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.)
It’s crazy to be typing up the final expense report of 2021. What a wild ride this year has been.
Before you look at the Summary Breakdown below—and have an actual heart attack—there’s a very good reason this month’s budget was utterly blown to smithereens…
I finally bought a jumping pony!
After trying at least six horses, visiting four other states, and enduring multiple failed vettings, the stars aligned for me to purchase a delightful 7yo Azteca gelding.
I’m excited to share our journey together on the blog in the future. For now, I hope you find this detailed run-through of new horse expenses useful. (It’s the kind of information I wish I’d had when I was shopping.)
In the meantime, here’s the recap of where my horse funds went for December:
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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month
$275 // Lessons
- I typically aim for 3 lessons per week—jumping, western flatwork, and cow work.
- This month, I did 5 lessons (3 cow work classes and 2 western flatwork).
- (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services in exchange for 4 lessons.)
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$79.99 // Ridely App Annual Subscription
- Many equestrians ride less during the winter, but I’m not one of them. If anything, I ride more during the cold weather months. I like that the barn is less busy, and my work demands typically slow down during this season, giving me more time to spend with my horse.
- Now that I’ll have two horses to work, I was eager to get some organization in place for tracking activities.
- After vetting several different mobile apps, I chose Ridely. The user interface is pretty slick, and I can plan and track riding activities for each horse. Plus, I can track goals and even share commentary with my lesson partner.
- I upgraded to the paid PRO subscription.
$55 // Jumping Lesson on Prospect Pony
- For each jumping horse I’ve tried during this journey, I like to take a lesson with the trainer and/or seller. It helps me understand how the horse has been ridden. Lessons also provide structure and focus, which is helpful when I’m in a stressful situation.
- When I went to try the pony in Oregon, I booked an hour session with the seller’s eventing coach.
- It was a great decision. I received valuable input about the pony and my riding—and the instructor gave me the confidence to jump a green pony enough to get a good sense of whether we’d be a good fit.
$207.16 // Tonya Johnston Mindset Coaching Call
- My lesson partner recently heard about Tonya Johnston, a Mental Skills Coach and author who works with riders all over the world. She helps equestrian athletes from disciplines such as hunter/jumper, three-day eventing, reining and dressage improve their mindsets.
- It’s been a tough couple years, for both my friend and myself—and not just because of COVID. We’ve both lost beloved horses, and we’ve both been seriously injured by other horses. No wonder we’ve noticed an uptick in anxiety and want to find new tools to mitigate the affects it takes on our riding.
- We decided to book a semi-private coaching session with Tonya—and I’m really glad we did! It was a great conversation, and I feel like we took the first step toward a better riding mindset.
- (Note: This expense includes $7.16 to print a workbook Tonya provided prior to our call.)
$180 // Farrier
- This was a routine appointment for new shoes, as well as snow pads on the front hooves. This helps prevent hard snow pack from building up during winter months.
$115 // Health Certificate & Coggins
- In order to travel across state lines, my new pony needs a Health Certificate and Negative Coggins Test.
- I (wrongly) assumed this was covered in the cost of the pre-purchase exam (PPE), but it wasn’t. So this was an additional vet charge once I decided to purchase him.
$23 // Feed Nose Bag
- I (wrongly) thought my new pony would need a pony size nose bag for his daily grain. But it turns out that he has a huge head and needed a regular horse size.
- Since I’d already tried the pony bag, I couldn’t return it. Instead, I consigned it at my local tack store and bought this replacement.
$14.99 // Equi-Bits Dewormer
- We think my mini horse has worms, despite trying regular deworming in much smaller dosage than normal horses. That’s why I liked the sound of this pellet dewormer that can simply be added to his daily grain.
- Fingers crossed it works—fast!
$45 // UlcerGard
- Since the pony will be traveling nearly 15 hours in the trailer when he comes to Montana, I want to make sure his tummy doesn’t get stressed out.
