How much do horses cost? Here’s my answer for June 2019.
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 has officially arrived, I’m taking full advantage of the educational opportunities at my barn and in the surrounding area.
One of my goals this year is to get more comfortable taking my horse off-property. We’re both homebodies, so the nerves come out when we leave our “safe space.”
Because of increased travel, you’ll also see several health-related purchases specific to hauling my horse offsite.
(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
- $440 // Riding Lessons and Ranch Riding Class
- Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 4 private Western lessons, 4 semi-private jumping lessons, and 1 ranch riding class.
- Ranch riding class is a monthly offering at our barn, and this was our second meeting. Each rider had to perform the reining pattern we learned last month, then we practiced roping. I’m by no means a roping natural, but at least I can build a loop while tracking the cow and get *close* on most of my throws this year!
- (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 8 lessons, so final cost was $30. Because I board at the barn, I also get a discounted rate on lessons.)
$500 // Cow Camp
- Cow Camp was a three-day intensive workshop about — you guessed it — all things cattle. It was limited to our core group of cow working students, so the group was small (6).
- We spent the first morning at our barn working on things like hobbling, slicker training, pulling objects, opening gates, and drywork. That afternoon, we headed to the cutting pen to rope and vaccinate our onsite herd of 10 cows. It. Took. Forever. (It turns out none of us are roping naturals…)
- On day two, we headed to a friend’s cattle ranch ~30 miles away for some real-world practice. We practiced riding in big open spaces (especially away from the group), gathered heifers and yearlings from the pastures, and sorted cattle in the pens. Then we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal at the ranch!
- On day three, we went back to the ranch to practice sorting mom/baby pairs in the pastures (#noeasyfeat). We also rotated several herds between pastures, checked fence lines, and even moved a pair of GIANT bulls out to a pasture of heifers so they could… do their jobs.
- (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services in exchange for Cow Camp.)
- $62 // Dressage Clinic Lesson Deposit
- I registered for a private lesson with visiting dressage instructor Ellen Eckstein in August. This month, I paid the 50% deposit to hold my spot.
- It’s been two years since I did a dressage clinic, and I’m eager to see the change after all the work we’ve put into our partnership since then. I also want to get some fresh eyes on my horse’s way of going and improve his overall suppleness and movement.
$20 // Hauling to Local Reining Show
- I *planned* to show in a Ranch Riding class at a nearby reining show with a friend. (He hauled, so I gave him $20 for gas.) When we arrived, however, we learned they were running 6+ hours behind schedule 🙁
- It wasn’t worth waiting all that time on a cold and rainy day to show for two minutes, so I withdrew.
- The silver lining: my horse got another trip in the trailer and practice hanging out for a few hours while my friend stayed to help scribe (i.e. write down judge’s comments) for several classes.
- I also rode him around the show grounds for ~30 minutes before I left to get more experience in that environment. He was NOT pleased to leave his best friend in the trailer, but we got through it!
- $75 // Farrier (2 visits)
- We didn’t have a routine shoeing appointment scheduled for June… but we saw the farrier twice.
- My horse went lame in his right front, likely from the really wet ground, so our farrier came to reshoe both fronts with pads and wedges.
- A couple weeks later, my horse decided he didn’t need that fancy shoe after all. He pulled it during one of our practice sliding stops and left it in his tracks! So, the farrier returned again to reshoe it.
$25.99 // Bute and Hooflex
- After each shoeing incident, the farrier recommended giving him some Bute to help with the soreness. I didn’t have any on-hand, so I borrowed some from a friend and gave her a $10 gift card as a token of thanks.
- My farrier also suggested applying Hooflex Therapeutic Conditioner to all four hooves whenever I’m out at the barn. We’d done this in the past but stopped over the winter when the ground hardened.
- You can get Hooflex at Amazon, and it acts as both a moisture barrier (my priority), maintenance conditioner, and hoof crack treatment. Win-win-win!
- $46.39 // SmartPak daily supplements
- $50 // Bodywork
- After our three-day Cow Camp, my horse was pretty back sore. In addition to four days off, I got him a relaxing massage with essential oils.
- (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for his bodywork.)
$35.99 // UlcerGard
- I used up my last tube of UlcerGard, so it was time for a new one. You can get UlcerGard at Amazon (often cheaper than at your local ranch store), and my trainer recommends giving one dose the morning before travel and each morning your horse is away from home.
- Each tube contains four doses, and it helps prevent ulcers while you’re traveling and your horse’s routine is disrupted.
- Note: If you travel frequently, you can grab an UlcerGard six pack at Amazon so you have plenty on hand.
- $13.99 // Apple Elite Electrolyte Paste
- As the weather heats up, I wanted to have another one of these tubes at-the-ready. My horse gets daily electrolyte supplements added to his grain already, but the Apple Elite Electrolyte Paste can boost the effects when you’re traveling. It also encourages your horse to drink more away from home.
- For his daily allotment, I buy the big 5-pound tubs of Apple Elite instead to save money.
