Horse Prices: How Much Does A Horse Cost?
In general, buying a horse can cost anywhere between £500 and upwards of £40,000! A lot of factors contribute to the price of a horse, such as breed, size, age, pedigree and training, so depending on what it is that you’re looking for, you can expect costs to vary wildly.
To help you get a more realistic idea of what you should expect to pay for an average horse, we took the prices listed across a total of 19,309 ‘Horses For Sale’ ads and found that the average price of a horse on Horsemart is around £3,750. But what if you’ve got a specific breed or type in mind - what should you expect to pay for the horse of your dreams?
Below, we’ve listed the average price brackets on site for our most popular 10 types of horse, to give you an idea what the rough costs are for each. Please bear in mind, the price will still vary based on factors such as those listed above, and it will not be uncommon to find examples of horses on site that fall either side of these price brackets;
- Cob: £1,500 - £5,000
- Irish Sport Horse: £3,500 - £7,500
- Connemara Pony: £3,000 - £7,000
- Irish Draught: £3,000 - £6,000
- New Forest Pony: £1,000 - £3,000
- Dutch Warmblood: £4,000 - £6,500
- Hanoverian: £4,000 - £8,000
- Andalusian: £4,500 - £9,000
- Friesian: £1,500 - £4,500
- Appaloosa: £2,000 - £4,000
Horse ownership brings with it a huge amount of pleasure and enjoyment, but before you take the giant leap and purchase your first horse, there are a wide range of other costs associated with owning a horse that you’ll need to take into account. The cost of keeping a horse in the UK is a big commitment and it’s vital that you appreciate the ongoing financial implications.
The number of abandoned horses in the UK is on the rise, and this is partly due to the fact that some people choose to buy a horse without having thought about the ongoing costs, only to discover that they are unable to keep up with the payments.
When deciding whether a horse is an affordable investment, you need to factor in day to day living costs, including food, healthcare, stabling, insurance and more.
We’ve broken down the main costs involved in horse ownership, to help you get a better idea of the size of the commitment you’re making.
How to use this guide…
There are 5 main sections to this guide. We’ve broken it down so you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for. Simply click on one of the titles below to be taken to that section of the guide;
- The Cost Of Boarding A Horse - Livery and bedding options with suggestions on suitability
- The Cost Of Feeding A Horse - Considerations on basic diet and additional requirements
- The Cost Of Healthcare For A Horse - Essential upkeep, such as veterinary care, farriery, dentistry and worming
- The Cost Of Equestrian Insurance - Choosing the right level of financial cover
- Additional Costs Involved In Owning A Horse - Other financial factors to take into account, such as riding equipment, transport and more
Livery Options & Costs
There are many different types of livery available and it can be hard to know what the best option is for you and your horse. We’ve broken down the basic types and given an estimated cost for each, to help you make a more informed decision.
Field / Land Rental
As you're probably already aware, field or land rental is where a farmer rents out his land for horse owners to use for grazing. This is only a viable option if your horse or pony is fairly hardy and is happy to live out all year round. Field rental tends to cost around £10 and £20 a week, depending on the facilities offered (if any) and the size of the land available, but can also vary greatly based on location. Whilst this initially appears to be the cheapest option, you'll find that the fields generally have very few facilities and you may also be responsible for the maintenance of the field, so the extra costs mount up quickly. As your horse is likely to be left completely unattended for the majority of the day and night, this can also create additional worries about their safety or wellbeing.
While this is a good option for those who have the time and experience, and will give you the satisfaction of having full control, it isn’t an option we’d recommend for inexperienced owners as it will require a lot of effort and dedication, along with an extensive knowledge of your horse’s requirements. Renting land also means that you will be responsible for absolutely everything, with nobody else on hand for help or advice. For those that are new to horse ownership, the guidance of someone with experience and the availability of a helping hand is invaluable. This is why the majority of horse owners choose to keep their horse/s at a livery yard, which will also offer additional benefits and facilities, such as tack rooms, schooling arenas, training equipment, etc.
The costs for field or land rental are hard to calculate, as while you’ll save on bedding and feed costs (for most of the year) you’ll still have many potential costs on top of the actual price of your rent; electricity/water bills, insurance, maintenance, muck heap removal… the list goes on!
