It should come as no surprise that horses are not cheap to keep, the cost that you spend on purchasing your horse is a small fraction of the overall yearly costs of owning and keeping a horse. Whether you already own a horse, or are looking into purchasing one, it is important to know what the yearly and monthly costs of keeping a horse are. Here we look at estimates of the costs of owning and keeping a horse.
One of the first things to consider is where your horse is going to stay, unless you are lucky enough to own a farm or land big enough to keep a horse on. Local farmers are a good option to investigate as they may have a field you can rent from them and tend to be on the lower side cost-wise. Before you snap up this offer, check what exactly the farmer is offering, as you may be required to maintain the field and remove muck. Most owners opt to keep their horses at traditional livery yards, there are many reasons for this but often it is due to the amount of facilities that are available.
One of the benefits of keeping your horse at a livery yard is the social aspect, not just for you but your horse as well. You can talk with other owners and riders if you need advice on anything, or simply make new friends. It’s helpful for your horse as they will have companions around them at most times. Usually the livery yard will also take care of the field maintenance, so this isn’t something you’ll have to factor in. With regards to costs of keeping your horse at livery, these can vary based on the type of livery that is offered at the yard.
DIY stabled livery you would expect costs of around £40-£60 per week
Full livery you would expect costs of around £100 - £150 per week
Grass livery you would expect costs of around £20 -£30 per week
There may be additional costs for your horse for any work carried out by the livery staff and if you are to go on holiday or become ill the costs could change for that period. It may be a friend at the yard can help out of it you are unable to get there but it’s always best to factor in potential extra costs than you assume someone will be able to cover you if you can’t be there.
Feed costs can vary depending on where your horse is kept, for example, if they are kept at grass and turned out for 24 hours a day, you will usually only need hay during the colder months to supplement food when grass isn’t as readily available to graze on. This will vary depending on the size of your horse or pony, but it is fair to say that if your horse is at grass throughout the year, you will need to factor in around 5 months for purchasing hay. It’s best to budget for around £10-15 extra a week if you are having to provide hay as a top up to their grazing.
If your horse is stabled, they’ll require more feed, they will require year-round hay as they do not have access to grass, again, this is around £10-15 a week. You should also, if your horse is getting regular strenuous exercise, feed them additional hard feed, these will add around £40 per month to the cost of hay. You horse may need specialist feed supplements or specialist feeds which will also need to be factored into your budget. Costs of food will differ depending on the size of your horse, how regularly and vigorously it is being exercised and whether it is stabled or at grass.
If your horse is stabled, they will need bedding, this is usually straw or shavings but can also include paper, wood pellets, rubber stable matting or hemp. The cheapest of these is straw and will cost around £10- - £15 a week on top of your livery costs. If you do opt to go for something like rubber stable matting it will be more expensive for the offset but cheaper as an overall option, this is around £40 per mat and you will also need to introduce hemp or shavings on top.
Annually, your horse will need their vaccinations for tetanus and influenza which can cost around £70 per year and call out from the vet. Your horse should be having a dental check-up twice a year or around every six months. If your horse is found to have a dental condition, then the cost would go up and could set you back up to around £80 per visit. Your horse will need to be wormed regularly, whether they are at grass or stabled, check the type of wormer you are using as some need to be administered more regularly than others.
Many owner’s insure their horses to avoid vet bills mounting up in the event of an illness or injury. It may seem a costly bill per month but can save you thousands if something were to happen to your horse. Insurance can differ depending on what aspects you want to cover, how much your horse is valued and what activities you are using your horse for. Speak with your vet if you need advice and remember that cheapest is not always the best.
Do keep in mind that third party liability is often required by many liveries as owners are responsible for damage caused by their horses. If this is something you require in your insurance, make sure you make the insurers aware this is something you need to have on your policy, as in most cases this can be put onto a policy but isn’t as standard. Third-party liability is important to consider if you are a horse owner, as they are unpredictable animals and you will be held accountable if something were to happen.
Most horses will need to be shod and will need new shoes each 4 – 6 weeks, their feet will grow continually, so even if your horse is not shod, it will still need regular visits from the fairer to make sure everything is ok and balancing and/or trimming as required. This can cost up to £30 if your horse or pony needs balancing and/or trimming and upwards of £85 per shoeing visit.
We’ve gone through the main costs to owning a horse but there are other costs you need to be aware of; new rugs, shampoo, tack, and so-on. That isn’t even looking into costs if your horse casts a shoe and needs an extra farrier visit, or becomes ill and needs a vet visit, or extra stabling whilst being attended by the vet. It is usually best to add £1,000 for these costs. You may also have competition or tuition feeds added into your extra costings. If £1,000 seems a lot to you, just remember that factoring in this amount per year will mean you have the money available as and when you need it and if you don’t, you can always put it towards something you want to purchase at the end of the year.