Cost of owning a horse

How much does a horse cost in general to buy and keep (monthly average)? Also, how much does showing cost? Ways to make money to own one? I am from Ohio and also from a family that can’t financially support a horse. I want to start selling saddle pads or something like that to save up money for one. I plan to do show jumping.

Way too huge a question to tackle and varies enormously by region. If you have a farm you can feed a horse for $100 a month or less. If you want to compete board alone at a high end stable can be $1000 a month.

Look through some previous bthreads here for discussion on the costs of different levels of showing.

As far as earning money, adults have full time jobs, and kids usually get their parents to pay or work off some of the costs.

If you tell us your region and what level you plan to compete at probably folks can tell you some general info.

If you are in riding lessons ask your coach!

  1. Cost of horse
  2. Cost of all the stuff you have to buy for you/horse. Tack, blankets, halters, brushes, on and on and on.
  3. Cost of board, farrier, “normal” vet expenses, supplements.
  4. Cost of training/lessons.
  5. Emergency fund or insurance for major medical event.
  6. Cost of trailer if you want your own (and tow vehicle if you dont have one).

I would think that boarding anywhere that has decent care and accessible riding 12 months/year is going to run $500/month in the more remote areas, and up from there. Assume horse has 4 shoes, farrier will run $125 and up close to monthly. Basic vet expenses figure $75-100/month for vaccines, coggins, worming or fecals, dental, etc. As said above huge variation depending on location, quality and your wants.

Note that with horses, there is always SOMETHING that throws the budget out of wack. Lost shoes. Puffy eye. Leg crud requiring special ointment. Different bit. blanket repair. Abcess. Acts funny. Limps. And so on.


It’s impossible to give you an idea of how much it costs to have a horse because the cost varies so much depending on where you live and the environment in which you ride. Your riding instructor or the manager at the barn where you ride are much more able to give you the answer to that question than we are. However, the answer is almost certainly “More than you think.” The actual cost of buying the horse is cheap compared to the expenses of keeping one.

How do you make money to own a horse? The only way, really, if you have to do it on your own, is go to school, then get a good paying job. The only way I was able to have a horse when I was young was that my parents paid for everything. There was no way I could have made enough money with my teenage part-time jobs to support a horse.


EquestrianAbby, you’ve previously posted that you’re interested in becoming a top show jumper, and that you’ve been riding for a couple of years. My advice to you would be to look for a part lease situation in one of the barns where you ride. Leases give you the opportunity to ride a few days a week for a small percentage of the horse’s value. You won’t have to invest in tack, blankets, brushes, first aid supplies and all of the wraps, saddle pads, etc etc that would, all told, run thousands of dollars to amass if you were to buy a horse. Usually you would be responsible for splitting farrier and usual vet expenses ($100/month or less) as well as part of board (ask your barns how much their board is, in the Midwest it can be anywhere from $350/month for barebones, live outside to $1700/month for training, grooming & board.) Local shows might be $300/day, not including shipping or your own expenses of purchasing show clothing. Rateds cost about $1000/day on average, plus hotel, shipping and your travel expenses. These are broad estimates, but a jumping off point. If you decide to buy a horse, depending on what you’re looking for, you could spend anywhere from a few thousand for an OTTB that can jump 2’6" to well into the six figures for something who has been there, done that at bigger heights.


You want to know how to make a million dollars in the horse industry? Start off with a billion. Thats how much a horse cost.


Sounds like you need to look into a partial lease for now and work off some of the expenses at the barn if possible. Once you get that in place you can worry about showing and all the costs that come with it. Maybe learn to braid or trim or something. You would need to sell a lot of saddle pads. Take baby steps and see where it leads.

I will disagree with the above comment on boarding costs though- we are a MCOL area (not a remote area) and decent pasture board is $300 and several places to choose from.


