How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Horse in 2023? Average Prices and Factors

Horses are majestic creatures that many people dream of owning. But before you take the plunge into horse ownership, it’s important to understand the costs involved. In this article, I’ll break down the average prices you can expect to pay when buying a horse and the factors that influence those costs. By the end, you’ll have a clearer picture of whether horse ownership is right for your budget.

Horses for Sale: Price Ranges and Common Costs

When looking at horses for sale, you’ll find a wide range of prices. On the low end, you may find a horse for a few hundred dollars. On the high end, expensive horse breeds can sell for hundreds of thousands or even millions. But for the average recreational rider, you can expect to pay somewhere in the middle.

According to my research, the average horse cost falls between $3,000 to $10,000. This is the price range where horses are most commonly priced. For a safe budget for a decent horse, I would aim to spend at least $5,000. This should get you a healthy horse with some training.

If you’re just looking for a casual trail riding companion, the average cost for a trail horse is around $3,000 to $5,000. For a horse with more extensive training, like a show horse or a horse trained in a specific discipline, expect the average for a well-trained horse to be closer to $10,000 or more.

In my experience shopping for horses, I’ve found that you generally get what you pay for. While it’s possible to find a gem at a lower price, investing in a horse with good training, health, and temperament is usually worth the extra cost in the long run. It can save you a lot of frustration and potential vet bills down the road.

Factors That Influence the Cost of Buying a Horse

So why is there such a big range in horse prices? Well, many factors influence the cost of a horse. Some of the biggest factors include:

  • Age – Younger horses tend to cost more than older horses
  • Training – The more training a horse has, the higher the price tag
  • Breed – Some expensive horse breeds like warmbloods and Arabians command higher prices
  • Pedigree – Horses with champion or premium bloodlines will cost more
  • Health – Horses with health issues or injuries will usually be cheaper
  • Location – Prices can change over time and vary by region based on demand

As you can see, the cost is also just as broad as the horses themselves. Two horses that may look very similar could have vastly different price tags based on their training, age, breed, and other characteristics. That’s why it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a horse to match your budget and needs.

Your local market conditions also play a big role. Horse prices can fluctuate quite a bit regionally and seasonally. The prices in your area will be highly dependent on your climate, pasture size, how active your local horse community is and other factors. It’s a good idea to research prices in your specific area to get the most accurate picture.

Upkeep Expenses and Cost of Keeping a Horse

The initial cost of keeping a horse is just part of the equation. Horses also come with significant upkeep expenses that you need to factor into your budget. Some of the major ongoing costs of horse ownership include:

ExpenseAverage Monthly Cost
Board (Stall or Pasture)$300 – $1500
Hay and Grain$100 – $300
Farrier (Hoof Care)$25 – $150
Veterinary Care (Routine)$50 – $200
Gear and Supplies$50 – $500

As you can see, the average price ranges for upkeep can add up quickly. For a typical horse, you can expect to spend around $500 to $2500 per month on care – and that’s not including extras like training, competitions, or emergency vet care.

“The purchase price of a horse is often far less than the ongoing cost of ownership,” notes equine financial expert Samantha Jacobs. “Before buying, make sure you have a realistic budget not just for the initial expense, but for the monthly costs over your horse’s lifetime.”

Where to Find Horses for Sale

If you’ve assessed your budget and decided you’re ready to take the plunge into horse ownership, your next step is to start looking for horses for sale. There are a number of avenues you can explore:

  • Local equestrian publications and websites
  • Breed association websites and marketplaces
  • Equine affinity groups on social media
  • Word of mouth in your local horse community
  • Online horse marketplaces like EquineNow or DreamHorse

Local trainers and other horse professionals are also great resources. They often know of horses for sale that may not be publicly advertised. Plus, they can help guide you to a horse that suits your skill level and goals.

Another option to consider, especially for first-time horse owners, is to lease a horse before you buy. Many owners offer lease options which can give you a taste of horse ownership without the full upfront investment. If things go well, some lease-to-own situations can even transition into a purchase.

Budgeting for Your Horse Purchase

Now that you have a sense of the horse cost and price of owning a horse, it’s time to crunch some real numbers. Every person’s situation is different, but here are some general guidelines I recommend:

  • Aim to spend no more than 10-20% of your annual income on the initial horse purchase
  • Budget around $500-$2500 per month for upkeep and maintenance costs
  • Add a 10-20% buffer for unexpected expenses like vet bills
  • Consider financing options carefully – horses are not usually a good investment

For most people, I think a safe budget for a decent horse is around $5,000 for the initial purchase, with at least $1000 per month allocated to ongoing care. If your budget is tighter than that, leasing may be a better option. On the other hand, if you have more to spend, you can look for a horse with more training or a fancier pedigree.

I always tell people that you should buy the best horse you can afford, but never overextend yourself financially for a horse. There will always be unexpected costs, and you need to make sure you have the means to give your horse proper care no matter what. Be brutally honest about what you can realistically manage.

Additional Costs to Consider When Buying a Horse

Beyond the upkeep expenses we’ve already discussed, there are some other costs that are highly dependent on your individual situation and goals. These can include:

  • Tack and equipment like saddles, bridles, blankets, etc.
  • Horse trailer if you plan to travel with your horse
  • Training and lessons for you and your horse
  • Competition fees if you plan to show your horse
  • Liability insurance premiums
  • Facility upgrades like fencing or a barn, depending on your property

These costs can quickly add up, so it’s important to factor them into your budgeting. The average price ranges for these extras can vary widely. For example, a basic saddle set up may cost around $500, while a high-end custom saddle can be $5000 or more. Similarly, casual lessons may run $50 per session, while full training board can be upwards of $1000 per month.

Your climate and available facilities also make a big difference. If you live somewhere with harsh winters, you’ll need to budget more for items like blankets and a indoor arena to ride in. If you have ample pasture space, your feed costs will be lower than if you need to provide all hay. And if you plan to keep your horse at home, you’ll need to invest more up front in proper fencing, shelter, and care equipment.

The more active you plan to be with your horse, the more you should expect your costs to rise. Competing, traveling, and taking frequent lessons will all add to your bottom line. For most casual riders, I think budgeting an extra $200-$500 per month for these types of activities is reasonable, but avid competitors can easily spend thousands.

At the end of the day, how much you spend on your horse is a deeply personal decision that depends on your unique circumstances and goals as a rider. The most important things are to go in with your eyes open, be realistic about your budget, and always put your horse’s welfare first. With careful financial planning and a lot of love, owning a horse can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Photo of author

Henry Abari