How Much Does a Horse Cost?

A look at what it really costs to own a horse besides the initial purchase price.
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woman leading horse out of barn
Initial purchase price is usually the more affordable aspect of horse ownership; feed, stabling, health care, and equipment costs add up. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

Initial purchase price is usually the more affordable aspect of horse ownership; feed, stabling, health care, and equipment costs add up

It has often been said that owning a horse is akin to digging a deep hole in the backyard and throwing in large sums of money, never to be seen again. Horse-crazy people, however, might say, “So what? What does it matter how much it costs as long as I have my horse?”

Because for many the dream of horse ownership is not to be denied, let’s take a look at what it really costs to own a horse besides the initial purchase price. How much an owner is willing to spend to support this “habit” varies, of course, depending on the equestrian sport she pursues, her geographic locale, and whether she keeps the horse on her home farm or boards him.

The American Horse Council’s (AHC) 2005 Economic Study “dispelled the misperception that the horse industry is an activity only for wealthy individuals.” Study results indicated only 28% of horse owners have an annual household income of more than $100,000; nearly half earn $25,000-75,000; and 34% earn less than $50,000

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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