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Buying a horse

Buying a horse

Horses are a source of enjoyment for many people, not only is riding fun; it is a great form of exercise. In many cases horse ownership is a lifelong dream. Being able to ride whenever you wish is one of the many benefits of owning a horse, however many horse lovers simply enjoy spending time with horses, and caring for them as another member of the family. 

Time commitments

One of the main things to consider before making the decision to buy is whether you will have enough time to care for your horse. If you plan to board the horse and pay full livery, your time commitment can be whatever you choose. Your horse’s livery costs will be higher; however the commitment will be dramatically reduced. If you plan to have the horse on DIY livery, you will be committed to feeding and other chores at least twice a day. These can take approximately 20 minutes to an hour depending on your circumstances and whether you are riding/exercising the horse as well. This commitment will be 7 days a week, 365 days a year, rain or shine. The horse will require grooming and other maintenance procedures that, at a minimum, will take half an hour a day, often more.


It is equally important to ask yourself if you have sufficient experience to take care of a horse. Do you know how to clean a stable effectively, groom a horse, recognize a healthy horse, and know when to call the Vet? Are you comfortable with health maintenance routines and hoof care? If you don't know something is there someone you can call for help? Will you be comfortable handling a horse at home without help? Horses are large animals, and if you are alone you must be confident in your abilities to deal with any situation. Evaluate your level of experience, be honest and decide how much you are capable of doing and what needs to be allocated to a third party.


Then there is the issue of cost, horse prices vary greatly as does the cost of keeping them. The price of the horse is probably the largest figure involved; horses can cost anywhere from a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds depending  on bloodlines, breeding, training level and competition experience. As expectations for the horse rise, so does the price.

A pre purchase exam should be carried out by a veterinarian, costs for this start at £100 for a basic exam.  After purchase you will need to pay transportation fees; these vary depending on whether the horse is being transported in a wagon or trailer and the fuel price relative to mileage at the time.


To stable your horse at a yard with facilities such as riding arenas, turnout and horse walker, the price will vary greatly depending on location and caliber of the yard. As a guide DIY livery will cost approximately £30 per week, not including bedding or hay. Part livery, which includes turnout, mucking out and feeding, is around £100 per week and full livery, which includes exercise and full care of the horse, will be extra - much more in cases where a good trainer is exercising/training your horse. 


For horses kept on grass livery, hay is normally only required to be fed in winter when grass is scarce and the amount required will vary depending on the type and size of horse or pony. It should be expected that some hay will be needed to be fed for 3-5 months of the year with up to £10 a week being added to the costs during the mid-winter weeks when grass is totally unavailable.

For stabled horses hay is required all year round to compensate for the lack of access to grass and so adds around £10-15 a week to the costs throughout the year. Also some form of stable bedding is required, usually straw or shavings and this can add a further £10-£15 per week to the costs throughout the year.

The amount of feed required will depend on the type and size of horse, its exercise routine and whether it is stabled or on grass. A hardy horse or pony living out all year and only receiving light exercise may need little additional feed if any. However a horse receiving regular exercise may require some hard feed and a stabled horse, with regular strenuous exercise will need additional feed throughout the year costing around £5-£10 a week. 

Vet & farrier fees

A horse or pony requires annual inoculations against Influenza and Tetanus and can be expected to cost in the region of £35 a year. Vet's fees in cases of illness or accident can be costly, and rather than risk having to pay out several-hundred or -thousand pounds for an incident many owners prefer to insure their horse. The cost of insurance to cover vets fees will vary depending on the type of cover taken and the value of the horse or pony but should be expected to be in the region £20-£40 per month or more.

A horse or pony requires annual inoculations against Influenza and Tetanus and can be expected to cost in the region of £35 a year.

A horse's feet grow continually and so even an unshod horse will require regular visits from the farrier, around every 4-6 weeks, for trimming. Your horse may need to be shod every 6-8 weeks depending on the type of work he is doing, a full set of shoes will cost around £50-65 per visit.

Horses and ponies need to be regularly wormed whether stabled or at grass. Worming costs around £10-£15 and is usually required every 6-8 weeks.