Total Costs of Horse Ownership

Many people struggle with questions such as: How much should they pay for a horse? How much will the horse cost to care for?

In this section, we will outline what you need to plan for in for in total cost of ownership for your horse. Total cost of ownership (TCO) is defined as the acquisition cost of horse plus annual costs for feed, care and other direct costs of owning your horse over the course of time.

Below we will outline board averages based on an independent study. Once viewing these costs, you will be able to make adjustments based on your personal goals for you and your horse. For example, if you plan on showing or competing, you will need to add an estimate for show/competition costs to determine your TCO.

Average cost of buying a horse:

First, when using averages please realize that the details in the sample size will vary widely. For example, in the study we quote below the highest sale point in that study was $55,000 and the lowest point in the study was $100.

Finding reliable, independent, analytical information on what it costs to buy a horse is very difficult to find and is very geographically specific. Obviously, the cost of a horses varies greatly depending an many factors. We find the biggest factors that distinguished high-end from low-end costs in buying a horse are breeding, training and performance.

The best source of independent data we found is published in the Canadian Horse Industry Research Study by Equine Canada (2003) with funding provided by Agriculture & Agrifoods Canada.

The studied found that the average horse sale price in the riding market in Alberta was $5,005 CAD. Note, no segmentation was provided for trained horses and untrained horses.

Geography plays a factor in horse prices. The East coast (VA, PA, NY, DEL, etc) USA seems to be more expensive than Alberta. While Saskatchewan and Manitoba are substantially lower due to the lingering effects of the PMU industry in those provinces. For regional comparative reference, a 1998 report on The Texas Horse Industry found that the average price paid for horse in Texas was $5,661.

Looking at studies over time suggest horse prices increase in correlation with overall inflation.

Annual horse ownership costs:

The same 2003 Equine Canada report found that horse owners spend an average per year for every horse they own as follows:

  • $942 on feed & care products
  • $2,795 on services (vet, board, ferrier, etc)
  • $591 on property & equipment (horse properly maintenance, tack, etc)

These numbers were Canada wide averages and varied greatly by province with BC being the highest and Saskatchewan being the lowest.

Again, geography plays are major role in feed. For example, the cost of hay is substantially more in Montana than Alberta.