How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Horse? – The Ultimate Guide


cost to keep a horse money


Lots of people over the years have asked me… ‘How much does it actually cost to keep a horse?’

Keeping a horse used to be seen as purely a past time for the very wealthy, and although perceptions don’t seem to have changed all that much, the reality is very different – okay, granted, it’s not the cheapest hobby 🙂 but there are so many options nowadays, making the dream of horse ownership tangible for many horse lovers!

In this article I’m going to break down and explain all of the costs you need to consider that can so often be overlooked – it’s everything my family and I wished we’d known from the beginning! … By the end, you should have a good idea of how much it costs to keep a horse (or at least know everything you need to consider, so you can price it up for your area/country).


What we’ll be looking at…


Somewhere to keep your horse

Essential Costs

Optional Costs

Contingency Fund and Extras

Case Studies

Calculating your Costs

Cost to Keep a Horse Summary

Useful Links


This list may seem overwhelming, but trust me, I promise I’m not trying to put anyone off… if you can afford the cost to keep a horse, and have the time, owning a horse or pony is so rewarding, and worth every penny! (Remember, you’re probably already paying quite a lot for your weekly lesson or two, and having your own horse means being around horses every day and building a special bond with your own!).


First things first, you need somewhere to keep your horse…



Horse stables livery

There are lots of livery options available to you; you just have to weigh up what’s best for your needs and budget. For a more in depth look at each type of livery, and some more specialist types, check out Types of Livery Explained -How Much Does it Cost to Stable a Horse?. The prices given below are just a rough guide based on my area in the Home Counties of England in the U.K.; prices will vary according to the area, and on the facilities on offer at the yard.

These are the main types of livery on offer in the U.K. (having spoken to friends living abroad, there are many parallels across the world, albeit with different names/price tags)


Rent or Buy Private Stables or Grazing

  • Sometimes private yards or paddocks come up for rent or sale, and I’m sure we’ve all had the romantic dream of our own set up, but it’s not for the faint of heart – you will need to ‘know your stuff’ and will be responsible for everything!

= Cost of purchase or rent and electric/water bills, plus insurance, maintenance of buildings and paddocks, paying for muck heap removal/muck trailer emptying and possibly even a groom for daily help or holiday cover. £…varies!


Grass Livery

  • Grass livery means you get grazing for your horse, and you are responsible for all of the daily care – You will need to have the type of horse that is happy to live out year round (some grazing comes with a field shelter which is a huge plus).

= from £10 – £25+ per week, or approx £520 – £1,300+ per year

DIY Livery

  • DIY livery is one of the cheapest options, and generally means you get a stable and grazing for your horse, but you have to ‘Do It Yourself’ – all of the daily care alongside riding, so you’ll need to have time and experience.

= from £25 – £40+ per week, or approx £1,300 – £2,000+ per year

Assisted DIY Livery

  • Just like DIY, with the added benefit of a list of ‘extras’, usually payable per task (such as feeding, turning out, mucking out, bringing in, etc), suits most owners who have time, but would like additional support and flexibility.

= from £35 – £60+ per week, or approx £1,800 – £3,000+ per year 

Part Livery

  • Part Livery usually means that the yard will do all of the basics for you, and you are just responsible for exercising and grooming, etc. Some yards also offer Weekday Part Livery, where Mon-Fri is Part Livery, but weekends are DIY or Assisted DIY (– this is a great compromise for people who work during the week).

= from £70 – £100+ per week, or approx £3,600 – £5,200+ per year

Full Livery

  • Full livery is much like Part Livery, but usually includes grooming and exercise. Prices will vary according to the yard, how often the horse is exercised, and how many additional services are offered. It can be a good option if you have a very busy lifestyle – but it doesn’t come cheap.

= from £100 – £140+ per week, or approx £5,200 – £7,300+ per year

Competition Livery

  • Competition Livery is like a turbo-charged version of Full Livery, and the skies the limit on what may be offered and what it can cost; from a ‘luxury’ version of Full Livery, right up to a complete package where the horse will be produced and competed for you.

= from £140 – £250+ per week, or approx £7,300 – £13,000+ per year

Working Livery

  • Working Livery can operate in many different ways, but generally means your horse will be used for lessons at the equestrian centre your horse is stabled at, in exchange for a discounted livery rate. You will need to have a horse or pony suitable for this kind of role. It’s not for everyone though, as you won’t have control over who rides your horse or pony, and will be limited to when your horse is available for you ride.

