Cost of Keeping Horses At Home

Stephanie over at Hand Gallop posted about the differences in cost for her in keeping her horses at home versus her previous boarding arrangement and it prompted me to reconsider this as a post/informal blog hop? I’ve thought about sharing something similar before, but I’m lazy and my record keeping as far as horse expenses is minimal at best, so I’ll be using estimates… 😉

First, to summarize my situation: my farm is in rural SWVA (where horse keeping costs are pretty low) and I have 26 acres with a creek on one end and my barn on the opposite. My barn is stick built with metal siding measuring 96′ x 60′ with a rough tack room, three stalls and two cross tie stalls. There is an additional hay barn at the lower end of the farm.


Paige and Joey at dusk in front of the barn.

Bills: Since I inherited my property from my father it is, very luckily, paid for. I do pay for liability insurance and an electric bill to literally keep the lights on. During the summer, the electric bill runs around $15, which is basically the fee the electric company charges to keep service to the barn, not really any actual electricity since I use so little during summer. During winter it can reach $30 if I run heating elements in my water troughs. Totally worth it to not have to bust ice out of the troughs though. So approximately $225 a year for electricity and $500 a year for insurance.

Feed: I have a 20 acre hay field that a man comes and mows. He takes the bulk of the hay and leaves me with a smaller amount (20 round bales last year). I generally buy nicer hay for my horses who need the extra nutrition boost, but since I only really feed during winter, I’d say I generally spend between $600-$900 on hay for the year, depending on how much the big pasture makes. Let’s just say I pay $750 for hay to make mathing easier.


Panorama shots for the win.

Copper is the only thing that is grained, and typically only during winter, which lasts for about 20 weeks. If I do the math that a 50lb bag of Ultium (what he normally gets in winter) lasts two weeks, the cost to grain him through winter is a little over $200. I forsee Joey being grained during winter this year as well, so we’ll say he’ll get $150 in grain as I have no idea how much or what he’ll be getting. If winter is particularly bad, they may get grained additionally into spring.

So our total right now is approximately $1,825.00 for a year for 5 horses. Well 6 counting the boarder…speaking of the boarder, let’s look at how that plays into the equation…

I have one cash paying boarder who I get almost $1400 from per year. I also have a few other horses with one owner who contributes skilled labor to the farm (fence building, tractor skills, mechanic skills, etc.), so there is an immeasurable value there as well. This boarder also provides grain and hay for their horses, so that isn’t added in the above totals, but I do buy hay for the cash boarder and treat her as one of my own horses in that regard.


A storm that came through last week.

So there’s about $425 of expenses per year that the farm doesn’t generate the income to pay for, which would be easily remedied if I were to get a second boarder who pays with real money (that’s the only kind of boarder I’m open to right now, luckily my current labor boarder fulfills all of my farm needs wonderfully himself).

While I’m technically open to the idea of more boarders, I’m beyond picky about who I allow to board with me because my farm is kind of where I go to get away from people, so if I let you board with me I REALLY like you. Because otherwise, it’s just not worth running into someone annoying when I need me time. I also get easily annoyed when people use my things without asking…

So what isn’t factored in here is my time and incidentals. It generally takes me an hour to do evening chores. If anyone is stalled you have to add stall cleaning to that, but that is so seldom that I’m not counting it really. Incidentals are fun because they’re unplanned expenses that you just casually occur. Like last week when the hydraulics went out on the tractor…guess what you can do with your tractor without hydraulics to lift the bucket in the front? Nothing. So that very useful labor boarder fixed it for me and I only had to pay the $65 for the new hose. Of course, if you ever plan to do projects like fencing, building run ins, etc. that will also cost.


You must lift the bucket to go forward…

I didn’t factor in vet and farrier care because they’d be something I’d be paying even if I boarded somewhere. Board in this area (pasture board, full service) runs between $150 and $200 a month to the best of my knowledge, so to board even the four horses that I intend to keep for the rest of their lives, that would be $800 a month as compared to the out of pocket ~$40 bucks a month in costs that my boarding income doesn’t cover.

So, that is how I afford to have way too many horses. And I didn’t even include the donkeys (or Highness) in the math because there’s no way I would have them if I were boarding. Lord knows I wouldn’t even have the four I plan to keep for the entirety of their lives if I had to board.


11 thoughts on “Cost of Keeping Horses At Home

  1. Middle of no where for the win so far as horse keeping goes! Also, having enough pasture to keep horses on year round with minimal grain needs is wonderful. Life up here in WV is much the same.

  2. Ugh. Keeping horses at home is how I end up with too many!!! Haha.
    Even so I’m way above you in expenses because I don’t have pasture or a field to grow hay in. Maybe one day I can move to a place as nice as yours.
    Also, you should consider Catalina as a potential border. She’s only marginally annoying and would probably start a little Equidae gang with Poppy.

  3. Living in the middle of nowhere certainly has its advantages when it comes to expenses. When I hear about boarding costs down south, or out west, I am very grateful that it is so affordable here.

  4. Sounds like you have a pretty great set up! Like the 900fbp, your yearly is pretty close to my monthly. 😦 Hopefully I will sell my condo/find an acreage soon

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