The Only Cheap Thing about A Horse is the Cost to Obtain One

The Only Cheap Thing about
A Horse
is the Cost to Obtain One

A Word of Caution to be Shared
from Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, INC

We understand, unfortunately, for some reason,
because horses are easily obtained for free or extremely
cheap these days, it somehow makes people falsely believe
they are cheap to care for, as well.

This is a very bare break down of equine needs. We are not saying this is the level of care we advise by any means, but this will show those looking for basically the “cheapest” route in WV, Ohio and Ky to keep a horse, what the very basic needs being met means financially to the potential owner.

Costs are much higher in other parts of the USA

The “Hay” Route

A horse needs an average of 3% of their body weight in food each day. Most of these will need to be forage / aka grass or hay.

A single horse needs about 3 acres of exceptional grass that is well managed to sustain through the fall, summer and spring without hay. This needs to be a field, not 2 acres of mountain side or overgrazed, weedy land. This cannot have 2 horses on it and work for both to meet all their forage needs.

If you have the right land for grazing most of the year, then for about 4 months, you need to plan to have good quality, dry bales and dry kept hay stocked up for winter. You will feed about 1/2 a bale daily in winter. This means you if you buy that hay for $4 per bale, you will need $240 of hay for the year, each year, per horse.

If you do not have 3 flat, well maintained grassy acres for each horse, you will need at least $720 of hay each year per horse you own. You will have to buy this hay early in the season and be able to store it in a nice, dry area. Under a tarp will not work.

You will need to have access to a flat bed trailer to haul this hay. If you cannot buy one, you are looking at an $800 plus purchase. It you need to pay for hay to be delivered, you will be paying about $6 per bale.

Cow hay will not work. Sorry.

Grain. . .if you feed 3lbs of run of the mill textured feed at $12 per bag, you will have approximately $275 in grain purchased per horse each year. This price will double if you need to buy senior feed, need to feed more grain or better grain.

Then your horse will need a farrier at least 6 times in a year. That is $30 per trim. $180 per year.

Worming just twice a year with Zimectrin Gold is $25.

Having the horse’s teeth done once a year, which is a must, $200 by a vet including farm call.

Vaccines, if given yourself, at the basic level: $50 a year.

Basic Mineral and Salt blocks: $25

This doesn’t factor in fencing, bedding (if needed), blankets, tack, a horse trailer or any injuries or special needs the horse may have.

Total per horse for the most basic care?

$995 if you have access to quality, well managed pasture per horse

$1,475 if you need to feed hay, as many people do, year around.

If you need to board and provide farrier, dental, worming and vaccines at average local rates?

$4,055 per horse.

So think about that free horse posting you see online. Do you have thousands of dollars to spend yearly?

This also applies when someone has used a horse up and has a senior horse they want to “give away.” Please pause and consider what you’re asking others to invest in the horse you’re tired of caring for, please.

They are a luxury. Many owners make serious sacrifices in other areas of life to afford them, and they are worth it, but you DO NEED to be able to afford basic care, folks.

PSA: Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, INC


This is what happens far too often when people do not realize what their “Free Horse” really costs to care for properly:scarlett


3 thoughts on “The Only Cheap Thing about A Horse is the Cost to Obtain One

  1. I do hope the picture of the horse you used for this did in fact make it and got adopted out to a loving home. I have 3 horses and when I see something like this poor soul I look at how happy I am that I can afford to take care of mine. They are well fed maybe to much but they are happy. I love the horse but they are not cheap to take care of, I would never let one starve. I admire the people who have the time energy and heart to save they babies. So thank you . Before I decided to take on horses I worked fee free with a equine vet to learn everything I could then took Horse Health classes at one of our colleges best thing I ever did. Educate people every day with something new from all the resources you can get your hands on.

  2. Dear God I hope this horse survived. Why would anyone allow this to happen. If you cannot afford an animal then it would be a kinder deed to turn the animal over to a humane society. No human, or animal should ever be starved.

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