The Real Cost of Keeping a Horse –

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Before Purchasing a Horse, Take a good Look at the Cost. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I figure it costs me approximately $300/month to keep one horse. So when friends ask me what my board is I say, “$350”. This is when the friendship ends and they want to know why it is so much and could they just do ‘outdoor’ board. I say, “Yes, outdoor board is $350.”

If you are thinking of purchasing a horse and think it may be cheaper to keep it at home take a good hard look at your numbers.

Here are some basic costs per horse per month. This identifies basic costs to me and other costs such as vet, farrier and insurance are covered below.

Summary per horse per month

  • Hay –          $60
  • Grain –       $15
  • Shavings – $82.50
  • Labor –      $150
  • TOTAL – $317 per month

Horses Eat (Hay and Grain Costs)

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Eat Like a Horse Is No Joke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The saying eats like a horse is no joke. In order for a horse’s stomach to work properly horses must graze and eat little and often. This means they should have at least 1 acre per horse for grazing. If you have fewer acres or poor quality of pasture then factor in hay and grain for upkeep.

In colder climates, horses eat more hay to help keep themselves warm. So in winter months count on using more hay.

For example, it is summer now and my horses get a handful of hay a day and are on well maintained pasture. In the winter time, however, my fields are buried under snow and on some cold days when the mercury dips to -40 I have been known to feed 2 bales of hay per horse. These are approximately 30 – 40 pound bales of hay! that is a lot of eating. And they eat it, to maintain their gut and to help them stay warm.

The rule of thumb for feeding hay is approximately 1- 2% of their body weight. So a 1000 pound horse should get 10-20 pounds of hay a day. That, for me, is about 1/2 a bale.

With hay at a local price right now of approximately $4/bale this brings the cost of feeding a horse hay for 1 month to $60 – $120 /month per horse. Not accounting for doubling up the hay during colder winter months.

Keep in mind horses which may have additional nutritional requirements, older horses, mares/foals, young growing horses and horses in work may have other requirements as well.

Get your hay tested, analysed, so you know exactly what you are feeding.


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Grain Can Be Added To Your Regular Feeding Regime(Photo credit: The Art of Doing Stuff)

Grain can be added to your regular feeding regime as well. The recommended feeding regime listed on the bag of grain identifies feeding a mature horse between 1 – 3 % of their body weight depending on their work load, and other nutrition requirements. So if I give my horse 1 pound of grain a day my 50 pound bag of grain will last 50 days.

At $25 per bag it costs me 0.50 per day to feed my horse grain or $15/month. Again it depends on my horse’s work load and current physical state.


If you are keeping your horse you want it to be able to lie down and rest in a clean bed right? Well shavings in my area are $5.50 per bag. I use approx 1/2 bag per day per horse. I use 15 bags per month per horse which = 82.50 for shavings.

Hoof Care

Horses hooves grow and must be trimmed every 4 – 6 weeks. So count on a visit from your farrier every month or so. A Reset of shoes can run $100 – 300 and a trim costs from $30 – $60 depending on your farrier.

Veterinary Care

Veterinary care is a must have and I include:

Vaccinations – $240 per year – say $20 per month
Worming  – $80 per year – say $7 per month
Dental Care – 120 per year – $10 per month
Coggins Test– $50 per year – $5 per month

total = $42 per month

Electricity and Labor

I figure I spend about 20 minutes per horse or more per day. Mucking stalls, checking over the horses, walking them in and out to pasture, feeding etc. 30 minutes per day works out to about $0 per horse per month.

Other costs:

  • Vet – $42
  • farrier – $60

Other costs not discussed here:

  • Insurance – I personally pay $1000 per year for my insurance specific to my horses, riding, teaching and judging.
  • Memberships – Memberships to to your national, regional, breed and other can add up.
  • Gas
  • Time
  • Electricity.

Before thinking of biting off more than you can chew give your wallet and your horse a close look before purchasing a horse.




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About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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