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Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Horse care and management > The cost of horse ownership

The cost of horse ownership

Julie Christie, MS, Rochester Community and Technical College

With the dwindling economy and increasing price of hay and fuel, the cost of buying a horse has decreased. The costs and responsibilities associated with owning a horse, however, have not decreased, but increased. On a yearly basis, how much money does it cost to own a horse?

Owning a horse means that you are the advocate (and responsible) for that animals' health, safety, and training. Even if you pay someone to feed and care for your horse, you still need to be actively involved in checking for injuries, weight loss (or gain), abnormal behaviors, and ensure the environment is safe. At a minimum, an owner is responsible for ensuring that hooves are trimmed (every 6 to 10 weeks), vaccination and deworming are done regularly, the nutritional needs are being met, and the horse in exercised or has access to turnout. The yearly cost of owning a horse will vary on whether you keep your horse at your facility or board the horse at a stable. Costs will also depend on where you live (boarding and land rates), if the horse is shod (has shoes), if the horse is in training, has special medical needs, and the type of activities that you do with the horse.

Even if you do not board, there are significant costs associated with keeping a horse on your own property, including the costs of land, fencing, shelter, hay, watering systems, manure removal, etc. Boarding rates are still good estimates to follow for owners who keep their horses on their own property. The costs in the table do not account for specialty feeds or supplements, training, lessons, veterinary care, a truck or trailer (fuel), tack, blankets, or insurance for your horse. When calculating the actual cost of horse ownership, you should add any additional costs to the total that pertain to you. Unfortunately, horses do get sick, become lame, and sometimes cause property damage. When deciding if you can afford to own a horse (or how many horses), consider your ability to pay for a colic surgery, an emergency veterinary visit, or other unforeseen events. Alternatives to buying a horse include leasing a horse or taking lessons at a local barn. Horses are amazing athletes and wonderful companions, but are a significant investment of both time and money. While there are several factors that will affect how much money you spend on a horse, the minimum that you can expect to spend is $6,400 per year for one healthy horse.

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