Horses cost money. In fact, horses are well known for costing money, it’s basically one of their defining characteristics. Tell someone you have horses, and the first thing they say is, “Oh, must be expensive,” or some variation of that.
And then somewhere in the conversation, we mention how the cost comes from the upkeep, and not the initial price. This is true, most of the cost comes from the upkeep, but I will say, some of you people pay so much for a horse, I could pay all my horse bills for like ten years with the same amount of money. I can’t spend my money on buying an expensive horse because I need the money to keep the horse. I am also cheap, and I like to be frugal.
Unfortunately, I did choose the wrong hobby for being frugal in, and despite my best efforts, I still have to spend money to take care of these horses. No amount of setting my horses free on my neighbor’s land will ever subsidize my costs.
But because there seems to be an iron curtain blocking us from talking about how much things cost, I thought I’d struggle to lift up that heavy thing, and tell you how much some of my things cost. By things, I mean, the horse’s initial costs. For funsies, I’m going to describe the horse first, and then do a bit of a reveal of the cost at the end of the description. I know how much people love guessing games.
Let’s get started!
2001 – Clay was my first horse. He was a registered, foundation quarter horse, which meant something to me back then, although I wasn’t sure what, and I know even less now. He was about 19 years old when I bought him, I basically took him out of retirement. Probably the gentlest and kindest horse I’ve ever owned. I took him trail riding, did stupid things on him, fell off of him more times than any other horse due to my own stupidity, and he continued being the best horse ever, never holding a grudge or really seeming to care. I lent him out to be a lesson horse for a few summers, and I took friends and later boyfriends out riding on him. He took care of everyone that got on him, never did anything wrong. Basically, a heart of gold.
Purchase price: $900
Additionally purchased his saddle too, which brought the cost up to $1200.
After living a life of kindness, Clay passed away on my parent’s farm.
2003 – Found at an auction house by a fellow 4-her. She purchased her, but then decided her gaits were too “english.” Good call, really, since during the rest of her riding career, I got endless comments on what a big mover she was, especially since she was so small. She measured in at a grand total of 15.1. She was green broke, she could be sat on and she was forward, but that was about all she had. We speculated that she was dropped at the auction because she was too forward. There was no relaxing, she was always go go GO.
But eventually, she calmed down, and/or I became a better rider. Her GO GO GO turned into YES YES YES to everything I asked. It was like riding a sports car.
She turned into my heart horse, I don’t think there could ever be another like her.
Purchase price: Equal to the price she cost at the auction $650
She is still in my life, just retired. She spends her days relaxing in my pasture.
2010 – When I was in the market for my next horse, I decided I wanted an adventure. I wanted the excitement of carving out a new path, like those people who paved new ground by exploring a continent that had already been occupied for thousands of years – I wanted to buy my next horse directly off the racetrack.
And boy, did I. I poured over CanterUSA ads until I saw a big beautiful three year old that looked pretty well put together. I went to see her, and to my shock, she was actual gray, despite looking not gray in the photo. Quite suspicious, really. But it was the same horse, she just had a rose tint. Kind of like how I had rose tinted glasses on when I bought her.
Not that she was bad – she was just fresh off the track. She acted like a green horse. See her full story here.
Purchase Price: $800
After two short years together, and my confidence had taken a slap in the face, she left my life and went to live with the future Stu’s future trainer. In fact, this is how we met.
2011 – Ah Berry, my beloved sweet Berry. We were together for 11 years!! We had so many adventures together, and I learned the most from her and all the lessons we had together over the years. She was a hilarious character from the moment I bought her as a teeny little two year old, not quite fresh off the track, but aged 28 days off the track, getting a few training sessions from the person I bought her from. She’s always had a wise personality, but also a goofy one, as she chewed up my parent’s trees, destroying them forever, or when she fell onto a fence and got stuck. Despite being green, she had the personality of an old school horse. She wasn’t a looker, she was a bit downhill, and had the shape of a wiener dog with a long body and short legs, but she had the most beautiful heart.
Purchase price: $700
2022 – After having an explosion of children, I didn’t have much time, so I sold her. My heart still breaks for her. I miss her, and regret it, but I wouldn’t have had time for her even now, with riding Stu too. Maybe one day I’ll be rich and buy her back. Sold for $8500.
