Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: November 2020 Expense Report

How-Much-Do-Horses-Cost-3
Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

My November budget was, in a word, fantasy. I went over my goal by more than two-fold. (Ouch!) The only upside was that I saw it coming, thanks to my ongoing budget tracking throughout the month.

Several purchases, like a new rain sheet and liner, could’ve been put off — but I preferred to get them earlier in the season, even if it meant going over budget. Plus, my gelding got hock injections again… bye bye budget.

november horse expenses

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month

EDUCATION

  • $490.00 // Lessons
    • My goal is 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work).
    • This month I was able to do 1 private western, 7 semi-private western, and 3 cow working lessons.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for two lessons ($110).

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

HEALTH

  • ($90.00) // Chiropractic Credit
    • My best friendly sweetly covered my horse’s October bodywork session, so that’s $90 back in the bank!
  • $650.00 // Hock Injections & Meds
    • It was time for another round of hock injections this month. Though quite expensive, I always want my horse to be comfortable and healthy for the long-run.
    • I also got a new tube of Banamine and Bute to keep on-hand at the barn. 
  • $1.99 // Triple Antibiotic Ointment
    • Another horse bit my gelding on the nose. Not great, especially given that he’s already fairly head shy. I picked up some triple antibiotic ointment to put on the wound for about 10 days to help it heal. 
  • $66.79 // SmartPak Daily Supplements

FUN

  • $32.99 // Farrier Holiday Gifts
    • Knowing my early December shoeing would be the last time I’d see my farrier before the holidays, I picked up a $25 coffee gift card for him and a pack of Kong tennis balls for his playful dog 🙂
  • $7.99 // German Horse Muffins
  • $18.49 // Nutri-Good Low-Sugar Apple Snax
    • These low-sugar horse treats are perfect for training opportunities where you feed a lot of pieces — but don’t want a ton of actual food going into your horse. I bought these apple snax to help work on my gelding’s head shy issues.
  • $48.58 // Treat-Polooza!
    • My horse is very food motivated, and he doesn’t get pushy no matter how many treats he gets. So I decided to stock up on goodies for the winter barn season. I tried all new treats this time.
    • Mrs. Pastures Cookies for Horses were a total hit, and this was the first bag we emptied.
    • The German Beet Treat are made by the same company that makes German Horse Muffins, but the name made me think they might be sort of healthy. My horse ended up loving these, too.
    • NickerDoodles were also a hit. Did I buy them purely for the cute name? Yes, I did.
    • (Adjustment: I used a 30% off coupon plus the e-certificates from my State Line Tack turnout sheet and liner purchases to buy a bunch of yummy horse treats! It brought my total down to $5.05, including shipping.)
  • $6.99 // Leather Cleaning Wipes
    • I picked up a canister of leather wipes to clean my bridles before my horse’s photo shoot (see below!). And, yes, I am too lazy to clean my tack with anything other than leather wipes.
  • $215.00 // Photo Shoot Pre-Payment
    • When Rachel Spaid Photography reached out about coming to our area, I put a call-out to our boarders to see if anyone wanted black background photos of their horses. Four of our barn horses ended up being featured, including mine 🙂
    • No buyer’s remorse on this expense — just look how handsome he is!

GEAR

  • $189.95 // Rhino Wug Turnout Sheet
    • When I bought my horse four years ago, I purchased his turnout sheet along with him. It wasn’t new back then, and it’s taken even more of a beating since! It was time for a new one, and I love the Rhino Wug high-neck design and durability. You don’t need a separate neck cover.
    • I earned a $20 e-certificate toward a future purchase!
    • (Adjustment: I applied a $20 State Line Tack e-certificate from my previous VenTech SMB Boots purchase.)
rhino wug turnout sheet

Click to see it at State Line Tack

  • $90.00 // 250g Rambo Vari-Layer Blanket Liner
    • My existing 100g liner is a great option for under my turnout sheet for mild weather. But I wanted the ability to add some extra insulation under my sheet — or under my 200g blanket for really cold days. 
    • Buying a thicker 250g liner gives me more options (and is cheaper!) than buying a super thick blanket.
    • I earned a $20 e-certificate toward a future purchase!

Read about the exact blankets and liners I use year-round in this article

  • Gift // OneK Defender Helmet
    • I’ve been talking about a helmet upgrade for a while now. Technology is always advancing, and OneK is a highly-respected brand for that very reason.
    • The coolest part of the OneK Defender helmet is the adjustable Air Pump System. By inflating or deflating the helmet’s liner, you can change the fit anytime. Ponytail today, but hair down tomorrow? No problem. Winter skull cap today and short hair come summer? It adjusts for that, too.
    • (Adjustment: This was a birthday gift from my lesson partner — how kind!)
onek defender helmet

Click to see it at State Line Tack

Check out my detailed review of the One K Defender Air helmet!

  • $47.99 // Weaver Felt-Lined Smart Cinch
    • I’m a sucker for tack that promises to make my horse more comfortable, and upgrading his cinch had been on my wish list for several months.
    • What made me go with the Weaver Smart Cinch? It has a super soft felt liner, won’t pinch his skin/hair in when tightening the cinch, and the “roll snug buckle” allows for a smooth pull every time.
    • It hasn’t disappointed! I felt a lot better using this on my horse, and he seems comfy even when I tighten up before mounting. Plus, it doesn’t catch his hair and skin in the buckle like my previous cinch.
weaver smart cinch

