Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: January 2019 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

Welcome to my first monthly equestrian expense report! (Side note: Gulp.)

January 2019 Expense Chart

Summary Breakdown

My goal is to provide horse enthusiasts who are considering buying (or leasing) a horse with a transparent look at the real cost of horse ownership. (Generic online calculators only get you so far.)

In addition, I hope to inspire other horse owners to more closely track and reflect on the true cost of horse ownership, any hidden cost, and their own spending.

A Few Reminders:

  • I’m a single-income horse owner: I don’t have a spouse, parents, or trust fund (I wish!) helping with my expenses. Every dollar I spend, I earned.
  • I’m a small business owner: I don’t have an outside employer who cuts me a paycheck each month. My financial picture is solely tied to the success of my own business.
  • I board my horse: Affording a house with enough land for horses (and everything that goes with them) simply isn’t an option in my area at my income level. You may not incur some of these costs if you keep your horse at home. (Though you’ll also have some other expenses that I don’t face, like the upfront cost of building housing and the maintenance costs for your barn and fencing.)
  • I live in Montana, USA: Contrary to popular belief, it’s expensive to live here (at least where I am)! But, depending where you live, these same expenses may be higher or lower than mine. (If you want to compare to the cost of living in your state, check out this calculator.)
  • I do multiple disciplines: I do several disciplines with my horse, including dressage, stadium jumping, eventing, reining, cow work, and trail riding. (#AQHAversatility) That means I need different pieces of gear, tack, and apparel for each sport vs. focusing spending on a single discipline.
  • I get creative: I like getting creative about my expenses (e.g. bartering opportunities), especially for ongoing costs. I’ll make notes about when/how I offset certain expenses.
  • I track spending with Mint: I use the Mint app to track the actual cost and categorize my spending in real-time.

Cost of Owning a Horse – Monthly Expense


  • $15 // Ticket to Alycia Burton’s FreeRiding NZ Tour
    • Alycia is internationally renowned for her bareback riding skills, and she also made our 15 Best Vloggers list by Shelby Dennis. When I learned she was doing a USA tour with a stop 30 minutes away this summer, I jumped at the chance to grab a ticket. (Adjustment: I used a coupon code I found on Instagram to score a FREE ticket!)
  • $345 // Riding Lessons
    • I took 3 semi-private jumping lessons, 4 private western flatwork lessons, and 4 group cow working lessons. Because I board at the barn, I get a discounted rate on lessons and bartered for two. (P.S. Check out our 13 best boots for lessons.)
  • $10 // Higher Education Barn Meeting


  • N/A



  • $5.24 // Apples and carrots
    • Our grocery store sells bruised apples at a discount, and so it’s a win-win for me and my horse 🙂
  • $17.99 // Horse name tee
    • I came across a funny t-shirt with my horse’s name on it… and I gave in!


  • $96.98 // Professionals Choice SMB Combo Boots
    • After eying these for a few months, I finally pulled the trigger. These boots provide 360-degree impact protection and absorb up to 26% of negative energy from hoof concussions. (Adjustment: I bartered marketing services in exchange for these boots.)
  • $52.60 // Herm Sprenger Turnado Bit
    • Find it on Amazon

      This simple-yet-innovative loose ring snaffle bit is something I learned about during one of our barn’s Higher Education sessions. My horse had been wearing a simple D-ring snaffle for our english rides, which I thought was a nice, soft choice. But, the Turnado bit is rotated forward 45-degrees to lie perfectly (and softly) in the mouth when rein aids are activated. Plus, it’s symmetrical when jointed–unlike a normal snaffle, which ends up with one side longer than the other when jointed and can cause crookedness. The initial cost was worth it. After trying this bit for five minutes, my horse was SO much softer in the bridle, more willing to accept my contact, and his crookedness virtually disappeared. Check out my full review of this bit here.

