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Equestrian Dreams, Financial Realities: 8 Ways to Prepare for Horse Ownership

girl and horse grazing at a show
Nora Van Veen and her horse Kalimero van het Kruisblokhof, taken by Carolyn Stanish Photography at WEF 2023

For the majority of equestrians, becoming a horse owner is a dream come true.

However, horse ownership is often romanticized, especially on social media. Passion, envy, and excitement can sometimes blind us to reason, leaving us to neglect the actual cost of the sport. Horses are an expensive commitment, and before deciding to turn your horse-owning dreams into reality, you need to be financially ready for the lifestyle.

Here are eight ways that you can prepare yourself for the financial reality of owning a horse.

#1 Make it a family decision

Owning a horse is not easy, just ask any equestrian. It requires a significant amount of time, effort, and resources. Especially if you have a family, owning a horse is no longer an individual endeavor; it’s a shared family commitment. While not everyone in the family has to maintain the same enthusiasm or passion for horses, it is vital that everyone be supportive. Whether their responsibility includes managing the financial aspects of the sport, playing chauffeur to and from the barn, or acting as a support system, it takes the entire family for you to be able to live out your equestrian dreams.

#2 Establish a reliable income

Before you decide to become a horse owner, it's important that you have a source of reliable income to pay for the upkeep. Unlike a one-and-done expense, horses come with a recurring and lasting financial obligation that extend well past the initial purchase. Monthly essentials, such as feed, farrier, veterinary care, and other necessities, contribute to the continuous financial responsibility associated with horse ownership. By having a dependable income stream, you can ensure the happiness and well-being of your new equine companion and your bank account.

#3 Know your budget

In order to own a horse without stressing your wallet, you need to establish a budget. For horse owners, understanding your income, expenses, and savings is essential in determining whether owning a horse is financially feasible. Despite the simplicity behind having a budget, knowing what's coming in, what's going out, and what's staying for a rainy day, is crucial. Budgeting will verify that you are living within your means and that your current financial situation supports your equine ownership dreams.

#4 Build an emergency fund

For equestrians, the only thing that you can expect in the horse industry is unexpected costs. That’s why it’s important to have an appropriately sized emergency fund. Before deciding to purchase a horse, make sure to allocate 3-9 months of both personal and estimated equine expenses into your emergency fund. This financial safety net serves as a strategic and psychological buffer, guaranteeing that any unexpected expenses won't deplete your account, disrupt your current lifestyle, or lead you into debt.

#5 Pay off bad debt

Before considering horse ownership, pay off any outstanding bad debt which can include large credit card balances or high interest loans. Taking on the responsibility of owning a horse while being weighed down by this kind of debt can result in both financial and emotional stress. If you're currently in debt, hold off on buying a horse. Not only could you dig yourself into a deeper hole, but you could negatively impact your overall financial future.

#6 Discuss commission

Once you are in a financially sound place, you can partner with a professional to start your horse search. When working with a professional, it's important to keep in mind that they are entitled to receiving fair compensation for their assistance throughout the horse buying process. Commission is very standard in the horse industry, and while discussing money might feel a bit awkward, both parties need to be in agreement. Understanding the commission expected will help you plan your budget accordingly, reduce misunderstandings, and avoid any surprises down the road.

#7 Prioritize a pre-purchase exam (PPE)

A pre-purchase exam or PPE is an assessment of the overall soundness and health of a horse you want to buy at that given moment. A cheap horse can be just as expensive as a good one, and even if a horse seems like a bargain, the hidden costs of health or maintenance issues could turn it into a financial burden. Prioritizing a pre-purchase exam will provide insights into the horse's condition, and help you make an informed decision about what kind of health or maintenance costs you can expect in the future. Before becoming a horse owner, invest in a PPE so your dream purchase doesn't turn into a financial nightmare.

#8 Insure your new equine partner

Once you’ve decided on your new horse, it’s worth considering purchasing equine insurance. While it might seem like an unnecessary additional expense, insurance safeguards your financial investment in case of accidents, illnesses, or other unforeseen events. It’s not just for peace of mind; it's a financial safety net. Given that accidents are inevitable, and vet bills can be unexpectedly high, having insurance ensures that you won't bear the entire brunt of these unanticipated expenses, providing you with financial security.

"Owning a horse is not a one time cost, it’s a lifetime cost.”

As a potential horse owner, the most important thing to understand is that it’s not the cost of buying the horse, it’s the cost of keeping the horse. Equestrian expenses can add up quickly and if you aren’t careful, they can jeopardize you and your family’s financial well-being.

But here's the equestrian reality.

Although being a horse owner is a significant financial commitment, it does offer something priceless. The friends you make, the community you're a part of, and the happiness and fulfillment that comes from having a horse, can be immeasurable.

It is possible to be a horse owner and financially responsible, and these eight steps will help you start your journey into horse ownership with confidence.


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