= from £50 – £100+ per week, or approx £2,600 – £5,200+ per year


As mentioned in my Buying a Horse – The Ultimate Guide article … I’ve kept most of my horses DIY (or assisted DIY where some one turned out for me each day, and I did everything on my one visit in the evening to save me getting up early and driving to the yard twice!). I’ve also stabled weekday part livery where some one turned out/brought in and did all the mucking out for me Mon-Fri, which was more expensive, but allowed me more time to groom and ride.


Stabling Covered… What Else?

So the cost to keep a horse at livery is sorted… What else do you need to factor in? Sorry to break it to you, but quite a bit more!

You’ll also need to tot up the essential costs of shoeing, vaccinations, worming, insurance, feed, hay, bedding, expendable items, dentist and back/saddle checks, rug washing and your fuel, plus any applicable optional costs you are going to want like lessons, shows/clinics, and a horse trailer or horsebox, and allow for a contingency/extras budget…


Essential Costs…


farrier shoeing horse

  • I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying ‘no foot, no horse’, and it’s so true! Good hoof care is vital to keeping your horse ‘sound’. There are different options for shoeing depending on how strong your horses feet are and the type of work you want to do, your farrier will be able to advise you.
  • An average horse will generally have a set of shoes every 6 weeks at around £60. A happy hacker type with strong feet (that’s mainly ridden on grass or a surface) may be fine just having barefoot trims every 7-8 weeks for around £25-40. Whereas, a competition horse will usually need shoes, and possibly even stud holes, every 5-6 weeks at around £80-100.

= approx £30 – £100 every 5-8 weeks, or £200 – £1,000 per year


needle injection

  • In the U.K., while vaccinations aren’t technically a legal requirement (currently), it is highly recommended to have Equine Influenza and Tetanus vaccinations (if you are in another country, check the recommendations and requirements for where you are). Once the initial vaccination courses are completed, Flu requires annual booster jabs, and Tetanus needs top-ups every one or two years according to your vets advise.
  • If a horse you purchase doesn’t have them, you will need to start a full course of Flu and Tetanus vaccinations from the beginning, which will cost a couple of hundred pounds (your vet can advise you about this).
  • Most yards and show grounds will require horses to be vaccinated and some will even want to see the vaccination card as proof.
  • Each vet visit for a jab will usually cost £40-£100.

= £40 – £100 per year


diary worm count report

  • Different yards have different practices and worming routines, it traditionally used to be a program of a specific wormer for the time of year, given every few months, at £10-£25 per tube. However, nowadays (due to concerns about worming resistance) it is quite popular to have ‘worm counts’ taken from dropping samples by a specialist, then worm accordingly.

= allow £50 per year


phone and notepad

  • Insurance is so important, especially third party liability which is a must! This cost to keep a horse is hard to estimate because it varies widely based on the type of cover you require, the value of your horse, and how much voluntary excess you have on your policy. Have a look online, and phone some insurance companies to get some quotes and find out your cover options.

= varies greatly… £10 – £100+ per month, or £120 – £1,200+ per year

Hard Feeds/Supplements

feed bin and buckets

(Hard feed may be included in some livery options)

  • This is another cost to keep a horse that varies hugely, depending on your horse and the level of riding you do.
  • Supplement wise, most horses will require a basic vitamin/mineral supplement to ensure they are getting all the essentials into their diet. A lot of owners also swear by garlic and apple cider vinegar to help with general health (and flies in summer!). Older horses and competition horses may benefit from extras such as joint supplements – I’d recommend you consult a nutritionist or your vet for advice if you are unsure what will be right for your horse (very fancy supplements and feed balancers can be super expensive, so get advise!).
  • There are some horses and ponies out there that could virtually live on fresh air, especially if they’re just hacking out now and then, and these types won’t need any hard feed, ideally just a handful of low calorie chaff with a supplement, or even just access to a salt/vitamin/mineral lick.
  • Also be super aware to only buy equine industry approved products, and, especially if competing affiliated, that they do not contain any banned ‘doping’ substances!

= £5 – £50+ per month, or £60 – £600+ per year


bale of hay and nets

(If not included in your livery package)

  • This cost to keep a horse will vary from the summer months to the winter months, especially if they live out in summer and come in at night in winter! Grass is also less rich in winter, and with the lower temperatures, most horses will need extra hay or haylage during the coldest months.
  • As a general rule, and according to the British Horse Society, horses need to eat roughly 2.5% of their body weight each day, with the large majority of this being roughage (hay, haylage, grass), so how much hay they’ll need, will depend on their size, what else they’re eating, and they’re metabolism, etc.
  • Small bales start at around £4, so this could work out from just a couple of £’s a week for a horse living out that just needs a little hay in the field in the coldest months, up to £20+ a week for a horse living in at night with restricted grazing!
  • Always buy the best quality hay/haylage you can afford – cheap hay is often dusty and may not be screened for poisonous plants, and will cause more problems than the money it saves! Small bales are good for single horse owners, but the large bales are good value if you have the space, or a few horses.

