Why are horses so expensive?

The reason why horses are so expensive is that horses require daily care, which may be pricey and varies according to a variety of unpredictable circumstances. 

The average cost of owning a horse is $3,876 per year. The majority of this cost is for feeding the horse, followed by any essential treatment. A horse requires housing and bedding as well. Other expenses that contribute to this cost include hoof care, shoeing, and grooming.

How Much Do Horses Cost?

Anyone who owns a horse will tell you that the initial expense of a typical riding horse is just the tip of the iceberg. Many people consider owning a horse to be a luxury. But how much does a ‘typical’ horse cost? What’s the difference between a free horse, a $500 horse, a $5,000 horse, and a horse that costs far over $10,000 or $20,000?

There are a lot of elements that influence horse prices, although these don’t have much of an impact on horses costing $10,000 or more. Top-tier stud farms buy and sell such horses for use in high-level competition. They are frequently imported from Europe or abroad, with exceptional genetics and ancestors who have achieved worldwide competitive success. They are unlikely to be acquired by the ordinary first-time horse owner, and their prices are not as influenced by market factors as backyard riding horse prices are.

The majority of inexperienced riders will purchase horses for less than $10,000. A variety of factors influence horse prices, and numerous elements have emerged in recent years that have reduced the initial cost of a horse while increasing the expense of sustaining a horse. 

When the economy is in a downturn, fewer individuals can afford to acquire or keep horses. This means that there are more horses for sale and fewer buyers. Many individuals are compelled to throw their horses away or sell them cheaply during economic downturns because they cannot afford to care for them.

How Maintenance Costs Affect the Price?

Poor hay yields and increased feed and fuel expenses might reduce the number of horses for sale as well as their asking prices in any given year. The prohibition on slaughtering horses for meat has the unintended consequence of lowering the price of certain types of horses. This mostly affects horses that are aged, unsound, young, and/or untrained, but also has an impact on the whole horse market.

Those seeking their first horse will most likely need to invest between $1,500 and $3,000 for the purchase. You might be able to find a gem for less than this, but having that money gives you the most options. 

What Does it Cost to Care For a Horse?

Horses are expensive to maintain. Your horse, pony, donkey, or mule’s initial purchase price is only a small portion of its ultimate cost, and there is no such thing as a free horse. Basic horse care may be the same whether the horse is $100 or $10,000. Your horse needs daily care, which may be pricey and fluctuate owing to a variety of unpredictable variables.

Basic Minimum Costs

The following is a summary of the basic minimal expenditures presuming you maintain your horse or pony on your own land. These expenditures do not include the property’s valuation, land taxes, insurance, or property upkeep, such as barns and fences. These prices vary based on where you live. The closer you are to a horse paradise, such as New York, Toronto, or areas like Kentucky or Florida, the more costly horse ownership may become.

You may be able to save money by looking for the cheapest good-quality hay and picking it up yourself, learning to clip your horse’s hooves yourself, and purchasing your own vaccines (not recommended).

  • A half-bale of hay is $3.00 per day – this may easily be increased because hay can cost more than $10 per bale in some areas. Alternatively, your horse may require more than one-half bale.
  • Mineral supplement with a six-month supply $30.00 per day, or $0.17
  • $14.00 for a salt block, or $0.04 per day
  • Every day, two two-cup portions of a low-cost concentrate. $1.00 Farrier every six weeks at a cost of $35 each trim, or $0.83 per day
  • Every three months, a dewormer is administered. The daily rate of $0.20
  • Dentistry once a year at a cost of $125 (or $0.35 per day).
  • Annual rabies, tetanus, equine influenza, and other regular vaccinations are $95.00 or $0.27 each day.

The daily cost of keeping one horse is $5.01, or $1828.65 per year.

Potential Cost Increases

  • Feeding higher-priced concentrates or supplements.
  • You have unanticipated veterinary costs.
  • Immunization against additional illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Potomac Horse Fever.
  • A horse that needs the use of shoes or specific trimming
  • Competing against your horse.
  • An ailing or wounded horse.
  • Breeding your horse in order to have a foal
  • Fuel prices are rapidly rising.
  • Your typically excellent pasture suffers from drought, or the price of feed rises due to bad weather or other factors.

Boarding

Boarding a horse may range from $100 per month for pasture board with no indoor stabling to more than $1000 per month in barns with stalls, individual turn-out, arenas, and other facilities near to cities. 

Extras such as farrier and veterinarian treatment, special meals, and a care such as removing and putting on blankets and fly masks will also be charged. Monthly boarding is less expensive at self-care facilities, but you must supply your own feed and bedding and travel to care for your horse on a regular basis.

Vet Bills

Unexpected veterinarian costs might definitely throw a wrench in your finances. Off-hour calls may be highly expensive, and colic surgery might cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the techniques you choose. It’s a good idea to plan ahead of time for how you’ll handle a hefty vet cost.

How Much Does a Horse’s Medical Care Cost?

Annual veterinary costs are significant, with an average of $485 for general care. Checkups, dental, vaccines, and deworming are all part of general care.

Obviously, this expense might rise in the event of an emergency injury or sickness. Horse owners should have a financial reserve to cover additional medical expenses because horses are prone to injuries, particularly with their legs.

How Much Do Riding Lessons Cost?

Riding lessons cost between $30 and $100 each session. This price level covers courses when the rider is present, as well as one-on-one sessions for the horse and trainer. A skilled trainer can help evaluate whether or not a horse needs individual training sessions.

What to wear to riding lessons is a question of personal preference and financial constraints. If you like, you may dress up with chaps, boots, and gloves. However, special attire is not necessary; any pair of long pants would suffice. Closed-toed shoes are strongly advised.

A helmet is required for classes, and it may be given by the training facility. If not, they may be purchased online for as little as $45 and go up from there. While not ideal, if permitted by the training facility, a bicycle helmet might be used as an alternative.

What is the most Affordable Horse to Purchase?

It may come as a surprise to see Thoroughbreds mentioned as a cheap horse option, but this is due to the horse racing business breeding them so frequently that there is an excess.

Horses who do not have racing potential may end up at a Thoroughbred rescue, where you may discover low-priced horses while also giving a horse a new lease on life.

It is worth mentioning, however, that buying a cheap horse breed may increase your costs in the long term. Quarter horses, for example, are notorious for having health issues. You may save money upfront, but you will end up paying more for veterinarian care in the long term.

The age of the horse you select to buy might also affect the price. A horse that is old or extremely young would be less expensive than a horse that is in its prime. However, the disadvantage with older horses is that you may incur higher healthcare expenditures.

A young horse, on the other hand, will take more of your attention to train.

Conclusion

To summarize, horses are expensive, but there are ways to make them more inexpensive. Before acquiring a horse, like with any other animal, it’s a good idea to factor in the costs of adequate care. Creating an upfront budget based on a horse’s demands might help you evaluate if horse ownership is within your family’s financial means.

Horseback riding is a gratifying experience whether it is a dream of yours or your child’s. Riding horses provides both physical and emotional health advantages. The advantages may outweigh the costs and effort required to include horseback riding in your life.

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About Vivian Farrell

Vivian Farrell operated a gaited horse farm in Southwestern New York State. He published several equestrian-related books and DVDs on the topic of horses, and for 15 years enjoyed working with gaited horses and their riders. Vivian Farrell presented her training methods at horse expos and private clinics and worked with individuals and small groups from her farm. As a result of her experience with gaited horses, Vivian Farrell designed a unique line of tack that enhances the horse's comfort and improves communication between horse and rider.

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