How Much Does a Horse Cost on a Monthly Basis?
There’s more of a financial commitment to owning a horse than just the upfront purchase cost; there are ongoing monthly expenses that come with caring for your equine friend. Before you buy a horse, it’s a good idea to assess your financial budget on a monthly basis to ensure you can take care of the needs of your horse.
How much does owning a horse cost per month? The average monthly cost of caring for a horse in the United States is $600. This amount includes the average monthly cost of boarding fees, feed costs, and farrier visits. Your average monthly cost can vary greatly depending on the area of the country you’re in, the quality of the boarding facilities and feed you’re paying for, and how many activities (competitions, lessons, etc.) you do.
In this article, I’ll break down what you can expect to pay for on a monthly basis when caring for your horse. I’ll also give you specific price points for each expense. I hope this article will help you determine your budget for caring for your horse; keep reading!
What Are the Common Monthly Horse Expenses?
When you think of the word “expense” in relation to horses, you probably think of all the horror stories you’ve heard about impressive vet bills and $3000 saddles. The good news is that unless your horse has an unexpected accident, you usually will only have to pay for a vet visit twice a year. That being said, I will not be including vet expenses in this monthly list. To get a vet cost rundown, visit my article What Does it Cost to Own a Horse: Complete Expense Guide.
So, what are the most common monthly expenses you’ll have when caring for a horse? Here is a list of the expenses you can expect on a monthly basis:
- Boarding Fees
- Feed Costs (grain, hay, and supplements)
- Farrier Visits
- Optional Activities (competitions, lessons, etc.)
Here is the breakdown further:
Monthly Expense for Horse Boarding
One of your biggest regular expenses for owning a horse will be boarding fees. If you don’t personally have the land or space to keep a horse, you can pay to keep them at a boarding stable. Keeping your horse at a boarding stable can quickly run up your monthly expenses compared to keeping a horse on your own property, but oftentimes that’s the price you have to pay to care for your equine friend!
The average monthly boarding rate in the United States is around $400. The good news is that there are different boarding options that can be more budget-friendly with a lower monthly average rate.
Full-care board is probably the most popular and most expensive boarding option. Under this option, your horse is fully cared for by the barn staff. Your horse will have access to both turnout and its own personal stall. If you have limited time to commit to caring for your horse, this may be your best option. A full-care boarding option usually ranges from $300-$700 a month.
Pasture board is the more budget-friendly version of full-care board. With pasture board, your horse will be fully cared for by barn staff; the only difference is that your horse will live in a pasture 24/7. This will save the barn staff from having to clean and maintain stables and can provide your horse with a more natural living situation. If you do opt for a pasture board option, just make sure your horse has access to adequate shelter. A pasture boarding option usually ranges from $150-$400 a month.
Self-care board is perhaps the most inexpensive boarding option available, although it can be more difficult to find stables that offer this option. With self-care board, you are solely responsible for the care of your horse. All you’re doing in this situation is paying to keep your horse on the land rather than paying for barn staff to also care for them. This means that rain or shine, you will need to go to the barn to care for your horse. If you go on vacation, you need to find someone willing to look after your horse while you’re gone. Self-care board usually ranges from $100 – $250 a month.
Monthly Expense for Horse Feed
If you’re boarding your horse somewhere, the stable may provide a basic grain option for your horse. Boarding stables oftentimes will also be responsible for purchasing and providing hay within the costs you pay for board (unless you’re self-care board, then you have to provide your own feed and hay.)
Maybe you board your horse somewhere and they require a specific diet that the stable doesn’t provide. Or maybe you keep your horse on your own property and you are responsible for purchasing all your horse needs. In these instances, you are going to need to factor feed costs into your monthly expenses.
As I mentioned, if you are boarding your horse somewhere and paying for full-care or pasture board, you likely will not need to worry about purchasing your own hay. Nonetheless, it’s good to know what to expect. If your horse is kept in a stall for any time during the day, it will need to be fed hay. If you are hauling your horse to a show or an event, you should be able to provide them with hay in the trailer and while they wait. If there is not enough grass in the pasture to sustain your horse’s diet and weight, you will need to provide them with 10-20 lbs of hay a day.