= £2 – £20+ per week, or £100 – £1,000+ per year


bales of shavings

(If not included in your livery package)

  • This will also vary from the summer months to the winter months, especially if they live out in summer and come in at night in winter! If your horse/pony lives out without a shelter year round, you obviously won’t need bedding!
  • There are several options for bedding; straw (around £4 per small bale), shavings (about £5-£10 per bale), wood pellets, rubber matting, paper, and more – some yards will specify what type you need to use.
  • Straw beds look great, and are quite cheap, however they are generally more time consuming to muck out and fill up the muck heap quickly! Some horses even try to eat straw beds – before we discovered shavings, we used to have to spray my first pony’s straw bed with vinegar every day to stop him munching on it! My personally favourites are shavings or wood pellets on top of a rubber matting base – easy to muck out, minimal dust, and the rubber matting helps protect the horse’s joints.
  • As an average, most people with stabled horses would use 1-4 bales a week (depending on bed size, how frugally you muck out and how messy your horse or pony is!).

= £0 – £40 per week, or £0 – £2,000+ per year

Expendable Items

hoof oil, sprays, etc

  • Within your kit, you’ll have expendable items (such as hoof oil, mane and tail spray, shampoos, fly sprays, and first aid kit items, etc), which will need replacing as they get used.
  • How much you use will affect how much this will add up; for example, fly spray at £5-£15 a bottle (unless you make home made, or buy in bulk) is probably the most frustrating cost to keep a horse in summer!

= £10 – £30+ per month, or £120 – £360+ per year


Yearly Dentistry

horse teeth

(Sometimes twice a year)

  • Horses teeth continuously grow and are worn down by the action of grazing, and domesticated horses tend to need their teeth ‘floated’ (rasped), once a year.
  • For most horses once a year is usually sufficient, but for older horses, or ones with any dentistry issues, they’ll probably need a visit twice a year. For example, my second pony used to get ‘hooks’ on his teeth, where they didn’t wear down evenly, so he needed the dentist every 6 months.
  • Most equine dentists will charge from £40 up to £100 per visit.

= £40 – £200 per year

Back/Saddle Fit Checks

horse wearing saddle

(Once or twice a year)

  • Making sure your horse’s back is healthy and their saddle fits well is essential (after all, that’s where you sit and it would be unfair to ask them to carry you, and perform, if they are uncomfortable!).
  • This needs checking because horses change shape over time, and they can develop sore areas. Once a year should be the minimum, but horses that work hard or compete, or change shape dramatically between summer and winter, will probably need at least two visits a year.
  • Most equine chiropractors/saddle fitters will charge from £40 up to £100 per visit.

= £40 – £200 per year

Yearly Rug Washing/Reproofing

Horse wearing rug

  • At the end of each winter it is a really good idea to get your turnout rugs washed and reproofed (and any repairs done), so they can be stored away ready for the next winter. If you have any heavy stable rugs that won’t fit in a normal washing machine, you’ll want to get these washed too. (You can wash and reproof yourself, but from my personal experience, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle – and it can ruin domestic washing machines!).
  • Prices usually start from £5 for smaller rugs, up to around the £20 for a wash/reproof of a larger turnout, plus repairs.

= allow £20 – £100 per year

Your Fuel to and from the Yard

car on road

  • This is often overlooked as a cost of keeping a horse; but remember, you’ll be making an extra journey or two a day to visit your horse. This may not affect you too much if you’re lucky enough to have a suitable yard on your doorstep, or near your usual daily routes (such as work or the school run), but quite often you’ll have at least a short drive.
  • Set your own parameters for your yard search (I’d try to stick within 20 minutes maximum from home or, from experience, it can start to feel like a commute!). This will depend on how many visits you need to make, the distance, and your fuel economy.

= £0 – £40 per week, or £0 – £2,000+ per year

Optional Costs…


horse schooling

  • How many lessons and what kind of trainer you will want (or if you want any at all), will depend on your goals and ability level; if you just want to hack out, lessons may not be important, unless you encounter any issues (although I will say, if you can afford it, lessons are beneficial to everyone to curb any bad riding habits and help you improve!). However, if you want to school, jump, and especially if you intend to compete, I highly recommend having regular lessons.
  • Costs will vary depending on the length of the lesson and the level of the trainer you have, but as a rough guide, you may be able to get a half-hour session from a local teacher from £15-£20, or you could keep costs down by sharing a lesson with someone of similar ability on your yard. Top notch trainers can command huge prices, from £40+ for half an hour.
  • Set your budget and find a trainer suited to you; then just have as many lessons as you can afford (even if it’s just a half-an-hour lesson a month, it can be so helpful!).