Grass DIY Livery
If you’re not quite ready to go it alone by renting land, but have a decent amount of experience in caring for your horse or pony, Grass DIY Livery can be a good alternative option for horses that are happy to be kept outside year-round. You’ll get grazing for your horse and there’ll likely be people close-by if something goes wrong, but you will still be responsible for everything involved in your horse’s daily care routine; poo-picking, feeding, twice daily visits, etc.
Some grazing will come with a field shelter or optional stable, which is a huge benefit, but will of course increase prices. If there is no shelter provided, we advise making sure that there is at least some natural shelter available in the form of hedges and trees so your horse can seek refuge from bad weather. However, without a purpose built shelter or stable, you may still encounter issues when it comes to very cold and wet seasons or periods of potential box rest.
For Grass DIY Livery you can expect to pay about £20 to £25+ per week, plus feeding costs during the winter (see below).
This is probably the cheapest option for those looking for grazing with the added benefit of a stable. Some yards will provide hay and bedding as part of their costs for DIY Livery, but it’s worth checking this out as quite often this will be your responsibility.
As above, this is a ‘Do It Yourself’ option, meaning you will still be responsible for all the daily tasks, from morning turnout to bringing in time, so you’ll still need to have a good knowledge of your horse’s needs and have the time for twice daily visits and all that they involve.
We estimate that DIY Livery costs roughly £25 - £40+ per week, plus potential costs for bedding and feed (see below).
Assisted DIY Livery
Striking a good compromise between DIY and Part Livery, Assisted DIY Livery is ideal for those that feel they have the time for DIY but need a little more flexibility. As the name implies, this package is the same as DIY, but with the additional benefit of being able to get some help when you need it.
There will usually be a list of extra tasks that can be paid for individually, as and when they are required (turning out/bringing in, feeding, mucking out, etc). This allows you the freedom to make changes to your routine, go on holiday, reduce your number of daily visits, or even just have a lie in!
An average price for Assisted DIY Livery is about £35 - £60+ a week, but remember, costs can mount up quickly when you’re asking for more assistance. If you find yourself requiring more of the staff than you initially thought, it may be time to consider Part Livery as a more cost-effective solution.
If you have limited time but want to ensure that any moments spent with your horse or pony involve some quality bonding (riding and grooming), then Part Livery might be the answer. The yard will likely do all of the regular tasks for you to meet your horse’s basic needs (turning out/bringing in, rug changes, feeding, mucking out, etc), leaving the fun bits for you to enjoy! Most Part Livery packages will also include all hay and bedding costs, so this can be a huge advantage.
If you like to be hands on when you get the chance, some yards will also offer an alternative package that gives you the best of both worlds; Part Livery on weekdays and DIY/Assisted DIY at the weekends. This is ideal for those working a 9-5 job during the week and can cut down on costs, so be sure to ask about all the options available.
Part Livery can cost anywhere between about £70 and £100+ per week, which may seem like a bit of a jump from the DIY options, but you’ll get a good range of extras included and it often works out as the best solution overall, both in terms of time and cost.
For those with a busy schedule, looking for full flexibility without the associated daily worries, Full Livery might be the way to go. Full Livery includes everything you get with Part Livery but with the added bonus of grooming and exercise included, so you can stay safe in the knowledge that your horse is being properly cared for, whatever your schedule. All hay and bedding costs will also be included in the price.
Whilst Full Livery allows you the ultimate freedom to come and go when you please, it certainly doesn’t come cheap! Costs can be anywhere from £100 - £150+ per week, depending on your horse’s needs (how many times a day they need to be exercised etc), so this package is better suited to those with limited time, not limited funds!
If your horse or pony is stabled throughout the year but you haven’t opted for Part or Full Livery, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of bedding. There are plenty of different bedding options available for purchase, and finding the right one for you and your horse will be a compromise between what best meets your needs and your budget. The cost of different types of bedding can vary wildly based on your location in the UK, and how much prices fluctuate over time will depend largely on the rate of local production and availability.
The main options for consideration when buying horse bedding are as follows;
- Straw (chopped or otherwise)
- Sawdust and wood shavings
- Wood pellets
- Rubber matting
Each of these options has pros and cons, and factors like palatability, dustiness and absorbency should all be considered when making your choice.
