Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: January 2021 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.

(If you’re new to these expense reports, make sure to read the “reminders” section here for background on my finances.)

As I kicked off my third year of horse-related expense tracking, I did so with much clearer financial expectations. My 2020 year in review post outlined several trends (e.g. educational expenses among my top categories). It also showed a general trend toward higher medical expenses as my horse ages. These are exactly the types of things I need to know — and plan for in the future.

In January, I had very few unplanned expenses (yay), but I still came in over budget. This is simply the nature of the beast during months when I’m unable to barter for board. Come March, hopefully our barn’s clinic series will pick back up so I can trade my marketing and management services in return for board.

january expenses

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


$560.00 // Lessons

  • My goal is 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work).
  • This month I was able to do 4 semi-private western, 4 semi-private jumping, and 4 cow working lessons.
  • (Adjustment: I traded social media management services in exchange for two lessons ($90).

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) for a third time to save some money.

$25.37 // Dermaclothes

  • My horse has some little abrasions on one leg, but I didn’t want to clean it traditionally while he’s standing around in freezing cold snow or mud. I got these clothes that allow you to clean skin conditions without alcohol or soap. 
  • I now keep these in my grooming tote and use them to help small skin issues stay clean and heal.

$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements


$6.49 // More Horse Treats

  • Purina Carrot & Oat Treats are a bit larger in size than other treats, so my horse feels like he’s getting a sizable reward without me having to feed him a bunch of small sugary treats. These are my current favorites!
purina carrot and oat treats

Click to get them at Amazon


$50.00 // Back on Track Hind Exercise Boots

  • I’d been looking for some versatile hind boots that would provide support for flatwork, cow work, and all-around riding.
  • My friend decided to sell a pair of Back on Track Hind Exercise Boots that were too big for her horse — but fit mine perfectly. So I got them for a great price.
back on track exercise boots

Click to see them 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)

  • I’m hopeful this will be my final month of truck insurance since my vehicle is for sale.


$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.


$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) = $1,609.94

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,519.94

Over-budget by $519.94

Money Well Spent

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

  • My favorite purchase this month was definitely the used Back on Track Hind Exercise Boots. I’ve put them on my horse nearly every ride since I bought them, and I love knowing he has more protection and support. 
  • The dermaclothes were a small risk, but they turned out to be worth it. They were really easy to use in the winter time, and I like having them on-hand for future scrapes, cuts, or skin irritations.

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 (yet again) sad to be paying for truck insurance after selling my trailer several months ago. I had two potential buyers fall through, but I’m hopeful a third will go through in February.

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?

  • Selling My Truck: Fingers crossed a sale comes through next month.
  • Sliders: For the first time since I’ve owned my horse, I might have the farrier put sliders on next month. A slider is a special kind of horse shoe that makes it easier to execute a reining sliding stop. The only variable is whether it’s too icy in the paddocks for sliders to be safe. This may need to wait until March or April.

This month was about on par for what I expected, given I wasn’t able to barter for my board again yet. 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

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!