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Cost of Owning a Horse: February 2020 Expense Report

How-Much-Do-Horses-Cost-3
Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

Based on my 2019 data, I thought this January, February, and March might be low-spending months again. Um, not so much. I was over-budget in January, and February was, too. (Thanks a lot dead truck battery!)

Not exactly the start to 2020 I had hoped for, but that’s the reality of horse ownership. Unforeseen expenses happen, and you have to be ready.

feb 2020 horse expense report

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

EDUCATION

  • $280 // Riding Lessons & Jumping Chute
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 2 private Western lessons, 1 semi-private jumping lessons, and 2 cow working lessons.
    • Several lessons were cancelled for bad weather.
    • I also participated in a jump chute “Fun Day” at our barn.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 2 lessons. 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.

HEALTH

  • $205 // Farrier
    • Ugh. It feels like his shoeing gets more expensive every time. My horse needs regular pads and wedges in the front, snow pads in the back, and it really adds up.
  • $65 // Banamine
    • Given all the weather changes, which increase colic risk, I realized I should have some Banamine on-hand.  
    • I bought a tub from my vet just to be safe. Hope I’ll never need it!
  • $46.39 // SmartPak Daily Supplements

FUN

  • N/A

GEAR

  • $50 // Used Horseware Show Jacket
    • A friend decided to sell some of her competition gear, and I bought her lightly used Horseware Show Jacket.
    • I’m not sure if I’ll do any jump shows this season, but this was a less expensive way to keep my options open.
Horseware show jacket

Click to see this jacket at Amazon

Note: For Horses also kindly sent me a SIRIO show shirt and MISTI breeches to try, and you can read my detailed review here. Now I’m officially ready for show season!

INSURANCE

  • $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.

STABLING

  • $460 // Board
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a small discount on lessons.
    • This is the first month I’ve needed to pay for board out-of-pocket in a while. Typically, I’m able to trade for my clinic management services, but we haven’t kicked off our barn’s 2020 season yet.

TRAVEL

  • $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.
  • $399 // Truck Battery, Wipers, and Oil Change
    • As you read in my January horse expense report, the only reason I have a truck is to pull my horse trailer
    • I rarely haul anywhere, though, so these couple months of high truck expenses have me rethinking whether I really need to keep it around. 
    • Selling my truck and trailer would end up paying for more than a year of horse board and lessons. I’ll keep you posted once I decide what to do!

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,784.42

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,674.42

(Over-budget by $674.42)

Money Well Spent

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

  • I’m always grateful to be able to take regular lessons, but that’s especially true this month. My horse and I have turned a corner (pun intended) on our reining turnarounds. Plus, our sliding stops are getting way better!
  • Though I don’t need it immediately, the Horseware Show Jacket feels like a smart investment. I saved ~50% of the cost just by buying it used!

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?

  • Horse shoeing continues to be a big expense, and I’m honestly not sure what to do about it. My gelding is on a strict 6-week schedule, so ~$200 per visit puts a big dent in my budget. Soon, I’ll be able to stop using the snow pads — but that won’t make that much of a price difference. Any other ideas?
  • Dealing with a dead truck battery seemed like a perfect illustration of my quandary. I rarely drive it, which means I rarely need it. I’m seriously considering whether to sell both my truck and trailer this year. That said, I worry about being “stuck” if I can’t find him a ride with friends. 

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.
online horse courses

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

While I’m able to financially handle unexpected expenses, that doesn’t mean I like them! Publishing these monthly horse expense reports has been an eye-opening experience, and they’re helping me clarify where my money is best spent in the short and long term.

If they’ve also opened your eyes about just how expensive horses are, there are other ways to get your horse fix. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

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

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!