Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: January 2020 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.

Last month, I recapped my first full year of expense tracking. Suffice it to say, I learned a lot. So I’m going to keep going!

jan 2020 horse expense report

Summary Breakdown

Spoiler alert: I’m over-budget this month. The primary culprit? A cracked truck windshield I needed to replace. While some might not call that expense “horse related,” the only reason I have a truck is to pull my horse trailer.

Given that I’m considering whether I should keep or sell the truck — in part because of expenses like this — I decided to include the windshield repair in my expense report.

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.

(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


  • $500 // Riding Lessons & Jumping Clinic
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 3 private Western lessons, 2 semi-private jumping lessons, and 4 cow working lessons.
    • Several lessons were cancelled for bad weather.
    • I also let my instructor take my horse to a local jumping clinic after her intended mount came up lame. It was the first time my horse jumped away from home, so I knew it’d be an invaluable experience for him. Plus, I was out of town that weekend, so he got exercised. We split the cost since it was a win-win!
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 1 lesson, and my instructor exchanged 1 lesson for helping her with a few chores. 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.


  • $20 // Deworming
    • My barn handles deworming and simply passes through the cost.
  • $102 // Equithrive
    • When my horse got his first hock injections, I decided to put him on joint supplements to extend the effects. 
    • This 60-day supply of Equithrive will be used once my SmartStride Ultra runs out.
  • $90 // Chiropractor
    • It’d been a while since my horse had an adjustment, so I booked a visit with his chiropractor this month.
    • He always enjoys these “tune ups,” and I feel better knowing she didn’t find anything troubling!
  • $46.39 // SmartPak Daily Supplements

Click to see Equithrive at Amazon


  • $20 // Coffee Gift Card
    • I bought a coffee shop gift card for one of our barn workers. She helped me swap out the Equiwinner patches a few days when I couldn’t make it to the barn, and I wanted to say thanks!
  • $18.48 // Horse Treats
    • Did I need these? No. After my horse really rocked his jumping and reining lessons, though, I had all the warm fuzzies 🙂 I couldn’t help but stop at the store for his favorite German Horse Muffins and a bag of local Beavis & Buster horse treats.
German Horse Muffins

Click to see these treats at Amazon (My horse LOVES them!)


  • ($15) // Consignment Tack Sale
    • This month I resold a pair of spurs at our local tack store. This was my commission.


  • $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.
  • $257.99 // Truck Windshield Replacement
    • Another car must have hit my windshield with a rock, and the crack was directly in my line of sight…and spreading.
    • Paying out of pocket was less expensive than going through my insurance company, so that’s what I did.

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,778.89

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,283.89

(Over-budget by $283.89)

Money Well Spent

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

  • Sending my horse to a jumping clinic while I was out of town = best idea ever! It was so valuable for him to be ridden by a more confident and experienced jumper (i.e. my trainer), and it’s always good for him to practice being away from home.
  • Though I bought them the previous month, I’m still loving my new Acavallo safety stirrups. I feel so secure while jumping, and I rest easier knowing the safety stirrups will release if I were to have any unplanned discounts. Check out my Acavallo Arena Stirrups Review.

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 one is easy — the truck windshield. Most of the year, this vehicle sits outside not being used. It isn’t my day-to-day car, and I only haul my horse a handful of times. More and more, I’m convinced I should sell my truck and put those funds into other areas like education and health expenses. Stay tuned…

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?

  • New Jump Saddle & Girth (Maybe): As much as I hate to admit it, it may be time for a different jump saddle and girth soon. My instructor and I agree my current saddle/girth combo shifts too much side to side, and I’d like something more stable. We may also be able to find a saddle that feels more “uphill” when I’m riding. I haven’t decided to pull the trigger on this purchase, as it’d be a big one. Stay tuned…
  • SSG Pro Hybrid Gloves: Once the weather warms up, I’ve got my eye on these thinner buttery-soft gloves from SSG.

Kicking off 2020 over-budget isn’t ideal, but it is clarifying. There may be some things (like my truck) that are costing me more than the joy and/or value I’m getting from them.

As always, these expense reports have opened my eyes about just how expensive horses are and why so many people find other ways to get their horse fixes.

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

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!