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Cost of buying and keeping a horse

25 replies

firecracker123 · 21/02/2015 14:29

I am looking at getting a horse. I am a novice/intermediate so planning to have lessons for 6 months first. I would ideally like a 14 to 15h pony/horse who is a good all rounder and forward going but safe ie with brakes, not prone to bolting etc. I am willing to pay £3 to £4k. Is that an adequate budget for this sort of horse .

I have found part livery for £45 per week including hay but no bedding or other feed. Is £500 a month a suitable budget including lessons once a week?

OP posts:
Mamab33 · 21/02/2015 14:38

Afraid not. Flowers

AuntieDee · 21/02/2015 15:47

£500 is plenty if you are willing to keep your horse DIY and visit twice a day - it will not be enough if you are looking at livery :(

You may be better part loaning first as having your own is a lot different to having a ride on a school horse. There are lots of people out there looking for help in exchange for riders, or asking for a small contribution for a set number of days. The going rate seems to be about £20-25 for 3-4 days.

I'll warn you now - it's scary when you first get your own and you can never anticipate just how tying they are. But it's wonderful!

ChlorinePerfume · 21/02/2015 15:50

Sorry, no advice but was think g around these lines as well. Both DD have taken up riding. Their lessons are costing me £50 per week at the moment and that us just for riding whilst they like grooming, mucking out etc.. Instead of buying one I was thinking along the lines of getting a horse on loan to start with. Perhaps that would be a good option for you as well OP. Depending on budget and time your are able to put in you could go for full or part loan. At least that way you can get a feeling for what is involved. Hope you find what you are looking for. Smile

Greyhorses · 21/02/2015 16:38


I think it depends what area of the country you are in, up north £500 would be about right if not more than you would need.

As a ball park I had my pony on DIY livery and paid the following per month:
Livery £130
Feed- hardly anything as he is a fat cob! £20 a month max.
Insurance- £30
Farrier £45 every 6 weeks for front shoes.
Bedding- £20 month for straw
Hay- £50 month
Lessons- £20 week or £80 monthly.
Yard charged £1 for turnout and £1 for bringing in and I also budgeted for extras such as worming, teeth, tack etc.

Now he lives out and he is much happier and costs a lot less! Although I now spend the extra on competing...

So, in my opinion it is doable but it depends how you want to do it (what type of livery, full/part/grass/working) and also what type of horse you want as some cost more than others to keep.

I did loan and part loan first though which is a nice way to see what owning a horse actually entails. Don't underestimate the commitment involved in having to go and see it every single day, my life revolves around my horse. I think you could get a nice safe cob type for about the 4k or 5k mark, I paid less than that for mine.

firecracker123 · 21/02/2015 17:49

We are up north end of the Midlands so quite cheap here. I know it's a massive commitment and I need to think about that. That's why I want part livery really.

How often does a cob need shoeing if doing about 1/3 rd off road work, 1/3rd school work and 1/3rd road work ?

OP posts:
Greyhorses · 21/02/2015 18:07

On average most ponies need shod every 6 to 8 weeks. I would say the majority of the working ponies on the yard where mine is kept are done every 6 weeks. Mine competes every weekend and is done 6 weekly and in summer they can need doing more.

I think average prices here to have pony looked after per day ranges from around £5 to £10. It can be easier though if you found someone to share with, for example I would turn a friends horse out and she would bring mine in meaning I only had to do once a day. Living out though has changed my life and pony loves it!

Some ponies can manage barefoot but would still need a trim around about the same length of time, I think a full set of shoes averages around the £65 mark in my area.

AuntieDee · 21/02/2015 18:16

Here's my costs (actually not as I have 4 but...)

