Tag Archives: Lesson and Boarding Barn

How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Horse

cost to keep a horseI recently saw a post in an equestrian group on Facebook asking, how much does it cost to keep a horse for a year? Many people responded. My favorite answer was 'your heart and soul'. That pretty much sums up the life of an equestrian. But, it got me thinking. Horses and the sports that go along with them are, for most of us, far more than a hobby they are a way of life.

I would hazard to guess that not many equestrians know how much they spend annually on their passion. They will know how much they spend on board, farrier, and the vet but don't always take into account clothes, necessary tack, unnecessary extras such as treats, blingy browbands, the latest style of saddle pad, or any other accompaniments that equestrian brands tell us we must have.

Below I have attempted to put together a list of expenses relating to keeping a horse. It shows three varying options. The lower end includes the basics, the middle range covers possible unforeseen expenses, and the latter has all the bells and whistles. I have then averaged out these prices. Of course, I can not include all scenarios and these prices are subject to fluctuation depending on the type of horse, discipline, and location. I have also not included the cost of a truck and trailer to get your horse to shows etc.

I would love to hear your opinions and have some feedback.

Annual Cost to Keep a Horse*

Service Pasture
Board
Basic Full
Board
Full Board in a
Show Barn
Average
Board $3,000 $6,000 $11,400 $6,800
Lessons $0 don't take
lessons
$3,380 one lesson
per week
$8,320 for one lesson and
one trainer ride per
week
$3,900
Farrier $433 barefoot
every 6 weeks
$1,300 full-set
every 6 weeks
$2,340 full-set
every 4 weeks
from the best farrier in town
$1,358
Vet $500 shots and
teeth floating
$3,000 basics
plus unexpected
lameness
$8,000 basics,
lameness, chiro,
Magna Wave
$3,834
Tack $500 basic needs $2,500 basic needs
and upgrades
$7,500 basic needs,
upgrades, plus new
top-of-the-range
saddle as the horse's
physique has changed
due to training
$3,500
Clothes $500 barn boots,
pants, etc.
$2,800 boots, new
riding clothes
$5,500 basics plus
latest fashion trends
$2,934
Showing $0 do not show $800 a few local
shows
$10,500 six rated shows
including entries,
accommodation,
trainer, etc.
$3,767
Misc.
Expenses
$800 $2,000 $4,000 $2,267
TOTAL $5,733 $21,780 $57,560 $28,358

I will admit to being frugal when it comes to spending money so it is possible that these prices are on the low side. No matter what kind of barn you board at, whether or not you show, or how often you buy new clothes, one thing is very clear, the decision to buy a horse should be given a great deal of thought and you must be sure you can afford to cover all your known and unexpected expenses.

How much do you think it costs to keep a horse for a year?

*Prices are per annum based on average prices around the Charlotte, NC area in the summer of 2021 and are subject to change.

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The Things I've learned from Running a Lesson and Boarding Barn

This time last year, May 1st 2015, my husband and I rented a beautiful 125 acre property in Iron Station, just outside Charlotte North Carolina and officially launched White Rose Equestrian Center.

The property came with a 16 stall barn, indoor arena, outdoor arena, many secure fenced areas, and acres of amazing trails. It's a beautiful, unique piece of land and represented my 'field of dreams'. I knew it would be hard work but I also knew I could do it. I have loved the challenge, the fresh air, and of course the horses but it also came with a fair share of stress, sleepless nights, and 13 hour days.

White Rose Fandango at Tryon International Equestrian CenterThe decision to take the barn was scary and one I didn't rush into. I crunched the numbers every which way I could and stepped outside my comfort zone but knew it was something I just had to do. There were highs and lows. Getting a 70 at my first rated show with White Rose Fandango (Annie) was one of the highs. The biggest low was telling my riders that I wasn't going to renew the lease.

Renting isn't for us. We want to run a quality operation and expect things to be up to a certain standard and it's difficult putting money into a property that we will never own. So things are on hold for a while.

It's been a great adventure and we very much appreciate everyone who came along with us.

Here are the things, in no particular order, that I learned over the last 12 months while running a lesson and boarding barn.

  1. Staying in bed until 6:30 a.m. feels like a sleep in
  2. Going to bed after 9:30 p.m. is staying up late
  3. Some horses are crazy
  4. Some horse owners are crazy
  5. Horses can pee twice as much as they drink
  6. It never rains when you want it to
  7. Horses that like each other can, for no apparent reason, suddenly not like each other
  8. Male horses shouldn't be gelded until they've learned to poop in a corner
  9. Winter sucks
  10. I would be rich if I were paid every time I said, "Put your heels down"
  11. I would be rich if I were paid every time I changed the feed chart
  12. Bailing twine, duct tape, and WD40 are a barn girl's best friend
  13. You can't please everyone but it didn't stop me trying
  14. Working outside beats working inside
  15. Looking after a large lesson and boarding barn leaves little time to ride
  16. Tractor driving is fun
  17. Zero-turn driving is scary
  18. Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton are great company when you're mucking stalls
  19. It's great to be up before the dickeries
  20. It's easy to get attached to horses even if they don't belong to you
  21. No-kink hoses don't exist
  22. Working 7 days a week makes it difficult to know what day it is
  23. You can not teach your own children… anything!
  24. Black coffee is better than no coffee
  25. Cold coffee is better than no coffee
  26. Any coffee is better than no coffee
  27. Barn chores produce awesome muscles affectionately known as poop muscles
  28. Growing up in a barn is great for kids of all ages
  29. Fresh shavings smell wonderful
  30. It's harder than you would think to get onto the People of Wal-Mart page
  31. The bite of a horse fly hurts, really hurts!
  32. You never stop learning
  33. I get as much pleasure when my riders do well as I do when I win a blue ribbon
  34. What people do is more telling about them than what they say they will do
  35. Barn swallows (and sandy colored cats) are a great desensitizing tool for horses riding in the indoor
  36. A 33 year old golf cart makes a great barn vehicleGolf Cart at White Rose Equestrian Center
  37. Some people are magnets to anything that bites, stings, stomps, or kicks
  38. Paperwork takes up way more time than you would expect
  39. Eating fast food at 9pm is sometimes the only way to not starve
  40. Good help is hard to come by. I am very grateful to those who were always there for me!!! You know who you are.
  41. The most expensive clothes you own are your show clothes
  42. There are never enough hours in the day
  43. Barn germs don't count
  44. A farmer's tan is a must-have summer fashion accessory
  45. Walking over 140,000 steps in a week is easy-peasy
  46. Hat hair is the only hair style anyone needs
  47. Thank goodness for baseball caps
  48. None of this would have been possible without the help and support of my wonderful husband
  49. It takes a village
  50. It's good to take chances

So as we move onto the next chapter in our lives I would like to thank our boarders, riders, helpers, and volunteers. The last 12 months have been some of the most trying, exciting, funny, tiring, exuberating, rewarding, and challenging of my life. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And as Dr. Seuss would say, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Stay tuned.