HomeExpert AdviceArticleThe real cost of a horse

The real cost of a horse

Posted in Management Buying and Selling

Thinking about whether you can afford a horse or want to save money on your current costs? We’ve looked into four different types of livery to see how big a hole horses burn in our wallets

Cost of keeping horse at livery

There’s no getting away from the fact that keeping a horse is expensive. But whenever anyone asks how much you actually spend, are you able to give them a real answer? Probably not. Most owners deal with how much their horse costs by burying their head in the sand and paying the bills as and when they arrive, without adding it all up – not a bad plan!

But in all seriousness, knowing the real cost of looking after a horse is important – although a little eye-watering – whether you’re looking to get your own horse and need to consider if you can afford it or already have one and could do with making sure how you keep him is cost-effective. We asked four horse owners who all keep their horses on different types of livery to get brave, add up their costs and let us know how much their beloved equines really cost them…

DIY grass livery

Elizabeth keeps her Welsh gelding, Simba, at grass. As he’s a hardy breed, he doesn’t need rugging in the winter and is able to go barefoot. Together they hack, school and go to Riding Club shows. As part of her livery, she has access to an outdoor school without floodlights.

Average cost per month

Livery– Field £75, Stable £25 (optional, but Elizabeth uses it for storage)

Bedding – £3 (for emergency use)

Hay – £7.50

Feed – £41

Supplements – £10

Farrier – £10 (barefoot trim every eight weeks)

Vaccinations – £5 (annually)

Dentist – £4 (annually)

Worming (inc FWEC) –  £4.60

Saddler – £8.75 (four times a year)

Physio – £8.33 (twice a year)

Insurance – £36

Rug wash and repairs – £0

Total cost per month – £238.18

DIY Livery Yearly Cost

DIY stabled livery

Sascha keeps her Thoroughbred mare, Grace, on DIY livery. Together they hack, attend Riding Club shows and showjump at affiliated level. Her livery includes field maintenance, but there isn’t an arena.

Average cost per month

Livery – £112.50

Bedding – £20.80

Hay – £30

Feed – £59.27

Supplements – £0

Farrier – £56.70 (shod every six weeks)

Vaccinations – £3.33 (annually)

Dentist – £6.25 (annually)

Worming (inc FWEC) –  £5.48

Saddler – £14 (twice a year)

Physio – £10 (four times a year)

Insurance – £50

Rug wash and repairs – £5.50

Total cost per month – £373.83

Annual cost for stabled DIY livery

Important considerations

While DIY is cheaper than part or full livery, consider how much driving to and from the yard costs in fuel and wear-and-tear on your car. It may be that once you’ve included your fuel costs and considered how much time you’ll need to spend at the yard, it’s worth spending a bit more for part livery.

Transport options

It’s likely you’ll need to transport your horse at some point…

  • If you have your own 7.5 tonne lorry, expect to spend around £1,000–£1,500 a year to insure and maintain it.
  • If you opt for a trailer, it’s likely to cost £300 each year, but bear in mind that you’ll also need a car that’s suitable for towing, and that towing the trailer will increase the wear-and-tear on your car and, therefore, increase its maintenance costs.
  • If someone transports your horse for you, expect to pay £1–2 per mile, split between all the horses on the lorry.

Part livery

Sheila keeps her Thoroughbred-cross mare, Misty, on part livery. Together they event and have recently affiliated. Her livery includes all feed, hay and bedding as needed, daily turnout and bringing in, feet picked out, rug changes, late night checks, and supervision for farrier and vet. She also has access to a floodlit outdoor arena, full set of jumps and a cross-country course.

Average cost per month

Livery – £585

Supplements – £30.33

Farrier – £69.33 (shod every five weeks)

Vaccinations – £7.50 (annually)

Dentist – £3.75 (annually)

Worming (inc FWEC) – £3.75

Saddler – £10 (twice a year)

Physio – £30.33 (every 10 weeks)

Insurance – £80

Rug wash and repairs – £11

Total cost per month – £830.99

Yearly cost of keeping horse on part livery

Hired help

If you’re not on full livery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be stuck if you need extra help or someone to care for your horse full-time for a short period. Many yards offer assistance and will happily step in and do the bits you can’t for an extra charge. So if you’re thinking about doing DIY but are concerned about the level of commitment, look for a yard that offers this. However, it’s important to add up the realistic costs of extra care – if you need help regularly, it could end up costing you more than opting for a more comprehensive livery package.

Full livery

Emma keeps her warmblood gelding, Tom, on full livery with a dressage rider. Her livery includes bedding, feed, hay, mucking out, exercise five days a week, daily turnout, rug changing, feet picked out, a light groom and late night checks. She also has access to two floodlit indoor schools, one outdoor arena with floodlights, off-road hacking, a horsewalker and a solarium.

Average cost per month

Livery – £801.66

Supplements – £35

Farrier – £73.66 (shod every five weeks)

Vaccinations – £3.75 (annually)

Dentist – £12.50 (every eight months)

Worming (inc FWEC) – £8.30

Saddler – £5 (annually)

Physio – £29.20 (five times a year)

Insurance – £81.25

Rug wash and repairs – £6.70

Total cost per month – £1,061.12

Yearly cost of keeping horse at full livery

Added extra

Most full livery packages include exercise to keep your horse fit, not improve his way of going. Expect to pay up to £20 per session if you wish to have your horse schooled by a professional rider.

Hidden costs

Remember that there are always lots of extra costs that crop up on top of the basic cost of keeping a horse. Things you need to think about include buying new equipment such as rugs and tack, facility hire, repairs to fencing, lost shoes, going to shows, grooming products and riding lessons, to name a few.

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