February 23, 2018

How Much Does It Cost To Own A Horse?

061_cropNearly every day I’m asked, “How much does it cost to keep a horse?” Of course the variables are many, but here are some basics you can depend upon.

Feed– All horses need some sort of roughage daily. This can take the form of hay, pasture grass, pelleted or cubed hay. Hay costs vary greatly depending on your area. And of course, grass pasture is basically free if you own the pasture land and water isn’t an issue. Different types of hay will also differ in cost. Most horses eat either grass or alfalfa hay.

Alfalfa Hay- In our area, the average 100 lb. bale of alfalfa is about $18.00 plus tax. An average 1000 lb. horse eating 7-8 lbs of hay per feeing 2 X daily = 14-16 lbs per day. That equals 5 bales a month. 5 X $18.00 = $90.00 month. That’s about the least you can expect. Most horses will eat more than that. $1080.00/yr

Grass Hay- Orchard or Timothy grass is running about $25.00 per 90 lb. bale + tax. If feeding exclusively grass hay, figure an extra 3.5-5 pounds of hay per feeding over alfalfa due to the lower nutritional value of grass hay. That would be 10.5-13 lbs per feeding, 2 X daily= 8 bales per month @ $25.00 per bale=$200.00. per month. $2400.00/yr

Both these hays are very good feed. Most of my horses get a mix of alfalfa and orchard grass daily. We feed 1 feeding per day of Orchard Grass and 1 of Alfalfa. Our horses also work pretty hard and eat 21-28 lbs per day- Half of each type of hay. Alfalfa 10-11 lbs per day = $54.00 mo. +12-14 lbs. Orchard grass per day = $100.00 per month. Our total hay cost for one horse is about $154.00 + tax, give or take. $1848.00/yr

Grain and Supplements– Some horses can live quite well on just alfalfa hay or pellets. If you are feeding grass hay, supplements are probably needed. There really isn’t any good formula for grain and supplements since the needs are so varied. Suffice it to say that a 50# bag of grain costs about $25.00. If you feed 3# a day, the monthly cost would be about $50.00. Supplements are additional and can range up to several hundreds of dollars a month. $0.00-$600.00/yr.

Bedding– If you horse is kept in a stall, bedding will be required. Shavings are the usual type of bedding and are sold in a bale-sized bag. Most bales are about $10.00 each and you will need 4-6 per month depending on the size of the stall. $40.00-$60.00 month. $480.00-$720.00/yr

Farrier– The cost of 4 plain shoes is $120.00 per shoeing. Figure new shoes every 7 weeks. That’s 7-8 sets of shoes a year. $840.00 – $960.00 per year. This will go up if special shoes or pads are needed. It could go down if the horse is not shod year round. Some horses can go barefoot but will still need to be trimmed every 7 weeks or so. A trim is about $50.00 so figure about $350.00 per year for the barefoot horse.

Vet Expenses– Routine vet care includes- A general health exam, routine vaccinations, teeth floating and sheath cleaning if you own a gelding or stallion. Vaccinations are done twice annually at a cost of about $250.00 each time. Sheath cleaning is an annual cost. Including sedation, sheath cleaning runs about $100.00-$150.00. Teeth floating is also done annually and runs about $200.00 with an additional cost for sedation if needed. Total cost- $550.00-$600.00. It goes up if the horse gets sick or hurt. You can easily spend that amount on just one minor injury or illness.

Normal products– Fly spray, shampoo, hoof oil, basic first aid products. $200.00 year minimum.

Insurance– Liability coverage runs $200.00. Major medical and mortality will increase the cost.

Transportation– If you will be buying a truck and trailer figure $75,000.00 plus insurance, gas and oil. If you are going to hire a person to haul your horse- $50.00-$100.00 + mileage fees.

Tack repair/replacement– The initial cost to outfit a horse can be quite extensive- Halter, lead, brushes, bridle, saddle, saddle pads, leg boots, first aid kit, feed buckets, routine products (shampoo, fly spray, hoof oil, muck rake, muck bucket, etc). Figure $1000.00 and up if you are buying used tack. If you take good care of it, repair/replacement costs will be minimal. Perhaps only $50.00 per year for some good leather cleaner and conditioner. But, if you neglect your tack, especially leather tack, you will be replacing items more often.

Total cost to keep one horse, at home, on hay for one year is….

Hay- $1080.00-$2400.00+

Supplements- $0.00- $600.00+

Bedding- $480.00-$720.00+

Farrier- $350.00-$960.00+

Routine Vet- $400.00-$550.00+



Transportation costs- $50.00-$75,000.00 + gas & oil.

Tack repair/replacement- $50.00+

For a grand total of (drum roll please!) – $2810.00-$5730.00 (excluding truck & trailer purchase). Just remember, you must also provide all labor and utility costs! And, of course, there are the other expenses- Show entry fees, trainers, lessons, boarding, non-routine vet fees, special shoes, second horse, third horse, etc.

If you are boarding at CRK you can eliminate the bedding and hay costs in exchange for the $430.00 monthly boarding fee. Board- $5,160.00 + Other costs- $2,810.00-$5,730.00=

$ 7,970.00 – $10,890.00/yr.

The joy the horse gives you- Priceless!

            Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also an AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article in any medium including newsletters, websites, blogs, etc. are restricted. For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to www.crktrainingstable.com