It wasn’t until I relocated to Montana in my early thirties that I finally realized that goal. Understanding what horses cost and how you can afford one ahead of time sets you up for success from day one.
Every time I got my monthly barn invoice, I squinted at the grand total and thought, “Can that be right?” Every time I pulled out my wallet at the local tack store, I got a pit in my stomach.
When my math-minded, non-horsey sister asked what my equestrian habit cost on average, I had to admit that I didn’t have an answer. I loved my horse, barn family, and mental and physical benefits of riding.
If I wanted to enjoy my equestrian lifestyle over the long run, I needed to get some serious clarity into my spending habits. The expense reports are also designed to help you benchmark your own spending, discover new ways to save money, and find areas where it may be worth investing more.
In this case study, I discuss how I track my spending, what trends I’ve noticed, and how budgeting has changed my mindset and, more importantly, behavior. He’s a 13-year-old Aqua gelding trained as a reined cow horse who moonlights as a jump/dressage/ranch riding/trail/do-anything steed.
From dressage to stadium jumping, evening to reining, cow work to ranch riding, I like to do it all with my horse. That means I often need additional gear, tack, and apparel for different sports versus a single discipline.
I’ve gathered nine months of data, so I made extrapolations for October-December to arrive at annual spending projections. Schooling shows and competitions, special events) Health (e.g. Farrier, vet, supplements) Fun (e.g.
Tack, apparel) Insurance (e.g. Mortality, medical, liability, vehicle, roadside assistance) Stabling (e.g. Feed, stabling, deforming) Travel (e.g. Fuel, lodging) Note: I estimate monthly barn commute fuel based on the mileage cost to my barn multiplied by 4 visits per week. This is what I feel comfortable spending out-of-pocket based on my anticipated income and non-equestrian life expenses.
Valuing my Equestrian Lifestyle My horse expenses average $1,774.58 per month BEFORE adjustments. It was eye-opening to learn my monthly “goal budget” ($1,000) is below the baseline value of incurred expenses 100% of the time.
That means that if I didn’t actively work to trade for products and services, I would never be able to stay on budget and still do everything I like to do. Lessons are often cancelled due to low temperatures, I drive to the barn less often, and I participate in few (if any) clinics or shows.
During this time, I typically take three lessons per week and ride in clinics at least one weekend per month. These adjusted numbers are what I actually PAID OUT to support my horse habit each month.
In case the numbers weren’t clear enough, I’m not able to afford my equestrian lifestyle without putting in some serious sweat equity. I coordinate, promote, and manage online registrations and payments for 18-20 clinics and 100+ riders each year.
I also created a new website for my barn (including copy, design, and development) and took over management of the facility’s Facebook page. In return for helping boost the barn’s income (and free up the owners’ time), I’m able to offset some of my board, clinic, and lesson costs throughout the year.
Additionally, I have a client who allows me to run a “horse fund” credit instead of being paid for marketing services. Lessons and clinics are routinely my high-dollar expenses each month, often at a rate that more than doubles the next closest category.
Typically, I take three lessons per week: jumping, western flatworm, and cow work. I have a horse mortality, major medical, and liability policies, and they cost me nearly $200 per month.
Travel was consistent almost every month, except for a few outings to local schooling shows or cow working events. Health-related expenses spike in April when our barn does Spring vaccines, but are otherwise fairly consistent.
I hope my monthly horse expense reports inspire more equestrians to track and reflect on their own spending habits. Increased accountability: Knowing each dollar I spend on my horse will be tracked (and published) has nearly halted impulsive purchases.
Use it or lose it: If I don’t use a piece of gear or apparel, I now sell it on consignment at the tack store. Whether that’s strategic trades for products and services, shopping sales, or getting inventive with the gear I already have, it takes a lot of work to get costs within my target budget each month.
Invest in health: Things like equine massage, chiropractic sessions, and supplements may seem optional. Prioritize what’s important: Before I moved to Montana and bought my horse, I used to spend money traveling and investing in multiple hobbies.
Technology can help: I use Intuit’s free budgeting software, Mint, to track daily spending across the board. Analyzing my spending has completely changed how I view the financial side of horse ownership.
Now, with eyes wide open, I can make smarter decisions, prioritize what’s truly important, and boost my chances of affording this expensive hobby for many years to come! I love practicing dressage, evening, stadium jumping, reining, trail riding, and cow work with my Quarter Horse in Montana, USA.
I started HorseRookie.com, an educational website, to help equestrians of all levels (especially rookies) answer common questions, make informed decisions, and have more fun with their horses. Published on: August 16th, 2019 Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone.
If you’re thinking of buying a horse, it’s important to keep your goals in mind. According to Courtney Jade Herman son, barn manager and head riding instructor with Cadence Equestrian in Florida, what you intend to do with the horse will affect its price.
However, the purchase price of the horse is only a fraction of what you should expect to pay. “Always plan to spend $1,000 more than what you pay for the horse,” Herman son advised.
“You should always perform a pre-purchase exam, and if radiographs and blood work are desired, it can get very expensive. Even if you find a free or cheap horse, you should expect to pay a substantial amount of money for its upkeep.
Horses are enormous creatures, easily weighing over 1,000 lbs. Your horse will need to eat a substantial amount of grass or hay every day.
Feeding your horse will likely be your biggest expense after housing it, costing $1,211 a year, on average. Instead, they have to board their horses at a professional facility and pay a monthly fee.
Boarding costs can be relatively cheap or very expensive, depending on your location and what services you’re looking for. A boarding facility’s focus and amenities can affect its price.
Senior horses should also get a once, yearly blood exam to make sure that all is well as they age.” For example, colic is a common ailment that can affect any horse of any breed or age.
If your horse has colic, he’ll need emergency veterinary care. According to the South Shore Equine Clinic & Diagnostic Center in Massachusetts, a treatment for severe cases can cost up to $12,000.
That cost could drain your savings or put you in the market for a personal loan. That’s why it’s a good idea to sign up for health insurance for your new horse.
It provides coverage in case of an emergency, such as if your horse gets colic and needs surgery. According to the American Farriers Journal, the average trim costs $42.06.
Depending on how much training your horse needs, that could cost you a few hundred dollars a year, or several thousand. When you first buy a horse, you’ll need to purchase a good deal of equipment.
For your horse, you’ll need essentials like a saddle, bridle, saddle pad, girth, stirrup leathers, first aid kit, grooming supplies and fly spray. If you want to buy a horse but don’t have enough money set aside in the bank, there are a few options available to you.
If you have good credit, you can qualify for a low-interest, unsecured loan you can use to buy a horse or relevant equipment. With this option, someone pays you money to cover some of your horse’s expenses.
With a partial or half lease, you pay the owner a set fee each month and get to ride the horse a few days a week. Volunteer: There are hundreds of horse rescues all over the country that need help.