Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: March 2020 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

I was over-budget in January and February due, in large part, to repairs to my truck. This month, I’m over again — but by less than last month. Plus, like many (if not all) of you, my town has also been impacted by the Coronavirus. I expect that to impact the next few months of horse expenses, though I’m not yet sure in what ways.

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


  • $130 // Riding Lessons
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 1 semi-private Western lesson, 2 group jumping lessons, and 1 cow working lesson. I also had an extra $10 cow fee because my regular flatwork lesson was used to work cows this month.
    • Several lessons were cancelled while my coach was on vacation and due to the recent Coronavirus barn closure. [insert crying emoji]
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 1 lesson. 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.


  • $102 // Equithrive Refill
    • I started my horse on joint supplements when he got his hocks injected late last year. This was an order to refill his Equithrive supply.
  • $46.39 // SmartPak Daily Supplements


  • N/A


  • $15 // Used SmartPak English Girth
    • A friend decided to sell some of her competition gear, and I bought her used SmartPak english girth. My former string girth seemed to let my saddle slip around too much, so I’m trying one with elastic on both ends instead.
  • $800 // Used Kent & Masters S-Series Jump Saddle
    • I’ve been wavering for a while about trying a different jump saddle for months. While I find mine quite comfy, my horse’s shape has changed enough over time that it now shifts too much for my liking. After trying Kent & Masters S-Series jump saddles from a few friends, I decided to purchase a used one from eBay.
    • One of the best things about this model is that you can change the gullet bar easily.
    • Given all the COVID-19 issues we’re now experiencing, part of me wishes I’d have held off on this purchase. My plan was to sell my previous saddle quickly to offset the cost, but I doubt horse tack will be in high demand for a while. Best case scenario, I’ll post the old saddle on eBay and someone will scoop it up!

Here’s the type of saddle I bought (used).

Note: I was kindly sent a pair of EQU StreamZ fetlock bands this month. Once we get through the worst of mud season, I’m excited to try them!


  • $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.


  • $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 traded clinic management services for my board this month.)
    • We got our schedule and registration pages ready for the entire season prior to COVID-19, and we’ve already had to postpone our first April clinic. I’m not sure how many clinics we’ll be able to do this year, which may impact my ability to barter for board significantly. 


  • $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.

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,832.42

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,372.42

(Over-budget by $372.42)

Money Well Spent

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

  • After months of weighing whether to sell my truck and trailer, I’m ironically glad to still have them right now.  I ended up temporarily moving my horse to a friend’s house so I can go visit him without exposure to lots of people. My parents are in a high-risk age group for the virus, and I see them daily. So I’m extra cautious about being around anyone else until we’re past the worst of the pandemic.
  • I plan to keep paying board at my normal barn to hold his spot until we can move back. Plus, I want to make sure my barn owners still have the income during this economic downturn.
  • So my truck and trailer insurance goes on the list of things I’m glad to pay for during this time.

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?

  • My new jump saddle feels like a frivolous expense given the state of the world right now. But, I’m trying to remember that I bought it when things were “normal” and couldn’t foresee what would happen. 
  • I do think I’ll get a lot of use out of it, and it’ll be a much better fit for me and my horse long-term.

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?

  • Ummm…nothing? Like many people, I’m waiting to see what happens with the economy and my main business before making any “extra” purchases. I plan to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program next week, and I encourage any small business owners or freelancers to do the same!

There’s nothing like a global crisis to to underscore just how expensive horses are. If your normal plans have to be adjusted, remember there are other ways to get your horse fix besides ownership. Now is the time to get creative.

Happy Trails & Don’t Touch Your Face!

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!