2012 – With the move to my own property approaching, I started looking at horse classifieds. Not because I actually needed a horse, but looking at them was a sort of pastime at my boring desk job. I came across an ad for a herd reduction, with no price, just “Message for prices!” (Literally the worst when people do that, I usually move right along). One of the listed animals was a German Riding Pony. I had recently discovered this breed, and I was a bit enamored. An adorable warmblood but pony sized. Good marketing strategy.
I remember this email exchange so well – I emailed, asking for the price, and they replied he was $5,000. After my eyes bugged out of my head, I replied that it was way more than I was expected, and sorry to waste their time. They insisted I make an offer, and said they wouldn’t be offended. Without even seeing him in person, I made my low offer. They accepted.
He was just over a year old, and a teeny tiny little guy. They said he could potentially be a breeding stallion, but I got him gelded pretty fast. He was my first horse with a pedigree I could understand. He was the grandson of Sandro Hit, but had an otherwise unremarkable pony mother. I hadn’t been aware of how much handling he’d had, but he was basically unhandled. I had to teach him to behave when I brought him home. He has a good, beautiful heart, so he was happy to. He was the inspiration for getting a full sized warmblood, as I love this pony so much.
Purchase Price: $1200
He is still with me, outside in my field right now keeping Vintage company.
2017 – After many years of riding Berry, I realized I needed a really talented horse if I wanted to move up. I was pretty ambitious before all the kids came along. Now I just wanted to have fun. But regardless, my thought process was to buy a horse that I could bring to the top shows. I’m not made of money, and much like entering the lottery, I like picking out my own and crossing my fingers it works out, so I decided to get a foal. Oh boy were there foals to be had! Everywhere you look, stumbling over foals. Everywhere you look, people screaming about how wonderful their foal is, and you’d be the fooliest of fools not to get their foal. Most were quite pricy of course, fancy foals don’t come cheap. But they were way less expensive than adult fancy horses, because only fools buy foals in the mere hope they’ll turn out exactly what they want.
Personally, I didn’t really care. I didn’t mind waiting, and I also didn’t care if he worked out, because I’d just sell him and get a different one. I like the thrill. So I went to a local breeding farm. They had an interesting pricing model, perhaps for simplicity’s sake, and all foals of the same year were the same price, regardless of breeding. I spent hours looking over their stock, until I saw a mare I fell in love with, and I knew I wanted her. Or more specifically, the creature that resided inside of her, the unborn foal.
It turns out she was a pretty popular mare, and they’d done an embryo transfer of four or five of her eggs, with different baby daddys. As they were born, I oooooh’ed and aaahhhhh’ed over them, and then they died. Unclear if it was related, but it actually was quite sad. But it left me with two choices, one foal with an kind of unproven father, but he was a buckskin, or Stu, who had a registry approved father who had been through the 90 day approval. So, despite not really liking chestnuts, I choose Stu. See the full story of selecting and purchasing Stu.
Purchase Price: $5,000
Additional fees: Warmblood and registry charges, somewhere between $100 and $400, I don’t really remember.
He’s still with me, but boarded at someone else’s barn. He is my main man at this point.
Horses are expensive but the actual prices vary wildly depending on age, training, breeding, and probably if the planets are aligning in a certain way. I’ve always sough out cheaper horses, because I am thrifty by nature. I can’t imagine spending the amount some people spend, but I’m sure some people can’t imagine spending the amount I have spent either. But for those people, free horses exist, too, they just might not be the horse that person wants. You have to spend money to get quality, because quality is desirable. But on the flip side, some horses do have inflated prices that don’t reflect their actual quality. Like with my pony, sometimes people just like to test to see if they can get that kind of money.
But on the flip side of that flip side, some people really think they can get an amazing horse for a limited budget. It really depends on what kind of chance and/or challenge you’re willing to take on. I’ve seen other bloggers get cheap horses and do incredible things, but I’ve also seen people get cheap/free horses and feel like they’re going to rip their hair out in frustration. I have no real advice, except to say, if you don’t understand the kind of challenge it is (as in, have a complete and solid knowledge of what you’re planning to do with the green bean), probably shouldn’t do it. The chances are extremely high you’re going to be one of the ones ripping your hair out.
If you feel like it, share how much your horse cost, and if you think it was priced at it’s value. I’d love to see the numbers!