The Real Cost of Horse Ownership

Working with horses can be very rewarding, but before deciding your level of involvement, it is important to plan a realistic long-term budget for time and finances.
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The Real Cost of Horse Ownership
With a little TLC and proper veterinary and farrier care, a dental exam, a wellness plan, and some thoughtful training, that free or almost-free equine partner could end up being the horse of a lifetime. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Reprinted with permission from Equine Guelph


It is often said that if you ask a question to ten horse owners, you will get ten different answers. However, one thing we can all agree upon is that horses are expensive! Affording the initial purchase cost is the least of expenses. Calculating the maintenance over the horses’ lifetime is a more realistic look at a long-term budgeting plan. How much does horse ownership really cost? The short answer is that it depends. There are many variables that come into play when calculating the cost of horse ownership.

Buying a Horse

“How much does a horse cost?” is a frequently asked question, and like many things in the horse world, the answer is highly variable. Horses can cost anywhere from free to millions of dollars. Realistically, one can expect to spend a few thousand dollars to find an appropriate mount, though this price will depend on the market, the type of horse, its intended use, and your location.

The price of the horse is not the only expense you will encounter when horse shopping. Before buying a horse, it is recommended that you have a trusted veterinarian conduct a prepurchase exam. After the examination, the vet will give you an opinion on the horse’s strengths and weaknesses and discuss any potential problems. This exam will cost anywhere from a few hundred to two thousand dollars, depending on the extensiveness of tests your vet performs and whether you decide to take radiographs (X rays)

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Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and caretakers’ center at the University of Guelph, supported and overseen by equine industry groups, and dedicated to improving the health and well-being of horses.

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