Cost of Owning a Horse: May 2021 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

Thanks to the accountability provided by these expense reports, I got my butt in gear and finally listed my old saddle on Facebook and eBay this month. Though I didn’t get as much for it as I wanted (more on that later), I was able to recoup more than $2,000 to offset the purchase of my new reining/cutting saddle. That’s why the numbers look SO good this month!

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month


$440 // Lessons & Ranch Class

  • I typically aim for 3 lessons per week—jumping, western flatwork, and cow work. 
  • This month, I did 7 lessons plus a weekend ranch riding class.
  • (Adjustment: I traded social media management services in exchange for one ranch class ($75).

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$150.00 // Jumping Clinic

  • I’ve been borrowing a friend’s Appendix gelding for jumping lessons because my horse simply isn’t very good at it. (He has many other skills though!)
  • I was able to register for a two-day jumping clinic and do my first courses on my new mount. It was SO fun, and I can’t wait to do more with this horse. 

$295.00 // Cow Working Clinic

  • I participated in my barn’s first cow working clinic of the year, and it was a ton of fun. I rode my loaner jumper (also a cow horse) the first day, and my own gelding the second day.
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services in exchange for this session.)


$90 // Bodywork

  • I scheduled a follow-up bodywork appointment for my borrowed jumping horse. This is his second adjustment ever, and the chiropractor helped even out his pelvis and adjust his withers.
  • Proactive healthcare (like chiro) helps horses stay healthier, perform better, and avoid injuries down the road.
  • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for the session ($90).

$185 // Farrier

  • I was really excited to finally put sliders on my reined cow horse this month. It’s the first time I’ve been able to try these special shoes that improve a horse’s sliding stop.
  • Because I previously did jumping and dressage with my horse, in addition to Western disciplines, sliders weren’t an option. Borrowing a friend’s horse for jumping now lets me focus my horse on things like reining and cow work.
  • So far, I’m loving the freedom sliders provide in my horse’s stops. We didn’t even have a sliding stop a few months ago. Now, I’m finally starting to unlock another one of my gelding’s cool talents!

$144 // Equiwinner Patches

  • Twice per year, I use a 10-day set of non-transdermal patches that act as a natural electrolyte-balancing system.
  • Though they help with a variety of health issues, I use them to mitigate my gelding’s intermittent coughing.

$29.75 // MSM Supplement

  • The horse I’m borrowing is 15 years old, and his hocks have been fairly sore now that he’s doing more work. 
  • Until we convince his owner to try hock injections (fingers crossed!), I’m adding join support supplements to his diet. Realistically, I’ll probably leave him on those supplements even if he gets injections.
  • MSM is a cost-effective powder with many benefits. Per Smartpak, “One of the most commonly fed horse supplement ingredients, MSM is well-known for its antioxidant and other properties which support healthy joints, skin and coat, hooves, the respiratory tract, and other tissues in horses. It provides a highly usable form of sulfur which plays a critical role the formation of proteins such as enzymes, hormones, and immune cells, as well as connective tissue such as bones, tendons, and ligaments.”
MSM for horses

Click to see MSM supplements at Amazon

$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements




(-$2,113.29) // Sold Western Saddle

  • This was a major boost for my budget, and I was about to recoup just over $2,000 of my new saddle purchase from March.
  • The saddle I sold was a McCall Wade Trail with a McLite tree, and I hoped to get nearly what I paid for it (closer to $3,000). After all, horse prices are way up this year, and McCall saddles are broadly beloved. 
  • That said, I was also motivated to sell and be done with it. I posted to Facebook Marketplace and eBay. 
  • I ended up getting a private offer via eBay that was lower than my asking price, but the gal was in Montana and ready to pay me the same day. I decided it was worth it to get the saddle out of my garage and replenish the funds I’d spent already on the new saddle.
  • The bigger bummer came when I saw that eBay took more than $300 in FEES. Yikes. The platform used to pay sellers by PayPal, and the fees weren’t too bad. Now, eBay manages their own payment processing. Talk about a difference… 
old mccall saddle

