my horse. He did have some tight muscles, so I’m glad he was able to enjoy an adjustment!
  • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this session.)

$659.28 // End-of-Life Care Vet Call

  • Though the horse that passed away wasn’t *technically* mine, I opted to pay his final medical bill.
  • Losing a horse is hard enough without getting a big invoice afterward, so I wanted to save his owner from that experience.

$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements


$21.47 // Horse Treats (3 bags)

german horse muffins

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$100 // Barn Manger Gift

  • Our beloved barn manager is off to grad school out-of-state, so we had a potluck send off party for her this month. 
  • I chipped into her college fund as a goodbye gift.

We have an entire article about the best gifts for barn owners, managers, and workers if you ever need ideas!


$7.00 // Leather Cleaning Wipes

  • I wanted to give my tack a little shine prior to the show, and leather wipes are the fastest way to do it!

$2.95 // Magic Brush

  • These are my favorite brushes for sweat marks and getting my horse’s coat shiny. Plus, they’re cheap—so I keep buying more.

$38.49 // Used Bit

  • This month, I purchased a stronger jumping bit for the horse I was borrowing. Sadly, we only got to use it once 🙁

$20 // Used Spurs

  • I also got a new-to-me pair of English spurs for jumping… which I only used once.


$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.)


$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.)


$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) = $2,653.85

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,528.85

Over-budget by $528.85

Money Well Spent

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

  • I’m happy that I went to the last ranch riding show of the year—and even happier that we won 🙂 
  • The reining clinic was taught by a guest instructor and professional reining judge. We got a lot of great feedback and tips that I was able to put into practice at the horse show.
  • Helping our barn manager afford grad school made me happy. She was such a wonderful part of our barn family and always took great care of my horse!

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?

  • Losing my lease horse was terrible. His vet bill was an unplanned expense, although a voluntary one. I wish we could have continued our journey together for years to come, but it wasn’t meant to be.

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?

  • Increased Board: Montana is going through a severe hay shortage, so our board costs are increasing as of September. This helps offset the higher costs that my barn needs to pay for hay. 
  • Blanket Cleaning: It’s that time of year again—time to take all my horse’s blankets in for repair and cleaning ahead of winter.
  • A Second Horse(???): I didn’t have any plans to go horse showing anytime soon, but I may need to in order to keep jumping. I’m currently crunching the numbers to figure out what I might be comfortable spending—and calculating what my monthly cost increase would be. These expense reports have been SO helpful! I have a much better understanding of how much horses cost now.

As I wrap up August expense tracking, I’m really glad to have years worth of detailed cost data. Deciding whether to purchase another horse is a huge step, but at least I have the tools to know whether it’s a financially feasible choice. Stay tuned for updates this Fall—it could get interesting!

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

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!