How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Horse?

When considering how much it costs to keep a horse there’s lots to consider: feed, stabling, bedding, veterinary bills, horse and horse box insurance, and more.

Owning a horse isn’t cheap, but as all equestrians know, the joy it brings easily makes up for the expense. Whilst horse riding is an expensive hobby, there are ways to make it work on a budget. When considering how much it costs to keep a horse there’s lots to consider: feed, stabling, bedding, veterinary bills, horse and horse box insurance, and more.

How expensive is horse stabling and livery?

There are three types of horse livery: DIY (“do it yourself”), part-livery (also known as assisted livery), and full-livery. Full livery is the most expensive option, whilst DIY packages are the most affordable.

DIY livery

DIY livery is often the cheapest livery. Typically, DIY packages only include the use of a paddock and stable – the use of extras, such as a horse walker, are not included. This means that you are entirely responsible for the care of your horse, and are not entitled to assistance. Depending on the yard owner, you might be able to bolt on additional have services (such as having your horse brought in from the field) on a pay as you go basis. However, many DIY yard owners take a hands-off approach, so be sure to check they can meet your requirements if occasional assistance is crucial. Depending on the facilties available, DIY yards can vary from £100 to £200 a month.

Whilst the prospect of no support can seem daunting, it is common for owners to help one-another, on a tit-for-tat basis. Depending on restrictions imposed by the yard owner, you might also be able to pay an external groom to assist you.

ItemPrice (per month)
DIY horse livery£125
Hay / silage£32
Straw bedding£12
Breakdown cover£10
Lorry insurance£30
Horse insurance£55
Feed and supplements£42
Above: a rough break down of DIY livery costs. Example assumes some reliance on friends to help out on occasions when you cannot get to your horse.

Part livery

Part livery includes everything from a DIY livery package, with the added benefit of having some assistance with the care of your horse. The specifics differ by yard, but most yard owners are more than happy to create a package that works for you. However, week-to-week consistency is key to a good relationship.

ItemPrice (per month)
Part horse livery£350
Hay / silage£32
Straw bedding£12
Breakdown cover£10
Lorry insurance£30
Horse insurance£55
Feed and supplements£42
Above: rough estimate of part livery costs. Based on your horse being brought in from their paddock and fed once per day. Extra facilities, such as use of a horse walker, are not included.

Full livery

Full-livery packages covers all aspects of horse care, meaning that you can show up and ride whenever suits you (without the daily tie that comes with caring for a horse). All full livery packages include mucking out, feeding, watering, turning out, and bringing horses in from their paddock. Most yards also provide horse-exercising.

Full-livery options are popular amongst busy professionals, as well as university students. Although lots of yards offer full-livery options, those run by professional eventers (such as Alexander Bragg) are the most desirable.

ItemPrice (per month)
Full horse livery£1,120
Breakdown cover£10
Lorry insurance£30
Horse insurance£55
Above: a rough breakdown of full livery costs, where bedding, hay, feed, and exercise are included in the monthly full livery fee

How much does horse bedding cost?

Horse bedding helps to absorb waste, and increases a horses comfort when resting. Unless your horse is on full livery, you will be responsible for sourcing the bedding yourself.

There are several types of bedding, but the main two options to consider are straw and wood shavings. Although straw bedding is cheaper than wood shavings, it is much harder to muck out and has a higher dust portion. Because of this, many opt to use shavings. In England, straw can be bought for approximately £3 a bale, whereas shavings are usually closer to £8. In both cases, you’ll get through a bale a week.

How much does it cost to feed a horse?

Putting a figure on the price of feeding a horse is complicated. Whilst some horses are happy living out all year, and munching through nothing but acres of grass, others require a carefully considered diet of supplements and feeds. However, most horses require only chaff and a balancer, in addition to hay and/or grazing.

