Perhaps TMI, but Hobby as % of Income?

For whoever feels comfortable sharing this, how much of your gross pay does your horse consume?

As someone who loves playing with dollar figures, I can’t believe I hadn’t worked this out before :grin: And maybe it’s because I’m hankering after a second horse and am eyeballs-deep in spreadsheets right now but regardless, I thought it might be interesting to compare numbers as it doesn’t require sharing specific salary or horse expense details.

At the moment I just have the one, and her everyday expenses (basic vet, dental, farrier, board, grain, and a small amount for misc. supplies) cost us 3% of our gross household income. Obviously any big purchases such as the trailer or equipment are separate expenses (as would be any costs related to showing etc.). Adding a second horse would bump that up to about 5%.

I’m interested to know if my figures are in line with that of others. Does anyone else care to share?

since I am horse-less I cant tell you how much I spend on that… but I can tell you that my dog’s foods are more than me and my husband each week.

I have a 75lbs and a 100 lbs dog that eat a raw diet.

I have not done the math,… but its a good % of my paycheck.


I guess 5-10% depending on if I show or not and how much “extra” stuff I buy throughout the year (2020 I bought two saddles and bridles, no tack bought this year).

One horse, single person household.


I have a horse budget of 12%ish (which includes a payment on loan held for the barn we built). This based on our (married, no kids) regular income though we have other income some years which does not add to my horse budget :wink:. Horses live at home and that percentage is inclusive of everything horse related (feed, hay, supplements, lessons, shows, farrier, vet, etc) except some larger ticket property items (ie tractor and riding ring). I have two horses right now - one riding horse and one retiree. Board alone in my area for these two horses at appropriate barns would be 7% of our income.

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For those who board, this is probably an easier question to answer. I have my own farms which produce income (rental units on the property and retirement boarders) and are used specifically to cover my own living and horse expenses. I make in the very low six figures a year in net rent and board, but more than 85% of that goes right back into running/managing my properties. That includes, however, all utilities, insurance (farm/truck/equipment), about 20K set aside a year for maintenance, fuel, and all of my personal horses’ daily needs (feed/shoes/routine vet/supplements/etc.). I am completing my PhD and I do consult for a few occupational health organizations as time permits, but that makes up a relatively small percentage of my salary and mostly goes towards the extras. So I would say that the horses and all that they involve take up close to 65 or 70% of my total income, but that is because they are all part and parcel of my farms and real estate investments.


Has really varied over time. Currently, .03% and I’m leasing, so that number won’t change much.

Sometimes it’s been way up near 8 or 9% but that was with two kids riding, 4 horses in the yard, and lesson expenses. Boarding other people’s horses helped keep it under 10%. I never bothered to figure out the land’s contribution to both costs and savings, only the available numbers.

About 8-12% of my gross income, or 5ish% of our household income.
We don’t have kids so we get to splurge on our hobbies.
We bought a 200acre hunting property this summer for SO, so I get about a decade of guilt free horse expenditures :joy:


Is percent of gross income the right metric, though? I live in a pretty low cost of living area, so my decision to spend X% of my gross income on horses has a much different impact on my life than it would if I made that same decision with the same gross salary but lived in a higher cost of living area.

I only care about my horse expenses in the context of my disposable income.

Would everything not be relative, though?


I spend nothing of mine as we, or should say our horses have their own funding from some investment of their money.

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Data scientist here - percentage of gross income would be relative - that is the beauty of percentages rather than a raw dollar amount.

Massive generalization, but higher cost of living areas generally have higher salaries - otherwise … no one would live there. For example my large tech employer would pay me on a sliding scale less than my current Seattle salary if I lived in Minnesota due to the lower COL.

So if a horse in Minnesota costs 5k to maintain a year and your gross income is 100k - the percent is 5%. similarly if a horse in NYC costs 15k to maintain a year and your gross income is 300k, it is also 5%. Now if that NYC person doesn’t work in a law firm or isn’t a high level SWE or high end jeweler or something high paying like that and makes 150k and still spends 15k on a horse in a year, that’s 10% of their gross income.

The whole point of this exercise would be to see these concepts play out & maybe have a conversation as to why people choose to live and spend $ they ways that they do!

Currently not leasing nor owning - less than 2% for lessons x2 a week in a major metro area
In LA previously for smallish fee per year (barely 5 figures annually) paid HALF lease 8%-ish. LA prices were… special


I live in a VERY expensive area so everything with the horses costs a LOT more. I have two, one lives here with me and one I have at a retirement farm in Virginia. Rough estimate is around 13-14% of my gross. It’s really hard frankly, and on my perfect world I would not have two but one had to retire very early due to headahakers and I still wanted to be able to ride so I am paying for two…


Hmmm without showing or major equipment upgrades, roughly 7%. That’s 1-2 lessons a week, farrier, supplements, board, and routine vet. We have no kids and the differential between my salary and my husband’s is more than I spend on the routine horse + showing each year, so I have no qualms about living my dreams :grin:

I’m going to jump in so everyone feel better and say mine is about 30% of my gross! Thats for 2 people riding, 2 horses, board, lessons, insurance, vet, shows, etc. we could cut back on lessons and shows and save quite a bit.