Depending on which bedding option you choose, you’re looking at an average cost of around £10 - £20 per week.
On top of the cost of stabling and/or providing grazing for your horse, you’ll also need to consider the cost of feeding them when they don’t have access to fresh grass. Forage makes up the majority of a horse’s diet, but when stabled without access and/or during winter, when there’s little to no nutrition left in the grass, grazing will need to be supplemented with hay or haylage. As mentioned above, if your horse is on Part or Full Livery, then the cost of hay will already be taken care of as part of the package. If a horse remains stabled and in work throughout the winter, they will likely require additional hard feed, on top of their primary ration of forage, to maintain condition and energy levels. Some livery packages will also include the cost of hard feed, but it’s worth checking this out with each individual livery.
Hay and Haylage Costs
If you choose to keep your horse or pony at grass, then it’s worth noting that hay will usually only be needed in the winter, when the grass is scarce. This means you’ll likely only need to buy hay for around five months of the year, at a cost of about £10 per week, or £210 per year. If, however, your horse is stabled and on a DIY livery package, then you’ll be required to purchase hay the entire year-round, meaning a yearly cost of around £520.
Some choose to feed haylage rather than hay, which can be slightly more costly, but due to higher levels of digestible energy (DE) it can be better for horses in work. So although haylage could cost as much as £5 more than hay a week, it can mean you make a saving on additional hard food (see below). Both are produced in similar ways, but cutting times, preservation methods and levels of dry matter vary - hay contains roughly 80% dry matter, while haylage contains between 40 and 60% - which directly affects digestibility and nutritional value.
The higher level of dry matter found in hay means it often contains more respirable dust, which could be detrimental to a stabled horse’s respiratory health and even reduce lung capacity over time. However, it is this dry matter that is beneficial in providing the horse with the undiluted nutrients needed to sustain them over winter. Haylage, on the other hand, contains slightly less respirable particles, and can be richer and more digestible due to having been cut earlier. However, the lower level of dry matter means horses need 1.25 to 1.5 times the amount of haylage in comparison to hay, in order to get the fibre they need.
To find out more about the difference between hay and haylage, from when it’s cut to how it’s preserved, see our article ‘The Difference Between Hay And Haylage... Explained’.
Whether you feed hay or haylage (or a mix of both) is a personal choice that only you can make based on the specific needs of your horse or pony. Whatever you choose, the focus should be on ensuring it is of good quality, clean and as free from harmful dust as possible. Hay or haylage can be soaked before feeding to avoid excess dust, however, it should be noted that this creates a further loss of nutrients, which again means an increase in the amount needed to be fed. Steaming hay or haylage is a great way to kill mould and bacteria in the fodder, to ensure it remains palatable and there’s no loss of nutritional value.
Hard Feed Costs
The amount of hard feed required on top of a horse’s forage intake greatly depends on their size, weight, body type, exercise routine and living conditions. A ‘hardy’ horse or pony, who lives out at grass all year round with only light exercise, may not need much hard food, if any. However, a stabled horse who will likely be kept in work throughout the winter will almost certainly need supplementary hard feed, and could require this year-round, rather than just during the colder months.
Again, there are plenty of feed options available for horses and ponies, designed to give them what they need in the way of fibre and nutrients. Obviously, prices will vary based on what sort of feed you chose but you can expect it to add around £5 - 10 to your costs per week.
Horse Supplement Costs
In some cases horse supplements will also be required, which can be relatively costly. The most common types of horse supplements are vitamins and minerals, designed to help replace those being lost through inadequate forage intake or feed treatment (soaking hay removes vitamins B and C as they are water soluble). Horses need these vitamins to help support essential bodily functions, such as the production of skin, bone and muscle, as well as the repair of cells, tissues and organs.
If a horse has a balanced diet, with regular access to good grass, then supplements are generally not needed throughout the majority of the year, as the grass or hay they eat should have adequate levels of these essential vitamins. However, as a horse gets older or develops any health issues, supplements may be required in order to support healthy bodily function and prolong the life of the horse.
