I honestly think people are losing their minds. And understandably so. With the cost of everything skyrocketing (including everything related to horse ownership) it seems there are those asking if it would be less expensive to commute by horseback instead of driving your car to work everyday. And I can honestly say NO – Riding a horse is not cheaper than driving a car.
I found an article, “Is Riding A Horse Cheaper Than Driving A Car?” Where the author shares there ideas about the cost of owning a horse, and what it takes to care for said horse. The article gives very basic, and vague figures for how much it costs to ride a horse and then compares it to how much someone with a car spends in a year. The author claims that a driver will spend about $5,000 a year for gas and $1000 a year for insurance. But they left out the incidentals like oil changes, routine maintenance, and heaven forbid, other expenses or repairs that always seem to come up. So this should be your first indicator that this article is just an attention getter – not really something to take seriously.
But then they go very briefly into their thoughts of how much a “horse rider” will spend on a horse in a year. You know, to compare the two ideas, as well as show what they think it costs to own a horse for a year.
How Much Does it Really Cost to Have a Horse?
In the article ( I use that term loosely) the author claims a “horse rider” is likely to spend $3000 for the horse, (I paid $6000 for Frisby 16 years ago) $4000 to stable said animal, (that would be $333.33 a month) $700 to learn how to ride it, and $1800 to feed it for a year. They then throw in the jab ” That’s one hungry horse”.
And yeah, I know they are trying to be funny, but obviously have not done any real research at what it costs to actually own a horse. For their article they claim it will cost about $10,000 a year to ride a horse. And I wish their assumption were true that you spend $700 and poof! You’re a fantastic rider! So in the rare chance that the author would find my article and read it, I thought I would share some real figures with them.
For simplicity sake, I will only be using Plezant as my example. Sorry Frisby – I will save you for another analysis. But for one horse this is what I spend in a month for feed.
- 3×3 Bale of Timothy Hay: $175.00
- 2 bags of Senior horse feed: $62.00
- 6 Bags of Alfalfa/Timothy pellets: $90.00
- Supplements (MSM, Weight Builder, Horseshine, Simplifly, Vitamin Supplement) $105.00
So for the month it costs about $430 to feed my horse. So I guess I have a REALLY hungry horse at a cost of $5,160 a year.
The author didn’t really seem to even realize this was a thing, I guess with the exception of stating $4000 to stable the horse for the year. But lets look a little closer at that number. If they are referring to boarding a horse, They are giving $333.33 a month for boarding costs. Well I don’t know about where you live, but boarding a horse where I live is a little more expensive. So lets give a realistic number of $550.00 for full care (this includes the feed) Which puts the annual housing cost at $6600.
Now I am fortunate because I keep my horses at home so I don’t have the boarding expense. But I do have a mortgage on my horse property/home. And I live where I do in order to keep my horses at home. So let’s figure a portion of my mortgage to be considered for my ‘board’ at $400 a month – which is close to their figure.
But they left out routine vet visits (at minimum one time a year at about $350.00) Medications, and farrier costs. My horses are cheap when it comes to their hoof care. They are barefoot, so it costs me $75.00 every 6 weeks for hoof trimming. Or about $650 a year. And if I were riding my horse to work – he would need shoes. So add on a much higher cost here.
The author also feels that it will cost $700 for a person to learn how to ride that horse. Really? $700 to ‘learn’ how to ride? And I am assuming this is their idea of how much lessons cost? If you calculate that out, it is less than $15.00 a lesson for a years worth of riding lessons. But again, a more realistic figure for riding lessons would be about $3900. And this is very dependent on your local area.
And All the Extras
And they completely glossed over the tack, equipment and clothing necessary for being a “horse rider”. You have your saddle, bridle, saddle pads, riders clothing, boots, helmet, etc., etc., etc…..
And then just the logistics of actually commuting to work on your horse, wow. For starters, where are you going to put the horse once you get to work? Who’s is going to care for him while you are working? I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to stay within the lines of his parking space. And sitting here writing this, I am thinking of what it would be like to ride Plezant to work. Yes, it’s a comical thought. I can just see the wheel in his brain turning right now……“hmmmmm, how am I going to try to get hurt today?”
Riding A Horse Is Not Cheaper Than Driving A Car
Alright, so let’s reassess their claim that it costs about $10,000 (then they do say or more) a year. And yes, they are right – it is more. My annual horse cost is about $18,000 a year. And I don’t even show my horses.
But if they were looking to spark a fire, they definitely did. I’m not the only one who decided to write an article because of their article.
So I suppose mission accomplished. They got their clicks. But if you found this article because you thought this just might be a viable option, you know, to ride a horse to work, instead of driving your car? Well I hope this gives a little bit more of a realistic information on the real cost of owning a horse. And those of us who own horses do it for the joy and companionship our horses give to us, not because we are trying to save a buck.