= £15 – £80+ per lesson

Shows or Clinics, etc

horses at show

  • If you want to go to shows or attend training clinics, you’ll need to factor this cost to keep a horse too. Popping down the road to do one class may only set you back £10-20, but if you want to spend the day at a summer show, go to a one day event, or attend a top class clinic, it’ll obviously cost more. The skies the limit here, and depends on what you want to do, and how often!
  • Don’t forget, you also need to include fuel costs to get there (and possibly transport hire if you don’t have your own).
  • If you want to compete locally (and meet other like-minded people!), joining a local Riding Club or Pony Club is definitely worth considering, membership fees are usually very reasonable.
  • Other activities I’d say that fall into this category, would be fun rides and sponsored rides, ‘boxing out’ to a good hacking area, or hiring training facilities.
  • Affiliated competitions are the next step up, and the price jumps up too; you need to consider membership fees, higher entry fees, and sometimes having to travel a little further afield to shows – it’s really only worth considering making this leap if you are very keen and have built up plenty of experience locally. You can always start by testing the water, as most organisations allow you to compete ‘on a ticket’, which effectively means being a guest member for the day.

= £20-£100’s+ per show/clinic

Maintaining a Horse Trailer or Horsebox

horse transport

  • If you want to get out and about regularly, it’s worth having your own transport (if you don’t plan to go out, or only plan to go out very occasionally, you can always hire transport by the half day/day).
  • If you want transport you need to weigh up the best type for you – a trailer, or a 3.5 ton or 7.5 ton horsebox (…only the pro’s tend to need a HGV!).
  • In the U.K., if you passed your driving test after the 1st of January 1997, you will only be eligible to drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tons, or tow a very small trailer with your car, so you would need to take an extra test to drive a 7.5 ton horsebox, or tow a horse trailer (check out the requirements here if you are confused).
  • Horseboxes will need an MOT/plating, tax, insurance and servicing. 3.5 ton horseboxes only need a normal MOT, whereas 7.5 ton ones will need plating, which is more expensive (plus they’ll be thirstier on fuel!), although if you want to travel two large horses, you’ll probably need a 7.5 ton due to weight restrictions.
  • Technically, trailers look like the cheapest option as they don’t need MOT/tax, but unless you already have the right driving license and own the type of gas-guzzling 4×4 that could pull a trailer, by the time you upgrade your car and incur extra fuel costs, and get a licence, a 3.5 ton can work out just as cheap. (Always be sure to get a trailer or horsebox checked over for safety before you buy!) I passed my test after 1997, so I bought a little second hand 3.5 ton, which worked out surprisingly cheap to maintain, tax and insure, at around £500 per year.

= from the basic maintenance of a trailer to a 7.5t lorry £200 – £1,500+ per year

Contingency Fund and Extras…

piggy bank

It’s also worth having some money in the bank to cover the unexpected, and potential extra cost of keeping a horse…


  • There may be extras you want or need that aren’t applicable to everyone.
  • For example, I’ve included clipping as an extra (clipping part of the horses coat to help prevent sweating during work in winter), a lot of people won’t need their horses clipped, and if you own your own clippers you’ll be doing your own clipping, and some livery packages even include it. If you do need to pay someone to clip, (depending on the clip you have), clipping will generally cost about £20-£40 per clip, usually two or three times over winter.
  • Other extras could be equine treatments such as massage and hydrotherapy, or even just new kit (if you like to keep up with fashion trends!).


  • For unexpected costs, have at least enough to cover the excess on your insurance premium, and some spare left over in case you need to repair or replace any broken pieces of equipment (such as a torn rug or snapped rein!). If you haven’t used your contingency within the year, save it for next year (or, my personal favourite option… treat yourself to some new kit!).
  • If you are on DIY livery, also take into account that if you are unwell, or go on holiday, you’ll have to pay someone to cover for you (unless you have some lovely horsey friends who’ll step in to help, in exchange for you returning the favour!).

= depending on your insurance excess/extras £300 – £1,000+ per year


Case Studies

I’ve totted up the minimal cost of keeping a horse, plus a couple of examples of the cost for the two most common type of horse owners I come across – the ‘happy hacker’ and the ‘keen amateur’ (…remember these prices are only estimates and based on my area, but they will give you a rough idea!).


