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If you’re looking to ride more often, whether for fun, work or for competition, you might want to consider buying a horse. Horse-owning isn’t that exclusive. It’s estimated that nearly 7.2 million Americans own horses. Before you put your money into your new four-legged companion, you may want to explore how much should be budgeted before you saddle up.

The Cost of Buying a Horse

The type of horse you buy will directly impact its cost. But to evaluate the cost, you’ll need to first determine the purpose of the horse. Are you planning to use it for racing, working, showing or recreation? More than 3 million horses are for recreational purposes compared to more than 537,000 horses that are for working purposes.

The value of a horse is determined not only by its purpose but also by its pedigree. Specifically bred horses, like those who have more speed, can cost more than those that don’t have the same genetic lineage.

Like other types of animals you can own, the more time you have to spend training it, the less it might cost you upfront. The more trained a horse is, the more expensive they are.

Since the type of horse and reason for purchase varies so much, the cost is also just as broad. The cost can range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. For regular recreational use, the average cost is around $3,000, according to the University of Maine.

Costs After Buying a Horse

While there’s an upfront cost to buy a horse, there are plenty of other costs associated with owning a horse.

For instance, you’ll need to consider how to transport your horse after you’ve purchased it, and how you’ll transport it if you’re moving it from where it stays to other places, like shows or races, if necessary.

You’ll also want to find out the cost of boarding your horse. Boarding facilities vary in what they offer, from full-service to cleaning and maintaining your horse’s stall yourself. If you’re using a horse recreationally, some facilities have riding areas that you can use. Ask the boarding facility if they have access to bedding, should your horse need it.

Other expenses include:

  • Feed: Consider the cost of grain mix, grass and hay and salt and minerals for your horse. If horses have access to pasture, they might not need as much hay to pay for on your part.
  • Healthcare: Vaccines, veterinarian visits, testing and exams are all necessary to maintain the health of your horse. Remember that horses can get sick like humans and other animals, and will need proper treatment if this comes up, including emergency costs. You’ll also want to consider buying health insurance for your horse.
  • Equipment and supplies: If you need specific riding equipment for recreational use, you’ll need to foot the bill. This can include a saddle, stirrup leathers and grooming supplies. As a rider, you’ll need a helmet, riding pants and boots.
  • Farrier needs: Horse hooves need to be trimmed and filed and for some, shoes are necessary. This will need tending to often; trimming will need to be done about every eight weeks.
  • Training: If your horse needs ongoing training or you’re looking for training to ride your horse, you’ll want to consider buying lessons.

You may be eligible for a tax break if you own the land that your horse grazes on, or there may be a tax break available because your horse can be categorized as a pet.

Bottom Line

As you’re reviewing expenses, review to see what’s covered by facilities and others and what you’re responsible for. If you’re open to doing more work yourself, you might be able to save on some of the costs. For instance, if you have the stable to house your horse, you’ll save thousands of dollars in boarding costs.

An alternative to buying a horse would be leasing a horse. A partial lease would let you ride the horse a few days a week while you pay the owner a fee for maintaining the rest of the cost. This might be a better financial choice if you’re looking to learn to ride and don’t want to take on the additional costs of horse ownership.

Tips for Horse Buying

  • Consider talking to a financial advisor about buying or leasing a horse. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Besides estimating the cost of buying and keeping a horse, those costs should be assessed in the context of an overall financial plan. There are numerous resources available to you for creating a financial plan, including software-based resources.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/jacoblund, ©iStock.com/olgaIT, ©iStock.com/cmannphoto

Dori Zinn Dori Zinn has been covering personal finance for nearly a decade. Her writing has appeared in Wirecutter, Quartz, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Huffington Post and other publications. She previously worked as a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Zinn is a past president of the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and won the national organization's "Chapter of the Year" award two years in a row while she was head of the chapter. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Florida Atlantic University and currently lives in South Florida.
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