DIY livery £35 a week - £140
Shavings - Roughly one a week at £8 a bale - £32
Hay - £6 a bale lasting 2-3 days if stretching it so £18 pw - £72
Conditioning mix £12 a bag can last between 2-4 weeks
Chaff - £8 - £16 a month as I use 2
Sugar beet - £8 - one bag a month ish £8
Balancer £36 a bag which lasts about 6 weeks - £24
Shoes £65 every 6-8 weeks (though some charge extra if they pull a shoe and it needs putting back on) - £32.50
Wormer 4x per year - £10 a month ish
Insurance £35 a month
Dentist £50-£80 twice a year, price depends if sedation is needed so say £10 a month ave
Vaccs - £120 a year so £10 a month

Then there's turn out/bring in if you have an emergency and cant make it £5 a pop
50p to change rugs
£1 to hose legs and take off/put on boots
50p to put a feed in/put a net up

If, for example you can't make it down for 2 of the 14 'sessions' you could be paying £15 a week extra - £60 a month

Then there's putting the horse on full livery at about £100 a week if you go on holiday... So say you take one, fortnight holiday a year, it averages at probably about another tenner a month over the course of the year.

Lessons - I pay £30 per 45 minutes which is about what you would expect to pay for a good instructor to come out to you.

So per month you could be looking at £470 a month for bare minimums before you even factor in things like supplements, vets bills, physio, chiro and saddler. With lessons £590 a month.

Alternatively you can put them on field livery but you have less facilities and you will still need to feed, just save a bit on hay.

For what it costs to keep them at livery I decided to go about it a different way. I rent out my 3 bed semi and rent a smallholding with 16 acres, 5 stables and a school to ride in. It works out the same as keeping a horse on livery as there is enough land to make hay so I pay very little in feed and even have enough left over to sell. Plus there is the convenience of not having to commute. When I go on holiday I pay someone to house sit and they sort the dogs and the horses which actually costs less than putting the horse(s) on livery and the dogs in kennel, plus I have peace of mind the house is OK :)

LaLaLaaaa · 22/02/2015 08:10

I think your monthly budget is realistic. My horse was kept due £250 a month but he wasn't shod, was good doer and my livery was v cheap. If you factor in Physio, lessons, saddler, vet etc, shoeing, feed then your budget would be spot on. If it goes under then bonus! :)

I bought my horse for £2k and sold him for £3k all tack included

LaLaLaaaa · 22/02/2015 08:12

Ps mine was DIY livery. For part livery expect £450 or more a month for livery feed bedding, then you'd have your extra costs on top

AuntieDee · 22/02/2015 08:39

''I think your monthly budget is realistic. My horse was kept due £250 a month but he wasn't shod, was good doer and my livery was v cheap. If you factor in Physio, lessons, saddler, vet etc, shoeing, feed then your budget would be spot on. If it goes under then bonus! smile''

I think it's dangerous to suggest to a potentially new horse owner that these are 'extras' - they aren't extras and are essential to the ridden wellbeing of a horse. A novice owner could quickly become unstuck and end up with an unrideable horse from something as simple as the horse changing shape due to a change in workload and the saddle no longer fitting.

I've seen it lots of times - a new owner buys a 'bomb proof' horse, gets it home, diet changes, exercise regime changes, turnout changes and gradually the bomb proof horse develops quirks that the new owner is ill equipped to deal with.

Good backup of a dentist, saddler, nutritionist, back person (with vet), instructor etc are essential for a new owner - we all know how interfering the horseworld can be and its easy to get taken in by a know-it-all offering what appears to be sound advice but in fact, isn't. Professionals are invaluable to new owners :)

AuntieDee · 22/02/2015 08:41

lalalalaaa - I'm not calling you a know it all - you know they type I am talking about though I'm sure. There is one on every yard ;)

LaLaLaaaa · 22/02/2015 12:49

I didn't mean them as 'extras' ie not necessarily needed. I meant extras ie not covered by livery cost.

LaLaLaaaa · 22/02/2015 12:53

My first post was based on DIY as I pointed out that's what I had my horse on. So £250 livery plus all the other stuff vet etc makes it about £450 a month. I then pointed out in 2nd post that if you're on part livery it would be more like £450 for bedding feed livery plus then your farrier/vet/dentist etc. so would be a lot more.

