How much do horses cost? Here’s my answer for November 2019.
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.
This month was… um, expensive.
Thanks to increased health category costs (more about that later), I didn’t even get close to my goal budget of $1,000. In fact, November was my most expensive month in all of 2019.
But it could’ve been worse! Thanks to creative bartering (sign up for our email list to get 7 ways to trade for horse expenses), I was able to bring down cash out-of-pocket expenses somewhat.
(If you’re new to these expense reports, make sure to read the “reminders” section here for background on my finances.)
Cost of Owning a Horse This Month
- $375 // Riding Lessons
- Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 3 private Western lessons, 4 semi-private jumping lessons, and 3 cow working lessons.
- (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 3 lessons. 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.
- $1,005 // Annual Physical, Lameness Exam, and Hock Injections
- Here’s the budget-blowing culprit! I had a whopper of a vet bill.
- Typically, I have my vet do an annual physical after Fall vaccines. He checks my horse’s teeth, sheath, and overall condition.
- This time, I also requested a “flex test” (i.e. vet flexes one hock at a time, trots the horse off, and watches for lameness issues). My trainer suggested doing this since my gelding is 13 years old and does a LOT. From reining to cutting, reined cow horse to dressage, jumping to road riding, he’s a true athlete.
- Luckily, the flex test didn’t turn up anything too significant — but we decided to do hock injections anyway. Why? My vet said we could test it as a preventative care procedure to help my horse work more comfortably. If I notice he’s moving more freely over the next few months, it’ll be a good indication that injections are helping.
- Since he hasn’t had injections before, I asked the vet how often they’d be needed if we decided to continue. His answer was no more than twice per year at this stage.
- I also requested lateral radiographs of his front legs for my farrier. He hasn’t had an updated set of x-rays in three years.
- Lastly, I asked the vet for some Bute to keep on-hand. It seems like every horse owner magically has Bute available, but I didn’t. (Knock on wood) My horse hasn’t had any injury serious enough for me to have extra medications leftover.
- The silver lining: my horse didn’t need a dental or sheath cleaning.
- Our invoice included a ranch call ($50), flex exam ($150), hock injections ($450), sedation ($65), radiographs ($250) and Bute ($40).
Curious about hock injections? This is a great video overview:
- $210 // Farrier
- I had hoped my shoeing cost would trend back down, but that hasn’t been the case.
- My horse continues to need wedges and pads on his front hooves, and he also got snow pads on his back hooves to keep ice from putting pressure on his feet.
- All that translates to… “money.”
- I knew my horse had thin soles when I bought him, but I didn’t realize farrier visits would turn into $200+ expenditures 🙁
- Here’s the good news: Our farrier has shoed my horse for 10 years, my horse is sound, and his angles (i.e. how he stands when shoed) look super.
- $70 // Fall Vaccines
- Our barn did Fall vaccines this month. (We did Spring vaccines back in April.)
- $46.39 // SmartPak Daily Supplements
- $42 // Belt for Ranch Class Buckle
- As I mentioned in last month’s report, we won our first buckle at our barn’s ranch riding finale.
- For anyone who’s read about my 30-year belt boycott, it will come as no surprise that I didn’t own a single belt that would work with a buckle!
- I decided to buy an Ariat belt with an interchangeable snap buckle, and swapping the buckle took about 3 seconds.
- $52 // Two Winter Barn Coats
- I’ve been pretty good about not buying a lot of riding apparel this year if I didn’t really need it. This month, though, I decided my winter barn coat situation was a bit lacking.
- Wait, you might be asking: aren’t you the girl with a heated coat, heated vest, and heated gloves??? Yes, and I LOVE them all.
- I rarely ride in my heated gear. I mostly use it around the barn while I’m catching my horse, grooming, and tacking up. Most of all, turning up the heat saves me while waiting [forever] for my horse to dry after a workout. (Maybe I should’ve body clipped him after all…)
- What I found myself missing were short insulated jackets that would add a bit of warmth in the saddle without being cumbersome. I also wanted something that would fit under my Hir-Air Equestrian Vest.
- I found two used coats at our local discount sports store, and I only spent $52 total!
- $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.
- Note: I initially forgot to include this expense on my January and February reports, but I went back and added it.
- $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 bartered marketing services in exchange for board.)
- $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) = $2,539.42GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,944.42
(Over budget by $944.42) <<< OUCH!
Money Well Spent
What am I particularly glad I spent money on this month?
- It’s hard to be terribly upbeat when I nearly went over my budget by a factor of two, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed seeing a comparison of lateral radiographs from three years ago and today. Even my untrained eye could see that the balance and angle of our current shoeing strategy is a big improvement!
- I’ve already gotten a lot of use out of my new (ahem, used) barn coats.
Wonder how expensive horses are where you live? We break down the average horse cost in all 50 states.
What do I regret spending money on?
- The jury’s still out on whether the hock injections were worth it. Early signs (i.e. trainers watching my horse move) are positive, but I had no idea the procedure would be so expensive. That was my mistake for not asking my vet for a quote prior to doing the injections. The outcome likely would’ve been the same, but I wouldn’t have had so much sticker shock when I got the bill!
- I wish I would’ve have planned better for the hock injections and done them in December. That way, the expense wouldn’t have landed in the same month as our vaccine bill and farrier visit.
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?
- Equithrive: Though I wish I could answer “nothing!” to this question, I do anticipate purchasing Equithrive joint supplement in December. Both my trainer and vet recommended feeding a joint supplement to prolong the benefits of the injections.
Remember that delightful financial buffer I achieved back in October? Bye-bye. This month, I was reminded (yet again) just how expensive horses are and why so many people find other ways to get their horse fixes.
Let this be another reminder why it’s important to build up a horse emergency fund you can dip into. You may also want to consider equine insurance for unexpected medical expenses.
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.See More Expense Reports
Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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- How to Ride & Show Horses Without a Trust Fund
- 7 Ways to Barter for Horse Expenses