  • $25.72 // NRS Berlin One-Ear Headstall
    • After the same bits and bridles seminar, I also looked at my Western headstall with more educated eyes. The rawhide accents on the brow band and cheek pieces were likely somewhat uncomfortable for my horse. I decided to switch to this simple rolled leather one-ear headstall for western riding. (Adjustment: I wrote five software program reviews on G2Crowd, which entitled me to enough Amazon gift credits to cover this purchase.)
  • $69.98 // Two C4 Belts
    • Shop C4 on Amazon

      Historically, I hate belts. By “hate,” I mean I haven’t owned or worn one in years. I even once dropped out of a riding clinic that required belts as part of the dress code. See, I hate them! Shelby Dennis included C4 belts in her Equestrian Gift Guide, and that’s when I realized there could be an exception to my no-belt rule. C4 belts are “cut to size,” meaning I can make my belt fit however I want! They also come in TONS of fun patterns, and you can swap out the buckles anytime. That was it: I knew I had to try them 🙂


  • $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… I can’t even talk about it!
  • $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.


  • $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 Cost for Barn Visits
    • This figure is an average cost. 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 MONTHLY COST (Before Adjustments) = $1,684.31

GRAND TOTAL MONTHLY COST (After Adjustments) = $1011.25

Over budget by $11.25

Money Well Spent

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

  • I’m really loving the Professionals Choice SMB Combo Boots so far. Especially because I only have one horse, and he does many jobs, I want to preserve his legs as much as possible. These boots provide the best coverage and support I’ve found, and he’ll be wearing them every time we do our reining and cow work moving forward.
  • I can’t say enough good things about the Turnado bit. For years, I’ve been struggling to get my horse as round and supple in the english arena as he is in his western “attire.” He loved this bit the moment he tried it, and I’ve never seen him travel so straight with such a happy swinging tail!
  • C4 Belts have officially ended my 30-year belt boycott. (#nosmallfeat) Check out my C4 Belt Review!

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • The t-shirt certainly wasn’t a “need,” and the material isn’t super soft. It’s also a bit on the small side, but it’s too much trouble to exchange. Luckily, it wasn’t too expensive–and it’ll be fun from time to time around the barn.

Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)

How could you save some money?

  • Make win-win trades: In my case, I have a network of equestrian contacts who also need marketing and logistics help (i.e. what I focus on for my “day job”). Trading for various design, copywriting, social media, and event management helps me offset horse-related expenses and provide valuable services to others in return. Many other people trade for things like mucking stalls, working as a groom, etc. Whatever your skill set, use it!
  • Compare the real cost and any ongoing cost 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. But, depending on what I’m shopping for, sometimes I used products on eBay that will do the job.
  • Find useful reward programs: When I got an email from G2Crowd asking me to review software I use anyway in exchange for Amazon gift cards, I was all over it. For a few minutes of my time per product, I earned enough to cover my new headstall!

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • Velcro Trailer Ties: I love the design of the Intrepid International Tie Safe Trailer Ties. Not only do they save you from dealing with pee-soaked ropes and “is this right?” knots, the velcro means they separate easily in the event of an emergency AND can be put back together again afterward. Since I don’t trailer much, though, I haven’t been able to justify buying them yet. If I travel more this year, that may change!
  • 2 More Turnado Bits: I also have a backup western headstall and dressage bridle that could use an upgrade from regular snaffle bits to the Turnado loose ring snaffles. I may spread out those purchases over the next few months, as those are my least used bridles. Read about why I switched bits here.

Overall, I’m really happy with how closely I stuck to my monthly budget. The couple higher-cost products I purchased are going to last a long time and help keep my horse safe, healthy, and happy. #priceless

Happy Trails!

P.S. If you hate buyer’s remorse too, check out our 9 Best Brands: No-Regrets Horse Riding Breeches article for great investments at great prices. Or, shop our Horse Rookie Must Haves on Amazon for supplies worth every penny!

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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!