Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: September 2019 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

How much do horses cost? Here’s my answer for September 2019.

what horses cost

Summary Breakdown

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, I participated in my first cutting schooling show. (Spoiler alert: It went well!) That decision added several costs to my monthly tally, but they were well worth it to convince my nervous “lizard brain” we can show — without dying 🙂

(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


  • $275 // Riding Lessons & Ranch Riding Class
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 3 private Western lessons, 1 semi-private dressage lesson, and 1 private jumping lesson.
    • I also attended our barn’s monthly Ranch Riding class.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 4 lessons. Because I board at the barn, I also get a discounted rate on lessons.)


  • $275 // Ranch Riding & Cow Working Clinic
    • My trainer held a 2-day ranch riding and cow working clinic, and I did one day of ranch riding and one day of cow working.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for this clinic.)
  • $120 // Cutting Schooling Show
    • I’m notoriously not a fan of doing horse shows. My anxiety often gets the better of me, so I don’t like the additional stress of competition. However, I’m happy to report this was the FIRST show where I didn’t feel nervous… at all! 

Learn how I manage my anxiety at competitions with my 33 Tips for Nervous Riders.


Apple Nugget Treats

Click to see these treats at Amazon


  • $8.99 // Horse Treats
    • My gelding loves these treats from MannaPro, and I got another bag because my stock was getting low.
    • These are particularly awesome for post-ride “carrot stretches” because they’re small, no-mess, and each bag contains 300+ treats!
  • $0.99 // Discount Apples
    • Our grocery store puts bruised produce on a sale rack, and I always look for bags of apples. My horse certainly doesn’t mind a few bumps on his apples.


  • $20 // Saddle Stand
    • I bought a Quarter Horse so I wouldn’t have to pick a single discipline — he can do it all! But, that also means I have a lot of different tack for him… including three saddles. 
    • I had been trying to make do with the two saddle racks in my tack room space, but stacking saddles just wasn’t working.
    • I ended up purchasing a simple saddle stand (used) to put under my lowest wall rack so I could store my third saddle on its own stand.
    • It works perfectly! Now, my western, dressage, and jump saddles have their own racks. No stacking!
  • ($41.50) // Sold Tack on Consignment
    • I sold a few no-longer-needed pieces of equipment at our local tack store on consignment, so this was my commission.
  • Click to see this hay net at Amazon

    $8.99 // Trailer Hay Net

    • My horse is much better behaved while traveling (and standing tied to the trailer away from home) if he has a hay net to keep him busy.
    • It’s easier for me to pack two hay bags at home vs. packing loose extra hay to refill a single hay bag. So, I picked up a “trailer size” Equi-Essentials Niblet hay net this month.
  • $6.29 // Replacement Mane/Tail Brush
    • I use a basic Conair hair brush for my horse’s mane and tail. 
    • After three years, my original brush handle broke. This was a replacement.
  • $42.26 // Da Brim Helmet Visor
      • My eyes water in bright sun, and even sunglasses aren’t always enough protection. During my summer outdoor lessons, I often squint and wipe at my eyes a lot. 


  • $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. 
  • $10 // Bag of Shavings
    • I needed a new bag of shavings for my horse trailer. 
  • $68.44 // Fuel for Cow Working Day Trip
    • I hauled two horses to a cow gathering event at a friend’s ranch.

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,779.88

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $864.88

(Under budget by $135.12)

Money Well Spent

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

  • I’m really happy I decided to do the cutting schooling show. This was the first time I can remember NOT feeling nervous at such an event, and that gave me so much hope for the future. 
  • My new saddle stand has made it so much easier to access saddles and pads on any given day. I no longer have to stack saddles or shuffle items around to find what I need.
  • I really like my Equi-Essentials Niblet hay net. It’s the perfect size for the trailer, and it doesn’t make as much of a mess as my other hay bag.
  • Special shout out for the SSG All Weather Gloves I bought last month. I’ve already used them a bunch, and my rubber english reins no longer hurt my fingers.

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • There’s nothing I can do about it, but $200 for a single farrier visit… oof. I really hope we can stop doing front wedges soon and get the cost back down in the near future.

Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)

How could you save some money?

  • Sell What You Don’t Use: You’ll rarely (if ever) make your money back selling used tack and apparel. But, you’ll make more than if stuff is just sitting around in your tack room or trailer. If you don’t use it, sell it on eBay or consign it at your local tack store. 
  • 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?

  • eclipse-safety-stirrups

    Click to see Eclipse stirrups at State Line Tack

    (Still on my list) Compositi Eclipse Safety Stirrups: As I said in my Compositi Stirrups Review, I’m loving this brand’s products. After I purchased the Reflex stirrups, I discovered Compositi also makes a safety stirrup called the Eclipse (see it at State Line Tack). I still want them for my jumping saddle.

  • Cow Working Clinic: I’m registered for a two-day cow working clinic in October at my barn, and I’m going to try to focus on cutting and sorting.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my spending this month. I was able to add in a few fun things (e.g. schooling show, helmet visor) without going over budget. Part of that was due to cancelling some lessons for bad weather or vacations, so I had a little extra wiggle room in the budget.  

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!