Minimal Cost on Grass Livery…

 ‘Item’  Approximate Cost  Estimated Yearly Cost
Grass Livery £10 per week £520
Shoeing Barefoot Trim £25 every 8 weeks £170
Vaccinations £50 a year £50
Worming £50 a year £50
Insurance £10 a month £120
Feed/Supplements (minimum hard feed, basic supplements) £10 a month £120
Winter Hay for ‘good doer’ £10 a month £120
Expendable Items £10 a month £120
Dentist £60 once a year £60
Back/Saddle Checks £60 once a year £60
Rug repairs/washing £40 a year £40
Fuel (none if kept close by)
Contingency Fund £300 a year £300
TOTAL  £1,730 per year


Happy Hacker/Leisure Rider on DIY Assisted Livery…

 ‘Item’  Approximate Cost  Estimated Yearly Cost
Assisted DIY Livery (with hay and bedding included, and morning turnout) £50 per week £2,600
Front shoes £40 every 6 weeks £350
Vaccinations £50 a year £50
Worming £50 a year £50
Insurance £20 a month £240
Feed/Supplements (hard feed and basic supplements) £30 a month £360
Hay (inc livery)
Bedding (inc livery)
Expendable Items £10 a month £120
Dentist £60 once a year £60
Back/Saddle Checks £60 once a year £60
Rug repairs/washing £60 a year £60
Fuel for one visit per day £15 a week £780
Contingency Fund £500 a year £500
TOTAL  £5,230 per year


Keen Amateur on Part Livery, with a 3.5T horsebox…

 ‘Item’  Approximate Cost  Estimated Yearly Cost
Part Livery (with hay, bedding and basic feed included) £100 per week £5,200
Set of shoes £60 every 6 weeks £520
Vaccinations £50 a year £50
Worming £50 a year £50
Insurance £30 a month £360
Feed/Supplements (feed inc. so just basic supplements) £15 a month £180
Hay (inc livery)
Bedding (inc livery)
Expendable Items £15 a month £180
Dentist £60 once a year £60
Back/Saddle Checks £60 twice a year £120
Rug repairs/washing £60 a year £60
Fuel for one visit per day (to groom/ride) £15 a week £780
One lesson a week £30 a lesson each week £360
Out to shows/clinics two/three a month £100 a month £1,200
Running costs of 3.5 ton Horsebox £50 a month £600
Contingency Fund £500 a year £500
TOTAL  £10,220 per year


Calculating the Cost to Keep a Horse for You


So, how much will the cost to keep a horse be for you?

By now you should have a good idea about everything you need to consider, and realise the answer is… how long is a piece of string?! It all depends on how you wish to keep your horse and your ambitions.

I’ve added a blank costs table below for you to copy. Investigate prices in your local area/country and fill out the cost to keep a horse according to your personal needs…

  • I suggest that you think about a realistic daily routine for you, regarding horse care, and from this you can make a list of your requirements for livery. Once you’ve decided on the type of livery that will suit you, you can research the yards in your area and fill in this cost first.
  • If your livery fee includes anything (such as hay, bedding, etc), you can cross those sections out.
  • Next, go through the rest of the table, (again looking into prices near you), and fill in the essential costs and set a contingency/extras budget. This will give you your basic minimum cost to keep a horse.
  • From here, based on what you hope to do (if you want lessons, etc) you can then fill in the optional costs, to give you an overall estimate of the cost to keep a horse for you.

– Good Luck and I hope your budget matches the result!


Blank Costs Table for You…

 ‘Item’ Approximate Cost  Estimated Yearly Cost
Expendable Items
Back/Saddle Checks
Rug repairs/washing
Fuel to visit yard
Optional – Lessons    
Optional – Show/Clinics    
Optional – Trailer/Horsebox
Contingency Fund
TOTAL _____________ per year


Cost to Keep a Horse, in Summary

In summary, you’re first cost will be livery, or somewhere suitable to keep your horse, then the essential costs (shoeing, vaccinations, worming, insurance, feed, hay, bedding, expendable items, dentist, and back/saddle checks, rug washing and your fuel), then which of the optional costs you are going to want (lessons, shows/clinics, horse trailer or horsebox), plus a contingency/extras budget.


Once again, just to reiterate, this guide has been written to take everything into account, and even though the list may seem overwhelming…


… If you can afford it, and have the time, owning a horse or pony is so rewarding, and worth every single penny!



Some Useful Links…


Further Reading:

Browse through this site, and check out these articles related to buying a horse for more information…

Buying a Horse – The Ultimate Guide

What do I Need for a Horse? – The Ultimate Checklist of Equine Equipment

Types of Livery Explained – How Much Does it Cost to Stable a Horse?

Basic Horse Care For Beginners


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