There’s the initial purchase price, of course. But then you have to think about livery charges, food, equipment, welfare and insurance. So it’s not long before your bill can be running into thousands of pounds a year.
Our guide explains the different costs to help you draw up a realistic budget – and hopefully buy the horse of your dreams.
Buying a horse
The first and most obvious outlay is the initial cost of the animal. The price of horses varies enormously, depending on the age, breed and pedigree.
A small, young pony, for example, could cost a few hundred pounds. But a pedigree horse could set you back several thousand. In general, though, you can expect to pay in the region of £1,000.
The price of a horse depends on numerous different variables including age, breed and pedigree
It might be worth employing a solicitor to draw up a legal agreement, particularly if you are buying an expensive horse.
The agreement would set out the terms of the sale and would act as evidence in any dispute over the ownership of the animal. Again, solicitor’s fees vary, but you should allow about £100.
Don’t forget that you might incur costs while you are searching for a suitable horse as you are likely to have to travel across the country to view potential purchases.
Vetting an animal
Once you’ve found the right horse, it should be vetted to make sure it is fit and healthy.
Vetting costs typically range from £75 to £250. A two-stage vetting process is cheaper, but basic. The five-stage process is at the higher end of the price range but is more rigorous and gives you more information about the animal.
Some insurers also insist on a five-stage vetting procedure.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if a horse fails your chosen vetting procedure, you cannot claim the money back.
Cost of horse tack and equipment
Some sellers include the horse’s existing tack and equipment in the deal, or you might be able to buy it for an additional fee.
If your horse does not come with tack, you will need to go shopping. Prices for second-hand saddles start at about £200, plus about £20 for a bridle. If you want to buy new tack, you should expect to pay triple the price.
Unless your horse is stabled all year round, you should normally budget for two turnout rugs, which cost about £50 each. Stable rugs are cheaper at about £30 apiece.
Don’t forget to set aside money for feed buckets, grooming kits and other bits and pieces; about £200 should cover these miscellaneous items.
You can’t keep a horse in the back garden, so you need to think about where the animal will live – and you could end up paying hundreds of pounds a month in livery charges.
DIY livery is usually the cheapest option, typically costing between £80 and £100 a month for a field or a stable or both. But you are responsible for taking care of your horse on a daily basis – whatever the weather!
Full livery costs from about £300 a month, but the yard then looks after your horse.
The type of livery you choose depends on your budget, but also on your lifestyle. If, for example, you are very busy, you probably won’t have time regularly to muck out your horse.
You might find a local farmer or landowner who is willing to rent a field for your horse. It’s often cheap, but you will also usually have to maintain the land and as well as your horse.
Costs of feeding a horse
If your horse is turned out all year, it will need hay to supplement the grass in the winter – and hay costs about £45 a bale.
Most horses also need additional hard feed, which costs about £40 a month depending on the type, size, weight and exercise regime of the horse.
Stabled horses also need bedding. Straw is the cheapest option, but it can cause coughs, so you might have to fork out for pricier rubber mats covered with shavings or hemp.
All horses should have an annual flu vaccination, which costs approximately £35, plus a £35 call-out fee, totalling £70 a year. The horse should also receive a tetanus vaccination every year.
You should look after your horse’s teeth by asking a qualified equine dental technician to check the animal every six months. The typical cost is about £50 per visit.
Worming treatment is another expense. The most effective treatment is a targeted plan, starting at about £50.
You will also need to call out the vet if your horse falls ill or has an accident or injury. Veterinary bills can run into thousands so most horse owners take out appropriate equine insurance cover for their animal.
Most horses need new shoes every four to six weeks, so it should be included in your budget as a full set of shoes costs between £60 and £90. If your horse does not need shoes, its hooves should be trimmed regularly by a farrier, which costs about £30 a time.
If you plan to transport your horse up and down the country, a trailer is vital – not to mention a car capable of towing it! It’s also a good idea to have some spare cash set aside in case of an emergency.
When you add up the various costs involved, you can expect to spend a minimum of £3,000 a year as a horse owner. But don’t be surprised if the costs run to more like £10,000 – and that’s without the original purchase price of the animal.