Buying a horse that is right for you
Buying a horse

How much does a horse cost to keep?8 min read

The purchase price of a horse is often one of the (relatively) smaller costs in getting and keeping a horse.

You have to consider feed, insurance, stabling, care, transport, equipment and many other expenses. Keeping a horse or pony is costly and you need to be prepared for a continual financial commitment.

The monthly expenses of keeping a horse or pony vary greatly depending on how the animal is kept and what kind of ownership you have; your own horse will always cost more than leasing or a My Horse-package.

Please note that the costs here are estimates to get you started and that local prices will and can vary greatly.

Ask and shop around; finding bargains and buying second-hand gear can save you a pretty penny when you’re not too concerned about it looking as pretty as a new or expensive version. It also doesn’t hurt to keep your eyes open for giveaways on social media from your favourite brands and influencers!

Also livery yards and sellers will vary greatly in what they offer, so keep your eyes open.

The initial purchase costs of buying your horse

Don’t buy a horse simply because it’s cheap. The health, age, height, temperament, history, intended use and experience, as well as the suitability for the rider, are all things that need to be taken into consideration.

Besides the purchase price of the horse you’ll need to consider (prices are estimates):

A 2-stage vetting£150 + VAT and call-out fee
A 5 stage vetting£300 + VAT and call-out fee
Additional test fees during/after vetting?
Transferring of ownership, updating/changing information (passport)£10-30 + insured postage
Cost of travelling to go see horses you’re interested in?
Cost of travelling to the vetting yourself?
Cost of transporting the horse home after purchase?
Passport (if the horse isn’t registered yet)£10-60
Microchipping (if the horse isn’t microchipped yet)£20-25 + VAT and call out fee
Freezemarking (usually discounts for several horses at once)£60

 Livery & stabling

How you house your horse is one of the biggest factors in how much your horse will cost you on a monthly and annual basis (disregarding accidents/illness).

The more you do yourself, the cheaper it will be, but it will require the time and work from you instead. Below are options for livery to consider and estimated cost per month:

Grass Livery£50-150 pcm
DIY Livery£100-250 pcm
Part Livery£160-400+ pcm
Working Livery£180-300+ pcm
Full Livery£200-1,000+ pcm

Feed and bedding

Depending on how much your horse works, the diet you feed him, how much time he spends in a stable or out in a field or paddock will all affect the cost of feed and bedding:

Hay£4-7 per bale, £30-50 for a round
Haylage£6-9 per bale
Chaff£5-9 per medium bag
Straw bedding£2,50-3,50 per bale
Shavings bedding£6-8,50 per bale
Wood pellets bedding£2-5 per bag

Healthcare expenses

Some expenses are only a few times a year and some are monthly or bi-monthly.

Again, the cost will vary depending on what kind of horse you have, how much treatment and care it needs and how it is kept. Some of the common expenses are listed below:

Shoeing (every 6 weeks or so / includes trim)£60-70 per full set of shoes
Trimming (every 6 weeks or so for unshod horses)£16-30 per trim
Worming (every 3-6 months)£15-20 per syringe
Worm control, fecal egg count (every 10 weeks)£8 per test
Worm control, blood test (biannually)£60 per test
Dental care£100 per year (routine check up/maintenance)
Vaccinations£40-70 per year
Insurance for vet fees£150-600 a year (depending on value of animal and intended use)
Third Party Insurance (also Public Liability Insurance)£540 per year

Remember to include call-out fees for anyone coming out to your stable to treat your horse (vet, farrier etc.). If you’re using the same vet and farrier as other horse owners at your livery yard, you can save money by scheduling your horses to be treated at the same time.

When the trip only has to be made once you’ll all share the cost of the call-out fee and the more horses are being treated at once, the more likely you’ll be to get a better price per head.

Gear & tack for you and your horse

Leather saddle£500-1500
Leather bridle£100-150
Riding accessories (wraps, pads etc.)£50-150
Stable rug£30-80
Turnout rug£50-150
Grooming kit£15-60
  
Riding clothes£100-200
Riding helmet£80-120
Riding boots£30-100
Body armour£80-400
High visibility vest£10

You can save a lot of money by buying second-hand – however, you should limit yourself to things that can be cleaned properly because you don’t want to transmit anything nasty to yourself, your horse or your stable.

Keep in mind that tack for your horse may require a professional fitter to come out and adjust it to fit your horse. Improperly fitting tack will only hurt your horse in the long run and cause avoidable problems.

If you’re buying online, keep your eyes out for offers for first-time customers (such as a discount if you sign up to their newsletter) and wait for sales if you’re not in urgent need of buying the things right now.

If you’re going to compete with your horse, check what kind of requirements the competitions you want to enter may have so that you buy the right kind of gear off the bat.

Cross-country races will often require horses and riders to have body armour as well as hi-vis kit if you’ll be riding in the dark. Dressage competitions may have requirements like the saddle to be made in one material only (you may not compete with a saddle made with leather and synthetic materials if the competition requires an all leather saddle).

Transport and miscellaneous expenses

The cheapest mode of transport for a horse is a trailer that hitches onto your car, however this means you need to have a car that is ready to pull a trailer.

Upgrading your care to suit your trailer will cost a good deal. You also need to make sure that you have the right driving license to be able to transport horses. These are just some of the expenses related to horse ownership.

Horse trailer (pull with your car)£1,800-7,000
Horse box (looks like a camper van for horses)£5,000-15,000
Additional driving licence training and testing£600+
Stable equipment (wheelbarrow, fork, buckets, etc.)£200
Equine First Aid kit£25-50
  
Field shelter£2,000
Barn with 6 stables£20,000
One box stable£1,500
Rubber matting£200-300 per stable

Euthanasia and carcass disposal

When purchasing a horse, you’re not first thinking of the end-of-life decisions you may have to make for your horse.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to plan for your horse’s final days and be well prepared. However, in case of an emergency, it is just as important to have a plan and sufficient funds to implement it.

Euthanasia and carcass disposal options vary in practice and price; your vet will be able to give you the best advice for your horse in your area.

There comes a time in every horses life when we have to consider the alternatives and make the hard decisions. Ask your vet for information or see the NFSCo website for information on collection services for horse owners.

Below are listed alternatives and estimated costs:

Euthanasia by free bullet£80 + VAT and vet call-out fee
Euthanasia by lethal injection£100 + VAT and vet call-out fee
  
Carcass disposal – hunt kennels£100-300
Carcass disposal – individual cremation£500-700
Carcass disposal – shared cremation£150-400
Carcass disposal – abattoir (euthanasia by free bullet) – restrictions apply£100-400 paid to the horse owner

The costs associated with owning a large animal like a horse are many. If you shop around before making a decision, you can be as effective as possible in your expenditure and be able to put aside that much more for emergencies (or another horse!).

Whenever you can group together with other horse owners and negotiate a bulk discount, I recommend you do so!

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