Rosieposy4 · 22/02/2015 17:59

i think £500/month is a reasonable budget.mine are at home so no livery costs per se, round here DIY yards average out at £20-25 per week but that tends to include a school.
i buy in big bale haylage at £20 a bale, this lasts me a week for my three (one TB 16:2, a 13:2 cob and an elderly shetland)
Bedding - they are basically out all the time but come in for about 5 hours each evening, the mare is on a paper based bedding £6/bale, the other two on shavings at £5/bale. I use about a bale each for them each week on top of rubber matting.
They are all unshod, and the OPs description of the workload she is expecting a cob to do may well easily accomodate an unshod horse. However assuming not then around here a full set is £65, obviously every 6-8 weeks.
My vet does their teeth at the same time as vaccinations, came in at £110 per horse this year for both teeth and vaccs
Only my event mare is fully insured for everything, and she costs £35/month. Third party is essential, even if you decided to not insure for vets fees etc.
Alflafa, grass nuts, vitamins etc probably run to about another £10/week for the mare, slightly less for the cob.
Whilst a novice owner will need some help, the horse world is also notorious for its love for expensive extras and miracle cures/supplements/feeds/bits/saddlecloths that will improve your dressage score by x%, revolutionise your riding and so forth and it is important to keep that in mind.

A lovely yard fairly local to me charges £80/week for full livery inc all feed, haylage, bedding, mucking out etc and such an arrangement is probably a good one for a novice owner to start on. All call out fees for dentists/vets/physios are then split numerous ways between the horses so much reduced, and she wouldn't be searching for reputable and reliable professionals. So that would be £240/month, leaving her £260 for the rest of the stuff which should be perfectly doable

backinthebox · 22/02/2015 21:33

Our local DIY livery charges £120 per month, and we are supposedly in one of the most expensive parts of the country.

I've saved a lot of money this year by switching from small bales of hay to large bales - they are more of a pain to move (I get them delivered as close to the barn as I can and then cut the strings and move them slice by slice inside.) It's a pain, but I reckon it's saved me about £340 this winter.

I also started buying my bedding in bulk. My horses are on rubber matting with a wood pellet bedding. You can buy it buy the ton for about half the price if you buy it from a fuel website (you don't pay VAT on fuel, and you probably have a solid fuel boiler, don't you? ;) )

If you are spending £10 per month each on worming, teeth and vaccinations, you are having the wool pulled over your eyes. You shouldn't be worming more than quarterly (get a decent schedule from your vets, many equine vets will have an information page on their website with a decent schedule on) and Pramox (one of the most expensive wormers) doesn't cost more than £18 a tube. Our vets' do a free call out day if you are prepared to accept the appointment time they give you. Sadly for me, the free call out day is the same day our hunt meet, so I can't use it through the winter. I try to marry up teeth and vaccinations at the same time, and pay about £80 per year for each horse/pony.

Wrt hard feed, basically a horse should be fed in accordance with the amount of work that it is doing. You don't need a nutrionist, as has been suggested - call each of the big company helplines, and asks their advice. Be honest about the amount of work your horse is doing - 5 steady hacks a week is not hard work. My horse is currently hunting twice a week, 4-5 hrs work including fast work and hills each time, plus a 2-3 days a week of an hour very brisk hacking. He is being fed a considerable amount of conditioning and slow energy release feed to make sure he comes through the season in good condition and has the energy to keep going all day without being a fruit loop! plenty of fibre and oil based feeds, they are surprisingly cheap and he looks great. He doesn't get any balancer, vitamins, additives, etc - firstly he picks the bits out, secondly the feed companies that make stuff other than just balancer will tell you that you should only need balancer if your horse's diet is lacking in something. Be sure you know what it is you are trying to supplement in your horse's diet rather than just slinging some price pellets in because if it costs that much it must be doing them some good!

