Horses are Expensive!

Do you have enough money to buy a car? Because owning a horse can run you about the same per month as a used car payment, so plan accordingly.

One of the main reasons America has an Unwanted Horse problem is that we all love the idea of having a horse, without understanding just what it entails. Love is only a fraction of the equation. 

If you’re thinking about buying a horse, we implore you to consider all costs. Hopefully the information on this page will make you think twice.

Startup Costs - $1,000

Buying a horse is the cheapest thing you will ever do as a horse owner. Before you get your horse home, you'll need tack to move it around, safe fences to contain it, a three-sided shelter to protect it, a round pen to work it, buckets to feed it, grooming supplies, feed, a reliable hay supply... to infinity.

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Feed - $1,500/year

An average horse weighs about 1,100 pounds and needs 1.5 to 2.5% of its weight in hay and grain, every day. A 50-pound bag of grain costs about $15. Depending on whether your horse has access to pasture, plan to spend at least $1,000 a year. The better the feed, the more you pay.

Image of horseshoe representing farrier care

Hoof Care - $800/year

Unless you know how to trim and shoe a horse, you'll need to pay a farrier to check your horse's feet every 6-8 weeks. While many owners think this is optional - it's not. Oklahoma farriers can run $35 to $50 for bare feet. If your horse needs shoes, plan to pay more than $100.

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Veterinarian $500/year

If you're lucky and your horse is in good health and not prone to accidents (Ha!), you'll average about $500 per year on preventive care like checkups, sheath cleaning (geldings), vaccines, de-worming and dental work. For each emergency, double your annual cost.

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Boarding - $6,000/year

If you have your own land and safe shelter, plan on spending about $800 a year for upkeep. The cost to board a horse can run anywhere from $250 a month to $1,000, depending upon your expectations. On average, you'll probably pay $400 a month for access to hay, pasture and grain.


Training - $700/month

Depending on your level of experience, you might want to hire a professional trainer to help you learn your new horse. (We highly recommend it.) If a trainer takes your horse for 30 days, expect to pay between $400 and $700. By the hour, they charge $35 to $50.

We meant to scare you.

If you're intimidated now that you've seen some of the costs of horse ownership - good. There are so many ways to love horses that don't require buying one. Before you purchase your own horse, I challenge you to volunteer at a horse rescue at least 16 hours for one month. Spend as much time with rescue horses as the operation will allow. Help the rescue pay some of the horse's expenses. If, at the end of the 30 days, you still want to invest in a horse, you'll be in a much better position to understand what it means to be a horse owner, and your horse will appreciate your experience.

Instead of Buying a Horse...

Lease or borrow a horse and get all the benefits of horse ownership, without all the liability and cost. You care for and feed the horse, work with it and ride it. If you're lucky enough to find a horse on loan, you pay nothing. If you sign a lease, you pay a monthly fee for the term of the lease. Most leases allow you the option of purchasing or adopting the horse.
If you have the facilities and pasture to keep a horse, a rescue like Swingin' D might like to sign you up as a foster. You get to keep the horse with you, while the rescue bears the liability and the bulk of the expense of its care. Be prepared for the possibility of losing the horse to an adopter; and consider how any children might factor in to the equation.
Paying $3,000 a year may sound impossible, but what if you could have a horse for $1,500 a year instead? Consider sharing a horse with someone you trust and admire as a horse person. Remember that horses live for 25-30 years, so only share a horse with someone you can stand to be connected to for that long!