$7 // SmartCalm Ultra Pellets
- During Cow Camp, and at the local reining show, I struggled to keep my horse mentally with me. He would get very worried when he couldn’t see his friends, and his meltdowns would often last 30+ minutes. It was rather miserable for both of us in those moments.
- I started researching natural calming supplements I could administer before traveling or stressful situations. (A daily maintenance dose was unnecessary, as my horse is very calm and manageable at home!)
- That’s when I came across SmartCalm® Ultra Pellets from SmartPak. These pellets feature an herb-free formula of natural vitamins minerals and amino acids that help minimize excessive nervousness. (No sugar added :))
- Check your specific horse show rule books, but nutrient-based supplements like this are typically allowed in rated competitions.
- (Adjustment: A friend had a week’s worth of pellets left that she wasn’t using, so she gave them to me for free so I could try them out!)
- $51.98 // Get Down Ropes (QTY 2)
- During Cow Camp, my trainer and I realized how handy it’d be to have a Get Down Rope. (Since we both use bridle bits with romal reins, there’s no easy way to tie up our horses or have someone else hold them if we need to get off mid-ride.
- Get Down Ropes are meant to loop around your horse’s neck while you ride, and you coil and tie the excess onto your saddle. If you need to dismount and/or tie your horse, you simply untie the end from your saddle and use it like a regular halter rope to tie.
- I ended up finding two Get Down Ropes on eBay (one for me and one for my trainer), but I also like the Weaver Leather Yacht Rope option at Amazon.
$49.23 // Figure Eight Hobbles
- Though my horse is perfect in many ways, he’s not great tied to a trailer (without a hay net). Since he’s already hobble trained, I wanted to get a pair to keep on hand.
- Unfortunately, the pair my friend made were far too big. So, I ended up buying the Tory Heavy Duty Leather Hobbles at State Line Tack. I’m waiting for them to arrive, but fingers crossed they fit!
- $17.98 // Summer Riding Socks (2 pairs)
- ($12.50) // Sold Tack on Consignment
- I sold one snaffle bit and a western headstall at our local tack store on consignment, so this was my commission.
Check out our Horse Rookie Must Haves on Amazon for equestrian gear that’s worth every penny!
- $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.
- $90 // Annual Blanket Cleaning
- Once per year, I send all of my horses’s blankets, sheets, coolers, and liners off to be cleaned through our local tack store. I also have the shop apply new waterproofing to his rain sheet.
TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $2,202.08GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $825.08
(Under budget by $174.92)
Money Well Spent
What am I particularly glad I spent money on this month?
- Cow Camp was an intense experience, but an invaluable one. We were able to put the skills we practice at home to the test at a real ranch, and there was a lot we did well. That said, I discovered a lot that we still need to work on — particularly around my horse’s nerves away from home and away from the herd. It motivated me to try SmartCalm® Ultra Pellets at a July event, and I saw a huge difference! (More to come on that in July’s expense report.)
- After three farrier visits within 30 days, I’m all-in on preventative Hooflex (get it here at Amazon) applications.
In April’s expense report, I talked about purchasing Tie Safe trailer ties. At Cow Camp, they were put to the test. I hauled a friend’s horse, and he pulled back while unloading. The velcro separated as designed, and the horse was completely uninjured. Later, my horse pulled back while tied to the trailer. Again, the velcro separated, and my horse was 100% OK. After both incidents, I put the velcro back together in about five seconds. Good as new!
- In late 2018, I purchased Compositi Reflex stirrups at Amazon. Now that I’ve ridden in them for several months, I’m so glad I bought them. Whether jumping or doing flatwork, my feet stay in place with the super grippy, wide tread. It’s made a big difference in my position and stability.
Want to learn more about my experience with these stirrups? Check out my Compositi Stirrups Review.
What do I regret spending money on?
- After several extra farrier visits to troubleshoot soreness issues, I regret that I didn’t restart Hooflex applications earlier in the season. I also wish I had used the Professional’s Choice SMB Combo Boots during our reining lesson. The overreach portion of the boot would’ve likely prevented my horse from pulling his front shoe off during a sliding stop. #lessonlearned
Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)
How could you save some money?
- Set Yourself Up for Success: If you travel with your horse (or want to), make sure you have the additional supplies and supplements to make it the least stressful experience for both of you. Personally, I’m willing to invest more in order to enjoy time with my horse more.
- 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.
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). I’m tempted to move the Reflex stirrups to my dressage saddle (which still has old metal irons) and get Eclipse stirrups for my jump saddle.
- Custom Chinks: I received my custom chinks this month, but I won’t be invoiced for the balance until July. So check out the July expense report for details. (Spoiler alert: LOVE them!)
- Working Equitation Clinic: I registered for a Working Equitation clinic for beginners in July. It’s a two-hour introduction to the sport, and it’ll be the first time I try the SmartCalm® Ultra Pellets. Stay tuned!
Overall, I really enjoyed all the educational opportunities this month and am proud of the multiple trips I’ve taken with my horse. As a self-professed Horse Rookie, hauling my horse is still a bit nerve-racking. But, the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice.
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.See More Expense Reports
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