A lot of people I know are shocked that I have the ability to pay for my horses myself, because it is a well-known fact in life that horses are most likely one of the most cost-sucking fund-eating hobbies you can pick. But most people who say that don’t really have any idea what it actually costs for the monthly upkeep of a horse. What is the monthly cost to maintain a horse?
To quote Joe Camp: “What makes horses cost so much is our own preconceived ideas of what horse care should look like based on what others do, rather than looking at what the horse actually needs.” No wonder most non-horse people assume that horses cost so much! To assume that every horse needs a cozy stall, blankets and expensive shoeing are only some of the many preconceived ideas that we get. Knowing what a horse actually needs is an entirely different post.
I’ve found that in dealing with two horses, there is no discount in owning two. Twice as much hay, twice as much vet work and farrier care, and twice as much tack.
If you don’t have the time or space to keep them up, then boarding at a stable is going to cost a lot of money, anywhere from between $100 and $350 a month. That adds up to $1200-$4200. That is a huge expense, and that is only for one horse!
If you don’t have that kind of money, leasing an unused pasture is a good way to go. One lady I know pays $25 per horse, another pays $50 for an acre pasture and they don’t care how many animals are on it. You can probably expect to pay $50-$100 for a small-ish pasture, which is $600-$1200 per year.
Next you’ll need to determine how expensive the feed per year will be. This is definitely the most expensive part. Each horse needs about two tons per year. I prefer to make it more like two and a half tons, just to be sure I’ll be able to get to next summer. The going rate is around $200 a ton, but it could be less depending on each individual year. That makes it about $500 per horse for feed per year. That doesn’t include any grain if you choose to include that too.
Horses need to have their hooves tended to. Again, whether your horse needs shoes is definitely going to affect the cost, but bare minimum is to have them trimmed every six to eight weeks. To have a farrier come out and trim them only costs around $25-$35 a month, which adds up to $300-$420 a year. Some horses need it more often, others are worked enough to not need them trimmed at all.
Vet work is sometimes a hard thing to predict. Once a year shots cost about $50 per horse, which doesn’t include the vet coming out to do it unless you do it yourself. Deworming is cheap enough I don’t even include it. If you’re the cautious type, then factoring in checkups is a good idea. The dicey part is usually in the upkeep of their teeth. Old horses may need to have it done every year, while younger horses will only need to have it done every two to three years, or not at all until they are older. I plan to do it bi-annually and will factor it in.
Keep in mind that all this is yearly. When you divide that by 12, the amount is probably smaller than you would expect.
Boarding Cost +
Farrier Work +
Additional Vet Care
For me, this is what it looks like for one horse, for one year:
Vet Care (teeth floating)=$65 (the actual cost is twice that, but if you plan for every other year, then split that in half to get the 65 number).
Total cost: $825 a year.
Now, divide that by 12, and the monthly cost is $68.75. That is pretty affordable! My cost is less because my pasture is free, but it gives you a good idea of monthly cost.
Of course, none of that includes the upfront cost of buying the horse, tack, and other supplies Maybe that is where the real expense is because no one factors that in.