Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Eagle, Nebraska, USA
Annual cost of owning a horse
We're trying to buy our first horse, and it occurred to me today that although I don't doubt we can afford to keep one, I've never really put a number on what it will cost us. Can you folks take a look at what I anticipate, and tell me if I'm overlooking something major?
Prior to this summer, our entire experience with horses came from the Pinto that I owned as a youngster. He was our only horse, we had 40 acres of land for him to graze, and we rarely rode him after he hit middle age. He didn't see a farrier nearly enough (I now know), and I don't think he ever saw a vet. Not really a good example of how I want to care for our next horse. I've learned a lot this summer, though.
We currently live on 10 acres of land in southeast Nebraska. We have our own barn with a few stalls, a corral, and (currently) 1.3 acres of adjacent pasture fenced in. We have a smaller pasture (maybe 1 acre) on the other side of the barn that could be fenced in if we think we need to rotate grazing. Until then, we have it baled when necessary. We have a third 1.5-acre pasture that isn't located conveniently for grazing, but which we typically bale for hay. This third pasture is mostly alfalfa with a mix of other grasses. The first two pastures are more grass and a lot less alfalfa.
An easy keeper horse that eats only hay consumes about 1/3 of a small square bale per day, right? So 10 bales per month during the winter? My expectation is that we'll be able to feed one horse (and maybe a second horse) using only grazing and the hay from our own land. The horse friends I talk with are mixed on whether they give their horses any grain--it seems to depend mostly on how hard they're competing. So, most of the feed should cost us $150/year to pay our neighbor to bale our non-fenced pastures.
Farrier trimming should cost about $40 every 6-8 weeks, right? So about $300/year just for trimming. Front shoes, if needed, would be about $60 every 6-8 weeks. Is that in addition to the trimming, or is trimming usually included in that price? Front shoes is then $450/year. Front & rear shoes is $900/year.
I have no clue how much worming costs or how often it should be done. Any pointers? At least initially, I'll have to pay someone to do it, since I don't know enough to do it myself. It sounds like many horse owners do it themselves, though.
Other than worming, should an apparently-healthy horse get a vet exam on a regular basis?
There's lots of horses in our neighborhood, so if I piggyback on their vet/farrier appointments, I shouldn't have any trouble scheduling an on-site visit for just my one horse.
I expect that our horse(s) will have free access to the barn stall, corral, and pasture nearly 24x7, unless we shut them into the barn for really nasty weather. Given that, how much stall bedding do you really think I'll use? At what cost?
If I've done it right initially, fence & stall maintenance shouldn't cost enough annually to make a difference.
A 500W water bucket heater will burn 12 kWh per day, or about 1100 kWh for three months. That's about $80/year at our rate. A fan in the stall area would cost less than that. The LED lighting over our stalls is even less.
Registration & insurance for a cheap horse trailer will depend on how much travel my daughter decides we need to do with this horse. I don't mind borrowing a trailer once a year. When I was growing up, I don't think our horse ever left our farm.
I'm not going to address the cost of any lessons, training, or club memberships for now. I'm also not considering the cost of up-front, one-time purchases like tack & buildings. I'm just considering the recurring cost of letting a healthy horse stay on my property.
So far, a horse with no shoes and no medical issues is sitting around $600/year. Add in four shoes year round, and you get $1500/year. Not including the unknowns I already mentioned. So what else am I missing? There's got to be something... I'm too new at this.
10 acres in the country.
Just settling in with our first two quarter horses.
RIP Cochise, 2019-04-16. You will always be loved.