- UlcerGard is an easy preventative measure that helps prevent gastric ulcers, so I had the seller buy some for the trip.
$116.54 // SmartPak Daily Supplements
- My cow horse gets SmartDigest Ultra Pellets, which keeps him qualified for SmartPak’s Colicare Program.
- He also gets Equithrive every day, which helps with joint help and extends the benefits of hock injections.
- This month, I added daily SmartDigest Ultra Pellets for my new pony. I also enrolled him in Colicare.
$6,750 // Pony Purchase (Balance Payment)
- If you read November’s expense report, you know I put a deposit on the Azteca pony prior to doing a PPE or trying him.
- When I flew to Oregon after Thanksgiving, I was relieved to discover the pony was exactly as described—quite green (i.e. inexperienced), but with a great personality and lots of potential.
- After months of searching, and thousands of dollars down the drain in failed vettings, I finally signed on the dotted line!
- This expense was the sale price minus the deposit I already paid.
$22.97 // Treats
- I bought 3 bags of treats this month—one for the barn were my mini lives, one for my horses, and a communal bag for sharing at the barn.
Because I have a new pony on the way, there are a LOT more gear-related purchases this month than usual. I’ve kept descriptions brief to keep this section manageable.
$52.03 // Mini Horse Gear
- $34 // Mini Size Feed bag (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $18.93 // Build-a-Bear Shoes (x2) – My mini horse had his first trip to our local ranch store, and he slipped quite a bit on the flooring. I decided to try some used toy shoes from eBay to avoid investing in actual mini sneakers. (They’re expensive!)
$477.52 // Tack Room Organization
- $145.96 // 2 Blanket bars and 2 horse boot racks – I moved into a larger tack room space, now that I’ll have two horses, and I wanted to invest in better storage solutions. (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $202.56 // 4 Hanging wire baskets, 2 wheeled storage bins, and wireless shelf lights. (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $129 // Plastic storage locker for riding boots, health supplies, treats, and other smaller items.
$747.58 // Rider Apparel & Gear
- $119.99 // Horze Utah Thermo Boots (available at Equinavia or Amazon) (Adjustment: Equinavia kindly sent me these boots to review.)
- $109.95 // Ovation Kimberly Winter Riding Boots (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $18 // Kerrits Cool Ride Ice Fil Shirt (on clearance!)
- $18.75 // Kerrits First Frost Neck Warmer
- $23.90 // Grabbers Heated Insoles (10 pack)
- $37.99 // SSG Winter Training Gloves (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $419 // Tipperary Body Protector – I bought this safety vest in Oregon before going to ride the two horses I tried. Riding any horse is dangerous, but horses you don’t know are much more risky. This was a smart move, though I’m glad I didn’t “test it” during either ride!
$631.49 // Jumping Pony Gear
- $34 // Pony Size Feed bag (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $19.95 // Kavallerie Gel Bit Guards (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $60 // Big Sky Tack Rope Halter and Lead Rope (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $127.50 // Rambo Dry Rug (Cooler) (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this purchase.)
- $16 // Bobby’s English Tack Brow Band
- $61 // Shires Anti-Chafe Superfleece Contour Girth
- $168 // Rhino Turnout Sheet (no fill)
- $60.44 // 100 Gram Blanket Liner
- $68 // Rambo 200 Gram Blanket Liner
- $16.60 // Blanket Tags (Etsy)
($450) // Other Cost Offsets
- ($150) // I sold an Ovation Flex eventing vest to another rider at my barn.
- ($300) // I sold some computer and office items to offset new pony gear costs.
$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.
- This month, I added the new pony to my liability policy—and was delighted to hear it was no extra charge!
$74.75 // Mortality & Major Medical Insurance
- I also have a mortality and major medical insurance policy through Berkley Equine & Cattle Insurance. It covers up to $10,000 in major medical expenses and the cost of my horse if he were to die.
- Insuring my new pony was also a priority, especially before he gets on the trailer for the long trip to Montana. I’m still waiting to learn how much my premium will increase, but he is currently covered.