If you consider household income then it would be more like 12%.


This used to be true, but 1. it is not, and has never been, a 1-to-1 equivalency and 2. the relationship is breaking down in the era of working from home.

Tackling #2 first, The company I work for has started allowing people to work from home and even hiring people as work from home employees when the best qualified applicant won’t relocate. We started doing this as we entered the era of dual-professional couples, well before the pandemic and it has certainly become more common with COVID. Location no longer has that much impact on salary. I certainly didn’t take a pay cut when I moved a few years ago from a higher to a lower cost of living area.

Back to #1, I know from personal experience and that of a couple of close friends that salaries offered on the west coast (San Francisco area) and the east coast (NYC area) are higher. But, they are not enough higher to offset the increased cost of living. Employers do not say “Oh, the cost of living here is 20% higher than the national average so we need to pay 20% above the national average for this job.”

Oh perhaps - I work in Economic Research at multinational tech employer. Let’s try to leave personal experience out of this - I have my own personal experience which confirms the opposite - I make 2x as much as I would in the space that I am in now mostly due to demand for my skills in a certain geographic location - this IS indeed changing with remote work on the heels of the onset of the COVID pandemic. I hope to see this change as I think it is a bit toxic to pay people differently based on where they chose to live!

Anecdotal evidence is insufficient for both sides of this concept. Plenty of people in NYC and SF make well more than the amount necessary to compensate for the higher cost of living - just most folks don’t KNOW these people personally - I certainly wouldn’t if I didn’t work in my current field! $2-5m is the norm purchase price of homes for my coworkers and they do it quite comfortably – it is shocking!

And yes employers, at least mine and it’s competitors do indeed say “Oh, the cost of living here is 20% higher than the national average so we need to pay 20% above the national average for this job.” – It is in my offer letter - happy to PM you a screenshot.

According the BLS (gov’t census) Avg individual income in NYC is around 60k where in Minneapolis, MN avg individual income is around 30k. The COL follows a similar relationship. sure maybe not on the same scale always.

Disclaimer is that we keep the horses at home and I don’t factor in mortgage/tractor/maintenance costs. These numbers are strictly feed, supplements, farrier, vet, equipment, lessons/shows, etc.

Two geldings kept at home with grazing available a good chunk of the year. One gelding is an extremely easy keeper while the other is more mid-maintenance.

21% of my income and 9% of household income.

Next year will be about 15% of my income and 6-7% of household. I’m pregnant and plan on taking the year off of showing and will likely only start doing lessons in the second half of the year.

When I was boarding a few years ago it was closer to 25% of my income and 13% of household–with only one horse instead of two. We’ve gotten raises since then. I show less and spend less money on unnecessary pretty horse things. And we spent a whole lot setting up our property–though our mortgage is still less than rent was.


One horse, boarded, expensive area, and 30% of my gross, or about 15% of yearly household income. DH also has a very expensive hobby, not as expensive as mine though. We’re living off interest income and my salary.

I am looking for less expensive board when she retires, but I’ve been thoroughly spoiled by boarding at “4 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 the best” farms. She can’t go out on pasture so most inexpensive retirement options are out of the question. I’d be thrilled to cut the board bill by half.

I also have everyone at home, so no board costs. I did a quick rundown of some very general numbers and my horses are 16 percent of my gross income (single income, no kids). Yow. I factored in farrier for five with two shod front only and three not (tiny burrito shoes would be adorbs but no :laughing:), roughly $600 each for annual wellhorse appointment, feed and hay with hay being the killer, insurance on two, various supps and rx meds, and then factored in one lesson a week. I am probably way light on the lesson number because most of the year I do two a week back-to-back and before my schedule changed my “week” was in three-day chunks so it mathematically was probably like 3.75 a week or something, but then go some months with none due to weather, and I don’t know that they equal themselves out quite so evenly. But I think 16 percent is a scary enough number. This isn’t counting mortgage, upkeep costs, truck gas, etc.

When I boarded, my percentage was lower (nearly half) because boarding itself limited the number of horses I had. Not so much cost but finding a situation that had room for one boarder to have 3+ horses - now that I have my own place, common sense is the only limit and apparently I don’t have much because I have six :woman_facepalming:


I suppose “all” isn’t the answer you’re looking for?

Including my contributions towards farm, barn and tractor I’m sure I’m over 50% of my income. Less than 20% of households income. Mr LS’s hobbies include paying the bills :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: