How Much Does a Horse Cost?

Article Summary

Today, the average horse sells for $3,000 to $5,000. However, costs range anywhere from $0 to $75,000, depending on a horse’s breed, training, age, and health. The average annual costs of horse ownership total anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, but maintenance costs can skyrocket by several thousand dollars if you purchase new gear or your horse has a medical emergency. That said, owning a horse is a life-changing experience that can be well worth these costs.

There’s no feeling like the wind blowing through your hair as you ride on horseback through a pasture. Maybe you’ve thought about buying your own horse in order to enjoy that feeling as often as possible. However, it’s important to be realistic about the costs of buying and caring for a horse, as being a horse owner is a huge financial responsibility.

If you’ve ever wondered how much it costs to own a horse, we’re here to help break it down for you. Let’s go over the estimated costs of horse ownership: the initial cost of buying a horse, the ongoing costs of horse care, and other expenses related to owning a horse.

How much does it cost to buy a horse?

Buying and caring for a horse is not cheap, but if you can afford it, owning a horse can be so rewarding. The average cost of a horse is $3,000 to $5,000, which varies depending on where you buy the horse and the characteristics of the individual animal.

Types of horses

The main factor that influences the cost of a horse is its type, which refers to both its breed and its purpose. Certain breeds tend to be better suited for different purposes: for example, Thoroughbred horses have qualities that are highly prized for racing.

The rarer the type of horse or the more potential it has to make money for its owner, the higher the animal will cost to purchase. The following table highlights some examples of types of horses and the average cost to purchase them:

Type of HorseAverage Cost
Jumping horse$10,000
Racehorse$75,000
Polo horse$20,000
Barrel racing horse$15,000
Miniature horse$3,000
Standardbred$2,000
Arabian$3,000
Holsteiner$6,500
Oldenburg$12,000

Other factors that influence the cost of a horse

While the sale price of a horse mainly depends on its type, there are other factors that influence how much a horse costs:

  • Age: The prime age to buy or sell a horse depends on its purpose. For example, the prime age to buy a racehorse is around three years old, while other types of horses sell at anywhere from five to 15 years old. A horse in its prime will cost more than a horse that’s too young or too old for its designated purpose.
  • Training: Horses with specific and extensive training are more expensive than less disciplined horses.
  • Show experience: Horses with prior success and earnings in shows have more value, and thus will sell for more money.
  • Athletic potential: A horse’s anatomy and physiology will contribute to its athletic potential. The more optimal a horse’s body is for a specific purpose, the more it will cost to buy.
  • Pedigree: A horse bred from a successful bloodline in a certain area will sell for more money. For example, if a racehorse was born to parents with an outstanding competitive track record, the cost to purchase it will rise to well above average.
  • Health: Healthy horses free from ailments are more valuable because they pose less of a risk to potential owners. Sick horses can be obtained for much less (or even for free), but they will likely cost more than they’re worth in medical expenses.
  • Disposition: A horse with a difficult temperament will be more challenging to sell than a horse with a sweet and obedient nature. Therefore, stubborn or defiant horses tend to be a bit cheaper.
Fun Fact: The most expensive horse ever sold was a Thoroughbred racehorse stallion named Fusaichi Pegasus. He was purchased in Ireland in 2000 for $70 million. Adjusting for inflation, that horse would be worth over $120 million today!

How much does a horse cost to maintain?

Buying a horse costs more than just the initial purchase price: you’ll also need to factor in the maintenance and stable operating costs to keep it. Bear in mind that horses live for an average of 25 to 30 years, and they’re expensive to care for during that entire lifespan.

The average cost of owning a horse is $1,000 to $5,000 per year. These upkeep costs vary depending on your location and the type of horse you own. The following are some of the standard annual costs associated with horse ownership:

Health care

One of the most expensive horse maintenance costs is medical care. Even a healthy horse needs regular medical attention. Veterinarian visits for your horse will cost about $250 to $1,000 per year. This cost includes regular teeth cleaning, deworming, vaccinations, check-ups, and a Coggins test for equine infectious anemia.

Be aware that elderly, ill, and post-natal horses require extensive care. Health care for horses with special needs can increase the overall costs of horse ownership significantly. You should also make sure to prepare for emergency medical costs: if your horse gets injured or severely ill, emergency vet or animal hospital visits can cost upwards of $10,000.

Insurance

Like with other animals, it’s a good idea to get insurance for your horse. Equine insurance can cost $300 to $12,000 per year, depending on the horse and your coverage needs.

Nutrition

Horse food typically includes grain mix, grass, hay, minerals, and supplements. The average horse weighs about 1,000 pounds and eats about 15 to 20 pounds of hay per day.

The cost of keeping up with your horse’s appetite and nutritional needs will vary based on your location and the size of your horse, but you can expect to pay an average of about $300 per month on horse feed. If you’re lucky enough to have a pasture for your horse to graze in, this can help you save significantly on feed costs.

Farrier and grooming

Farrier refers to a horse’s hoof care. Horses should have their hooves trimmed every six to eight weeks, which will cost an average of $35 each. Occasionally, your horse will need a complete shoe replacement, which can cost anywhere from $75 to over $175.

Furthermore, horses require frequent grooming. The more cost-effective option is to groom your horse yourself. Grooming supplies — combs, brushes, buckets, scrapers, and sponges — will only cost around $100 on average. A professional grooming service can cost about $100 to $200, depending on your location and the services offered.

Gear

Riding equipment, otherwise known as tack, is a necessity for horse owners. A saddle, pad, halter, bit, bridle, lead, and stirrup leathers may cost up to $10,000 on average. The good news is that this equipment usually lasts around ten years. Since tack expenses can double the initial cost of buying a horse, it’s essential to research and buy riding equipment from high-quality brands you trust.

Training and riding lessons

If you don’t know how to ride or train your new horse, you’ll have to take lessons from a riding instructor or pay a professional to train the horse for you. Private riding lessons will probably cost around $50 per hour, while specialized horse training, such as dressage clinics, can cost $500 for a weekend.

Many horse owners consider training a worthwhile investment. At the very least, you’ll have a well-trained companion, but training can also pay off by giving your horse skills it can use to earn you money.

Transportation

Chances are you’ll need to move your horse every so often, which will require a horse trailer. If you want to purchase your own horse trailer, you can expect to pay $2,000 to $50,000, depending on the condition of the vehicle.

Boarding

Your horse needs a safe and comfortable place to live. You don’t need to own land and stables to keep a horse, but having those amenities can save you the additional costs to board the animal elsewhere.

Boarding facilities cost an average of $400 to $2,500 per stall every month, depending on the location. Stable maintenance and other boarding facility expenses can add an average of $300 per month.

Pro Tip

One of the most enjoyable reasons for owning a horse is riding it. If you have the space and resources, building your own outdoor riding arena can greatly enhance your experience as a horse owner!

Where to buy a horse

So you’ve decided to get your own horse, but you’re not sure where to obtain one. Here are some of your options for places to buy or adopt a horse:

Individual sellers

A change in circumstances could incentivize a private horse owner to sell their horse. Buying a horse directly from the previous owner can be advantageous because you’ll get a clear picture of the horse’s history and won’t have to deal with any middlemen.

Horse dealers

Horse dealers do the work of finding horses for you. They often buy horses from auctions or private sellers and resell them to interested buyers. If you decide to go this route, make sure your dealer is ethical and has a good reputation.

Horse breeders and trainers

Another common way to get a horse is through a breeder or trainer. Both breeders and trainers sell horses when they are relatively young. First-time horse buyers often benefit from obtaining newly trained horses directly from trainers.

Wild horse adoption

The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounds up wild horses and puts them into rehoming programs. The BLM sets strict standards for who can buy one of these horses, such as the owner’s age and available land. These horses are best suited for experienced equestrians with plenty of land and resources who are looking for a rewarding challenge.

Rescue horse charities

Rescuing a horse can be incredibly fulfilling. You can give a horse a new home and life for less than it would cost you through other horse-buying avenues. You may even be able to rescue a horse for free!

If you choose to rescue a horse, it’s important to understand the animal’s condition and the implications of taking in a disturbed or injured horse. Check your nearest horse rescue for more information and availability.

Horse shows

A horse show is one of the most common places to buy a horse. These often consist of a more competitive atmosphere with auctions for top horses. Visiting a horse show is a great way to observe more horses and connect with other horse lovers and experts.

