Horse ownership continues to increase in popularity. While horses are still used for some agriculture enterprises, most horses are used for pleasure riding, breeding or competition such as showing or racing. The horse has played an important part in America’s heritage. The horse continues to play an integral part in providing a recreational outlet and creating income for individuals interested in professional employment with horses. Most horse owners will testify that their passion and love for the horse is why they are part of this ever-expanding industry.

Horse Facilities

Bay horse in a stall

Where can I keep my horse?

Horses can be kept at home for convenience. Space is certainly an important problem when considering keeping horses at home. Is there enough room, are there zoning restrictions, or is there access to riding areas. Some people have made significant changes in their lifestyles in order to keep horses. Some have moved to the suburbs or the country because zoning in urban areas prohibits horses. Under these circumstances, many of the costs involved in owning a horse have little to do with the horse itself. Traveling to and from town, expenses for additional acreage, and the possibility of higher utility rates are all new expenses.

Commercial stables provide a whole range of services, in addition to providing a place to keep horses. A full service stable may offer the following conveniences:Horse barn

  • Facilities – barns, stall, arenas, transportation
  • Feeding, grooming and exercise provided by trained employees
  • Training – capable and skilled personnel to provide training as needed
  • Teaching – opportunities for lessons in English and Western horsemanship
  • Recreation – to the horse fancier who does not own a horse, the commercial stable may provide rentals, or may organize trail rides, overnight camps or drives.
  • Sales and breeding – the commercial horse operation is often closely associated with activities involving breeding or sale of horses.

Basic Horse Needs

Boy feeding pony

What are the needs of my horse?

Your horse will depend on you to provide all its basic needs for survival and good health. Feeding your horse can be divided into two steps:
1. Knowing the nutritional needs of your horse, and
2. providing for this need through feeding suitable feedstuffs.

Nutritional Requirements

Your horse’s nutritional requirements are influenced by the following;

  1. The size of your horse. Larger horses have greater needs.
  2. The environment. Cold weather increases energy requirements.
  3. Age. Young horses have higher requirements.
  4. Type of use or activity. Working, pregnant or lactating horses have increased needs.
  5. Individual characteristics. Metabolic rate may vary from horse to horse.


Your horse should receive daily exercise. If your horse is kept in a stall, it is important for you to exercise it daily. However, if you have enough space for a large paddock or pasture, your horse can exercise on its own.

You should contact and engage the services of a licensed veterinarian to establish a vaccination and deworming program.

Hoof Care

Your horse will require routine hoof care. Your horse should receive hoof care about every two months. Depending upon many circumstances, this time frame can be reduce to 3 to 4 week intervals. A farrier will usually perform your hoof care services and can advise you on specific needs your horse may have.

Costs of Horse Ownership

There are certain minimum investments and operating costs involved in owning a horse. You should realistically try to estimate all costs.

Tack and Equipment Cost

Tack items include a saddle, bridle, saddle pad, lead rope and halter. There are basic items necessary for comfort and control. Items adding to the horse’s comfort are; the blanket, hoof pick, brush and curry comb. Regular grooming contributes to a good physical condition.

Estimated Tack and Equipment Cost (costs may vary in your area) Total $843

Facilities Cost

The estimate below represents materials only for a 50 ft x 50 ft paddock, 10 ft x 12 ft shed, and a 8 ft x 10 ft tack and feed storage area. Depending on whether you build your own pens and sheds will determine whether you want to include labor charges.

Estimated facilities cost: Total $3280

General Operating Costs

Feeding, general and health care, and some other costs can be calculated. Depreciation on facilities and equipment should be figured, as well as interest on the investment and operating cost.

It appears that you can keep a horse for $6.04 a day or about $2426.62 a year. Remember, this estimate included keeping your horse at home, figuring minimum values and making no charge for your labor. These values can changed based on whether you have pasture to offset your hay cost or you rent pasture.

Remember these costs are estimates and will vary for different parts of the country and will change over time.

An alternative to keeping your horse at home is boarding it at a commercial stable. The costs here are significantly different in that the commercial stable will now provide some or most of the care and physical responsibility provided by the owner. These cost can vary tremendously from $35.00/day to up $600.00/month depending on how much you want to provide as the owner.

These estimates show that owning a horse can be costly. Costs depend greatly upon facilities available and the amount of time and effort you are willing or able to provide.


Item Cost/day Cost/year
Feed (hay & grain) $2.34 $854.10
Foot Care: minimum (With year round use & shoeing at 8-week intervals the cost would be ~$390/yr) $0.33 $120.00
Veterinary Service $0.685 $250.00
Repairs: facilities & tack (10% of new value) $0.77 $370.15
Depreciation: facilities and tack (tack – 5% of new value; facilities- 10% of new value) $1.11 $404.60
Interest @ 8% (operating cost, facilities, tack) $1.17 $427.77
Total Feeding, Operating Costs $6.04 $2426.62


Interested in learning more about horses? Check out the Horses Learning Lessons.