Click to see it at State Line Tack

  • $69.99 // Battery-Powered Heated Insoles
    • I typically ride at least 5 days per week, and that’s year-round. So investing in cold-weather gear that makes barn life less miserable come winter is justifiable. 
    • For the last four years, I’ve been buying disposable, single-use Grabbers heated insoles. Don’t get me wrong, these work really well. But I end up having to purchase a bunch of them every year — and I hate throwing them away after a single ride. 
    • This month, I decided to spring for battery heated insoles from ActionHeat. They’re expensive, but I calculated that they would pay for themselves in only 23 rides vs. using that many disposable insoles.
    • So far, so good. I’ve been using the medium heat setting, and I can use them for several rides before they need a charge. 
    • The only downside is that they’re pretty stiff, so they can be a challenge to get in and out of some boots. You can cut the toe area down though, so that helps.
actionheat heated horse riding insoles

Click to see them at Amazon

  • $14.95 // Grabbers Heated Insoles (5 pairs)
    • Wait, did I just say I switched to battery powered insoles? Yes, except I still want some of the Grabbers on-hand at the barn.
    • Sometimes I forget to unplug and bring the ActionHeat insoles, and I don’t want to be stuck with cold feet.
    • (Adjustment: I paid for this purchase with a gift card.)
  • $64.95 // Ariat Rebar Riveter Jeans
    • The wonderful folks at Ariat provided a pair of the Rebar Riveter jeans for me to try and share on Horse Rookie.
    • Jeans with a real cell phone pocket? Sign me up. Now I can store my phone within reach during western rides, just like I do with all my english riding tights. 
    • They fit true to size, though I’d size up an inch in the waist if I had to do it over again.
    • (Adjustment: Ariat sent me these pants to try and provide feedback.)
ariat rebar jeans

Click to see them at Ariat

  • $15.00 // Used Western Spur Straps
    • I’ve been saving two gift cards since the Spring, one to our local tack shop and one Visa gift card. On a particularly nice post-election afternoon, I decided to head over to the tack store and browse for fun.
    • I picked up a pair of western spur straps from the consignment section so I wouldn’t have to keep moving spurs between my winter / normal boots. Montana can experience several seasons in a single week, so this happens more often than you might think.
    • (Adjustment: I paid for this purchase with a gift card.)
  • $15.95 // Ovation English Spur Straps
    • I ride western and english, so the spur issue crosses disciplines, too. I got a new pair of Ovation Spur Straps for the same reason.
    • (Adjustment: I paid for this purchase with a gift card.)
  • $25.00 // Kerrits Helmet Liner
    • Cold Montana winters take grit… and special gear. Wearing a liner under my helmet helps keep me from freezing to death while I ride, so this thin hat from Kerrits caught my eye. 
    • I probably wear this at least 5 days per week since I got it. It even has a handy ponytail hole in the back.
    • (Adjustment: I paid for this purchase with a gift card.)
  • $188.00 // Ovation Tyra Riding Coat
    • This was a totally unplanned purchase, but once I glimpsed this winter riding coat on the rack I had to try it on. 
    • It’s incredibly warm, but not bulky. The removable hood, zipper thighs and back sections allow you to ride in this coat — not just tack up in it… then freeze in the saddle. The liner is super soft and snuggly, and the sleeves have thumb holes to keep them in place. 
    • I’m 5’6 and 120#, and the XS is perfect. If you like more room in the chest or hips, you may want to size up one.
    • The Tyra is also my go-to dog walking coat now — it’s that comfy and warm. 
    • I have zero regrets about spending a good chunk of my gift card on this item. Now that I know how great it is, I’d have happily paid full price. 
    • (Adjustment: I paid for this purchase with a gift card, and the store owner gave me a discount since she originally bought it for herself but it didn’t fit.)
tyra ovation riding coat

Click to see it at Amazon

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.)
  • $70.42 // Tow Vehicle Insurance (Progressive Commercial Policy)

STABLING

  • $450 // Board
    • Board rates increased from $460 to $500. I prepaid my barn account for a while, though, so I get a 10% discount.
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a discount on lessons.
    • This is the first month in a while that I haven’t bartered for board with clinic management services. I almost forgot how much of my budget this eats up…

TRAVEL

  • $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) = $2,874.46

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $2,344.09

Over-budget by $1,344.09

Money Well Spent

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

  • This month’s MVP (“most valuable purchase”) is definitely the Ovation Tyra Riding Coat. Though I’ve only owned it for a few weeks, and I’ve already gotten enough use (and joy!) to justify it. 
  • The battery heated insoles from ActionHeat also get two thumbs up. My feet don’t get super hot, but rather stay at a “I can still feel my toes” temperature for the multiple hours I’m at the barn. Plus, I can reuse them for years.
  • I’ve never regretted having nice photos of my pets, and this photo shoot is no exception. I can’t wait to see all the images later this month.

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 don’t really need either of the spur straps I bought until warmer weather (i.e. next year). I got them because they were pretty inexpensive, I had a gift card, and I’ll be happy to have them later on.
  • I’m sad to still be paying for truck insurance now that my trailer has been sold. I have someone who is potentially interested, but they’ve run into some personal snags and have yet to decide to buy it. If they don’t take it by mid-month, I’ll put out more feelers locally to find a buyer.
  • The cheapest item on my list this month was antibiotic ointment, but that darn face bite is still causing problems. It seems to have contributed to my horse’s natural inclination toward head-shyness, and we’re having to put a lot of effort into getting him comfortable with hands around his face again. Why couldn’t he get bitten on the butt?!

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, 2-day Prime shipping, and competitive prices.
horse rookie guide to jumping

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • Selling My Truck: I hope to find a buyer in December and add those proceeds to my horse fund.
  • VenTech Hind Boots (Non-Skid): Last month, I purchased a set of Professional’s Choice VenTech SMB Boots with regular fronts and skid hinds. Now, I wish I had regular hind boots that I could swap in for support when we aren’t working on sliding stops.

After this month, you’re definitely thinking about just how expensive horses are after reading these reports. If you’re not sure you’re ready for the financial responsibility, remember that there are 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!