$525 // Board
- Board is currently $500 per month, and I prepaid my barn account for awhile to get a 10% discount.
- This includes a temporary (???) “hay surcharge” of $75 per month. Our area experienced extreme drought this year, and hay is in short supply. Supply costs have nearly doubled, and we all need to pitch in to cover the difference.
- 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 $150 off 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.
$549.72 // Hotel Rooms for Hauler
- While I was in Oregon, I tried a second horse for a friend of mine. She decided to take the gelding on trial, and the seller agreed to haul him to Montana.
- In exchange for spending my time trying the horse for her (and taking lots of video – thanks Dad!), my pony gets a ‘free ride’ to Montana too!
- I offered to cover the hotel room once the hauler arrives in town, as I don’t need to pay anything for the hauling itself.
- Due to weather (and an overly ambitious route, in my opinion), the trip ended up taking three days instead of one. Sadly, I didn’t find out until it was too late to cancel the hotel I’d reserved in town—and the hauler asked for two additional nights of hotel payment. Not the most transparent process…
$100 // Extra Board in Oregon
- It took more than a week to hear whether the second horse was coming to Montana, so it seemed fair to pay my pony’s seller for the 10 extra days at her barn.
- Between this and the hotel cost above, I’m still saving at least $600 over hiring a professional hauler.
TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $10,715.74TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $9,341.34
Over-budget by $8,341.34
Money Well Spent
What am I particularly glad I spent money on this month?
- Making the trip to Oregon to try yet another horse was expensive, but I’m really glad I went. Some people are comfortable purchasing new horses they haven’t tried or met—I’m just not one of them. I knew I needed to meet the horse, and ride, before making such a big decision.
- Expanding my tack area and reorganizing all my gear feels really good. Each item is in its place, I know where everything is, and it simply feels cleaner and tidier to be in the space now.
- Though I didn’t buy my jump saddle recently, I am particularly happy that I purchased a saddle with an adjustable gullet system. It means I don’t need to buy expensive new tack just because I’m switching English horses.
- Last, but certainly not least, I’m VERY excited about my new pony!!!
Wonder how expensive horses are where you live? We break down the average horse cost in all 50 states.
What do I regret spending money on?
- The trip to Wyoming ended up being a “waste,” at least in the sense that I didn’t end up purchasing either of the horses I tried. It’s hard not to view that day as an expensive mistake. In reality, though, I learned more about what I am looking for in a horse—and what I’m not.
- When I tried the pony, he was being ridden with bit guards. My trainer had an old bridle that magically fits him, though, and it doesn’t seem to need the guards. At the moment, they’re going unused.
- I’m bummed that the hauler didn’t tell me she was delayed in enough time to cancel the hotel I pre-booked for her. She also didn’t ask about additional lodging expenses before extending the trip, so that wasn’t something I budgeted for.
Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)
How could you save some money?
- Barter, barter, barter: Consistently 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?
- More Lessons: It’s really important to me that the new pony is a “good citizen.” I plan to add extra lessons with my Western trainer to make sure Jax has a solid foundation, manners, and respect heading into the new year.
- Sports Psychology Coaching Group: I plan to join an 8-week “Mindset Boost” online program with Tonya Johnston next month. It seems like a great way to continue exploring the topics introduced in our coaching call before deciding if we want to do additional sessions.
- Heated Base Layer: I pride myself on being “winter ready” for riding, but we’ve already had a few weeks that were consistently under zero degrees. I’m seriously considering trying battery heated base layer tights.
Whew! This was by far my longest and most expensive horse expense report to date. (And hopefully ever.)
Despite feeling like I had a solid understanding of the cost of horse care, I was still surprised at how expense the process of even looking for a horse turned out to be. Hopefully sharing this process helps you go into your own search with eyes wide open—and bank accounts well padded!
Remember, if you’re surprised how expensive horses are, remember that there are plenty of other ways to get your horse fix besides ownership.
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
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