The average monthly and yearly expenses of a horse may surprise you!

The reality is the cheapest part of owning a horse is usually the initial purchase. Horse owners have to account for stabling, feed, health and farrier care, tack, and barn equipment. These things can add up quickly, yet it doesn’t deter most die-hard equestrians. For those that dream of their very own horse, they’ll stop at nothing to make ends meet.

In fact, The American Horse Council dispelled the popular myth that all horse owners are wealthy with their 2005 economic study. They discovered 50% of horse owners only earn between $25,000 and $75,000 annually. Furthermore, 34% make less than $50,000 a year. You don’t have to be rich to own one, but you should be well-prepared for their expenses. The average horse costs around $3,000 yearly.

The Horse

Purchasing a horse is different for everyone. Some people may be looking for a quiet, bombproof gelding, while others want a spunky project or fancy broodmare. The price will depend on the horse’s traits and qualities. Even the breed can alter the amount you’ll pay. A well-trained dressage or show jumping Hanoverian can cost you $50,000 plus, whereas an unregistered trail horse in their teens maybe just $1,000. The average price for a standard horse is around $3,000 to $5,000.


Before you even purchase a horse, you must first decide where you’ll keep them. Boarding is a popular option for those that don’t have the space or facilities at home. Depending on your location, expect to pay between $400 and $500 per month. This price can be substantially lower in very rural areas or based on the amenities and services you’re getting. You’ll pay a lot more for a top-notch facility with all the extras.

If you decide to keep your horse at your property, you’ll have different expenses per month. First, you’ll need a run-in shelter or barn. In addition, safe fencing is also very important! When you cut corners your horse can be at risk. The initial cost of getting your property ready for a horse can vary greatly.


The majority of your horse’s diet will be hay or grass. While grass is free, hay is not. And it can end up costing you quite a bit. The average square bale costs $3 to $15. Each horse should eat at least 1.5% of their weight in hay. Don’t forget to factor in hay wastage!

In addition to forage, many horses need grain to meet nutritional requirements. Most 50-pound bags cost $10 to $15. One bag should last about 2 weeks for an average size horse eating 3 pounds a day. Supplements are an additional expense to consider.


In the winter, your horse’s hooves are likely to grow slower. They still need to be trimmed every 8 to 10 weeks. In the summer, expect every 6 to 8 weeks in-between farrier visits. The cost for a trim is roughly $30 to $70, whereas shoeing averages $70 to $200 plus.

Health Care

A yearly vet visit generally includes vaccinations. Most traveling vets charge $35 to $75 just for a farm call. You can tack on $150 to $300 for the vaccines. A coggins test is also performed on horses that plan on traveling off the farm. This test will run you $40 to $60.

On a routine basis, your horse will need dental care and deworming. Most horses are dewormed every few months. Usually, the paste only runs a few bucks. Fecal exams are an added expense though. Furthermore, dental care is essential. The cost averages $100 to $250 for an exam and float.

Tack & Stable Equipment

There are a few basic items that every horse owner needs. These include a saddle, bridle, saddle pad, grooming supplies, first-aid kit, and barn equipment (pitchfork, wheelbarrow, buckets, etc..). The prices will vary considerably. Brushes can cost $5-$10 each, whereas saddles can be priced in the thousand dollar range. It’s a good idea to budget at least $500 to purchase tack and accessories.


While optional, many riders benefit from weekly lessons. Private lessons usually start at $40 and go upwards. A weekend clinic can vary from $200 to $500. Some owners may also choose to put their horse in training. Board with training usually begins at $700 and increases depending on the experience of the trainer.

These expenses are just the beginning. A responsible horse owner always accounts for emergencies and extras. Are you surprised by the cost of horse ownership?

**Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn’t writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily’s background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm.