The Current Costs of Horse Ownership

Here’s what owners can expect to pay when prioritizing their horses’ welfare. Learn more in this article from the Winter 2023 issue of The Horse.
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Horse-keeping expenses vary by region; here’s what owners can expect to pay when prioritizing their horses’ welfare.

bringing home a new hors
Horse ownership costs vary significantly from region to region and discipline to discipline. | iStock

When Rhiannon Davies was a child, her parents told her owning a horse was not in the family’s budget. In recent years, a now-adult Davies—who works as senior creative strategy director at a marketing agency in London, U.K.—started researching the costs of horse ownership. Online information, however, was often vague, outdated, or ­misleading.

“I knew I couldn’t be the only one trying to do this, but I also knew that money is a taboo subject and that not many equestrians would want to share their costs openly,” she says. But most equestrians prioritize horse welfare, and people would want to help a first-time horse owner do the same if they could, Davies surmised.

She was proven right after launching an anonymous Google form where anyone anywhere could share their horse-related costs. Thousands of people have contributed to Equestrian Money Diaries (EMD). On TikTok Davies presents the diaries under her social media handle, ­@ridingwithrhi. Diarists use the form to report feed, board, ­bedding, veterinary, farrier, and other regular costs, such as equine massage or riding lessons, in the most recent month.

The cold, hard numbers have a huge range. Easy keepers that live in the proverbial backyard and do little to no competing might cost “a couple of hundred pounds a month” (approximately $250), Davies says. (University of Arizona professor and extension specialist Betsy Greene, MS, PhD, subsequently supported that figure with her own back-of-the-napkin calculations.) Keeping competition horses is much more expensive.

“One of the most expensive ones that sticks in my mind was one in Wellington, Florida, which I am reliably informed by my TikTok followers is like ‘Disneyland for equestrians,’ ” Davies says. “The diarist had multiple horses on competition livery ($3,000 a horse for a dry stall—i.e., no feed, bedding, or labor—plus $1,500 per horse for the groom). The total ended up being $13,150 per month. It’s definitely at the more extreme end of the spectrum, but this is the wonderful thing about the EMD project—one minute you’re outside someone’s house in Iceland, the next you’re hearing from an FEI competitor in Florida. It’s fascinating.”

Davies shared a spreadsheet of the diaries with The Horse. Our simplified and condensed analysis of 114 U.S. diaries submitted in 2023 before late June suggests respondents who own just one horse spend approximately $1,646 a month on regular costs. The range was enormous, from $120 a month for a backyard pleasure rider to $7,915 for a competitive rider.

Single-horse owners spent, on average, an additional $760 during the reported month for ad hoc expenses such as treats, a colic scare, or tack. Again, the range in spending was significant, with some people spending nothing and one person spending $10,000 on a new saddle.

The 108 U.S.-based single-horse owners who reported paying board spend an average of $848 per month. Monthly boarding rates ranged from $100 for what appeared to be a self-care situation in Washington to $3,300 for a show barn in Connecticut

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We at The Horse work to provide you with the latest and most reliable news and information on equine health, care, management, and welfare through our magazine and TheHorse.com. Our explanatory journalism provides an understandable resource on important and sometimes complex health issues. Your subscription will help The Horse continue to offer this vital resource to horse owners of all breeds, disciplines, and experience levels.

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Karen Hopper Usher has a Master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University, where she reported for Great Lakes Echo. She previously worked in local news and is a lifelong equestrian.

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