First Time Horse Owner’s Checklist

An essential guide to everything you need to know before buying a horse

You’ve been promising yourself that one day you’ll get a horse of your own and now that moments come, you’re understandably full of excitement but because you’ve never bought a horse before you’re also daunted about where to start, what to look for, where to keep your horse, what equipment you might need, not to mention finding a vet farrier and dentist.

I’ve been there many times before myself and have made a lot of mistakes so thought I’d put together a helpful checklist of EVERYTHING you’ll need. From where and how to find the right horse to where to keep it, from tack and rugs to feed and finding a vet, farrier and dentist to bedding and riding, I’ll also go into the basics of trailers.

Before you start looking for a horse

Buying a horse is a very big commitment and one that should be taken lightly. Horse’s are living creatures that need to be looked after every day. When it’s pouring with rain outside or the snow is knee deep ask yourself if you would be prepared to go and look after your horse? If you don’t think you would then maybe owning a horse isn’t for you. It’s not for everybody and if you don’t think you could commit to a horse then why not consider loaning a horse with other people. That way you can share the work load and still get to enjoy owning a horse. If you think you would be prepared to visit your horse no matter what the weather then you’re a step nearer to actually owning one.

Can you really afford a horse?

The cost of looking after and caring for a horse is dependant on a number of factors such as the age of the horse, where you’ll be keeping it as well as whether you intend to compete or just ride for pleasure. You’ll also need to provide feed, hay and shelter for your horse as well as veterinary and dental care and farrier visits. Don’t forget to include things like tack, rugs, grooming kit and don’t forget your riding clothes too. Insurance is also a very good idea and can help with some of the vet fees.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have your own land to keep your horse on you’ll also have to think about livery or boarding costs. While the cost can vary from area to area and from country to country the tables below should hopefully give you a very rough idea of the annual cost of keeping a horse. While I’ve included a ‘reserve’ expense for things like extra vet visits you hadn’t expected,  I’ve not included tack and rugs in the table because you shouldn’t need to buy these every year.

Pasture Board or Grass Livery cost

USA Canada UK Australia
Board $1,100 – $1,750 $1,350 – $2,310 £840 – £1,440 $1,500 – $2,570
Hay $115 – $205 $150 – $275 £95 – £170 $170 – $300
Feed $120 – $305 $160 – $400 £100 – £250 $180 – $445
Monthly total $111 – $188 $138 – $249 £86 – £155 $155 – $276
Self-Board or DIY Livery cost

USA Canada UK Aus
Board $2,605 – $3,645 $2,220 – $4,815 £1,320 – £3,000 $2,360 – $5,355
Hay $135 – $230 $175 – $165 £110 – £190 $195 – $340
Bedding $160 – $510 $110 – $675 £130 – £420 $230 – $750
Feed $305 – $670 $400 – $885 £250 – £550 $445 – $980
Monthly total $267 – $421 $242 – $545 £151 – £347 $269 – $619
Full board cost

USA Canada UK Australia
Board $4,375 – $11,660  $5,780 – $15,415 £3,600 – £9,600 $6,430 – $17,140
Hay Included in board/livery cost
Bedding Included in board/livery cost
Feed Included in board/livery cost
Monthly total $365 – $972 $482 – $1,285 £300 – £800 $536 – $1,428
Other expenses

USA Canada UK Australia
Vet fees $60 – $180 $80 – $240 £50 – £150 $90 – $270
Insurance $60 – $300 $80 – $396 £50 – £250 $90 – $440
Farrier $270 – $970 $350 – $1,285 £220 – £800 $390 – $1,430
Dentist $60 – $120 $80 – $160 £50 – £100 $90 – $180
Worming $50 – $135 $65 – $175 £40 – £110 $70 – $195
Misc. $1,000 $1,000 £1,000 $1,000
Monthly total $125 – $225 $138 – $271 £118 – £201 $144 – $260

Page 2 – Finding & buying a horse