Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: July 2019 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

Now that summer is in full swing (and it’s not deathly hot for once!), I’m spending as much time as I can out at the barn.

This month, I’m especially excited to share how the SmartCalm Ultra Pellets worked at our Working Equitation clinic.

(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


  • $300 // Riding Lessons & Ranch Riding Mini-Clinic
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 1 private Western lesson, 2 semi-private jumping lessons, and 2 cow work lessons.
    • My coach also rode my horse for a mini clinic on Ranch Riding when I tweaked my back and couldn’t ride.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for these lessons and the training ride. Because I board at the barn, I also get a discounted rate on lessons.)


  • jay-duke-clinic

    We had a great time at this clinic, and it was a good investment.

    $200 // Semi-Private Jumping Lesson

    • Jay Duke returned to our barn for another jumping clinic this month, and I decided to do a single semi-private lesson with my normal lesson partner. We had an awesome time!
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for a semi-private lesson for my friend and myself.)
  • $35 // Working Equitation Mini Clinic
    • This was one discipline I’d never tried before, and we’re lucky enough to have an active Working Equitation (WE) club in the area. They advertised an introductory mini clinic, so we headed out for a 2-hour crash course in the sport. (Without the crashing, thankfully!)
    • working-equitation

      This was our first time trying Working Equitation.

      As you read in June’s expense report, I planned to try SmartCalm Ultra Pellets prior to this clinic and see if they helped my horse stay more chill away from home. Nerves (his and mine) have been a challenge when we leave home previously, and neither of us have much fun when we’re anxious…

    • I’m happy to report this clinic was our most successful trip in years! For the first time, I felt like the horse I had at the clinic was the same horse I have at home. He was mellow, willing, and seemed to enjoy himself. Suffice it to say, I’m over the moon about SmartCalm Ultra Pellets!
    • Note: These pellets are advertised as a daily maintenance dose, but I only need them when we travel. So I tried feeding them two days prior and the day of the event. If anything, I’ll try knocking it down to two days of pellets next time.


  • $229 // Farrier (2 visits)
    • As you read last month, we had a rough June as far as feet go.
    • Luckily, July was back to normal maintenance shoeing! We did have to see the farrier two times, though, since one of my horse’s feet needed more time to grow.
    • Hopefully, August will be back to a single visit from our farrier.
  • $46.39 // SmartPak daily supplements
  • $50 // Bodywork
    • I scheduled another bodywork session this month, more so as a maintenance measure than to troubleshoot a specific issue.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for his bodywork.)
  • $35.38 // SmartCalm Ultra Pellets
    • After trying a friend’s sample of these pellets at the WE clinic, I was a total convert.
    • After that event, I bought a 3.75 lb bag of SmartCalm® Ultra Pellets to keep on-hand. They feature an herb-free formula of natural vitamins minerals and amino acids that help minimize excessive nervousness.
    • Check your specific horse show rule books, but nutrient-based supplements like this are typically allowed in rated competitions.

Click to see these versatile arena cones at Amazon.


  • $27.99 // Arena Exercise Cones
    • My friend has a lovely outdoor arena where we like to play.
    • This month, I bought us a set of mini traffic cones at Amazon so we could set up precision exercises.
    • I chose the set of 20 cones (9″ tall) that came in 5 bright colors. We’ve already used them, and they’re awesome! The lip at the bottom of each cone can be “dug” into the arena dirt to stabilize them while you ride. 
    • If you want to set up exercises to work on your straightness, bending lines, or obstacle courses, these are an inexpensive tool you can use for anything.
  • $40 // Jumping Clinic Photos
    • We all love professional pictures of our horses, right? I’m no exception. 
    • I purchased 4 photos (digital files) from our jumping clinic with Jay Duke.



I’m blown away by how well these turned out!

  • $290 // Chinks (Balance Payment), Saddle Sack, and Saddle Updates
    • As I mentioned in May’s expense report, I made a deposit on some custom chinks and a saddle sack.
    • The chinks turned out beautifully! They’re buttery soft and even have a cell phone pocket!
    • In fact, this gear was so lovely that I had my friend swap out my saddle conchos and ties to match.
  • Click to see my sun shirts at Amazon.

    $27.52 // Sunstopper Long Sleeve Shirt

    • I wish we’d had these amazing shirts when I was riding in my youth. They would’ve saved me on many sweltering and humid Indiana days.
    • I’m obsessed with the mesh panel on the underside of the sleeves, and the rest of the fabric is sun protective and super breathable, too.
    • They also have stand-up collars so you don’t end up with a burned neck… #beentheredonethat
  • ($47.50) // 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.

Check out my Ariat Heritage Review, where I also talk about why I love their sun shirts!


  • $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. 

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,972.81

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $962.81

(Under budget by $37.20)

Money Well Spent

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

  • Click to see Tough1 chinks at Amazon. The brown and black combo goes with everything!

    Can you put a price on hope? Not really! My first outing with my horse on SmartCalm® Ultra Pellets gave me hope that he and I can be calm and happy away from home. I’m sure it’ll take some trial and error on the dosage, but I’m so thankful to have a natural solution that’s good for both of us.

  • I’m not quite sure how I survived summer riding before my Ariat sunshirts. Including the two I purchased this month, I’ll now be able to rotate through four breathable options that protect me from sunburn — and overheating.
  • Before this month, I’d never ridden in chinks or chaps in my life. Now that I have my own chinks, I know what I’ve been missing! Chinks make me feel SO much more secure while I’m riding. This is especially true during my reining patterns when I need to do fast circles and sliding stops.

Want to learn more about my favorite Compositi stirrups? Check out my Compositi Stirrups Review.

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • Two farrier visits is a bummer, but I also know that it was necessary to keep my horse healthy. At least I have been good about putting on his Professional’s Choice SMB Combo Boots this month. He hasn’t pulled another shoe yet!

Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)

How could you save some money?

  • Invest in Experiences: Buying stuff is one thing, we we need a lot of it as equestrians. But, spending money on fun and/or useful experiences always feels worth it. For me, that means riding with visiting instructors (jumping this month and dressage in August), trying new disciplines, and taking my horse away from home.
  • 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?

  • (Still on my list) 1 More Turnado Bit: My jumping and dressage bridles now have this bit, but I also I want to replace the old snaffle on my backup western headstall. Read about why I switched in my Herm Sprenger Turnado Bit Review.
  • 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). Now I want them for my jumping saddle…

  • Reining Clinic: I’m registered for a two-day reining clinic in August at my barn, and I’m excited to work on our stops and turns. We’ve been practicing a lot in our lessons, and it’s time to put it all together in our patterns. Wish us luck!

This month felt a bit indulgent because of the custom chinks and saddle hardware swaps that were technically “optional.” That said, I’m so in love with how everything turned out that I know I’ll use and cherish these items for years to come.

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!