Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: December 2019 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

How much do horses cost? Here’s my answer for December 2019.

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.

Coming hot on the heels of an over-budget November, December expenses were thankfully back on target.

horse cost ownership dec 2019

Summary Breakdown

This month I kept non-essential purchases to a minimum and bartered to cover my horse’s semi-annual Equiwinner patches and a new pair of Acavallo safety stirrups for my jump saddle.

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.

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

Cost of Owning a Horse This Month


  • $345 // Riding Lessons
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 2 private Western lessons, 3 semi-private jumping lessons, and 2 cow working lessons.
    • Several lessons were cancelled for the holidays.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 4 lessons, and our barn owners comped the remainder of my lessons for a holiday treat! Because I board at the barn, I also get a discounted rate on lessons.)

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


  • $170 // Farrier
    • My horse continues to need wedges and pads on his front hooves, and he also has snow pads on his back hooves to keep ice from putting pressure on his feet.
  • $139 // Equiwinner Patches
    • Every six months, I do a 10-day treatment with these patented, non-transdermal patches. Equiwinner is a natural electrolyte-balancing system with no side effects and no positive testing in any competition.
    • Though these patches help treat a range of issues, I use them to manage my gelding’s seasonal coughing. They work wonders!
    • Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for these stirrups.
  • $87.69 // SmartStride Ultra Joint Supplements
    • Since my horse had his first hock injections last month, my trainer suggested starting him on a joint supplement. The goal is to make each injection’s effects last longer and help joints, bones, tendons and ligaments cope with the demands of consistent exercise.
    • SmartStride Ultra is essentially the SmartPak version of Equithrive. I planned to buy the latter, but there was a sale on the SmartPak product for the holidays.
  • $46.39 // SmartPak Daily Supplements


  • N/A


  • $85 // Roeckl  Whitehorse Winter Gloves
    • Riding year-round puts a lot of strain on your gear, and winter gloves take a real beating here in Montana. One on my favorite pairs finally bit the dust this month, so it was time for a replacement.
    • After trying on several different options, I landed on the Whitehorse from Roeckl. I liked how they covered more of my wrist, can be snugged up around the wrist, and feature windstopper material.
    • Full review coming soon!
    • Adjustment: I applied a $50 gift card to this purchase.
  • ($55) // Consignment Tack Sale
    • This month I resold a bit and bridle at our local tack store. This was my commission.
  • $52 // Acavallo Safety Stirrups
    • I still love with my Compositi stirrups, but I decided it made more sense to move them to my dressage saddle and use safety stirrups for jumping.
    • Though I planned to buy Compositi Eclipse safety stirrups, several online reviews reported they could be squeaky while riding. I’m very sensitive to noises like that, so Acavallo Arena AluPro safety stirrups won out instead.
    • Full review coming soon!
    • Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for these stirrups.

Check out my Acavallo Stirrups Review to learn why I’m obsessed!


  • $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.
    • Note: I initially forgot to include this expense on my January and February reports, but I went back and added it.


  • $460 // Board
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a small discount on lessons.
    • (Adjustment: I bartered marketing services in exchange for board.)


  • $111.36 // 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) = $1,752.09

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $563.09

(Under budget by $436.91)

Money Well Spent

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

  • My favorite purchase is definitely the Acavallo safety stirrups. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the amount of tread grip or the off-center footbed. It turns out that my feet barely shift while riding (yay!) thanks to the “cheese grater” sole. Having the footbed farther back also gives me increased stability without sticking more of my foot through the stirrup.

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?

  • This month, I don’t have any regrets about the things I bought for my horse (and myself). Larger purchases were either for his health or my safety and comfort. Those are always solid investments! 

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?

  • SSG Pro Hybrid Gloves: I made the #rookiemistake of trying on non-winter gloves while I was at the tack store. Now I’m pining for these thinner buttery-soft gloves from SSG. It’ll be months before it’s warm enough for regular gloves, though, so I’m trying to make myself wait.

One of the most challenging things about horse ownership is financial unpredictability. From month to month, your expenses can range hundreds (or more) dollars. Looking back on 2019, I’m more aware than ever just how expensive horses are and why so many people find other ways to get their horse fixes.

On a brighter note, being able to decrease spending for December ended up bringing my average for November and December within $200 of goal. #littlevictories

Watch for a detailed year-in-review post about all of my 2019 spending soon.

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

From the tender age of six, I embarked on a journey that would weave horses into the very fabric of my existence. Over 35 years have passed since I first mounted a horse, and my love for equestrian sports is stronger than ever before.