Pro Tip

Do your research to find horse buying opportunities near you and compare past sales. If you’re an inexperienced buyer, bring an expert, like a horse trainer, to help you choose the best horse for you.

Pros and cons of buying a horse

A horse is not a purchase to be taken lightly. Whether you want it to enrich your life or to make you money (or both), a horse is an investment, so you should weigh the pros and cons of horse ownership before you buy one.

WEIGH THE RISKS AND BENEFITS

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Investment
  • Health benefits
  • Consistency
Cons
  • Time and energy commitment
  • Expenses

Pros of horse ownership

  • Investment: Most people who buy horses see them as investment assets. You can make money off a horse by selling horseback rides, using it for training, or entering it in competitions. Racehorses have the highest potential return on investment.
  • Health benefits: Owning a horse is a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Horses can be highly affectionate, and it’s common for horses and their owners to develop a deep bond. Research has shown that connecting with animals, including horses, has several physical and mental health benefits, such as reducing anxiety and depression, so a trusting relationship between you and your horse can greatly improve both of your lives.
  • Consistency: If you frequently go horseback riding or work in horse training, having your own horse provides consistency. You’ll never have to worry about working with an unfamiliar horse available at your local barn, as you’ll already have built a rapport with your own horse.

Cons of horse ownership

  • Time and energy commitment: Taking care of a horse requires a lot of time and effort over several years. Feeding, grooming, and exercising your horse take hours out of your day. If you don’t have the time or energy to care for it yourself, owning a horse may not be worth the cost.
  • Expenses: As you’ve no doubt realized by now, owning a horse is highly expensive. Before buying a horse, you should make sure you fully understand the financial commitment you’re taking on.

FAQ

How much is a horse right now?

The cost of a horse can vary. However, as of late 2022, the average price to buy a horse is at least $3,000. Expect to pay another $3,000 on average per year in maintenance costs.

Is owning a horse worth it?

Owning a horse can be an incredibly fulfilling and enriching experience on its own. On the financial side, a premium competition horse can also earn you plenty of money within its lifetime. Either way, as long as you understand the financial responsibility involved, horse ownership can be a worthwhile investment.

Can a beginner buy a horse?

You can buy a horse even if you’re a beginner, but you’ll likely need help. Aside from the initial purchase price of the horse, you may also need to pay more for a horse trailer, riding lessons, a complete set of equipment, and boarding for the animal.

Do horse owners make money?

Horse owners can make money if they operate a horse-based business or outsource their horses for riding, training, and competing.

How much do mustang horses cost?

Mustangs can cost anywhere from $250 to $5,000 on average. This cost depends on the horse’s location, age, and training, among other factors.

Key Takeaways

  • On average, the initial cost of buying a horse is between $3,000 and $5,000.
  • The costs of keeping and caring for a horse include health care, feeding, grooming, and boarding. Maintenance costs for a horse average between $1,000 and $5,000 a year per horse, not including an emergency fund set aside for unexpected expenses.
  • The cost of buying and maintaining a horse depends on several factors, including its age, training, location, pedigree, health, disposition, and show experience.
  • Places to buy or adopt a horse include horse shows, rescue charities, adoption programs by the Bureau of Land Management, individual sellers, horse breeders, horse dealers, and horse trainers.

A horse can take you far, but a small plane or helicopter can take you farther. If you’re looking for an alternative mode of transportation (or simply a fun investment), learn more about the costs of owning a small plane or a helicopter!

Do you need financial assistance to buy your own horse? Use our comparison tools to find the best personal loans that can help you cover the purchase price of your new horse!

View Article Sources
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  2. What it costs to buy a horse (and care for it!) – Horse Rookie
  3. How Much Does a Horse Cost? – Rogue Pet Science
  4. 6 Best Places To Buy A Horse – Deep Hollow Ranch
  5. How Much Does a Horse Cost? (2022 Update) – Pet Keen
  6. Wild Horse and Burro Online Corral – U.S. Bureau of Land Management
  7. Horses Really are the Best Therapy – Fédération Équestre Internationale
  8. What Does It Cost to Build an Outdoor Riding Arena? – SuperMoney
  9. How Much Do Veterinarians Make? – SuperMoney
  10. How Much Does a Helicopter Cost? – SuperMoney
  11. How Much Does a Small Plane Cost? – SuperMoney