How Much Does A Horse Cost

How Much Does a Horse Cost?

Last Updated on January 26, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Buying and caring for a horse can be an expensive endeavor. However, for many equestrians, the joy of horse ownership makes the costs worthwhile. This article will break down the average costs associated with purchasing, maintaining, and training horses so you can determine if horse ownership fits your budget.

How Much Does a Horse Cost?

When considering buying a horse, the first major expense to consider is the initial purchase price. This can vary greatly depending on the type of horse, age, training level, and pedigree. On average, expect to spend $1,000 to $10,000 to buy a horse. Racehorses and elite show horses sell for over $100,000. On the lower end, you may find horses priced under $1,000 at rescues or auctions.

According to, the cost to purchase a horse can range anywhere from $250 to $5,000 or more, depending on the breed, age, and performance records of the horse. notes that the cost of breeding a mare can vary greatly, with expenses such as stud fees, veterinary bills, and boarding costs. The cost of breeding a mare can range from $2,000 to $8,000 or more, depending on the circumstances.

Bandalero Ranch writes that the cost of breeding a mare and raising a foal can include stud fees, veterinary bills, vaccinations, and registration fees, among other expenses. The cost of breeding a mare can range from $250 to over $25,000, depending on the stallion genetics and other factors.

According to, the cost of breeding a mare and raising a foal can include expenses such as veterinary bills, and foaling costs. The cost of breeding a mare can range from $2,500 to $5,000 or more, depending on the circumstances.

After purchasing, horses require significant care and upkeep. Basic necessities like feed, boarding, veterinary care, and hoof care add up. Annual costs typically range from $2,500 to over $10,000 per horse. The specific expenses vary based on the horse’s needs and use.

Ongoing training and lessons are another major consideration. Green or untrained horses require professional training costing $500 to $1,000 per month. Even experienced horses need regular riding lessons and tune-ups. Showing, competing, and racing horses have additional coaching and transportation fees.

When totaled, plan to invest $5,000 to $15,000+ annually when owning a horse. While not inexpensive, responsible horse ownership can be managed with careful budgeting.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Buying a Horse

Several factors influence a horse’s purchase price. These include:

  • Breed – Popular breeds like Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods tend to cost more than mixed breeds or grade horses.
  • Age – Younger horses generally sell for higher prices but require extensive training. Older, seasoned horses often cost less.
  • Training Level – A finished show or sport horse commands a higher price than an untrained prospect.
  • Pedigree – Horses from proven bloodlines or famous parents carry higher price tags.
  • Discipline – English sport horses, like hunters and jumpers, sell for more than Western ranch and pleasure horses.
  • Size and body weight – Larger horse breeds bring higher prices than smaller pony breeds.
  • Gender – Stud colts and stallions are more valuable for breeding purposes.
  • Source – Rescue horses and auction purchases tend to be less expensive.

On average, expect to pay $3,000 to $5,000 for a starter or recreational-grade horse. Well-bred horses with professional training average $8,000 to $15,000. Top show and race prospects sell for $20,000 to over $100,000.

Where to Buy a Horse

New horse owners have several options when sourcing a horse, including:

  • Breeders – Reputable breeders produce quality, registered horses but tend to be a pricier source.
  • Auctions/Sales – Auctions offer varied horse prices but require research and inspection.
  • Rescues – Rescues rehabilitate and rehome abused or neglected horses, often at lower costs.
  • Private Sellers – Buying directly from a seller requires vetting credentials and health records.
  • Agents – Equine agents facilitate sales and match buyers but add commission fees.

Regardless of source, a prepurchase veterinary exam and trial period are strongly recommended to evaluate the horse’s health and temperament.

A Horse’s True Value

A horse’s asking price doesn’t always reflect their true value. Consider:

  • Age and breed – Young and pedigreed horses tend to be overpriced. Older horses often price below their training value.
  • Training and manners – Well-broke, gentle horses justify higher prices than untrained ones.
  • Conformation – Structural flaws like crooked legs can lower a horse’s value.
  • Health – Issues like lameness, respiratory problems, and vices should significantly reduce price.
  • Discipline and skills – Certain abilities like jumping, reining, and roping increase value for sport horses.
  • Bloodlines – Famous parentage often inflates prices beyond actual quality.
  • Demand and market trends – Popular disciplines and breeds command higher prices fueled by trends.

Being an educated buyer is key to determining a horse’s fair market value based on their merits, not just price trends.

Ongoing Horse Care Costs

After purchase, regular expenses quickly add up. Typical horse maintenance costs include:

  • Board – Stabling at an equestrian facility averages $200 to $1,000 monthly.
  • Feed – Hay, grain, supplements cost around $100 to $300 monthly.
  • Veterinary – Annual exams, vaccines, and basic care average $300 to $500.
  • Farrier visits – Hoof trims or shoeing cost $30 to $150 every 6-8 weeks.
  • Dental – Floating, exams average $100 to $400 annually.
  • Grooming – Tack, brushes, and grooming supplies average $50 monthly.
  • Insurance – Full mortality/medical coverage costs $300 to $500 annually.