I actually totted up costs not too long ago as someone asked me for a breakdown with a view to buying a 14.2hh Connemara. This is the breakdown I gave:

Bedding £2.50/bag. Approx 70 bags a yr. You need rubber mats to start with with this bedding.
Hay £40/large bale.. Approx 7 bales a yr
Hard feed costs me about £40/month.
Shoes £60/ set, every 5-7 weeks.
Worming, teeth, jabs, about £150/yr.
Insurance - I don't insure the horse, I put money away for vets fees (£20/month) and have BHS Gold membership (£65/year) which covers me third party. Alternatively you can insure the horse for minimal loss value for the veterinary and third party fees.

I should add the reason I don't insure the horses is because the 'valuable' young one had a very serious illness as a 5yo that effectively makes him prohibitively expensive to insure, the lovely pony we are keeping forever is 'aged' now, and the third one is nearly sold anyway!

We worked it out to be about £150 covers the basics each month, plus livery - £120-ish if you are there morning and night, up to £5 per day extra if you need help. Lessons should be about £30 per lesson if you get a local instructor, prepare to pay more if they have to travel a way to get to you. Tack, vet visits/insurance excess, competitions, physio, new rugs (for the rug destroyers out there! But don't get sucked into buying millions of cheap crap ones, I have 2 Premier Equine outers and 3 liners per horse, and they live in and out in those,) these things are all extras. You can pick up equipment cheap at horsey car boots and ebay, but make sure you know what you are looking for.

Sorry if this is long winded, but as you can see, there are many ways of skinning this particular cat!

LaLaLaaaa · 22/02/2015 22:09

You can save a lot of money buying 2nd hand as the previous poster suggested. I buy good quality rugs 2nd hand and save a lot. I normally get them for about £15-20 compared with £30-60 new.

I agree with those up the thread who suggesting sharing or loaning first. I did this and it gave me great grounding in horse management and what is/isn't essential costs for keeping horse. I would definitely recommend it.

I would never ever scrimp on saddle purchase or fitting costs, as I've had a horse with bad back due to wrong saddle and it causes suffering to horse plus great expense putting it right. Ditto farrier - I had an excellent bare foot trimmer who came every 6 weeks without fail (£25) and he was worth his weight in gold.

But I don't buy rugs or general equipment new because you can save so much buying good quality stuff 2nd hand.

I did decide to insure because I didn't have enough money put away to cover any unexpected vet bills. So I had to factor in insurance (£45 per month).

Depending on whether you can buy hay and straw straight from fields you can sometimes save a bit. I would buy massive hay bale (£25) and straw (£20) which would last me a month each. It was good value because it was bought direct from field.

My dentist is £45 a visit (annual), Physio £40 biannual (or if he's stiff), worming twice a year (£12 for wormer) and worm count twice a year (£10 each time). Vaccinations annually (£50).

Livery costs were £160 including services (diy assisted). The lady who now owns my horse pays £500 for part livery.

My horse didn't have hard feed per se but I would give him salt lick (£10) and in summer he'd get balancer (£12 a bag, lasts about a month).

I think £500 is a realistic budget but as people have said it depends on the pony and how much help you need. Some ponies need more expensive shoes, some on special diets, so it really can vary.

Write it all down based on the pony you're interested in, the yard you're considering livery at the amount of support you need (ie part livery or services if DIY). Then add on your vet costs, dentist, farrier, general equipment, worming, lessons. Then add a bit on for contingency. That'll give you a rough idea of your monthly cost.

But definitely consider loaning/share first, it's a brilliant way to ease into horse ownership!

