Did You Know? There is an estimated 2 million horse owners in the United States and a total of 7.1 million Americans are involved in the industry
as owners, service providers, employees and volunteers. (American Horse Council 2017 Economic Impact Study.)

You might be questioning – is horse ownership right for me? Here are some topics to consider before purchasing or adopting an Equine.

Why do I want to own a horse?

There is no right answer, but understanding your true motivations for owning a horse will help you determine if there might be better options available. Do you want a horse for recreation or showing? Do you want one because your friends have one or because you’ve dreamed of owning a horse as a kid? Are you trying to earn money by breeding or racing? Do you want to save a horse in need? Should you consider leasing, lessons, 4H, fostering, or volunteering first?

Do I understand all the costs associated with owning a horse?

Over the years, the demand for horses has run in cycles that frequently follow other economic trends.   The initial cost of purchasing or adopting a horse is only a small portion of what goes into the financial responsibility of Horse Ownership.

Results of a horse ownership survey through the University of Maine found that the average annual cost of owning 1 horse is $3,876, while the median cost is $2,419.  Meaning that the monthly expense of owning a horse is approximately $200-$354. This number does not include the cost of boarding at a facility if the horse cannot be kept on your property.

How long do I plan on owning my horse?

Many horses live for 20 years and some can live for more than 30 years. If you cannot make at least a 20-year commitment to a horse, you should have a plan to provide for your horse or investigate ways to sell your horse when you can no longer take care of it.

Am I planning to relocate?

Moving with a dog or cat usually isn’t too difficult, but moving an animal that weighs 1,000 pounds can be. If your lifestyle requires multiple relocations, you must be prepared for the expense and logistics of moving a horse. Leasing is a good option.

Is this horse for my child?

If yes, what will I do with the horse when my child leaves home? What will happen if my child outgrows the horse?  Consider what will happen to the horse when your child leaves for college or moves out of the house. Will the horse be left at home?  Will there be someone to take care of it? If your child is close to an age that he or she may leave
home soon or his or her interests might change, leasing is a good option.

Do I have the knowledge and skills needed to care for all the horse’s needs?

Despite the countless books, magazines, and websites available with tips and ideas for managing your horse, there is a set of knowledge and skills that you must have to care for a horse on your own property. In fact, many rescues and breeders will require that first-time horse owners board the horse at a site with knowledgeable staff. Seeking
professional help from your veterinarian, farrier, and trainer is always in the best interest of the horse.

What will I do if my horse becomes sick or injured?

Illness and injury are more common with horses than most people realize. Some illnesses and injuries can be remedied with simple steps, and some can be career or life-ending. Few owners are equipped to handle a sick or injured horse on their own, and the best course of action is to contact your veterinarian. Be prepared to provide
sometimes lengthy follow-up treatments or pay a knowledgeable horse person (e.g. barn manager) to help you. It is also important to have money set aside in the event of a medical emergency as veterinary emergencies can be costly depending on the situation.

Who can I consult about caring for my horse?

A certified vet and a skilled farrier will be invaluable resources when it comes to your horse’s heath, happiness, and soundness.

An experienced trainer, instructor, or barn manager should be able to answer many questions regarding your horse’s day-to-day care and training.

There are countless books, magazines, and websites available that will offer tips and ideas for managing your horse. Use these resources to educate yourself but be sure to consult with a trusted equine professional before trying anything new.


Horse Shopping? Better Ask Some Questions (2012) University of Maryland Extension Office / Maryland Fund for Horses Requires Adobe Flash

Horse Ownership 101 (2012) University of Maryland Extension Office / Maryland Fund for Horses Requires Adobe Flash

Selecting the Right Youth Horse (2007) My Horse University

The Real Cost of Horse Ownership (2014)  Equine Guelph

What to Expect When Owning a Horse

So you have decided that you want to take the leap and the join millions of others who own a horse? Much like any large animal, horses rank high in the category of responsibility. With improvements in nutrition and health care, horses are living longer, productive lives…

Selecting a Horse

Horses and ponies are important parts of American culture. Your horse-owning experience will be most enjoyable if you carefully consider if horse ownership suits your family, home, and lifestyle. Make an informed decision. Take time, involve your family, and give careful consideration to the following questions…

Owning Responsibly:

The United Horse Coalition is a broad alliance of equine organizations that have joined together under the American Horse Council to educate the horse industry about the problem of horses at-risk or in transition . We seek to provide information for existing and prospective owners, breeders, sellers, and horse organizations regarding the long-term responsibilities of owning and caring for horses, as well as focusing on the opportunities available for these horses.

Our Mission

Through industry collaboration, the UHC promotes education and options for at-risk and transitioning horses.

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