FAQ Riding Tips

I Want a Horse But Can’t Afford One (Now What?)

Horse in Stall

If wishes were horses, you’d own one by now.

So you love horses. Yet, like many equestrians, you don’t have enough money to spare for a horse of your own. You may be struggling to make ends meet just to support yourself. You probably can’t imagine ponying up (pun intended) for such an expensive habit given your current financial state, and that’s OK.

You’re not alone.

Many equestrians understand exactly where you are coming from. Luckily, there are numerous ways to get your horse fix, even when you don’t have the funds to afford a horse of your own. In fact, I’ll give you 5 ideas in this blog!

Learn as much as you can before you buy a horse. Click to see this handy guide at Amazon!

Already have a horse, but struggling to afford it and pay your bills? Check out these equestrian side hustles if you want to boost your monthly income.

Get your horse fix on the cheap(er)

Here are 5 great ways to advance your equestrian journey when you can’t afford horse ownership.


When it comes to equine-related volunteering, the possibilities are virtually endless. You can volunteer for horse shows, horse rescues, therapeutic programs, barns, or even individuals who need help with their horses. 

You’ll get to spend time with horses and help others at the same time. It’s a win-win!

If you volunteer with a rescue or hippotherapy program, the organization will often allow you to ride the horses as part of their training. Plus, you’ll be helping an organization that realizes the power of horses on human lives. It is truly transformative to experience the healing that horses can provide.

Volunteering also looks great on college applications and résumés.

Volunteering at a show or other event, on the other hand, gives you quality horse time and an invaluable opportunity to learn by observation. You’ll also be able to make useful connections and expand your equestrian network. 

Show organizers appreciate volunteers who show up and are reliable, so don’t be surprised if you’re offered free food and other goodies while you work!

Get a horse job

You can clean stalls, work as a groom, help train horses, braid manes for shows, do horse massage, or work at a local tack store. If money is tight, this may be the perfect solution for putting more money in your pockets, all the while spending time with horses and horse people.

Oftentimes, barns need extra help on the weekends — even if they have normal weekday workers. This can be a great way to add another stream of income during the time when you aren’t working your regular job.

Put your name and your résumé out there at your local tack shop or ask friends to spread the word.

Even if you’re ideal barn or trainer isn’t looking for help right now, that could change in an instant. Craigslist and Facebook can also be great places to search for equestrian jobs.

Want even more time at the barn? Learn how to become a star working student equestrian.

Do a horse lease, share, or loan

If you can afford to pay something to satisfy your horse addiction, you might consider a lease or horse share. You pay a fraction of the horse care cost and get the benefit of having a horse to ride (full or part time).

Another benefit of leasing or sharing a horse is that you may be able to ride a higher-quality horse than you’d ever be able to purchase on your own.

You might even be able to compete on your lease/share horse.

A horse loan, on the other hand, is when someone gives you access to a horse in exchange for you paying for some or all horse care expenses. It’s still cheaper than owning a horse outright, and the owner benefits from having their horse exercised.

While you plan for your future horse, ensure you know the ins and outs of what they cost. Check out Horse Rookie’s monthly expense reports for down-to-the-dollar analysis. 

Take lessons

Taking riding lessons is probably the most popular choice for equestrians who want to spend time with horses but can’t afford to own them.

You’ll get to spend time with horses and become a better rider, all while spending far less than buying a horse. Find an instructor who helps you make progress, keeps riding fun, and helps you get closer to your eventual goal of horse ownership.


One of the best investments is your own knowledge.

Looking for ways to save on horse ownership or horse leasing costs? Here are the top ways to save money on horse ownership or expenses.

Make friends with horse people

Oftentimes, horse owners are looking for help keeping their horse exercised, as well as assistance caring for them when they’re traveling or too busy to make it to the barn on a regular basis.

If you become friends (or simply a trusted resource around the barn), opportunities will open up for you.

For example, I’d be happy to have trustworthy help to care for my horses when I’m traveling. If that person could also ride the way I want my horses ridden, I’d also consider letting someone do exercise rides, as well.

A consistent, trustworthy horse friend is worth his or her weight in gold.

If your barn friends attend horse shows, offer to tag along as their groom. You’ll get to spend the day with the horses and at a show, without paying entry fees of your own!

Not now doesn’t mean not ever

It can be tempting to write off your dreams of horse ownership entirely.

Don’t give up.

Just because you can’t afford your own horse right now doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to do so. Many horse owners plan for years, even decades, before purchasing their first horse.

Your victory will be all the more sweet after you had to work for it!

Horse Ownership Quote

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About The Economical Equestrian

Catherine blogs over at The Economical Equestrian. She is passionate about teaching people to be more comfortable and confident with their finances, as well as sharing tips for horse care, riding and living with horses. Visit The Economical Equestrian website to learn more.

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About the author


Catherine blogs over at The Economical Equestrian. She is passionate about teaching people to be more comfortable and confident with their finances, as well as sharing tips for horse care, riding and living with horses. Visit www.economicalequestrian.com to read more.