How much does it cost to keep a
horse and what does it take to keep a horse?
Depending on what type of horse you have,
what type of discipline you are involved in and where you are able to keep your
horse, the cost varies. There are several options available to horse
owners, the two most common are keeping a horse at a boarding stable and keeping
it at your own home property.
The cost of keeping a horse at a boarding stable
for pleasure riding or training in a discipline other than racing, usually
covers the feed, bedding, and turnout (if that is available). Any
supplemental vitamins or medication are the responsibility of the owner as is farrier work (every six to eight weeks) and veterinary expenses which include
regular check-ups, immunizations and vet visits to an ill or injured horse.
Check to see if the barn is on a regular worming schedule and whether or not
this is included in the monthly boarding cost. Prices vary according to
geographical location; shop around and visit many stables before you decide on a
home for your horse. Questions to ask the stable owner include:
- What is their daily routine? Is pasture or paddock turnout part of the
- How often do they clean stalls? Is the barn clean, safe and well-ventilated?
Is fencing in good repair? Are the stalls an adequate size (at least 10 x
10 feet) and in good shape with a water supply?
- Is there an outdoor and/or an indoor riding arena? Will the riding times
for the arenas fit your schedule? When are the riding arenas busy?
- What type of disciplines or riding occupations are the horses and owners
involved in? Dressage? Western riding? English riding?
Is there a trainer available for lessons?
- Is the barn reputable and the manager concerned about quality care?
- How do they handle emergencies? What do they consider an emergency?
- Is there a written contract that reflects an acceptable agreement? What
are the liability considerations?
- Is there a farrier available?
- Is it okay to bring in outside trainers, farriers or vets?
Keeping a horse at home is usually more economical if you have an
adequate facility and the time and energy to give your horse proper care. Check
to make sure your local ordinances permit horse keeping and find out what
minimum acreage is allowed. Prices for hay, grain and bedding will vary.
You will need to ask at your local co-op or veterinary clinic if they carry
grain and its price. Finding a source for decent hay can range from fun,
educational, interesting or tricky to your worst nightmare. Be certain that if
you are new to buying hay that you consult with someone who is knowledgeable
about the different types of hay and what constitutes good hay and bad hay.
There is one guarantee, though: the day you decide to "put up"
your hay supply (in a barn loft or storage shed) will be the hottest day of the
year! There are several options for bedding and your local co-op may carry
the wood shavings that are most commonly used. Consult equine publications
for other suppliers in your area.
As you immerse yourself deeper into the world of horse ownership, you will
develop a network of resources in the form of friends, acquaintances, trainers,
breeders, brokers, veterinarians and other assorted horsepeople.
Generally, horsepeople love to talk about horses, so don't hesitate to get them
talking - they can be a valuable source of information - if you check it out.
To keep a horse at home you will need (at the very least):
- At least a 10 x 10 foot stall inside a building - a barn, pole building, etc.
- Or a "run in" or three-sided shed outside to provide protection from
- Safe fencing around a paddock or pasture for turnout with an adequate water
supply or water access;
- During freezing weather a source of unfrozen water;
- At least one-half acre of well-managed pasture per horse for pasture turnout
with the option to rotate pastures;
- A supply of hay, grain and bedding and the equipment to haul it and the room to
- A place to dispose of manure and the equipment to haul it or spread it;
- An area with safe footing in which to ride;
- The time and energy to properly care for your horse; a support system of
friends or family to help is an important consideration.
Other aspects to consider when deciding where to keep your horse:
- Will your horse be lonely and therefore possibly bored, mischievous or
destructive if kept alone at home? Horses are social animals that naturally live
in herds. Is keeping a companion horse or animal an option?
- Will you enjoy the company of others at a boarding stable or benefit from group
activities or lessons?
The most important aspect of horse keeping is educating yourself about the
subject. In addition to reputable trainers and trusted horse owners, there
are many resources available that provide valuable information about the care
and keeping of horses.
Check the categories of barn building, buying horses, feeding and care,
lameness, veterinary care, training and conditioning to the left.
There are also many
other web sites that contain valuable information. They are listed in the
Links area under Miscellaneous Links and