This is a great question, I’m really glad you asked! We actually get asked this a lot. The answer however is not a simple one.
There are so many facets and variations of horse ownership that it is hard to put a figure on it. All horses need a paddock, or yard. If you have your own property, this isn’t a huge expense, however the maintaining of fencing and fixing things they break can add up.
If you don’t have land, you can agist your horse somewhere, the cost of this also varies greatly, but could be between $50-$300/week, depending on the level of care and input from the agistment owner. You need to look around your area to find what is available, and work out what is suitable for you.
A fairly obvious one- food. This depends on the horse and his living conditions. Some horses can live on the smell of an oily rag, others (nibbles for example) needs really expensive, purpose fattening food that gives him the energy he needs without putting him on a sugar high. Most are somewhere in the middle. As an example, by the time I take into account hay, hard feeds, supplements for all 8 of my horses, I would be at $300/week. Bearing in mind some of my horses are yarded, so have round bale to graze constantly, and others need hay fed out when yarded at night. We also don’t have good quality grazing, which does put our costs up. The workload of the horse will contribute to the amount and type of feed he requires. It also depends on the time of year, the quality of the hay growing season. Again, so many variables, but let’s say $40/week per horse.
Shoeing. Not all horses need shoes. This is dependent on what the horses job is, where the horse works, the quality of the horses feet- again, so varied depending on your situation. I have a thoroughbred mare, who had poor foot maintenance before I got her. Her feet have never really ‘recovered’ regardless of what I have fed or done. She has shoes on constantly, even though now, she is in foal and not getting ridden. I tried her without shoes, and her feet cracked, got really crumbly and she went sore. Next farrier visit the shoes went back on. Even if they don’t need shoes, they still need regular (6 weeks) trimming. The price is dependant on the farrier, but as a guide my trims are $50, shoes are light horses $140 and heavies $165. This is per horse, every 6 weeks.
Therapies/ muscle treatments. These are optional. HOWEVER- I expect a lot from my horses, so I owe it to them to keep them feeling their best. Who doesn’t love a massage?? It really does help the horse to perform the best, if they are feeling great, so a very important part of my horse care regime. The frequency depends on workload, and the individual horse, and the price depends on the treatment type and provider, but bank on anything between $80-$140/ horse per treatment.
Worming. It used to be a worming paste each horse every 6-8 weeks, at approximately $20 a go. The learning on this has now changed, as worms are becoming resistant to the wormer. This has the potential to be very very bad (will cover this in another blog) but now it is recommended to perform fecal egg counts, and worm at strategic times. Each FEC is $15-$20/ horse at least 3 times per year, then the wormer paste would be $30ish when required.
Dentist- once again, options. I choose to use a vet, who has further education in horse dentistry. $150ish/ horse, which includes sedation, a full check over and mouth exam and rasp. Horse teeth develop sharp edges through grazing and the edges need to be taken off. It’s also a good chance for the vet to see if there is anything untoward or that needs further investigation. Usually it’s done annually, but young or old horses might need more frequent. There is the option of a dentist, who will do it without sedation, this may be a better option for your situation.
Vet bills- the great unknown. It is impossible to say how much a vet might cost you, should you need one for your horse. An after hours, emergency consult will not be below $300. Depending on what is wrong with the horse, the price will just go up. There are travel fees, consult fees, the cost of medicines. There is really no telling. If your horse is chronically ill and needs to go to the clinic or have surgery, it is thousands.
I’m not going to do the maths for you. The rough figures are here, and costs will vary considerably depending on your situation. This is intended as a guide, but also to help you understand what you may be considering getting into if you are leaning towards horse ownership.
On top of these costs, you need equipment, I.e tack, rugs, brushes, buckets, transport. You might need memberships, lessons, insurances..
Horse ownership is expensive, but it is also very rewarding and can be so much fun. I encourage you to do your research, ask many many questions, riding lessons are always a great place to start.