The cost of supplements varies hugely based on the horse’s personal requirements, so it’s best to get an idea of exactly what deficiencies your horse has and then shop around before committing to any one brand or supplier.
In order to ensure the long term health and happiness of your new horse or pony, it’s important to factor in the additional monthly and annual costs that will be required. We’ve summarised these costs below to ensure you have considered all aspects of the continued care they will need throughout their lives.
Equine Veterinarian Costs
Annual vaccinations will be required to protect your horse or pony against Influenza (flu) and Tetanus. You should expect these vaccinations to cost approximately £35 per year, and you will also be required to pay around £35 for the vet’s call out charge.
Equine influenza can be contracted and spread very easily, and although the virus itself is not usually fatal, if complications occur it can lead on to pneumonia and other longer term ailments. In the case of equine tetanus, once contracted, the chances of recovery are extremely low and most cases, sadly, result in death. This makes keeping up with your horse’s annual boosters an essential part of their lifetime care.
Whether your horse is shod or not, their hooves will need regular attention as they continually grow, just like our nails. They should be visited by a farrier every six weeks, but this might be required more frequently if your horse is shod and has a habit of ‘losing’ shoes!
If your horse is barefoot, a visit from the farrier for trimming will cost around £25 - £40. However, if they are shod and need a full set of new shoes, you’re looking at anywhere between about £60 and £90 a visit.
Equine Dentistry Costs
Your horse will also need regular visits from a qualified Equine Dental Technician. The oral health of your horse relates directly to their overall health, so it is advisable to ensure a equine dentist is called out to examine your horse’s teeth every 6 - 12 months. These routine checks are designed to identify any issues that might have developed - such as enamel overgrowths, decay, gaps and smoothing of teeth - and ensure your horse is not experiencing any discomfort.
A visit from an equine dentist can cost anywhere between £50 and £80.
If your horse is suffering from oral pain, they will likely display signs of this in their behaviour; this could be anything from chewing unsuccessfully (or on one side of the mouth) to behavioural changes when they’re ridden. If you notice any indications that your horse has oral discomfort, your equine dentist should be called out as soon as possible to examine them. In the event of an ongoing problem, you’ll likely need more regular visits from your Equine Dental Technician or Equine Veterinarian, so costs can mount up quickly.
Equine Worming Costs
Worming your horse plays an incredibly important part in keeping their gut healthy and functioning correctly. If your horse or pony becomes heavily infested with worms, the damage to their gut can lead to weight loss, colic, diarrhoea and other significant issues which, in severe cases, can be life threatening. Even an apparently healthy horse can have a worm burden bad enough to cause health problems.
Currently, there is an increasing issue with resistance, where over-treatment of worms via routine worming has led to wormer medications no longer being effective against several different types of these parasites. The best way to avoid this, whilst also keeping costs to a minimum, is to use a targeted worming programme to ensure your horse or pony is only wormed when necessary, and for the right types of worm at the right points in the year.
It is advisable to use faecal egg count tests to your advantage when deciding whether your horse needs worming or not. These tests are inexpensive and are effective at preventing over-worming. However, it’s worth noting that the presence of some types of worm cannot be detected by these tests, so these worms will need to be treated at key times of the year, or will require additional blood or saliva testing to detect the levels actually present in the horse.
There are targeting worming plans available for purchase, which offer tailored worming programmes specific to your horse. These packages will usually include a number of worm egg count tests throughout the year at a discounted rate, with the ability to add testing for other types of worm at a reduced cost.
Annual testing kits can cost between £25 - £50, based on what they include testing for and how many tests are supplied, with the wormers themselves costing anywhere between £5 and £20 depending on the type of wormer and its active ingredients.
Accidents can happen at any time - and could affect you, your horse or a third party - so having appropriate equestrian insurance, with a level of cover suitable for your personal requirements, is an essential part of horse ownership.
Insurance providers will offer a range of plans - some of which may be easier to tailor than others - covering a range of incidents, including cover in the event of death, theft/loss and legal liability. As an absolute minimum, you will want to ensure that you purchase third party liability cover, which will leave you protected should someone decide to take legal action against you for any damage or injury inflicted by your horse.
