Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: October 2020 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

October felt good. Having my horse sound again (mostly) and back at our own barn is a welcome relief after a year of change. I’ve been able to return to lessons, get out on my own to practice, and survived Montana’s first cold snap. Plus, I stayed under budget!

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


  • $295.00 // Cow Working Clinic
    • Our barn held 14 western clinics this year, but this was the only one I was able to do with my own horse. Thanks to injuries — his and mine — we had to miss the other events. But it made this clinic even more special!
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for a clinic spot.)
  • $250.00 // Lessons
    • My goal is 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work).
    • This month I was able to do 2 private western, 2 semi-private western, and 1 cow working lesson.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for my lessons.)

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


  • $90.00 // Chiropractic Adjustment
    • Now that my gelding is back in work, I wanted to get him a session with an equine chiropractor. She was able to give him a little extra TLC so he comes back feeling better than ever.
  • $70.00 // Fall Vaccines
    • Each Spring and Fall, our barn does vaccines for all the horses. 
  • $215.00 // Farrier Appointment
    • Given my horse’s soundness issue last month, I was especially careful to stick to his farrier schedule.
    • He got a trim and new shoes, including the Freedom Clogs mentioned in my September expense report. 
  • $20.00 // Barn Manager Gift
    • After receiving his vaccines, my horse experienced a reaction where his back legs puffed up for several days.
    • Our barn manager helped me by adjusting his turnout schedule and giving Bute on the days I couldn’t do it.
    • Luckily, the swelling reduced by the third day, and he’s looking normal again.
  • $66.79 // SmartPak Daily Supplements


  • $7.49 // German Horse Muffins
  • $5.49 // Apple Berry Cookie Cubes
    • These were a new purchase, and I thought they might go over well since they’re similar to alfalfa cubes. 
    • I made a mistake of introducing these treats right after he got a dose of medicine, though, so he wasn’t wild about them at first.
    • Now that he’s learning yucky medicine isn’t part of the treat normally, though, he likes them!
    • (Adjustment: I used a gift card to buy these.)


  • $59.99 // Wrangler Retro Mid-Rise Jeans
    • I have been riding in the same pair of boot cut jeans for a while…and it’s started to show. That’s why I picked up a new pair of Wranglers for Fall riding.
    • (Adjustment: I used a gift card t0 buy these.)
  • $339.95 // Ariat V Sport Tall Zip Boots
    • I’ve ridden in Ariat tall boots for years, but my current pair were used when I got them — and have worked hard for several years after that. They are traditional field boots with laces, and I wanted to move away from that style with my next pair of English riding boots.
    • Vlogger Shelby Dennis first introduced me to the Ariat V Sport Boot in her equestrian gift guide
    • In person, these boots don’t disappoint. Though I haven’t gotten to ride in them yet (#mudeverywhere), I love the back zipper, sporty design, and spur rests. 
    • Note: I’m 5’6 and 120#, and I prefer the fit of Ariat‘s short vs. regular calf. 
    • (Adjustment: Ariat was kind enough to send me a pair of these boots to try out.)
ariat v sport

Click to see V Sport Boots at Ariat

Check out my detailed review of the Ariat V Sport boots!

  • $139.95 // Telluride Zip Waterproof Boot
    • Any equestrian will tell you, there’s no such thing as too many good barn boots. The Telluride Zip Waterproof Boot from Ariat is right up my alley. 
    • I love riding apparel and gear that’s black and brown, as it goes with anything. (My western saddle is brown with black accents, too!)
    • The zipper makes these a snap to get on and off, and I don’t have to worry about water damage.
    • (Adjustment: Ariat was kind enough to send me a pair of these boots to try out.)
ariat telluride boots

Click to see Telluride Boots at Ariat

Check out my detailed review of the Ariat Telluride boots!

  • $30.25 // Blanket Label Tags
    • I should have gotten these easy-to-read labels for my horse blankets before now, but better late than never.
    • Next month, I’m getting a new rain sheet and blanket liner. I want to make it easier for our barn manager (and myself!) to quickly sort through my horse’s rugs and know what’s what.
    • I love how easy it was to customize these tags with my horse’s name, type of blanket, and weight/fill type.
horse blanket tags

Click to see custom tags at Etsy

  • $146.99 // Professionals Choice VenTECH SMB/Skid Boot
    • I’ve been on the hunt for a versatile set of boots I can use for all my western dry work and cow work. My current pair of front combo SMB/bell boots is wearing out. I also wanted to find boots that would be more comfortable and offer greater protection for my horse’s hind legs during sliding stops.
    • Though I haven’t received these yet at the time of publishing October’s report, I’m really excited to try this combo boot set from Professional’s Choice. I love the way the rear boots offer more support — and cover the bulb of the heel. It should keep dirt from getting inside during sliding stops! Stay tuned for a review.
    • (Adjustment: State Line Tack sent a $20 e-gift certificate to be used on my next purchase.)
professionals choice skid boots

Click to see them at State Line Tack


  • $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)
  • ($65.00) // Insurance Refund
    • I received a random check for $65.00 from my mortality and medical insurance policy company. I have no idea what it’s for… but I’m cashing it!


  • $450 // Board
    • Last month, board rates increased from $460 to $500.
    • This month, though, I prepaid my barn account for a while and got a 10% discount in return.
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a discount on lessons.
    • (Adjustment: I bartered for board in exchange for clinic management services.)


  • $111.35 // 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) = $2,375.76

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $827.89

Under-budget by $172.11

Money Well Spent

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

  • After dealing with so many soundness setbacks this year, I’m happy to better protect my horse’s legs with the professionals Choice SMB/Skid Boots. My priority is always keeping him happy and healthy, and sometimes that means investing in better gear.
  • Part of being a good member of any barn family is helping those who help your horses. It’s worth the money to make our barn manager’s life easier with  horse blanket label tags.

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?

  • Every now and then you have a month with no (financial) regrets, and luckily that’s the case this time. I made strategic and planned purchases, and I waited on a few items I want to get soon in order to stay under budget.

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.

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • Selling My Truck: I sold my horse trailer last month but haven’t yet sold my truck. Hopefully I’ll find the right buyer in November and can add those proceeds to my horse fund.
  • Hock Injections: It was only a matter of time, and that time turns out to be next month. I could feel a fair amount of stiffness during my last couple rides, and my coach confirmed that it looked like a hock issue.
  • Bute and Banamine: I’ve learned that all horse owners should keep these medications on-hand, and it’s time for refills from my vet. Bute is an anti-inflammatory (like Aspirin for horses), and Banamine can help relieve colic symptoms.
  • Rain Sheet & Blanket Liner: When I first bought my horse, four years ago, I bought his rain sheet at the same time. By this point, it’s pretty ripped up and needs to be replaced. I also want to get a 200g blanket liner.

You may be 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.

VOTE & Ride On!

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!