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Mission Impossible? How to Afford Two Horses on a Budget

Two horses
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Written by Natasha D.

If one horse is good, two is better—right?

This article explores how to minimize expenses and maximize your resources to afford more than one equine best friend.

Owning a horse is unlike any other thing I’ve ever imagined. There is a magical connection between a horse and its owner. The feeling is unmatched and can only be understood once you’ve experienced it yourself. At some point in your horse-owning journey you’re likely to ask yourself a simple question, “If one horse brings me so much happiness, what would owning two be like?”

Let’s face it, horses are expensive. In order to succeed in owning more than one horse, you must begin by creating an itemized budget. This will give you an idea of what new expenses will be required for an additional four-legged friend. If you’re working with finite funds, cutting costs and sourcing additional revenue streams may allow you to increase your herd size by one.

Economies of Scale

If 1 horse costs $1X to keep, do 2 horses cost $2X?

Yes and no. When buying a second horse, some expenses will definitely increase by *at least* 2X. These items may include things like board, farrier bills, and annual veterinary checks. (Although you would technically be spreading out a farm visit over multiple animals, and some barns do offer multi-horse discounts on board.)

If you are able to keep your horses at home, instead of board you would need to factor in additional feed and water. You may also need to factor in additional costs such as training and lessons; this will be a case-by-case expense.

If you purchase a horse that is of similar size and build, winter blankets, halters, and sheets can be shared between horses. This is especially helpful if you already have multiples of specific items.

Understand Your Situation – Create a Current Budget

The best first step is to create a current budget. This will give you an accurate idea of how much money per month you are currently spending. From there, you can more easily calculate how much it would take to support two horses.

Unlike material items with high price tags, horses are living, breathing animals and have to be cared for no matter what.

You never want to put yourself in a position where you aren’t able to afford essential care for your horses.

How much does it cost to keep one horse?

To create an accurate picture of your current budget, it’s important to write down an itemized list of all of your horse related costs.

Track both monthly and annual expenses to get a clear picture of a full year at a time.

Two horses in stalls

Photo Cred: Canva

These expenses may include:

  • Board (if you keep your horse at a facility)
  • Hay & grain (if you are keeping your horse at home)
  • Farrier (estimate every 6-8 weeks)
  • Annual Veterinary Care
  • Additional Supplements
  • Grooming supplies
  • Bedding
  • Tack – Saddle, Bridle, Halter, etc.
  • Dental Care
  • Dewormer
  • Training & Lessons
  • Emergency Costs

This should provide an accurate picture of both monthly and annual expenses based on your specific scenario. Now, multiply your total costs by 2 and round up. This will give you a starting point on the cost for two horses.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Cutting Costs: Suggestions to Save

So what can you do if your itemized expense list is more than you can currently afford? The answer to this question could be to get creative, or stick with one horse until your finances change.

There are several options you can take in order to save money, whether that is to increase your monthly horsey allowance or to increase your horse-buying budget.

What types of things can I buy in bulk for my horse?

Hay, grain, and shavings can all be purchased in bulk. This is most beneficial if you keep your horses at home since you are responsible for their essential care.

The downside to this is that bulk materials require a lot of storage space.

Additionally, you need to be mindful of shelf life on items like grain–depending on the form, shelf life may range from 60 days (sweet feed) to 360 days (extruded pellets).

Where is the best place to buy used horse tack?

Used horse tack can typically be found in either tack stores or consignment shops. Be sure to call ahead if you are looking for something specific since inventory is usually limited to whatever has been brought in to be sold.

There are also numerous online marketplaces (think Facebook, especially specific groups) and online tack sites that have classified ads for used equipment.

If you don’t mind paying more on shipping, these sites allow you to search out of state options as well. This is especially ideal if you are on the hunt for a specific brand or size.

Saddles

Photo Cred: Canva

Can you get horse tack repaired?

Absolutely! Broken leather on saddles, bridles, and reins can all be repaired. Blankets, turnout sheets, and saddle pads can also be fixed and cleaned. Heck, I’ve even come across someone who would restitch and replace the velcro on bell boots!

Seek out local leather makers and seamstresses to make broken items good as new.

Extra Income: How Your Horse Can Earn Its Keep

Not only are horses expensive, but they also require a lot of time. The vast majority of horse owners work a full time job which unfortunately leaves them with less time to ride and care for their horses than they would like.

