Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: December 2020 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

Last month’s budget went up in flames, but I got closer this time — within about $500 of my goal. I was simply happy not to have any unexpected health costs pop up in December. Read on to learn where my money went this month and to see some exciting gifts I got this holiday!

december summary

Summary Breakdown

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


  • $465.00 // 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, 4 semi-private jumping, and 3 cow working lessons.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for three lessons ($135).

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


  • $175 // Farrier
    • My horse had a standard shoeing appointment this month, but the farrier was able to reset the existing front shoes (versus replace them) to save a little money. Yay!
  • $113.46 // SmartPak Daily Supplements
    • He gets SmartDigest Ultra Pellets, which also keeps him qualified for SmartPak’s Colicare Program.
    • Given all the hoof issues my gelding has had this year, I decided to add SmartHoof Pellets to his SmartPak. This supplement is supposed to encourage strong hoof growth.
    • This month I added Equithrive to his SmartPaks. Our barn manager mentioned it’s easier than opening the big tub of it in winter gloves, and I aim to please.


  • Gift // Pivo Pod Silver
    • My best friend gifted me a Pivo Pod Silver for Christmas! She knows how much I’ve wanted to do video for Horse Rookie and thought this would be perfect.
    • I’d never heard of Pivo, but now that I’ve done some research I’m pumped. It should allow me to do motion tracking while I ride, or for things like product review videos. We’re going to try it later this week, so I’ll be sure to post updates.
  • $25.00 // Pivo Smart Mount
    • After receiving a Pivo Pod Silver for Christmas, I decided to order the Pivo Smart Mount accessory. It allows you to angle your smart phone vs. sitting straight in the Pivo Pod.
  • $25.00 // Barn Manager Holiday Gift
    • All of our boarders went in together on a group cash gift for our barn manager. She’s amazing!
  • $5.28 // Molasses and Syringe
    • I bought a jar of molasses
  • $20.47 // More Horse Treats
    • The German Beet Treat are from the same company that makes German Horse Muffins, and my horse loves both varieties.
    • Purina Carrot & Oat Treats are a new find, and my horse loves them. I ended up buying two bags this month alone. For me, I love that these are light and airy — but a bit larger in size than other treats. That way my horse feels like he’s getting a sizable (and crunchy!) reward without me having to feed him zillions of small treats.
purina carrot and oat treats

Click to get them at Amazon


  • GIFT // HorsePal Blanket Sensor
    • This holiday, a friend gave me the HorsePal Blanket Sensor. This smart device is designed to let you track your horse’s temperature and humidity so you can make better blanketing decisions.
    • As someone who frequently worries about whether she’s blanketing correctly, I really like the idea of having an app synced up with a sensor under my gelding’s rug. 
    • Though I haven’t tried it out yet, I’ll post a HorsePal review soon!
  • $65.24 // Lightweight Puffer Coat
    • A few years ago, I picked up a second hand Fuji Double-Zip to wear around the barn. I didn’t expect to love it, but I’ve since worn it countless times during every fall and winter. 
    • Actually, I’ve worn it so much that it’s beginning to wear out. I got a bit panicky about not having a backup, so I grabbed another second-hand one on eBay.
    • If you prefer to buy new, you can get the hooded version on Amazon.
Fuji puffer coat

Click to see Fuji puff coats at Amazon

  • $5.99 // Small Feed Pan
    • My horse has always been sensitive about people touching his face, but it got a lot worse lately. We finally figured out that a face bite he got from another horse was likely painful every time his feed bag was put on. 
    • Though the bite has since healed, he seemed to be reacting to the memory of it being tender — and he didn’t want anyone near his face… especially with a feed bag.
    • One of my strategies has been to overwrite those bad memories with really good ones. That meant molasses! So I got this little pan to manage the sticky mess.
  • $15.41 // Velcro Strips
    • Am I the only equestrian who gets annoyed by velcro boots sticking together and getting in the way?
    • This month, I decided to make better use of the vertical space in my tack spot. I bought a simple velcro strip (2″ works well), nailed it to the wall, and voila!
horse boot storage

My velcro strip works!

  • $20.00 // Used Fleece-Lined Girth
    • I purchased a second-hand english girth from a barn friend. I needed a smaller size… at least, until my gelding puffed up his winter coat.
ovation fleece lined girth

See the Ovation lined girth 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)


  • $450 // Board
    • Board rates increased from $460 to $500. I prepaid my barn account for a while, though, so I get a 10% discount.
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a discount on lessons.


  • $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) = $1,639.71

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,504.71

Over-budget by $504.71

Money Well Spent

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

  • TREATS! Some horses get pushy and mouthy with too many treats, but luckily mine isn’t one of them. Positive food rewards have really helped lesson his head shyness these past few weeks.
  • Though I didn’t have to pay for it (#thanksbestie), I’m really excited to try the Pivo Pod Silver motion tracker. It’s specifically designed to follow horses, and it works indoors (unlike Soloshot.)
  • It’s a small thing, but having my boots stored up and out of the way on my velcro strip is so worth 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’m STILL sad to still be paying for truck insurance now that my trailer has been sold. My first potential buyer fell through, but I have a second person who may be interested. I’m waiting to hear back…
  • Shortly after I agreed to buy my friend’s second-hand girth, another friend gave me an identical girth for free. But I didn’t feel right backing out of buying the first one.

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: I still need to find a buyer so I can add the proceeds to my horse fund.
  • VenTech Hind Boots (Non-Skid): In October, I purchased a set of Professional’s Choice VenTech SMB Boots with regular fronts and skid hinds. I’d like to get regular hind boots, as well, for when we aren’t working on sliding stops.

This month’s expenses felt far more manageable, but I’m still reminded 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.

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

See More Expense Reports

Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:

Love it? Share it!

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!