Depending on the previous year’s growing season, small bales of hay are usually sold for around £4 each. An average horse will get through approximately two small hay bales a week, depending on their access to grazing. If it’s not included in your livery package, bales of hay are often available through horse yards, who buy in a large amount.

Good horse balancers cost approximately £30 a bag, and chaff £12. On average, a horse will require one bag of each every month.

If you’re interested in a horse, but haven’t yet bought it, ask the current owner what they feed their horse. This will give you a better understanding of what will be financially required from you. You can also ask your vet what they’d recommend when they perform a vetting on the horse, or reach out to a horse feed producer for advice.

Horse supplements

Supplements come in all shapes and sizes, and are usually only administered when necessary. Because of this, it’s hard to speculate the types and quantity of supplements your horse might need, and therefore how much it will cost. Furthermore, like human supplements, the price varies wildly between brands.

Joint supplement is a common supplement given to horses that event. A standard tub of joint supplement costs around £40, and will last for two months. Calming supplements are another common type of supplement.

How expensive is veterinary insurance?

Insurance is often overlooked, however, it is a necessity. As a minimum, you should take out third-party cover to protect you if your horse is involved in an accident, such as a road traffic collision. Although third-party insurance is cheaper than comprehensive cover, owing to the cost of veterinary bills, comprehensive cover should be taken out where possible. Most equestrian events require that your horse has comprehensive cover to compete in their competitions.

The cost of insuring your horse varies on a case-by-case basis. Third-party cover is around £10, whereas comprehensive cover is usually closer to £55 a month. Comprehensive cover at this price point should cover vet bills up to £5,000, £2,000 of physiotherapy costs (water treadmills etc.), and have a “loss of use” clause in case your horse is irreparably injured. Expect to pay an excess of at least £150 on claims. For more information, check out our article on Horse Insurance – Everything You Need to Know.

Whilst comprehensive insurance seems expensive, one of our contributors has, claimed back over £12,000 in less than five years from her insurer. Without comprehensive insurance, the veterinary bills would have been impossible to cover.

How expensive is horse lorry and trailer insurance?

As with car insurance, the cost of insuring a horse lorry or horsebox varies depending on the vehicle’s age, type, storage location, yearly mileage, etc. However, expect to pay around £350 to insure a mother and daughter on a 3.5-tonne lorry with third-party fire and theft cover.

Insuring a horse trailer is much more affordable than a box, and can usually be bolted on to your horse insurance policy. Expect to pay around £5 a month for horse trailer insurance.

How much does horse lorry breakdown cover cost?

Breakdown cover for your transport – whether that be a lorry or trailer – should not be overlooked. You should seek out a policy that covers transporting your horse home, in case your vehicle cannot be fixed at the road side.

For around £120 a year you can purchase breakdown cover that includes both the recovery of your vehicle, as well as the transport of your horse.

How much does it cost to shoe a horse?

An average horse undertaking an average amount of work will need a new set of shoes every six weeks. Expect to pay £70 for four new shoes, fitted by a farrier. Extras, such as stud holes, add a nominal price increase.

It is worth mentioning that more hardy horses that do not undertake work do not require a full set of shoes, and in some instances can go without shoes entirely.

How to save money as a horse owner

The exact amount it will cost to keep a horse is impossible to calculate, however, if you’re looking to save money there are a few ways that you can cut back on expenditure.

A great way to cut down on the amount of feed and hay that you have to buy is to choose a yard that has all year turnout. This will also help to reduce the amount of bedding you use.

Installing rubber matting below your horse’s bed will help you to cut back on the amount of bedding material that you use. Although there is an initial cost associated with purchasing mats, they will pay for themselves in the long run.

If you have any tips and tricks you’d like to contribute, join the discussion in the comments below!

Whilst horse ownership is not cheap, you can tailor the cost of keeping a horse to what your finances allow. By choosing a type of livery that’s suitable for your lifestyle and budget, as well as considering consumables, such as the type of bedding you use, horse ownership can be done on a budget.

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