Because of this, some owners opt to either lease their horses out or enroll them for use in lessons in order to offset costs and ensure their horses are being properly exercised.

horse rookie guide to jumping

How much can I make if my horse is used for lessons?

Some owners choose to lease their horse out to lesson programs. The amount of money received from this type or arrangement will vary based on overall industry rates, geographical area, and that particular trainer’s pricing structure.

Many times this type of setup results in a discounted board rate compared to generating actual cash.

How do you find someone to lease your horse?

Finding someone to lease your horse most commonly occurs through word of mouth marketing. If your horse is currently in training, ask your instructor if he/she has any clients that are looking to lease a horse.

By working with your trainer, you can make sure that your horse is being paired with the right rider.

Posting flyers in your local tack store is another good option. This will widen your reach to other potential leases. On the same note, posting on social media groups also can be a lucrative option to find riders that are looking for horses to lease that may be outside your direct network.

Getting Creative

What happens if you don’t want to lease your horse out to someone and still need extra cash? This is where thinking outside the box and getting creative works in your favor.

Do horse people work more than one job?

Sometimes! Needing to work more than one job all depends on your current financial situation and total costs for your horses. If you’re financially stable and able to pay for all the required costs of your horses, you probably don’t need another job.

However, I’ve come across quite a few horse owners that work a full time job during the day and have a horsey related side hustle that they work nights and weekends.

They may need the extra income to cover equine-related costs or they may like to have extra spending money to spoil their horses.

Some barns allow you to work off some of your board. This may include covering feeding shifts or cleaning stalls. If you’re already going to be at the barn anyways, why not chip away at your monthly board bill? Side jobs like equine photography are a great way to supplement your income too!

Horse photography

Photo Cred: Canva

What kinds of side jobs do equestrians have?

Side jobs in the equestrian community are endless! There are always barns that need help with cleaning and feeding and many times offer payment or discounted board in return.

If you enjoy riding horses of all types, look into exercise riding—this can be a great option and a win-win for both parties. Some equine enthusiasts run side businesses that offer body clipping, braiding, and braiding horses for competitions.

If you are seeking something that’s a little more hands-off but still within the industry, you could consider blogging, content creation, marketing, show photography, and videography. All have the potential to be great options for equestrian side jobs.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do people afford horses on a budget?

Owning horses on a budget is possible. Is it hard? Yes. But by being careful, prioritizing your expenses, (Starbucks < SmartPaks) and itemizing your expenses, you can ensure you have enough money to cover your horsey bills. Having a side job can also help cover costs.

Q: How much does it cost to own two horses?

A good rule of thumb is to first figure out how much one horse costs. Then take that total and multiply everything by 2. While this method may result in a total cost that is higher than the actual total, estimating on the higher side is always smart. This excess can make up for unplanned expenses and emergencies.

Q: How can you save money on horse expenses?

If you have to board your horses at a facility, look for places that offer multiple horse discounts. If you horses are able to live together, look for large shared pasture spaces. Pastures can cut down costs of board and will also give your horses ample space to stretch their legs and live more naturally.

Need ideas? Sign up for our email list to get our bartering guide!

Buying tack and equipment second hand is another great option to slash horse expenses. You can also sell off tack or equipment you no longer need!

Q: Do you save money by having two horses?

You may end up saving a little money on tack, grooming supplies, and other little sharable items, but that’s about it. Owning two horses is always going to cost more than owning one.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: What are the benefits to having more than one horse?

Having more than one horse can be beneficial if you ride in multiple disciplines and compete. For example, it may be difficult to be competitive in both reining classes and over-fence classes. In this scenario, you may opt to have one horse for showing in reining classes and another for jumping.

Another common reason you find people owning more than one horse is that one horse is older and one horse is younger and at different parts of their show careers.

Q: How expensive of a horse can I afford?

Unfortunately, there’s no formula to tell you what your horse budget should be. The best advice I can offer is that the initial purchase price is just the tip of the iceberg of horsey-related costs.

Figure out a number that you’d be comfortable spending on a purchase price and then factor all of the other expenses that will come with your horse. This way, you can decide if the purchase price and cost of care will fall within your budget.

Parting Thoughts

Owning two horses can be extremely rewarding. By being smart about your budget and truthful regarding your financial status, you too can have multiple horses. Go grab a paper and pencil and get to work on that budget!

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About the author

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Natasha D.

Natasha is a Certified equine massage therapist with experience showing in western pleasure, hunter under saddle, horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She now focuses on reining horses, but dabbles in dressage training when time allows.