Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: April 2019 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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


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, my under-budget streak sadly ended. To my credit, the overages weren’t due to frivolous spending. It was simply time for Spring vaccines and chiropractic!

(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


  • horse-riding-lessons

    Educating myself and my horse is money well spent.

    $250 // Riding Lessons

    • I typically take three lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 2 private Western lessons, 2 group cow working sessions, and 2 semi-private jumping lessons.
    • Because I board at the barn, I get a discounted rate on lessons.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 6 lessons.)
  • $295 // Cow Working Clinic
    • This month, our barn kicked off its 2019 clinic season. I rode in the Cow Working event and had an awesome time. This was our first time working live cows (vs. mechanical) since last Fall… and the first time I didn’t struggle with my nerves! (See my tips for nervous riders.)
    • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services in exchange for this clinic.)


  • N/A


  • $220 // Spring Vaccines
    • Our barn coordinates Spring and Fall vaccines, and this included Strangles, Coggins, and equine flu.
  • $190 // Farrier
    • Included trimming, shoeing, pads on both front hooves, and hoof packing.
  • $90 // Chiropractor
    • This was a maintenance treatment and a follow up to his February appointment. She worked on suppling his neck and shoulders, which is where he tends to hold tension. (Me too!)
  • $46.39 // SmartPak daily supplements
  • $17.99 // Vetericyn Plus
    • Vetericyn is a great keep-it-around wound care spray. The bottle I kept in my grooming tote over the winter got broken, so this was a replacement. 


  • $0.99 // Apples
    • The apples are from the reduced-price bruised produce section 🙂


  • custom-horse-tack

    Sundown Saddlery does amazing work!

    $289.75 // Custom Western Headstall and Breast Collar

    • I’ve been struggling to find a headstall that fits my horse (and his big head!) well. I also have never liked the way his McCall breast collar fit his big shoulders. 
    • I hired a friend to create a completely custom headstall and breast collar that is everything I wanted — and nothing I didn’t. The result was beautiful!
  • $5.79 // Trailer Wheel Chock
    • During a particularly cold day last month, a friend asked me to haul her horse to the vet. One of my trailer wheel chocks cracked when I tried to thaw the ice around the tire.
    • I prefer the horse trailer chocks with ropes that are easier to pull out, so I got that kind again.
  • $37.91 // Tie Safe Trailer Ties (2x)
    • I’ve wanted to get Tie Safe Trailer Ties for months, but I waited until winter was done since I wasn’t traveling.  
    • safe-horse-trailer-tie

      Velcro safely separates if your horse pulls back

      These are a creative solution to trailer tying. These ties are essentially two separate pieces joined by velcro. In the event of a horse pulling back, the velcro separates and leaves the metal ends attached to the trailer and your horse. Once you catch the horse, simply velcro the pieces back together!

    • I’ve already used them once and love them. It was super fast to clip my horse and exit the trailer (better safety), and it was equally fast to grab him at our destination and unload. I then used the same tie on the outside of the trailer while tacking up. I’ll never trailer without Tie Safe trailer ties again!
    • June Update: See what happened when these ties were put to the test in my June 2019 Expense Report.


  • $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. 


  • N/A

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $2,182.85

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $1,177.85

(Over budget by $177.85)

Money Well Spent

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

  • I’m in love with my new custom headstall and breast collar. Instead of buying yet another off-the-shelf product that likely still wouldn’t fit, I opened my wallet for something that is built to last decades and fits my horse perfectly.
  • Tie Safe trailer ties definitely make my list of money well spent. I really like how quickly I can load and unload and the peace of mind that comes with knowing my horse won’t get stuck in an emergency.
  • Chiropractic is an investment, yes, but it helps my horse relax, use his muscles more efficiently, and keep him in tip-top shape over the long run. It’s especially nice right now since the horses have been slogging around in mud…

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • Drum roll… nothing! Even though I went over budget on health expenses, I didn’t make any frivolous purchases or invest in products that weren’t valuable.

Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)

How could you save some money?

  • Play the Long Game: If you’ve bought more than a few items trying to find something that works (ex: headstall), it may be time to explore custom options. Investing in longer lasting products for key purchases can be cheaper in the long run.
  • Invest in Health: I have one horse that’s my “Many Trick Pony.” That means he gets worked 4-5 times per week across jumping, flatwork, reining, and cow work. I want to avoid downtime, costly illnesses, and injuries. This month, that meant vaccines, farrier, and chiropractic expenses.
  • 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 low prices.

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • (Still on my list) 1 More Turnado Bit: Now that my dressage bridle is all set, the only remaining snaffle I want to replace is for my backup western headstall. Read about why I switched in my Herm Sprenger Turnado Bit Review.
  • Cow Working Clinic: I’ll be riding in my second two-day cow working clinic of the season in May.

This is my first month of 2019 that I’ve gone over budget, but at least it was because of maintenance health expenses instead of silly purchases or injuries.

Happy Trails!

P.S. If you hate buyer’s remorse too, check out our Horse Rookie Must Haves on Amazon for supplies 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!