Additional factors to consider when choosing the right level of financial cover for you and your horse include;
- Vets fees and ongoing treatments
- Permanent loss of use
- Personal accident
- Tack and equipment
- Body disposal in the event of death
- Trailers and carts
You should never enter into any insurance agreement unless you have complete confidence in the terms and conditions of the deal, and are fully aware of the amount of cover (and the length of cover) that will be offered should an incident occur in regards to your equestrian experience.
The cost of insurance can obviously vary hugely depending on individual requirements, but for a basic policy without many added extras, you’re looking at a cost of at least £25 per month minimum. That said, it’s not unusual to see this rise to over £50 a month, once adequate additional cover has been chosen.
While this may seem expensive, having good insurance cover can potentially save you a fortune in the event of accident or injury, and is an investment well worth making for the long term.
Horse Equipment Costs
If you are planning to ride your new horse or pony then you’ll also need to consider the costs involved in kitting yourself and your horse out with the necessary tack and equipment. Furthermore, if you wish to compete together you will also need to purchase the relevant attire for whichever discipline you choose to take part in. Even if you aren’t planning to saddle up any time soon, you will almost certainly still need to purchase various rugs to keep your horse protected from the weather throughout the seasons.
This initial outlay can be pricey, especially when starting your collection from scratch, but can be seen as more of a start-up cost than an ongoing expenditure. That said, there will of course be times you need to renew or update your existing rugs and equipment, so it’s worth setting aside enough extra cash to ensure something can be easily replaced if broken etc.
It’s also worth considering the costs of both grooming and medical products, which can easily mount up. For some guidance on first aid equipment, see our article ‘What Should Be In Your Equine First Aid Kit? Hesteyri Horses Show Us Theirs!’
Equine Transport Costs
One cost that is often overlooked is that of moving your horse, whether it be from one yard to another or from home to shows etc. There are plenty of professional companies that offer horse transportation for a set fee per mile, however, if you are using these sorts of services regularly it can quickly become an expensive way to travel.
If you are planning on competing often or will require your horse to be moved on a regular basis, then a more cost effective solution might be to invest in your own mode of transport. What best suits your needs will depend mainly on how many horses you are planning to transport at any one time, but options range from the more affordable one horse trailers all the way through to high-end horseboxes containing over 6 stalls.
For more information, see our article ‘What To Consider When Buying A Horsebox’.
Riding Tuition & Competition Fees
If you have purchased your new horse or pony with the intention of riding them, then riding lessons of some kind will likely be required to further your education. The cost of tuition can vary greatly, with the biggest factor being location. A 45 minute private riding lesson can cost as much as £75 in parts of the South, whereas the same length of lessons can be found for around £45 in the North of the UK. Group lessons should be considered to keep costs to a minimum, reducing the cost for a full an hour to anywhere between £35 - £45 in the South, and £20 - £30 in the North. It’s also worth noting that day courses can work out to be much more cost effective per hour of riding, and often, an organised hack in the countryside will cost far less than a lesson in an arena.
For tips on how to get the most from any tuition time you do have, see our article ‘How To Make The Most Of Your Riding Lessons’
If you plan to compete in affiliated competitions, you’ll need to buy a membership to the society within which you would like to compete (British Dressage, British Showjumping or British Eventing). Membership for any one of these societies can cost up to £180 for the year, and entry fees for each competition will also be applicable. The easiest way to keep costs down when competing is to stay unaffiliated. Participating in unaffiliated competitions does not require you to be a member of any society and entry fees will be considerably cheaper.
While we’ve covered most of the regular costs involved in horse ownership, horses are unpredictable and can often throw up unexpected bills, so it is important to have a contingency for such occasions. Keeping aside at least an extra £1000 a year can provide a reasonable financial buffer should they become ill or injured and require extra medical treatment. Plus it allows you that little bit extra for other unexpected costs, such as additional visits from the farrier for lost shoes, the replacement of damaged equipment or even a hay shortage causing a steep hike in prices.
Ready to take the next step and start your search for an equine companion? Have a look at these useful guides to the buying process and beyond;
Once you've got a better idea of what it is you're looking for, why not check out the horses currently or sale on Horsemart...
Please note: All prices given in this guide are approximate and are based on prices that are correct at the time of writing (September 2020).