Budgeting

Cost of Owning a Horse: March 2021 Expense Report

How-Much-Do-Horses-Cost-3
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.)

In March, my budget flew out the window, down the street, and into a deep, black hole. Jokes aside, I made a major tack investment this month, which accounted for the big overage. Keep reading to see what I bought (and why).

march 2021 chart

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month

EDUCATION

$324.00 // 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 1 cow working lesson.
  • (Adjustment: I traded social media management services in exchange for four lessons ($180).

If you’re taking lessons (or about to start), check out our 13 best horseback riding boots for lessons.

$250.00 // Dressage Clinic

  • My barn’s clinic season kicked off this month with visiting dressage instructor from Florida. 
  • I decided to ride an Appendix (Quarter Horse x Thoroughbred) that I’m not borrowing for jumping lessons. He’s only been ridden for an hour per week until this month, so it was an excuse to get him out and working more. It was so fun!
  • (Adjustment: I was offered an extra spot in this clinic in thanks for helping manage it.)

HEALTH

$205 // Farrier

  • It was time for shoes again, and my gelding got his front hooves trimmed and hi “freedom clogs” reset.
  • He also got new shoes on the back hooves that are better for sliding stops.

$49.99 // Joint Support Supplement

  • As I mentioned, the horse I’m borrowing for jump lessons hasn’t been working very much until recently. My instructor suggested that he would benefit from some extra support—specifically Cosequin joint health supplement. 
  • I purchased a small container to begin and see if we can tell a difference in his comfort level and movement.
cosequin for horses

Click to see it at Amazon

$20.00 // Dewormer

  • It was time for Spring deworming, and my barn passes through the cost (as they should).

$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements

FUN

$6.26 // Likit Refill (Molasses)

  • I don’t own a Likit holder, so it probably seems odd to buy a refill. My idea, though, is to use the Likit like a horse lollipop reward. My gelding has always been headshy, especially on the left side. Giving him treats while petting his face or working on his left helps rewire his brain to enjoy the attention.
  • Real molasses is SO sticky and messy that it’s annoying to deal with—a Likit seems like a cleaner alternative. 
  • (Adjustment: I used a gift card to make this purchase.)
likit molasses

Click to see it at Amazon

$14.68 // Mrs. Pastures Cookies

  • My horse loves these tasty morsels, and I like to get them as special treats from time to time.
  • (Adjustment: I used a gift card to make this purchase.)
Mrs Pastures Cookies

Click to see them at Amazon

GEAR

$29.95 // Replacement Feed Bag

  • Our barn gives grain using individual feed bags, since horses are kept in small groups. This ensures each horse gets his grain and supplements—but no one else’s. 
  • Over time, the bottom gets worn and develops holes. It was time to replace mine this month, as it was too far gone to be repaired.

$2,500.00 // Used Western Saddle

  • Last month, I mentioned potentially replacing my western saddle. It’s a wonderful piece of equipment and fits my horse very well. The issue is that the seat shape isn’t conducive to reining sliding stops, and the horn is too big to hold during cutting. Given how much more reining and cutting I’m doing these days, it’s become an issue. 
  • I really didn’t want to have a new saddle built, and that would be very expensive and take months.
  • On a whim, I stopped by our local tack store to see if they happened to have any saddles on consignment that might work.
  • By some miracle… it fit my horse—and me! I offered the seller $500 under the price since the latigos needed to be replaced, and I anticipated it needed some other modifications.
used saddle

Here’s my new (used!) western saddle!

used western saddle

It’s not perfect, but this saddle is a huge help for the activities I like to do!

$34.99 // Off-Side Latigo

  • The latigos on the saddle were very worn, and that can lead to breakage. Not good.
  • You can get an off-side (i.e. right side) latigo at Amazon or at your local ranch store.

$27.99 // Near-Side Latigo

$8.99 // Stirrup Hobble Straps

  • The saddle didn’t come with these straps when I bought it, and I know they’re important for safety reasons. I went to the store that week and got a pair. (You can also get them online.) 
  • Here’s a quick video about why you should always have hobble straps on your western saddle.

$42.00 // SSG Extreme Hybrid Gloves

  • A guest let me try her gloves on during a Cowgirl Yoga Retreat, and I’ve been lusting after these ever since.
  • On one of my trips to the tack store, I finally decided to buy a pair of SSG Extreme Hybrid Gloves.
  • Now I use them almost every time I ride. You will not find a softer leather riding glove—I promise you.

$62.95 // Piper Flex Tights

  • My lesson parter got me a gift card to SmartPak. (Yep, she’s amazing!) I picked out a pair of Piper Flex Tights for the summer, which is right around the corner.
  • (Adjustment: I used a gift card to make this purchase.)

$69.98 // Horze Short-Sleeve Sun Shirts

  • With the same gift card, I was able to get two awesome sun shirts. 
  • I love all the color options, and these shirts have a semi-slim fit that’s flattering without being uncomfortable.
  • (Adjustment: I used a gift card to make this purchase.)
horze trista shirt

Click to see this at Amazon

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.)

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.
  • (Adjustment: Our clinic season has begun, so I was able to barter marketing services for board this 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) = $4,369.44

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $3,335.57

Over-budget by $2,335.57

Money Well Spent

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

  • Buying a western saddle (even a used one) can be crazy expensive. Part of the reason I was willing to shell out $2,500 for a saddle this month is that I *should* be able to resell my saddle pretty easily. Already, the new saddle has helped me achieve way better sliding stops!
  • It may not be a fun purchase, but I’m pleased to be contributing to a healthier life for the horse I’m borrowing. Adding the Cosequin supplement to his diet should make everything we do more comfortable for him. 

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?

  • Replacing a feed bag wasn’t a huge expense, but it was a bummer that I couldn’t repair and reuse it.
  • I’m not sure I’ll end up keeping the replacement latigos that I purchased. I need something quick so I could safely start using the new saddle, but I don’t like them as much as the latigos on my old saddle. I’ll likely swap them out when I can find something better. 
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?

  • Western Saddle Modifications: I’m lucky to have a friend who does leather work and saddle making, so I plan to enlist her help making some tweaks to the used saddle. I’ll also need to do a few things to my old saddle in order to prep it for sale.
  • Reined Cow Horse Clinic & Show: In April, I’m signed up for a reined cow horse clinic and schooling show. Though I experience a lot of anxiety about events away from home, I know it’s good for me to get outside my comfort zone. 

My budget was totally blown this month, but it was for a good reason. I invested in a saddle that will help me reach my goals, and I should be able to recoup the cost when I sell my former saddle. 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!