Cost of Owning a Horse: July 2021 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

Thankfully, July was kind to my budget. In fact, I ended up 36% under budget—thanks to a good amount of bartering. I stayed focus on what was truly important, like educating my horse and myself. My purchases this month were practical, not frivolous, and I wisely stayed away from the tack store.

july expense report

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


$130.50 // Lessons

  • I typically aim for 3 lessons per week—jumping, western flatwork, and cow work. 
  • This month, I did 3 western flatwork (1 with cows, which incurs an extra fee) and 1 jumping. 
  • (Adjustment: I traded social media management services in exchange for 2 lessons.)

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$295 // Cow Work Clinic

  • I participated in our barn’s two-day Cow Work Clinic, and I learn more every time I attend one of these sessions.
  • The first day, I rode my gelding. The second day, I rode the horse I borrow for jumping lessons. (He can do both.) 
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services for my spot.)


$185 // Farrier

  • This was a routine farrier appointment, and it included replaces our reining sliders on the back hooves.
  • We skipped the front leather wedges this time since I don’t plan on riding the road much in the next six weeks.

$165 // Dental

  • Most horses get dentals every couple years. Thanks to these expense reports, I realized it’d been at least three since my horse had been done. (Oops!)
  • I quickly booked him an appointment, and luckily he was in pretty good shape. He did have some pointy teeth that had started rubbing on his cheeks, so it was good that we scheduled. And don’t worry: It’s already on my calendar for next year.
  • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for this session.)

$180 // Bodywork (x2)

  • Both my horse and the gelding I borrow for jumping got bodywork this month. This is one of the best maintenance investments you can make, and my horses are much more comfortable because of it.
  • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services for both sessions.)
equine massage book

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$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements




($7.00) // Consignment Sale

  • I resold a set of halter pads at the tack store and made a whopping $7… but every little bit helps!

$63.00 // Replacement Western Boots (used)

  • This month, I lost my favorite Western riding boots to a broken zipper. I bought them on my very first trip to Montana, so they had a lot of sentimental value too. 
  • Though Merrell doesn’t make them anymore, I found a similar style on eBay and bought a used pair for way less than a new pair of boots.


$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.)


$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.
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic marketing services in exchange for 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. 

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,734.16

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $644.16

Under-budget by $355.84

Money Well Spent

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

  • Dentals, shoes, and bodywork may not be as fun as shopping for new breeches, but they’re a lot more valuable. The healthier and happier I can keep my horses, the longer I’ll be able to enjoy them—and the more they’ll enjoy the work along the way.
  • I actually struggled with the thought of purchasing new Western boots. I wear them so often, and the ones I had fit so well. Spending $200+ on new boots that I didn’t like as well seemed silly. I’m glad I decided to search on eBay for a similar pair that simultaneously saved me more than $150.
  • These expense reports keep me honest!

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 have no regrets this month, and that feels really good.
  • If I think back to previous purchases, though, my horse decided he no longer eats Apple Elite powder. (The paste form is still acceptable for some reason.)
apple elite paste

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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?

  • Reining Clinic: We’re lucky enough to have a high-level NRHA judge doing a clinic at our barn next month. I can’t wait to get a fresh perspective on my maneuvers. 
  • Ranch Riding Show: I plan to show my horse in one class at our local show in August. It’s good practice to ride away from home, even though it gives me some anxiety.
  • Part Lease: I’ve been exercising a friend’s horse, as she doesn’t get out much to ride. In exchange, I’ve been using him for my jumping lessons. It sounds like she may want to transition to a paid arrangement (bummer), so I’m working through what it’d be worth to me to continue having access to the horse going forward.

If tracking my expenses has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not in control. No matter what I plan to spend, sometimes my horses have other ideas. That’s why I’m so delighted when I can actually come in below budget—way below, in this case. (Knock-on-wood that the trend continues into August.) 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!