I posted my saddle on Facebook and eBay

$139.95 // Total Saddle Fit Stirrup Leathers

  • I hated my old jump saddle stirrup leathers. There, I said it. They stretched a lot, so I was constantly adjusting them to get the to feel even and the correct length. 
  • It was time for an upgrade, so I got the Total Saddle Fit Stirrup Leathers. They have a wider design that improves leg stability and decreases stretching. So far, so good.
  • (Adjustment: I used credit card points to buy these on Amazon.)
total saddle fit leathers

Click to see them at Amazon

$159.95 // Ovation Comfort Flex Body Protector

  • I don’t jump super often (1-2x per week), but safety is a huge part of my approach to riding. 
  • Last year, I gave my body protector to a youth rider at my barn. It fit her better, and she needed one for her jump lessons. 
  • I still have my Hit-Air inflatable vest, but I also wanted a body protector to go under it for cross country lessons.
  • The Ovation ComfortFlex body protector is designed to be breathable, flexible, and safe.
  • It fits well, and I look forward to trying it. Given what body protectors are supposed to do (dispel force), they all feel a bit cumbersome to wear. That’s true for this one, too, but less so than others I’ve tried.
  • (Adjustment: I used credit card points to buy these on Amazon.)
ovation body protector

Click to see it at Amazon

$249 // Glacier Tek Cooling Vest

  • If you’ve followed along for a while, you’ll know my winter riding strategy revolves around battery-heated outerwear.
  • As I approach another hot Montana summer, I began to wonder if there was a warm-weather vest that could help cool me down. Good news: there is!
  • The Glacier Tek cooling vest has a flattering, low-profile cut (very hard to find…) and packs that freeze in just 30 minutes.
  • If the weather report is right, I’ll be able to try it out in early June!
glacier tek cooling vest

Click to see it at Amazon

$59.98 // Neck Strap x2

  • As my lesson partner and I start to jump more (and higher)—both with new horses—I wanted to find a good neck strap.
  • I found beautifully made Beta BioThane (aka grippy) neck straps from JenXEquine on Etsy and order one for myself and one for my barn bestie 🙂
  • They’re very adjustable, come in tons of colors, and give me something to hold onto over jumps that isn’t my horse’s mouth!
  • If you’re not sure what neck straps are or how to use them, check out this article.
horse neck strap

My loaner horse Fynn with his new neck strap!

$39.99 // Replacement Lead Rope

  • My loaner horse Fynn decided he didn’t like standing tied in the arena the other day, so he peed all over the end of my lead rope and stomped it into the dirt. Gross. 
  • I was going to try and clean it, but it was so disgusting I decided to call it a loss. I picked up a replacement from Double Diamond Halter Company.

$10.99 // 8-Qt Feed Pan

  • My horse is notoriously adverse to people touching his face—especially anyone who isn’t me!
  • The barn staff struggles to put his feed bag on and off every day, so it was time to switch to a feed pan. 
horse feed pan

Click to see it at Amazon

$4.99 // Orange Duct Tape

  • I bought a roll of bright orange duct tape to label the feed pan with my horse’s name.


$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) = (-$607.97)

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = (-$601.93)

Under-budget by $1,398.07

Money Well Spent

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

  • The neck straps from Etsy have already exceeded my expectations for craftsmanship and eye appeal.
  • Doing the jumping clinic was huge for building trust and gaining experience with my new loaner horse.
  • I haven’t even used it yet, but I’m pumped about my cooling vest! I want to be able to ride comfortably all summer without feeling faint or exhausted. This should really help.

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 my lead was a lesson in tying up the end of my rope more securely in the future. Need help tying your knots? Check out these handy, pocket-sized horse knot tying cards from Reference Ready.
  • eBay seller fees are a total bummer!!!

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?

  • Ranch Riding Clinic: The next clinic at my barn is about Ranch Riding, and it’ll be a great way to prep for the upcoming local June show.
  • Ranch Riding Show: I plan to show my horse in one class at our local show next month, then let my friend show him in another class or two.

After selling my old saddle, I was able to take a deep breath on the budget front. I also stuck to purchases that were useful vs. frivolous, and my biggest expenses were (once again) educational. 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!