Budgeting Other

Cost of Owning a Horse: May 2019 Expense Report

Written by Horse Rookie

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

After going a bit over budget last month, I’m happy to report May wound up back “in the black.” I did make a decent investment in custom chinks and hobbles, but I have confidence those expenses will be worth it in the long run.

I also did a deep spring cleaning of my tack room and trailer. Everything I didn’t use went straight to our local tack shop’s consignment room, so hopefully I’ll get some money back from those items over time.

(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


  • jump-training-ride

    It turns out my cow horse can really jump!

    $360 // Riding Lessons, Training Ride & Ranch Riding Class

    • I typically take three lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 3 private Western lessons, 1 ranch riding class, 1 group cow working session, 1 jumping training ride, and 2 semi-private jumping lessons.
    • I’ve been wanting to have my English coach do a training ride for a while now, and I’m so glad I finally did it. I learned so much watching her school my horse over a course he’d never seen — and he didn’t even bat an eye. Clearly, it’s ME who is nervous over fences not him!
    • Ranch riding class is a fun new monthly offering at our barn, and the first session was held in May. A group of riders get together for two hours to work on a specific piece of ranch riding patterns, and our Western coach guides us through the maneuvers. For the first class, we worked through a typical reining pattern. Next month, we’ll each “perform” the pattern and then dig into a new topic… roping!
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 4 lessons, so final cost was $160. Because I board at the barn, I also get a discounted rate on lessons.)
  • $295 // Cow Working Clinic
    • Our clinic season is well underway, and I got to ride in another 2-day Cow Working Level 1 Clinic in May. I was relieved to feel even more at ease than the last clinic, which opened up a lot of “brain real estate” for focusing on my riding instead of my nerves. (See my tips for nervous riders.)
    • (Adjustment: I traded clinic management services in exchange for this clinic.)


  • N/A



  • Click to see these treats on Amazon

    $8.99 // Treats

    • My treat reserves were getting dangerously low, so it was time to restock. I chose these yummy horse treats from Manna Pro because they’re the perfect size and shape for post-ride stretches.
    • I have my horse do neck stretches on both sides and one through the front legs after each workout. He’s gotten SO much more flexible in the past two years.
    • Plus, if your horse doesn’t like the flavor you choose, you can mail them back to Manna Pro for a refund or replacement!


  • $240 // Custom Western Headstall and Breast Collar (deposit)

    Click to see figure 8 hobbles on Amazon

    • You read about my beautiful custom headstall and breast collar in last month’s horse expense report. I was so impressed with the quality and style from Sundown Saddlery that I placed an order for hobbles and chinks. (50% payment was due to begin.)
    • The hobbles will have a ergonomic design (similar to these figure 8 hobbles on Amazon) that is comfortable for my horse while standing, but that prevents him from digging holes to China when tied at the trailer. #whofeelsmypain
    • The chinks will be custom fit to me, which is key since I’ve probably tried on a dozen chaps and chinks over the past two years with no luck. I’m especially excited to wear these when I help friends gather cows and during roping clinics. Stay tuned for pics!


  • $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) = $1,879.41

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $924.41

(Under budget by $75.59)

Money Well Spent

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

  • The jumping training ride was worth every penny. I was able to watch how my instructor rode with quiet hands and positive approaches to each fence. The result? My horse jumped confidently and quietly. The following lesson, I tried to mimic my coach’s position (I filmed the training ride and rewatched it many times.), and it went great!
  • It may sound silly, but those horse treats definitely go in the PRO column this month. My gelding used to be so tight and stiff in the neck, and I’ve seen a dramatic improvement since we started doing stretches after our rides. Plus, he enjoys them!
  • Though these were technically purchased in April, I’m still loving my Tie Safe trailer ties. I’ve already used them for some local trips, and they’re so quick and easy — plus I don’t worry about my horse getting stuck in an emergency.

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • I’m sure I’m going to love both my hobbles and chinks, but it can cost a good chunk of change for quality gear! So, while I don’t regret ordering them, I’ll be a lot happier once I pay my balance in May and have these items in hand.

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.
  • Look for Easy Wins: Things like stretches may seem small, but making them a habit can really help your horse become more supple and relaxed. For a few bucks, you can buy some healthy treats and start practicing.
  • 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 Camp: I’ll be riding in a 3-day cow working intensive seminar in June, including 2 days off-property at a real ranch.
  • Trail Riding Clinic: Next month, I plan to ride in a 2-day trail and road riding clinic. (June Amendment: I decided not to ride in this clinic and instead barter for additional lessons.)

It feels good to be back under budget, especially since I got to take part in a lot of fun educational opportunities and get some quality custom gear ordered.

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

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!