Important questions to ask yourself before purchasing a horse:

  1. Why do you want a horse?
  2. What will you use this horse for?
    • Pleasure, show, breeding stock, work horse, racing, etc.
  3. How are you going to care for the horse’s daily needs?
  4. Where will you keep the horse?
    • At “home”:
      • Barn/shelter – a barn can bring on more time and management care
      • Pasture – consider sectioning the pasture to rotate horses and keep pasture healthy
      • What type of fencing will you use?
      • What daily care and maintenance will be needed?
    • Boarding facility:
      • What are the costs?
      • What are the amenities?
  5. What are the expected costs?
    • Feed, medical care, upkeep, etc.
  6. Do you have horse knowledge?
    • Increase your knowledge by spending time with trainers and attending horse clinics
    • Do some research

Benefits/Concerns of Ownership


  • Horses are wonderful companions
  • Horse riding can be a lifelong hobby
  • Enhances self-esteem
  • Provides an opportunity to develop friendships with other riders/owners
  • Excellent form of exercise and recreation


  • Ongoing financial commitment
  • Great deal of time and physical labor involved
  • Horse knowledge is needed
  • Horses can live a long time, some up to 40 years
  • Requires daily care: stall cleaning, feeding, watering, and daily observation
  • Can cause accidents, even when practicing all safety precautions
  • Horses need exercise

Costs associated with ownership:

  1. Feeding ($100-$250 per month per horse)
    • Grain: (about $10 to $25 per 50 lb)
      • 1,000-lb horse needs 2 lb/day
    • Hay: (about $6 per bale)
      • 1,000-lb horse needs 20 lb/day
    • Supplements can vary in price
  2. Housing and fencing
    • Bedding is needed for stalls
    • Stall should be 12 ft x 12 ft
    • “Run-in shed” should be 90 to 150 square feet per animal
    • Pasture: two to three acres per horse is ideal space
    • Fencing: wood board, plastic PVC, V-mesh wire with a top board
    • Fences should be 4 to 5 ft high, with no sharp edges, narrow corners, or projections, and bottom fence and gates should be 8 to 12 in. off the ground (about $3 per foot)
  3. Boarding
    • Pasture ($75 to $300 per month)
    • Stall ($250 to $1,000 per month)
  4. Health care
    • Vaccines: done twice a year by you or a vet
      • Vaccines ($75 to $125)
      • Coggins test ($50 to $75 per year)
    • Deworming: done every six to eight weeks
      • Rotate products ($50 per year)
    • Teeth care: done one to two times a year ($75 to $200)
    • Hoof care: done every six to eight weeks
      • Trim ($25 to $50)
      • Front shoes-four shoes ($50 to $125)
      • Specialized care ($100 and up)
    • Emergency care
      • Surgery ($1,000 and up)
  5. Showing costs
    • Training and lessons
      • Monthly lessons ($200 and up per month) 
      • Full training with board ($1,000 and up per month)
    • Show fees
      • Local shows ($10 and up), large/national shows ($125 and up), and trainer fees ($50 and up)
    • Transportation fees
      • Gas from home to destination
    • Show apparel and equipment
      • Helmet, hat, boots, breeches, shirt, chaps, grooming supplies, tack, blankets, barn equipment
    • Insurance
      • To help prevent more expensive situations

Making ownership a long-term investment

  • Research local horse market before making a purchase
  • Budget cost of housing and care
  • Maintaining records and reevaluating expenses often can help with budgeting
  • Costs will vary because management and care for each horse are different
  • Buying land, with facilities, a truck, and a trailer are purchases that would be beneficial to those who might want to make horse ownership a long-term commitment

Additional Resources:

Horse Cost Calculator

Guide to First-Time Horse Ownership

Horse Ownership: Obligations, Costs, and Benefits

Virginia Cooperative Extension – Sample Livestock Budgets

Ranch Horse Enterprise Budget

Funded in part by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD)