Owning a Horse: The Upfront Costs and Responsibilities That Come With It

August 06, 2020

Owning a Horse: The Upfront Costs and Responsibilities That Come With It

How much does it cost to own a horse? Horses require daily maintenance, which can cost you thousands of dollars each year to add to the animal's initial buying price. If you are interested in owning a horse, you should understand the financial obligations that you will face.

On average, horse owners spend about $4,000 annually on the maintenance of each horse. Therefore, owners need to know all the things that determine how much they will pay, including fees, housing, and other supplies.

This article will guide you on these factors, along with budgeting and explanations.

Here are the biggest costs you'll need to consider:


1) Boarding

When looking at how much a horse is, the first important consideration is where they'll be kept.

If you don't have your own land, you'll have to board your horse at a local stable. Boarding is when you pay a monthly rate to accommodate your horse at someone else's stable. These horse stables usually have all the facilities you'll require to enjoy time with your horse. Some of the services that stables offer are categorized into full-care boarding, pasture boarding, and self-care boarding. Here's a bit about each and the price you can expect to pay:

Full-care boarding

The average monthly rates of full-care boarding range between $300 and $700. With this option, the stable will give your horse a stall in the barn and a field for turnout. Some of the things the barn staff do for your animal include feeding, watering, blanketing, applying fly spray, and stall cleaning. This is a good option if you can't attend to your horse every day. The stables will also help you schedule vet visits, so you'll have nothing to worry about.

Pasture boarding

Monthly average rates for pasture boarding are $150 to $400, which you pay a stable to keep your horse in their pastures. This means that your horse will be in the field all day. The barn staff also cater to your horse's daily needs. They fill the water buckets, blanket, and un-blanket the animals and feed them. In the case of harsh weather, they will also provide a run-in for your animals.

Pasture boarding is a budget-friendly option. It's also an excellent alternative for people who don't like to have their horses in the stalls all day. The horse being out in the pasture means that the horse can graze, exercise, and interact with other horses. On the flip side, the pasture board may not be great in some weather conditions. Yes, they provide a run-in, but there may be a pecking order to which horses get shelter, depending on their owners.

Self-care boarding

Self-care boarding costs about $100-$200. This is when you pay a stable to accommodate your horse, but you attend to the animal's daily needs. In other words, it is renting out space for your horse, which can help you save some cash.

Self-care boards offer stabling and pasture for your animal, but you are responsible for cleaning, feeding, watering, and blanketing. For this, you'll need to check on the animal at least once a day. It may be hard work, but it is a great way to spend more time with your horse.

Horse Eating

2) Feed

Horses eat a lot. You'd be surprised to find out that they eat about 2% of their body weight each day in hay. While full-care and pasture stables may provide hay and grain for your animal, there are some instances where you'll be responsible for feeding your horse, such as in self-care or the horse requires extra supplements that the stable doesn't provide.

The body of a horse is built to be constantly grazing. This means that if you don't have land to graze, you'll have to provide several bales of hay. In winter and other months where vegetation has died, you'll need to provide feed for the horse as well, even if you have grazing land. Here are some of your options:


A square bale costs between $3 and $20, while a round bale costs $40-$120. If you can't feed a horse the 2% of its body weight each day by grazing, you'll have to feed it hay. The price of hay depends on its quality and availability at the time. If you buy hay during winter, you're likely to pay a hefty price. You need to buy square bales for your horse if you use a trailer to take them to shows or keep in a stall.

The square bales easily break into flakes, which means it's easy to ration out. Round bales are meant for herds. They are bigger, and several horses can feed on them for a couple of days. Make sure the hay you purchase is cut explicitly for horses because they can't digest certain materials that other livestock like cows feed on.


The average price for a 50 Lbz bag of grain is $15 to $60. Grain provides horses with proteins and minerals that they can't acquire from the grass. The grain is beneficial to your horse if it has a vitamin deficiency, or if you need it to gain weight. Like hay, the price of grain depends on the quality. You can buy expensive bags which contain more minerals and vitamins, or cheaper bags that mostly fill the horse's stomach without the health benefits.


The price of a 5Lbs bucket of supplements cost $15-$70. Supplements come in powder or pellet form, which can be mixed with grain. They offer additional nutrients that the horse can't get from hay or grain and help to improve the physical and mental health of the animal.

Animal Doctor checking on a horse

3) Vet

A horse requires annual vaccination against Influenza and Tetanus, which can cost about $40 a year. You also need to pay a vet which may cost another $40 a year. Depending on where you are located, you may be required to vaccinate your horse against other conditions, including rabies, West Nile, Eastern & Western Encephalitis.

These days, because horse owners have realized than an accident or illness of a horse can be costly, they prefer to insure the horse. Depending on the cover the owner applies for, insurance can cost about $40 per month.

Horse's teeth also need to be checked often, as they get worn out by the way the animal chews its food. Jagged edges can form on the teeth' ridges and result in cuts and ulcers in the mouth. Your vet should check the horse, and tell you if the animal needs their teeth floated.

Teeth floating means that the vet will take a drill and smooth out the edges. Some horses may need this every six months, while others can go a few years. The vet will determine the price depending on how bad the teeth are and how the horse behaves during the process.


4) Farrier

A horse's hooves grow quickly, and they need to be trimmed often. A farrier is a professional who attends to the hooves. The horse may require their services after a month or two, but more often in the summer. The hooves wear more quickly during summer because of the moisture in the ground and the horse walking a lot more compared to winter when horses are largely immobile. Here are some services that the horse might require from a farrier:

Barefoot trimming

Barefoot trimming costs about $30-$50 and refers to the trimming of the hoof back to its correct position. The process ensures that the horse's weight is distributed evenly through the hooves instead of the joints.


This costs from $65 to $130. Shoeing is a great option when you don't want your horse to walk barefoot. The farrier fits semi-permanent horseshoes made from steel, aluminum, or plastic to the hooves. The shoes are attached to the feet by nails or glue.

5) Tack

Tack includes several pieces and may seem like a high initial cost, but tack pieces can last a long time if properly maintained. They include:


Saddles cost between $150 and $3000, the disparity depending on the brand and quality. Expensive brands appeal to professionals because of the comfort they offer.

Saddle pads

Saddle pads cost between $20 and $250. Saddle pads go between the saddle and the animal, providing cushioning and comfort. They also vary in price range depending on the quality and brand.


Brides cost between $20 and $200 and are used over the horse's head to give you control. The bridle comprises cheek straps, chin straps, browbands, and throatlatches.


The piece costs $15 to $120. It is designed to hold the saddle on your horse, depending on the discipline you compete in. The price depends on the material and quality. The piece is known as girth in Europe, and cinch in America.

6) Supplies

Here are other items that you'll need for your horse:

Lead rope

Water buckets

Feed buckets

Fly sprays

Horse blanket


Wound spray, etc.

You may not need all these items initially, but you'll need them along the way. The price depends on the specific piece as well as your location.


So, how much does a horse cost? Using the costs above, you should be able to calculate a rough estimate of how much you might spend. 

Owning a horse requires dedication to ensure the animal is fed properly, healthy, and comfortable. 

Although horses might be high-maintenance, they are worth the treatment for those who seriously love the animals and the lifestyle they bring.

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