What it Costs to Buy and Care for a Horse



Strategies for Selecting a Horse

It is very important to have a clear purpose and to know the long-term intention before selecting and buying a horse. Whether your horse will be used for sport, therapy, joyriding or agriculture can impact the selection process and cost of your animal. Prior to purchasing a horse, most people will have to go through a “pre-purchase vetting” where a qualified vet will evaluate the horse based on the needs of the buyer and overall condition of the horse. What the horse will be doing once it is purchased can entirely change the vetting process and what is checked in the evaluation!

Always consider the age and history of a horse, and do not be afraid to ask questions! It is imperative to know a horse’s background (this may include previous experience, tendon injuries, dietary concerns, sensitives, etc.) before committing to what you see for only one or two days, as it may take time to encounter certain issues.

Follow your gut! If you do not feel comfortable with a horse and cannot put your finger on what is bothering you, please follow your instinct. Horses are incredibly sensitive creatures and have been known to feel anxiety and other emotions more than some other animals. If something does not feel right, it may affect your long-term relationship and trust with the horse. It is always better to choose a horse you feel more comfortable with and do not feel pressure to purchase a horse solely because it seems good on paper.

When making a long-term investment and large purchase like this one, it is always a good idea to go with another person (either for the sake of a witness or even just to have another set of eyes and a second opinion).

The Cost of Purchasing a Horse

Consider comparing the difference in cost between private sellers and dealers prior to making appointments to see a horse. Dealers normally earn a living buying or selling horses which will come with a more legitimate sales process. You will find that many dealers will include stricter conditions to ensure satisfactory quality, “fit for purpose” and that the dealer is selling exactly what was described to the buyer.

Now, this is not to say that all private sellers do not adhere to these standards, but it can be comparable to buying a car at a dealership versus a private seller. The requirements and standards will be different on some level. Any sort of issue on a contractual level may be more difficult to prove when purchasing from a private seller (such as defects or misrepresentations).

The cost of a horse ranges anywhere from low hundreds to more than ten thousand dollars. The cost can depend on a variety of factors, including pedigree, history, performance, and behavior. If you have a flexible budget, then you will have more options available to you, but do not underestimate the cost of maintaining a horse, and please factor other costs before committing to buying an expensive breed. Regular costs that should be accounted for in anyone’s budget include vet exams, medical issues, training, grooming, and hay and feed (not to mention transportation costs). If you are a first-time buyer, it is recommended to spend between $1,000 to $3,000, as this range will provide more flexibility in choice and likely provide you with a well-maintained and trained horse with a good record. Keep in mind the better the horse’s pedigree and performance record, the more costly the horse will be.

Every first-time purchase will require additional costs such as sales tax, transportation, and veterinary exams. Although the initial purchase seems like it will be the largest cost, please note that the day-to-day care will be very pricy! Daily care will require providing food and water (horses normally consume two to three percent of their body weight daily), shelter for all weather conditions, minor injury care, and a first aid kit and cleaning supplies. Long-term care will include a wide variety of things, such as fencing, trough, and paddock care, care for their hooves, and upkeep with medication and vaccinations.

Accommodation Costs

Horses should have adequate accommodations that reflect the purpose of why the horse was purchased in the first place, while allowing it to live a healthy and comfortable life. If you do not already own adequate property to house such an animal, please consider tips for buying horse properties and maintaining such properties for optimal living conditions.

If the horse will be staying at a ranch or farm, consider your environmental surroundings, in particular water resources, climate and weather, other animals and personal needs relevant to you and your horse. Every environment provides unique challenges so it is always best to have a professional opinion before preparing to transport a horse to your property.

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