Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: September 2020 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

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.)

September felt slightly more “normal,” and it was a welcome reprieve after more than six months of COVID-19 stress, political unrest, and injuries (my horse’s and my own). Being able to ride my own gelding again helps settle my mind, stay present, and remember there will be better days. 

Plus [drum roll], I sold my horse trailer! I waffled on this decision for more than a year, but I simply didn’t haul enough to justify having a truck and trailer sitting around. One of the other boarders at my barn bought the trailer for her first horse, and I love that she’s learning about horse ownership and trailering for the first time in her sixties!

Next up will be selling my truck, but that’s a project for later this fall. 

september 2020 expense report

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month


  • $55.00 // Lesson
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work).
    • This month I was able to do a single cow work lesson once my collarbone surgery stitches were removed and I got the green light to ride. I’m not jumping my horse again yet.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for this lesson.)

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


  • $66.79 // SmartPak Daily Supplements
  • $139.00 // 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.
    • This seemed like a particularly good time for his second round of patches given increased smoke in the area due to wildfires.
  • $245.00 // Special Shoeing
    • Not even a week after getting the vet’s approval to ride, my horse pulled one of his front shoes off — along with part of his hoof. UGH.
    • My Farrier had to come out twice to add glue to the broken parts of the hoof and put on special shoes called Freedom Clogs. They’re essential a horse shoe with a built-in wedge under the heel.
  • $20.00 // Barn Manager Gift
    • I asked our barn manager to give my horse Bute and put on his bell boots for turnout one day. She got a little “coffee cash” for helping me out.
    • I’m hoping putting on his Davis bell boots while he’s turned out will keep him from pulling another shoe.
damaged horse hoof

No wonder he went lame…

Freedom Clog Horse Shoe

Special shoes are expensive!


  • $74.97 // Horse Show Ribbons
    • After a wildfire affected several equestrian facilities in our community, we planned a big open show and derby event as a fundraiser. I purchased and donated all the ribbons.
    • Unfortunately, we had to downsize the event due to limited planning and registration time, so the ribbons didn’t get used.
  • $19.99 // Horse Show Medals
    • I also purchased several fun horse medals for the same event. They were not used either, but I’m sure we’ll find a future event for them!
horse show ribbons

Click to see the ribbons I chose at Amazon


  • ($6.00) // Sold Head Bumper
    • Sometimes I sell gear on consignment at our local tack store. This month someone bought the head bumper I never used, so I got a check for $6.00.


  • $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)
  • $0.00 // Horse Trailer Insurance (Progressive Commercial Policy) >>> CANCELLED
    • I cancelled this policy once I sold my trailer.
  • $0.00 // US Rider Equestrian Roadside Assistance Membership >>> CANCELLED
    • 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 had the Classic Membership Plan from US Rider, but I cancelled it once I sold my trailer.
sold horse trailer

Going, going, gone!


  • $500 // Board
    • This month, board rates increased from $460 to $500.
    • That’s 50% of my target monthly budget, so it’ll be a bit more challenging during months when I’m not able to barter for board.
    • 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.
  • $20.00 // Trailer Sale Notory
    • It cost $20.00 to notarize the horse trailer title transfer and bill of sale. 

Note: Since I didn’t include the original cost of my horse trailer in these budgeting reports, I’m not going to skew them with the funds received for selling it either. If you’re curious, I sold it for $8,800 (Only $300 less than what I bought it for in 2017!) and am using those funds as a running credit for future board and lessons at my barn.

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,388.61

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $888.61

Under-budget by $111.39

Money Well Spent

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

  • Liability insurance isn’t something I’ve ever used (thankfully!), but having a friend’s horse break my collarbone a few weeks ago reminded me why I have a policy for my own horse. If he ever accidentally hurt someone, I feel better knowing I have an extra layer of protection.
  • I’m cheating and putting a “money well saved” item into this category. Selling my trailer was a tough decision, but it was the right one. It wasn’t being used enough, and I don’t foresee a lot of horse shows in my near future. Being able to put those funds toward board and lessons is a better fit for my personal interests.

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 was happy to donate horse show ribbons and medals, but it was a bummer that the ones I purchased didn’t end up being used. Hopefully I can find a good home for them though!

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: Now that the trailer is sold, I need to find a new owner for my truck. I’m starting by asking friends to spread the word, but I may end up posting it on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist if I don’t know anyone who wants it.
  • New Western Riding Boots: I’ve had my pair of Merrell Captiva boots for at least seven years, and they’re my go-to boot for Western riding. They’re finally starting to wear out, so I’m hoping to find something very similar to replace them.

Looking ahead to October, I plan to ride in the final clinic of our 2020 season — the only one I’ll have been able to do with my own horse all year. Sigh! But, one is better than none. I’m also looking forward to getting back into regular lessons this fall. 

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.

Register to 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

From the tender age of six, I embarked on a journey that would weave horses into the very fabric of my existence. Over 35 years have passed since I first mounted a horse, and my love for equestrian sports is stronger than ever before.