What Does it Cost to Care For a Horse?

A Breakdown of Horse Care Costs

Teen Girl Caring for Horse in a Stable
Caring for a horse can be costly. Cavan Images/Taxi/Getty Images

Horses are expensive to keep. The initial purchase price of your horse, pony, donkey, or mule is only a small part of its overall cost. And, there is really no such thing as a free horse. Whether they are $100 horses or $10,000 horses, basic horse care can cost the same.  Your horse needs daily care, and that can be costly and the costs can vary due to a number of uncontrollable factors. Here are the basic horse care costs you can expect as part of horse ownership.

It's really difficult to give a completely accurate breakdown of what it costs to keep a horse or pony. Depending on where you live, things like hay, grain or bedding may be very expensive or very affordable. Hay prices can change frequently. Likewise, fodder, grain and bedding prices are affected by weather and other factors. Farrier prices sometimes go up as gas prices rise. After all, veterinarians, farriers, and other practitioners have to adjust their prices to cover their costs and earn a fair living. You may also have a horse that needs dental work more than once per year or needs vaccinations outside of the basic core vaccinations.


Basic Minimum Costs

However, here is a breakdown of the basic minimum costs assuming you are keeping your horse or pony on your own property. These costs do not reflect the value of the property, land taxes, insurance, or property maintenance, including barns and fences.

These costs vary depending on the area. The closer you are to an urban area such as New York, Toronto or places like Kentucky or Florida that are horse meccas, the more expensive horse ownership can become. 

You may be able to cut costs by shopping for the cheapest good-quality hay and taking it off of the field yourself, learning to trim your horse's hooves yourself, and buying your own vaccinations (not recommended).

  • One-half bale of hay $3.00 per day--this can easily cost more as some places hay is over $10 a bale. Or, your horse may need more than one-half bale. 
  • Six month supply of loose mineral supplement $30.00 or 0.17 per day
  • Salt block $14.00 or $0.04 per day
  • Two two cup servings of inexpensive concentrate per day $1.00
  • Farrier every six weeks at $35 per trim or $0.83 day
  • Dewormer every 3 months $0.20 per day
  • Dentistry once a year at $125 or $0.35 per day
  • Annual basic core vaccinations of rabies, tetanus, equine influenza, and other routine vaccines at $95.00 or $0.27 per day

Minimum cost per day to keep one horse is $5.01 per day or $1828.65 per year.


The costs quickly increase with:

  • feeding more expensive concentrates or supplements.
  • you have unexpected veterinarian bills
  • immunizing for other diseases such as West Nile Virus or Potomac Horse Fever.
  • a horse that requires shoes or special trimming
  • competing with your horse.
  • a horse that is ill or injured.
  • breeding your horse to produce a foal
  • rapidly rising fuel prices.
  • your normally good pasture is hit with drought or the price of feed is driven up by bad weather or other circumstances.


Boarding a horse can cost anywhere from $100 per month for pasture board, with no inside stabling to over $1000 per month in barns with stalls, individual turn-out, arenas and other amenities close to urban areas.

You will also pay for extras such as farrier and veterinary care, special feeds or care such as removing and putting on blankets and fly masks. In self-care facilities, the monthly board is less expensive, but you will supply your own feed and bedding and travel to care for your horse daily.

Vet Bills

One thing that really can throw your budget is unexpected veterinarian bills. The cost for off-hour calls can be very expensive and something like colic surgery can cost thousands or tens of thousands, depending on what procedures you choose to do. It's wise to think ahead and plan how you might cope with a large vet bill.