Hay prices can be volatile, as the production can differ each and every year. To get the cheapest price possible on horse hay, buy during the Summer months when it is being cut. This will save you from supply shortages and high prices during the colder months. You also want to make sure you purchase horse-quality hay. While horse-quality hay may be more expensive than low-quality hay, horses need hay that doesn’t have thistles and hard-to-digest materials in it. To learn more about purchasing horse-quality hay, visit my article How to Know if Your Hay is Bad: Essential Horse Hay Guide.
The average cost of a square bale of horse-quality hay can cost anywhere from $3-$20 depending on when you purchase. A round bale of horse-quality hay may cost anywhere from $40-$120 depending on where you buy and where you’re located.
Not every horse needs grain. Grain should be used to supplement a horse’s diet; it should not be your horse’s main form of sustenance. Every horse is different and may require different nutrients and sugars added to its diet. The best thing to do is talk to your vet about what you need to be feeding your horse. The last thing you want to do is feed your horse grain without being educated on how grain can negatively affect your horse if fed incorrectly.
Some grains are very high in sugar and horses can be very sensitive to sugar intake. Excessive amounts of sugar can get into the horse’s bloodstream and cause the horse’s hoof tissue to become inflamed and weak. This is known as laminitis. If left untreated and no change in diet, laminitis can eventually develop into founder, where the coffin bone in the horse’s hoof begins to move and drop, causing the horse severe pain. That being said, always consult your vet before feeding random grain.
The average price of a 50-lbs grain bag can range from $15-$60 depending on the type and quality of the grain. Your horse may go through a bag a month, or it may go through a bag every two weeks depending on the amount your vet recommends you feed.
Supplements often come in powder or pellet form and are designed to add additional vitamins, nutrients, or minerals to your horse’s diet. For example, my horse was having problems with his gut health which was causing him to have digestive issues and be extremely anxious. Upon researching and talking to my vet, I started adding a Magnesium and Thiamine supplement to his diet, as these elements are known to cure problems with the hindgut. He has become a healthy and happier horse!
You can basically find a supplement for any health condition you want to address in your horse. Beware, however, as not all supplements scientifically make changes. The best thing you can do is talk to your vet and see what they recommend.
For a 5-lbs bucket of supplements, you should expect to pay anywhere from $15-$17. As for how long the bucket will last, it really comes down to the recommended amount you’re supposed to feed your horse each day.
While your horse may need supplements, not all horses like the way supplements taste. To learn some tricks I’ve learned to get horses to eat their supplements, visit my article Getting a Horse to Eat Supplements: Complete Guide.
Monthly Expense for the Farrier
One of the most important aspects of horse care is caring for your horse’s hooves. On top of picking out your horse’s hooves on a daily basis, you should also schedule a farrier visit every 4-8 weeks depending on the climate you live in. A farrier may trim or shoe your horse’s hooves and can direct you on how to best care for your horse’s feet.
Horse hooves grow continuously, just like human fingernails. Climate has a big part in determining how often horse hooves will need to be trimmed, and hence, how often you’ll need to schedule the farrier. If you live in a wet climate that regularly sees rainfall, your horse’s hooves will grow faster and be more soft and sensitive. You will probably see a farrier every 4-6 weeks in this environment. If you live in a dry and arid climate, your horse probably has tough, slow-growing hooves. In this environment, you’ll probably schedule the farrier every 6-8 weeks.
For a farrier to trim your horse’s hooves, you can expect to pay $30-$50. For a farrier to put shoes on all four of your horse’s hooves, expect to pay $65-$150.
I hope this article was helpful to you in figuring out your monthly budget for owning a horse. If you want a complete rundown of annual expenses you can expect to pay, visit my article What Does it Cost to Own a Horse: Complete Expense Guide.