Budgeting

Cost of Owning a Horse: September 2021 Expense Report

How-Much-Do-Horses-Cost-2
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.)

If you read August’s update, you’ll know that it was a sad month. The horse I was riding for jump lessons had to be put down after a pasture accident. In the weeks that followed, I realized how much I was missing having an English horse, participating in jump lessons, and having a second focus outside reined cow horse activities.

On a whim, I began looking at sale horses in my area. It was surprising to see how much prices had increased in the five years since I got my gelding, and it became apparent that a schoolmaster jump horse would far exceed my budget.  

I decided to expand my search to nearby states and younger, less experienced jumping prospects. Though riding and training a young horse is outside my comfort zone, I have the support network to take on a youngster. My trainers have extensive colt starting backgrounds, and I’m confident in my overall skill as a rider. If I find a special young horse, it just might be worth taking a chance.

In the meantime, here’s the recap of where my horse funds went for September:

september 2021 expenses

Summary Breakdown

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Cost of Owning a Horse This Month

EDUCATION

$225 // Lessons

  • I typically aim for 3 lessons per week—jumping, western flatwork, and cow work. 
  • This month, I did 5 western flatwork lessons.
  • I didn’t take any English lessons, as the horse I’d been borrowing for jumping sadly passed away.
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services in exchange for all 5 lessons.)

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$50 // Ranch Riding Class

  • I participated in our barn’s monthly ranch riding class.
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services for my spot.) 

HEALTH

$185 // Farrier

  • This was a routine appointment, and it included a trim plus new shoes.
  • My horse got sliders on his hind feet since we do a fair amount of reining sliding stops.

$93.06 // SmartPak Daily Supplements

FUN

$100 // SmartPak Gift Card

  • I planned a trip to go try a potential pony, but decided to cancel a week prior. The owner/trainer had been so kind answering my questions along the way that I wanted to say thank you. 
  • She was very understanding, and we left things on a good note.

$800 // Potential Pony Deposit

  • That turned out to be a good thing because I ended up deciding to reschedule that trip for late-October. That’s right, I’m going to try a potential jumping pony.
  • Wanting to ensure the pony would still be available, I offered to put down a deposit.
  • This will be non-refundable unless something is found in the pre-purchase exam that would make the horse unsuitable for life as a low-level jumper. If I do decide to move forward, the deposit will go toward the purchase price.
  • More updates to come in October!
jump for joy

Me when I think about going to try a pony

$0.89 // Last Chance Apples

  • I picked up a bag of dented apples at the grocery store. My horse thought they tasted just as good as undented ones!
online horse courses

GEAR

$57.50 // Blanket Cleaning

  • Each year, before winter arrives, I get my horse’s blankets professionally cleaned and repaired (as needed). 
  • Pro Tip: Add label tags to each of your blankets and liners so it’s easy to tell what’s what. I bought these tags from Etsy, and they’re awesome.
horse blanket tags

Click to get yours at Etsy

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.

$114.50 // 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.)
  • This expense increased in September in order to up the covered value in my mortality policy. After tallying how much I’ve spent in lessons and training, I realized I would never be able to buy a horse of the same caliber for the original value. 

STABLING

$525 // Board

  • Board is currently $500 per month, and I prepaid my barn account for awhile to get a 10% discount.
  • This month, however, our barn needed to implement a “hay surcharge” of $75. Our area experienced extreme drought this year, and hay is in short supply. Supply costs have nearly doubled, and we all need to pitch in to cover the difference.
  • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a discount on lessons.
  • (Adjustment: I traded clinic marketing services in exchange for this month’s board.)

TRAVEL

$107.52 // Fuel for Barn Visits

  • This figure is an average. It’s calculated by taking the IRS mileage rate for 2021 (56 cents) x 4 visits per week x 4 weeks per month. 

$573.28 // Flight and Rental Car

  • This is the cost of the flight and rental car for my upcoming trip to try the jumping pony. 

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $2,846.33

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $2,046.33

Over-budget by $1,046.33

Money Well Spent

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

  • I feel better having increased the mortality policy value on my horse, even though it’s hard to think about ever needing it. After the loss of my lease horse earlier this summer, and having several friends lose horses this year, it was a hard-yet-smart thing to do.
  • I’m proud of myself for finding a potential pony and deciding to go try it. I didn’t plan to get two horses now—or maybe ever. But I’ve missed jumping, and I’m craving a new challenge. That’s the main reason I’m looking at a young horse. I came to terms with the fact that while a second horse would practically double my expenses, I’ve gotten immeasurable joy from my first gelding. I have two jobs and work hard. I’m responsible with money. I’ll be able to make this work if I choose to.

Wonder how expensive horses are where you live? We break down the average horse cost in all 50 states

online horse courses

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • Even though I went over budget, I don’t have any regrets this month. The overage was entirely due to my upcoming trip to try a horse, and I’m going into that experience with eyes wide open.

Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)

How could you save some money?

  • Barter, barter, barter: Consistently 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, expedited shipping, and competitive prices.

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • Hotel: I anticipate a hefty bill next month for my trip hotel. I’m staying for four nights so I can have a day on either side of my barn visit, as well as an extra day to see a second pony, if desired.  
  • Pre-Purchase Exam (PPE): A PPE is an important step when purchasing a new horse. It is essentially a vet checkup to gauge the overall health of the animal. It typically includes a lameness exam, x-rays, and a close look at things like teeth, feet, and conformation. I have pre-scheduled a PPE exam the day after I try the pony, in case I really like him.

As I wrap up September expense tracking, I’m so grateful to have multiple years of spending data from these reports. Compared to when I purchased my gelding, my cost expectations are night and day different. I feel far more confident in my decision that I can afford to buy and care for a second horse.

In fact, I plan to create a composite report with all three years of expense data and offer it as a resource to other Horse Rookies. Stay tuned for that!

Remember, if you’re surprised how expensive horses are, remember that there are plenty of 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!

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