Budgeting

Cost of Owning a Horse: February 2021 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.)

In February, I ended up more than $800 over budget. This was in large part due to my decision to register for two future clinics. Both required pre-payment and were filling fast. Normally, I’m reluctant to ride away from home—it ramps up my anxiety. But, after 2020, I figure it’s worth taking some risks and pushing myself. Traveling should be as good for my horse as it will be for me, even though it comes at a cost.

february expenses

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month

EDUCATION

$370.00 // 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, 3 semi-private jumping, and 2 cow working lessons.
  • (Adjustment: I traded social media management 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.

$175.00 // Future Ranch Riding Clinic

  • Our local ranch riding association is putting on a clinic in April that will be co-taught by my coach. 
  • One of my goals for 2021 is to ride away from home at least 8 times, and this will be the first. Both my horse and I are homebodies, so I have to put in extra effort to do events outside my comfort zone. This will be a start!

$362.25 // Future Cutting Clinic

  • The Art of the Cowgirl Event is a gathering that celebrates cowgirls and their contributions to western lifestyle and culture. This year, it’s being held in Montana!
  • As part of the event, there are a number of riding clinics to kick things off. I decided to sign up for the cutting clinic, since that’s the discipline I enjoy most right now. It’ll be awesome to learn from a new instructor, in a new atmosphere, and test our training to this point. 
  • This won’t take place until June, but I had to reserve my spot (and pay for it) early.

HEALTH

$240 // Farrier

  • It’ll be a beautiful day when my horse can go back to regular shoes on his front feet… but that day didn’t come this month.
  • Instead, he got a new set of expensive “freedom clogs,” as well as snow pads and partial sliders on his hinds. Bye-bye, money.

$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements

FUN

$5.99 // Peppermints

  • My gelding can be hard for other people to catch, so I work hard to be sure I’m always the “best offer” he’s had all day. That means showing up at the gate with crinkly wrapped peppermints in my pocket. They make a lot of noise, so he can hear me unwrap them—and get interested!
  • I pick up bulk peppermints at our local ranch store, but you can grab them on Amazon if you have trouble finding them.

$6.99 // More Carrot Treats

  • That’s right… more treats. Except these are for the barn!
carrot treats

Click to see it on Amazon

GEAR

$52.19 // 100g Blanket Liner Replacement

  • I’ve been around horses for more than 30 years, and I still make plenty of “rookie mistakes.”
  • In fact, I made another one this month when I forgot to clip my horse’s liner to his rain sheet. By the time the barn owner went out to feed the next morning, the liner had shifted and ended up tangled around his front legs. 
  • This is obviously dangerous, but luckily he was fine. The liner, on the other hand, couldn’t be salvaged.
  • I replaced it with this WarmaRug from State Line Tack.
warmarug horse blanket liner

Click to see it at State Line Tack

$20.00 // Helmet Skull Cap

  • During cold weather, wearing a skull cap under my helmet keeps me way warmer.
  • I had one of these, but I wore it so much that I decided to get a second. Now that I’m riding 6-7 days per week, it’s nice to rotate one and wash the other.

$63.50 // Branded Barn Apparel

  • Our barn community has a strong team spirit, so I recently set up an online store with branded apparel.
  • I ordered a soft shell vest that can be worn for clinics, schooling shows, and around the barn. 
  • Plus, I got a collared long-sleeve button-down shirt that will look nice at Western clinics and shows.
online horse courses

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.)

$0 // DELETED Tow Vehicle Insurance

  • I finally sold my truck, so I’m no longer paying for insurance. #littlevictory

STABLING

$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.
  • I wasn’t able to barter for board this month, but I will be able to starting next month!

TRAVEL

$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) = $2,018.58

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,883.58

Over-budget by $883.58

Money Well Spent

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

  • Every year, Education is one of my biggest investments. The Ranch Riding and Cutting Clinics should be great experiences worth the money, though I wish I hadn’t had to prepare for both at the same time. 
  • Though cold season is coming to an end (finally!), I’ve already gotten a lot of use out of the second skull cap.

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?

  • The new blanket liner was an unexpected purchase—and an avoidable one. Hopefully, I won’t make the same mistake twice!
online horse courses

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?

  • Different Western Saddle: I really didn’t want this to be on my list for years. When I bought my horse five years ago, I had a saddle made for him after I struck out at the store. It’s still a great saddle for all-around riding, but the seat shape makes it hard to do sliding stops for reining—or to hold onto the horn for cutting. Since I plan to keep advancing in reining, cutting, and reined cow horses disciplines, it’s time to start the search for a better fit.
  • Existing Saddle Modification: If I decide a new saddle isn’t in the cards, for whatever reason, I may see if someone can flatten out the seat on my current saddle. I don’t know if that’s even possible, but I may look into it.

Until I can barter for board again, I’ll struggle to ever get back on budget—but I hope that changes in March. 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

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!