Also keep in mind that boarding with a facility that goes to shows regularly (which it sounds like you’re interested in doing) are likely going to be more expensive than programs that are more lesson-focused. And trainers/barns that go to bigger rated shows will charge more than those who compete on the local circuits. That’s just something to keep in mind as you consider your goals.
I would second what PKP said about the partial lease. That’s what I did for several years, and it allowed me to work on my skills and start competing a little without the price tag of owning a horse. When buying a horse, you’ll have the purchase price, but you’ll also have the fee for a vet to do a pre-purchase exam (optional but highly recommend) as well as getting tack/blankets/other gear. If a trainer helps you find the horse, there will also be a percentage commission that goes to them for the work they did in helping buy.
You don’t say what level you’re hoping to compete at, but it’s very hard for someone not working full-time to earn enough money for the up-front and maintenance costs of a horse, even one that’s fairly inexpensive. I worked regularly 5-6 days a week throughout high school and summers, and it barely made a dent in my horse bills. So I went and got a STEM degree to aim for a job that could support a horse!
On a side note but related- while I know it’s tough to wait (believe me, I can sympathize), don’t feel like you need to have a big junior career to make it big. Some of the best riders I know competing at national level shows didn’t take a lesson until they were in their 20s, or only bought their first horse in their 30s, and they’re out there totally killing it. If this is something you’re really passionate about, you’ll find a way to make it happen eventually.


OP - my family would not support a horse for me. I waited until I was into my 20’s out of college and with a decent paying job. Even then, my first horse was an inexpensive quarter horse, and I never went to a show. Trail riding only. Did not show until into my 30’s.


Sheesh, costs vary wildly when it comes to horses! You could pay anything from $900 for a rescue to mid five figures for a nice horse for someone with your experience who wants to also show. The more expensive part is keeping the horse. Board, vet bills, maintenance, farrier bills, supplements, blankets, tack, gear, replacement gear and blankets for when Johnny rips through his noseband or breaks all the surgicals on his blanket. Training fees, feed, holding for vet and farrier, you name it. It’s very expensive. Showing can range, too - you may be lucky to find some cheap local shows with classes at $15 a pop, but add in trailer fees, trainer fees, show admin fees, USEF and USHJA registration fees, etc. etc. A job will help offset costs, yes, but the expense and investment is a big one. I worked 3 jobs in HS to pay for new tack/supplements/attire and it still barely made a dent in the overall cost of ownership. I don’t mean to be harsh, but getting into ownership means knowing full and well what you sign up for!

I agree with many here who suggest finding a half-lease situation. If your financial situation does not permit the risk of full on ownership and its fluctuating budget, half-leases are a safer and more cost-efficient option. Plus, you have flexibility to find new horses when your skills lead you to “outgrow” your present horse. Buying does not offer you that flexibility.

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I am going to try and give the best response with the little info you gave.
A horse itself can be free or in the millions but I say a good rough ball park for the average horse is around 10k, Yes that price goes up and down per each experience.

The cheapest I have ever seen board with a trainer on site and around 400 and that place had a sand box that they called a ring.

Vet and farrier, again this varies I have a TB with not so great feet so for mine to get shod is almost 200. He is also accident prone. So I usually see my vet once a month for small dings and cuts etc.

Then theres everything else which I will call “horse stuff” this is all the other crap that you have to get monthly with a horse. I budget around 200 per month for this and what I don’t use goes into the emergency fund for when not if the crap hits the fan and my horse is on a trailer to the vet for some crazy reason.

and i’m sure theres more…

Buying the horse is the easy part its the upkeep that takes the effort.

My golden rule over all is do not buy a horse if you could not front a few hundred or even thousands of dollars to pay for a colic bill or whatever vet bill could happen. It is my personal opinion that if a horse has to be put down due to medical expenses then somewhere there was a crossed wire. Your horse does so much for you and the last thing you want to do is have to put him down because you cant afford the bill. I understand that vet bills can add up into the tens of thousands. That I understand, i’m talking about bills of just a few thousand dollars, that is not fair. Either have the money on hand ready, or have insurance. God knows how many times i’ve used mine insurance.

Good luck! If ownership doesn’t or cant work out maybe try to lease.


I wish we still had sig’s this would be my new one lol


You do know that you have two, right? Yours read:

Originally posted by Coanteen
To compare wafers and see which saviour is most delicious.

Originally posted by Cascades
You’re one of those people that complains to the Starbucks manager that your barista’s smile wasn’t sincere enough, aren’t you?

If you can’t see them you may need to adjust your settings.


I agree that costs vary by region, so your best bet is to talk to your trainer(s) about the costs for their programs, the shows they go to, etc. This is not an unusual question and they should be able to give you some rough numbers.

As far as earning money…

I got a part time job at a boarding kennel. I cleaned stalls and/or handled night feeding at the barn. We leased my horse to the barn lesson program to help defray board costs. My mother and I worked at the shows (morning/night feeding, setup/takedown, etc).