Total basic care expenses range from $2,500 to $5,000+ yearly, depending on the horse’s needs. Showing, training, and injuries increase costs further.

Investing in Training and Riding

To progress in riding, horses require ongoing training and lessons. Common training costs include:

  • Breaking and training – Starting an untrained horse costs $600 to $1,000 monthly.
  • Exercise riding – Paying someone to ride and tune up horses averages $300 to $600 monthly.
  • Hauling – Transporting to shows and events averages $50 to $150 per day.
  • Coaching – Regular lessons from trainers cost $40 to $100 per session.
  • Show and clinic fees – Entry, stabling, and facility fees range from $50 to $500 per show.

Competitive horses incur the highest training expenses, ranging from $5,000 to well over $10,000 annually. However, regular tune-ups benefit all horses.

Also read about the cost of ponies, Clydesdale horses, or Akhal Teke horses.

Costs Associated With Horse Ownership

Beautiful horsesBesides routine care, additional costs pop up when you keep a horse:

  • Tack and equipment – A basic set of saddle, bridle, pads, etc. runs $1,000 to $5,000. Proper fit is essential.
  • Rider clothing and gear – Helmets, boots, gloves, and riding clothes cost $500 to $1,000 initially.
  • Horse clothing and blankets – Varies by climate but expect $200 to $500+ for winter gear.
  • Supplements/medications – For joint, hoof, digestive, and other issues, $50 to $200 monthly.
  • Emergency vet costs – Treating colic, injuries, or illness costs $500 to $5,000+ per incident.

Horse owners should have an emergency fund for unexpected veterinary costs and surprises.

Cost Comparison: Pleasure vs. Competition

While all horses require basic care, competitive horses incur higher expenses.

Recreational riding horses cost:

  • $1,000 to $5,000 to purchase a quiet trail or pleasure horse
  • $200 to $400 monthly to board your horse and provide it with basic care
  • $50 to $100 monthly for supplemental training
  • Under $1,000 annually for event/trail riding expenses
  • Total: $3,000 to $8,000 yearly

Competition and race horses average:

  • $8,000+ for the purchase of prospects and show-quality horses
  • $300+ monthly for show training board
  • $500+ monthly for intensive training
  • $500+ per show for coaching, travel, and fees
  • Total: $10,000 to $20,000+ yearly

While clearly more expensive, some riders feel the costs of competing are justified by the experience and lifestyle.

Budgeting for Horse Ownership

The costs of horse ownership must be carefully budgeted for. Consider these tips:

  • Account for both purchase and maintenance – The ongoing costs exceed the initial investment.
  • Compare different boarding facilities – Better run barns charge slightly more but provide quality care.
  • Factor in health insurance – Insurance helps manage surprise vet bills.
  • Build training costs into your budget – Training produces better horses and riders.
  • Set aside an emergency fund – Have savings for unexpected injuries or issues.
  • Consider leasing first – Leasing a horse can give potential owners experience caring for a horse before committing to buying one.
  • Research breed-specific costs – Certain breeds have higher care requirements that increase expenses.
  • Anticipate costs increasing over time – As horses age, their care and medical needs often become more expensive.


While a major financial investment, responsible horse ownership can be an incredibly enriching experience. To determine if buying a horse fits your budget, research anticipated costs thoroughly.

On average, plan to invest $5,000 to $15,000+ annually per horse. However, expenses vary widely based on the horse’s needs and use. With prudent financial planning, horse ownership can be attainable for equestrians at many income levels.


How much does it cost to stable a horse per month?

The average monthly cost to stable a horse ranges from $200 to $1,000. Basic pasture board averages $200 to $400 monthly. Full-service stabling with feeds, turnout, and stall cleaning averages $500 to $1,000 monthly. High-end show barns charge over $1,000+ for premier care and amenities. Location, services offered, and facility quality impact boarding costs.

Why are horses so expensive?

Horses require extensive daily care, top-quality nutrition, preventative medical care, training, and hands-on management. Providing this level of care requires labor, land, and equine expertise – all factors that drive up costs. Additionally, because horses live long lifespans, purchase prices reflect their anticipated usable life. For these reasons, quality horse care comes at a premium cost.

Are horses a luxury?

Horses can be considered a luxury item because they provide recreation, sport, and leisure opportunities beyond basic necessity. Horses are not essential for daily human survival and livelihood. Additionally, horse ownership is cost-prohibitive for many people. However, for serious equestrians horses provide profound lifestyle value beyond mere luxury. With careful budgeting, horses can be reasonably attainable for recreational riders.

1 reply
  1. Shell Surgeon`
    Shell Surgeon` says:

    Interesting article, thank you.
    My shopping for a good horse in the late fall of 2022 tells me that they are nearly all over priced….much like shopping for a used vehicle. They may be actual value of 50%-60%.


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