AuntieDee · 23/02/2015 00:03

If you aren't going to insure OP, have a decent amount of savings stacked up. My friend's horse has just had colic surgery and it cost £6000! Before you agree to any procedure always find the cost (and the cost if it goes wrong) - it can be a heck of a lot more than you may expect :(

backinthebox · 23/02/2015 08:44

My tuppence - veterinary bills can be a lot more if your horse IS insured! My horse had surgery for an unusual and aggressive cancer in a very difficult to deal with place. He had to have a general anaesthetic and a stay in hospital. This was followed up by a course of chemotherapy, and subsequent daily visits by the vet for antibiotics when the surgery site got infected. (Not going to tell you where his tumour was, as it would certainly out me! But it was nothing at all to do with either the vet or post surgery care that the site got infected, it was just in a very difficult to keep clean place.) A few months later he had a second course of chemo. The bill for all of this was in the thousands, but nowhere near what I had expected (and certainly not 6k!) The vets did not give me any discounts, but is suspect there was a bit of clinical single-minded ness going on when they found he was not insured.

I would agree that you need to have a bit set aside if you do need veterinary treatment, but it is one of those things you need to weigh up. I made the decision to not insure when I bought my third horse - over the course of the previous 8 years I had paid out £9600 in insurance premiums and had made claims to the value of only £1200. Thus 'wasting' £8400, the price of a couple of good horses! Of course, having made this decision, and in true 'that's horses for you' style, I was only on my second month of putting money in the bank instead on insurers pockets when my horse was diagnosed! It is a personal decision and I would usually recommend that the one horse owner, especially the first time owner, have insurance.

couldhavebeenme · 23/02/2015 09:29

OP I think your budget is about right for purchase (you can probably get something for less than that if you have any savvy knowledgeable friends to pick through the ads with you, or if you go for something in its teens which would be a v good idea for a novice owner). Your monthly budget is OK too. Make sure that if you insure you have enough put aside for the excess and anything not covered. I have always managed by having a separate horse account into which a set value goes each month and then you build up money over the summer to cover the extra costs in the winter.

Do think carefully about the insurance, over the past 4 years horses have racked up in the region of £12-13K worth of vets fees for me (fortunately insured). You need either the insurance or a good buffer in savings and a sensible attitude towards what you do if something goes wrong with the horse. Vets appear very good at spending as much as possible on insured horses...if you aren't insured for something, from experience you often get a more pragmatic answer...

Mamab33 · 23/02/2015 11:35

NFU and Pet Plan insurance are good coverage and service. I've only known one person get anything out of E&L and that was a really good court lawyer. Avoid E&L even though they advertise aggressively they are known amongst owners and vets for never paying out.

backinthebox · 23/02/2015 11:41

Oh, yes, avoid E&L like the plague. The only person I ever knew who was insured with them had to battle to get the cost of her vets fees paid because she had had treatment without their permission. It was emergency treatment on a weekend and they don't answer their phones on a weekend. They have a very poor reputation and are specialists in fleecing new owners! NFU, KBIS, SEIS, Shearwater, all much better.

kormachameleon · 23/02/2015 11:56

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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Equimum · 02/03/2015 08:52

Initial costs when we bought DH:-
Livery £97/week (inclusive part)
Insurance £45/m (including 2 riders)
Farrier £80/6 weekly
Wormer £12-15/3-4mthly
Vaccination £50-60 (shared call-out)
Clipping £24 6 weekly in winter
Lessons £24

DH then gave himself a couple of injuries paid for by insurance

Costs now (post-injury)
Livery £97/ week
Insurance £61/mth
Farrier £180!!!!!!!/ 5 weekly remedial
Supplements £25ish/ month
Chiropractor £35/6-8 weeks
Wormer All as before
Clipping lessons

We have also had a couple of emergency vet call-outs this tear which have been just over £100 each, plus painkillers etc. SH has then needed two new rugs, leg bandages, equipment to treat an abcess, a new girth etc etc...

Basically, our experience has been than costs can change rapidly, there are constant unexpected bills/ needs and that you really need a good contingency plan. Due to DH injury, he is more lightly ridden now, so not practical to have a sharer etc.

lemonstartree · 03/03/2015 23:29

anyone know what full livery would be in Surrey ?

AuntieDee · 04/03/2015 16:01


This was in 2008 so it will be more now

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