It’s like any other kid looking for money–you figure out what jobs are available and which make sense (sometimes working at the barn may pay less than a traditional job, but if the logistics are easier–e.g. I had my lesson and cleaned stalls on the same night, so less trips for my parents to drive me to/from the barn–sometimes it makes sense to take a lesser-paying job.

If you’re looking at doing something less traditional, like making saddle pads, that’s great. Talk to your parents or find a sympathetic adult who has done this sort of home-based craft business and make sure you understand everything that goes in to it.

When I started out, I was just taking lessons. We moved to a half lease when I was able to make enough money between my jobs to contribute a certain % of the costs. We moved to buying a horse when I was able to make up a certain % of that increase as well. Each step of the way, my trainer made sure we understood what the additional costs would be so we could plan for it. And even then, my horse was almost sold a few months after we bought him because we hit some unexpected bumps and the costs didn’t look manageable.

You may well be able to do it, but the best people to help you figure out how will be your trainers and your parents. And your first steps are likely to be much smaller than you think.

But good for you for looking forward and trying to find a path to get to where you want to be.


Figure you are going to need a minimum of 10k a year to KEEP a horse in a basic Ohio boarding barn with a training available and lighted indoor. That’s board, farrier, routine vet and a little emergency fund (in case the horse gets injured or sick and must have vet treatment to recover) some lessons (like one a week) or training services and maybe a few local shows. Fancier place will be more, full training will be more, fancy shoes, like for navicular, will be more, joint injections will be more, shows lasting more then 2 days will be way more. Rated show will cost a minimum of a months board, more likely 2 months.

Thats not including big ticket items like the saddle, boots and helmet…and does NOTinclude the horse. Horse can cost you 1500 and cost 10k a year to keep. Horse can cost you 50k and cost you 10k a year to keep. If it gets hurt, runs up a 2k vet bill and is unrideable for a year, it still costs you close to that 10k a year, We keep saying it, the cost to buy horse is the least expensive part of owning one.

IMO a part lease is the way to get started unless you clearly have communicated the exact monthly costs of horse ownership to your family and they have at least 10k easily available every year for upkeep plus another 5-10k to buy you a decent horse.

Its good you are willing to work but the truth is it’s very difficult to make enough money to keep a horse until you have a full time career job and even then, it’s not easy.


I agree with the above posters that a partial lease is the way to go. Or go to some local barns and see if you can groom to pay for lessons, and then start to save money on the side (summer nannying can be a very good paying job).

Owning a horse can vary widely. You can get a “free lease” but if you have to board it and pay for its feed, vet, and showing, that can be several thousand dollars a year. If you need to pay board and training, it will be upwards of $1,200 a month in most places.

My advice is to find a job where you get time in the tack in exchange for work you do. Show yourself to be a hard worker and capable student and if you find a good trainer, you’ll likely get more options. Then look for a part lease and then go from there. Good luck!


It really depends on the area. I have paid as much as $800 for board with no indoor no trainer and as little as $350 for board with full training. I got lucky. Now I pay $550 for board no indoor and my trainer comes to me.

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I live in a central NC and keep my horse in a private farm (no in-house trainer, no fancy ring, no lights, pasture board). My monthly expenses for my mare run me $500-800 before any extras like vet bills or showing. I free lease my mare (only covering monthly expenses and insurance) so I didn’t have a large upfront cost. I’m not currently taking lessons either, but I’ve been riding 25+ years and my mare is fairly kind and happy to take a joke, but she’s also not a particularly easy ride. I would also encourage you to find a working student or groom position for a trainer and learn everything you can. I did that for years and it has allowed me to be much more frugal (in the long term) with horse bills as there is much I can manage myself or trade out with friends (farm sitting, mane pulling, etc.).


Others have given you good estimates on the costs, which vary, but are tremendous.

On the money-making side: If you’re looking to make horse-related revenue, I strongly suggest learning to braid and bodyclip. Both pay quite well for a relatively small up-front investment in equipment. But you have to be really skilled before it’s reasonable to ask people to pay your for your work, so they both require a large investment in time and practice.


Does your family have their own acreage and barn? Or will you board? What type of horse are you looking for? Do you want to do a day show or a week or more show? Does your family already have a tow vehicle? Does your family have their own hay fields? Is one of your parents a large animal vet? Depending on your andwers to these, it’s pretty cheap, if you answered no to these it’s really expensive

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