Budgeting Horse Care Riding Tips

8 Easy tips: How to afford a horse on a budget

horse money
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Written by Allison G.

How to live your horse dreams, without breaking the bank

Horses have gone from a necessity to a luxury over the years, but with careful planning many people can afford one. If you take the time to plan your budget and work out your priorities, you’ll be able to identify any sticky points in the journey to horse ownership. Even if it seems like you can just squeak by, you may want to save extra for those unexpected emergencies.

As you work on your budget you may notice that it all seems a bit tighter than you’d like. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is not easy and can be an added stress you don’t need. If you’re looking for ways to save your hard-earned cash and still live the dream of horse ownership, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of some of the top ways to reduce your costs.

Savings Tactic #1: Share the costs

One great way to reduce your horse-related expenses is to share your horse with another individual. Oftentimes you can half or partial lease your horse to another rider and they’ll pay you a set amount for a certain amount of ride time.

girl with horse

source: canva

Half or partial leases can also be a great way to make sure your horse is getting ample exercise even if you can’t come out quite as often as you’d like.

Make sure to thoroughly vet the person you lease to, though. If their riding or handling skills are not adequate, you could find yourself dealing with training issues when you finally do get your turn.

Savings Tactic #2: Work Off Board

You can work off board costs

in a number of ways. Some facilities will reduce your monthly bill if you help them out with chores like mucking stalls and cleaning up. Others have the option of half or partial board, where you care for your own horse for a smaller monthly cost.

Both of those options do require your time, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.

horse barn cleaning

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Depending on the facility you board at (and your horse), some places will reduce your board bill if you allow them to use your horse in lessons. Use caution, though, because there will be multiple students riding your trusty mount, and some horses are not a fan of this.

Savings Tactic #3: Don’t Make Frivolous Purchases

This one sounds obvious, but it can be super hard to do. You should avoid buying all those extra saddle pads and polo wraps, that fifteenth trail brush, or that shiny new bit that your horse really doesn’t need. Keep it simple and try to be realistic.

Try to avoid buying things right when you see them, but instead walk away and give yourself ample time to think it over.

horse breast collar

source: canva

Savings Tactic #4: Take Care of Your Stuff

A good way to waste money is to toss your stuff around and neglect it. Don’t do that. Keep your saddle and other tack clean and stored appropriately. If you don’t have access to a climate-controlled tack room, then take your nice leather goods home with you.

It might be a pain in the butt to haul it back and forth, but it will last way longer if it’s well cared for.

nice horse bridles

source: canva

Savings Tactic #5: Take Care of Your Horse

Veterinary care is expensive, and horses are good enough at hurting themselves without your help. To greatly reduce your equine expenses, make sure your horse gets enough good-quality forage, enough enrichment, is kept clean and dry, and has plenty of cool, clean water.

Don’t put off those veterinarian, dentist, and farrier appointments, either.

girl caring for horses

source: canva

online horse courses

Savings Tactic #6: Fix Your Stuff

If you want to save money on horse supplies, you can fix things instead of throwing them out. Saddle pads and blankets can be repaired and are expensive when new. Turnout blankets and sheets that lose their waterproofing can inexpensively be re-waterproofed – no need to toss them out.

Even leather saddles and bridles can be repaired for less than buying new.

Repair horse equipment

source: canva

Savings Tactic #7: Buy Used

As wonderful as a brand-new set of boots is, the fresh things can be really expensive. Keep your eyes peeled for tack sales or look on various social media websites for used tack and supplies.

Many local tack stores even have consignment sections where you can find used saddles for more reasonable prices.

used saddle

source: canva

Savings Tactic #8: Buy in Bulk and Shop Around

There are a few things you can buy in bulk for less money. Hay, bedding, supplements, feed, and other consumables are usually more expensive if you buy a small amount at one time. The upfront cost will be more when you go bulk, but you will ultimately save money.

bulk equithrive

Click to see bulk horse supplements at Amazon

You should also take the time to shop around. One hay dealer may end up having higher quality hay for cheaper, but you wouldn’t know unless you look. Before dropping big bucks on a supplement, check the ingredients and see what else is comparable.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Should I Pay for My First Horse?

You should pay however much is reasonable and that fits in your budget. The most important thing is to determine what kind of horse that is suitable for you as a rider and then figure out what your budget is.

Since it’s your first horse, you should take your trainer, or a trusted and experienced horse friend, with you to keep you on track and to look for red flags.

online horse courses

How Do People Afford to Own a Horse?

Many people afford horses by shifting their priorities. It shouldn’t be too difficult, since horse ownership is a lifestyle and can consume a lot of your time. Some people eat out less, avoid buying super expensive designer clothes, stick with that reliable car they’ve already paid off instead of buying a new one, or skip that beach vacation this year.

What Are Some Tips for Horse Showing on a Budget?

Horse showing

can be very expensive, but there are a few ways you can curb the costs. Buying second hand show clothes can really help save some money. You can also carpool with people to split the trailering and gas costs. Some people skip renting a hotel room and sleep in the trailer, but you could always split a room cost with a good friend.

Another fantastic way to show on a budget is to share your horse. If there’s another rider that would like to ride your horse in competitions, you can split the costs. This is extra great if you need a stall at the show, and can’t just haul in the day of.

Parting Thoughts

Horses are expensive, but with enough careful planning you can own and enjoy one. Like many other things in life, they can be as expensive or as cheap as you want. Shop smart, do some extra work, take care of what you own, and you’ll find out that it’s not as costly as it may have seemed.

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About the author

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Allison G.

After earning my B.A. in Animal Sciences, I went on to work for an equine vet, volunteer at a therapeutic riding nonprofit, and dabble in equine photography. I now keep two horses at home on my small farm and ride them English and Western. My writing has also be featured on FEI.org.