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Let’s talk about: How much do horses ACTUALLY cost to keep?

So, maybe you’re thinking of taking the plunge into horse ownership, or perhaps you’re looking to see where you can cut your existing costs… or maybe, just maybe, you’re curious as to how much money I actually spend on my horses. Whichever it is, I’ll let you in on how much money it ACTUALLY costs to keep a horse! 

Obviously, prices vary per horse breed, age, condition, area you live, disciplines you compete in etc. but here are some basics to get you going! 

Example A – Myself 6 years ago. 

I had one horse (Pat) on part livery. Part livery is great if you have a job or other commitments that mean you are unable to get to the yard everyday to turnout/muck out etc. and comes at a cost. This cost, on Salisbury plain was £470pcm – this included hay and bedding and basic day to day care of Pat . I wasn’t really competing him then, just the odd local dressage.

Example B – Myself 3 years ago.

I had one horse on DIY livery. This is where you do all the jobs and provide everything yourself. This cost in West Sussex was £180pcm. I was mostly doing Riding club with the odd affiliated BE event. I didn’t have my own transport for Pat then so we hired a little horsebox to get out.

Example C – Myself NOW! 

I have two event horses (aged 13 and 15) on grass livery. We have stables for emergencies but they both live out 24/7. This cost in North Lincolnshire is £150pcm for the two of them. Both horses are balls deep into a BE event season and compete approx twice a month. I have my own transport in a 1994 3.5t horsebox (- this cost was £3500 to buy)

Don’t forget when looking at this, I am now keeping two horses for the same cost as one by adjusting the livery and location. So the basic cost for one horse on grass livery COULD be around £250 per month. I have detailed further down the costs to compete.

Let’s break it down!

Hay is around £35-45 for a big bale and lasts an avg. horse (eating ad lib)  3-5 weeks depending on quality of grazing.

Bedding – I always choose small flake shavings and these are £7-8 a bale and you shouldn’t need more than 1 top up a week if you’re a scrooge when mucking out.

Feeding – I feed a chaff, a balancer and linseed. This is a cheap and basic way to feed and with a TBxID in medium work, it costs me £15 – 20 per month depending on time of year and work load (in winter I feed more because they live outside). I DO NOT HAVE A FEED SPONSOR – these are my actual costs! 

Supplements – I buy Pat a calmer and Pea gets Comfort Gut. I got them both when the companies had sales on to save money.

Shoeing is done every 6 weeks at £80 per set – there is no getting around this cost if you have horses with poor feet. Very few can be in full work including roadwork without shoes – it can be done but it is rare. 

Wormers are around a tenner but I have recently started doing worm counts which is going to save me some cash hopefully. 

Vaccinations – I try to get on the Equi-zone rounds which don’t charge a callout fee and that means annually I pay £37 for the jab. 

Insurance – I’m lucky to be sponsored by the wonderful KBIS but the (pre-sponsored rider contract) costs for my horses are £35 approx for Pat (jumping up to 90) and Pea is on their Catastrophe Cover which is about £300 a year. I just make sure I have the excess ready if I need it. 

Saddle fitter – Usually our local lady is about £45 to check and then extras to reflock etc.  I think you should get this done at least once a year, twice if you are building them up or they are growing. 

Physio – My horses see the physio approximately every 8 weeks in event season but for the average horse I think once a quarter is sufficient. These costs can vary from £45 – £85 per session but make sure you use a registered practitioner or someone that has been highly recommended by people you trust – use your noggin! 

Dentist – Unless you have issues, once a year is fine and this is around £40-50 per horse. 

So you want to go competing…

This, ladies and gents, is where I struggle to make ends meet. My blog and content rely heavily on me being an active competitor and actually outlining these costs for this piece made me a little nauseous about how on earth I afford to do it! 

Here goes…. remember:

A is one dressage or jumping show a month plus lorry hire
B is two small shows or one occasional BE event per year plus lorry hire
C is my current reality! Two events a month for each horse (one being unaffiliated).

Hidden Extras

What I haven’t factored into this is training costs. Obviously it is optional but I have invested around £30 – £50 a month in training (mainly XC course or arena hire) for the last 6 months. This is a luxury for me and now I am competing more regularly, I just can’t afford it. Instead, I watch tons of videos, do the exercises from Horse and Rider magazine and go and watch other people’s lessons to take stuff away to try on my horses.

My monthly costs running two horses are heading for £1200 a month. I DO NOT HAVE £1200 SPARE CASH EACH MONTH!!! 

Some tips to earn the money for competing:

Utilise your skills – I teach people in my spare time 
Sell stuff on eBay that you don’t need
Do tons of favours for people and pull them in when you need them most
I often fence judge or help at shows in return for schooling passes or entry credit
Get a little bar job in the evenings
Cut back on EVERYTHING all winter so you have a little pot for the season!


If you want to have horses and compete it takes a lot of sacrifices and I would love to say that it all just fell into my lap from a wealthy family but it’s not the case.  I am 100% financially self sufficient, my husband and I don’t share a bank account and split all the house bills straight down the middle. I pay for all of this myself and fund it entirely from my self employed work as a writer and social media manager and from the Wimpy book and clothing sales! 

So, now you know that each time you buy a book or a BRAVE hoody that you are actually helping me get out to a show or keep Pat and Pea in shoes for another month! And for that I am exceptionally grateful! 

DISCLAIMER: Not a single company that I work with to promote, such as Ariat, Racesafe, Lme, Voltaire, Dengie, Equine America, Paddock Wood Forge, Charles Owen, Point Two, Majyk, C4, Pampeano, etc. pay me ANY money to do that. I also don’t take their stuff and sell it on either!

I work for it, just like everyone else does, only I work directly for the company and get products as a thank you. Lots of people think I am fortunate to have these relationships and I am, but they are not financially funding my horses or my wine!

I have created my own fortune through a lot of hard work and you can to! Anything is possible if you want it enough. 

Love, as always

Vic, Pat and Pea xxx 

 

 

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