Do you dream of owning your own horse but get reminded by your parents how expensive they are to keep?
Ponies are rewarding, a great way to stay active and owning one will teach you the value of money. But there are lots of things to consider before parting with (a lot of) your cash.
In this article, we will look at every aspect of how to afford a horse as a teenager, from looking at the ways you can save on the cost of owning a horse and the costs you need to consider to alternative ways to get your horsey fix.
Horse ownership costs to consider
Let’s start by looking at the one off and regular payments that horse owners need to make.
Buying a horse
A horse can cost between $500 to $3,000 depending on the horse’s pedigree, performance record and manners. You will also need to invest in horse equipment such as a helmet, saddle, bridle and safety stirrups. The cost of equipment can vary significantly so do your research before purchasing. You can buy second hand items but make sure the quality is good enough so you don’t have to end up replacing it a few months later.
Depending on their size, weight and material, a horse trailer can range from $2,000 to $30,000. Remember that towing a horse trailer requires a special kind of driving licence and qualifications. If you opt for buying a second hand trailer, make sure it is in good condition with no wear or tear that could affect how well your horse is protected.
Land and shelter
If you’re lucky enough to be able to keep your horse on your own property, the costs will be considerably lower. If not, you will need to find somewhere to board your horse. The costs of boarding can be between $100 per month to over $1,000 per month depending on whether you choose self-care facilities or a boarding house that provides full care for your horse on your behalf. Some boarding places will charge for extras such as a farrier, veterinary care or special horse feed so always check what is being offered before signing up.
Vet bills and horse care cost
Medical bills can be unexpected and blow your budget, so it’s important to plan ahead. Like other pets, a horse will need annual vaccinations and an equine dentist to check that your horse’s teeth are healthy at least once a year. A farrier needs to regularly trim your horse’s feet. It will cost you approximately $43 for a trim and $130 to apply a full new set of shoes. Regular worming treatment will also be needed to ensure your horse is free of parasites and eggs.
Vets’ fees can quickly spiral out of control if your horse is ill or has an accident. Horse insurance is a must for any owner to protect you financially against any unforeseen events.
The amount of food your horse will need depends on the size of your horse, its exercise routine and whether it lives in a stable or feeds on grass as well in a paddock. Hay is an essential part of a horse’s diet. The price you pay per bale will depend on the quality and state that you live in. Some bales can sell for as low as $5.50. You can work out how much hay your horse will need by finding out their body weight. Horses need to consume about 2% of their body weight in hay per day.
Aside from the hay, you will also need a feed container and water trough to keep your horse’s food and water in.
How to save money on horse ownership costs
There are several ways you can slash the price of owning a horse. Following the advice below could save you a significant amount of money.
Buy high quality hay
Whilst this will cost you more initially, the higher the quality of hay that you feed your horse, the less he will need and the healthier he will be. A healthy horse will save you money on vet bills.
Consider the different boarding options
Choosing to provide most or some of the care that your horse needs daily will reduce your monthly boarding costs. Some boarding houses will also reduce your fees if you help clean and exercise other boarded horses.
Buy in bulk
You can save dollars on several items that your horse needs by buying in bulk. These include:
• Hay and grain
• Grooming supplies
Purchase used items
Saddles, bridles and blankets are much cheaper when you buy used. eBay and Facebook Marketplace are good places to start looking. Carefully inspect used items before parting with your cash and check for any damage. A helmet that has been involved in an accident should never be re-sold as it affects how well it will protect you. Visit local equestrian car boot sales to find a variety of horse essentials at a bargain price.
Look after your horse supplies
Keeping your horse equipment clean, dry and stored correctly will extend the life of these items. There are also items that you can invest in to help keep your items in top condition. For example, saddle soap will prevent the leather of your saddle from becoming cracked and damaged.
Don’t overfeed your horse
During the winter months it can be tempting to give your horse too much food to keep them occupied. However, this will only lead to wasted hay that goes stale on the floor and has to be thrown away, wasting money. If you’re unsure how much you should be feeding your four-legged friend, contact your veterinarian for advice. Also consider whether feeding your horse in a net, bar or cube would save you more money in the long run.
Reduce the amount of shavings you use
Whilst shaving is a necessity for horses, they don’t need foot deep shavings for their bed. Try reducing the amount you use and clean it regularly to extend the amount of time before you need to change it completely. If you have the room to store horse bedding, it can be cheaper to buy in bulk direct from the supplier.
Schedule regular health checks with your vet
Regular health checks will limit the amount of emergency veterinarian trips. If you use the same vet as other horse owners in the boarding house, schedule the check-ups for the same day to save money and prevent the vet from having to come to the same location multiple times.
Budget and save your way to horse ownership
You may need to save money for a while before buying your first horse. But don’t worry, the wait will be more than worth it.
Making money as a teenager
It can be hard to save money as a teen, but it’s not impossible, especially if you want to reach your goal of owning your own horse.
If you don’t already have a job, there are plenty of online opportunities that you can get paid for from the comfort of your own home and around your school work.
Here are our top jobs and ways of earning money for teens:
Complete online surveys – companies such as Swagbucks and Toluna are popular survey sites where you can earn dollars by searching the web, completing surveys and playing games.
Get paid to review music – believe it or not, it is possible to get paid for listening to music and writing a review. Check out sites such as Music X Ray.
Sell your stuff – a quick way to make cash is selling stuff that you no longer need. Items such as clothes, toys, video games, bicycles and electronics sell well online.
Get crafty – if you enjoy making handmade items such as artwork, party decorations, jewelry or pet supplies, you can make decent money by selling them online via marketplaces such as Etsy.
Write for cash – do you have a passion for writing, spelling and grammar? Websites such as Fiverr give 14 year olds the opportunity to create a post that details the kind of writing they’d like to do and a rate, for example, a beauty blog post or fitness web page for $25.
Set up a separate horse savings account
Using a dedicated account rather than keeping money in your current account will motivate you to meet your goal of owning a horse sooner because you can see the progress that you make every time you add to it. It’s easy to withdraw money that you intended to use for your horse fund from a current account and spend it on other non-essential treats such as a new gadget or new clothes. But a separate account set up purely to save will help you stick to your goal.
Budget, budget, budget
Whilst you may not have many outgoings as a teen, it’s still important to budget the money that you do have.
Here’s how to budget your way to owning a horse.
1. The first step is to work out how much money you make, whether that’s from a part time job, side hustle or allowance that you receive from your parents.
2. Next, create your budget categories and split them into saving and spending. Here’s an example of teen budget categories.
• Horse fund
• College fund
• Essential spends – phone bill, lunch and gas money
• Non-essential spends – Subscription services, clothing, entertainment and social
3. Now it’s time to pick a budgeting strategy and how much money to assign to each one. Here are a few that work particularly well for teenagers.
• 50/30/20 – simply allocate 50% of your earnings to necessary expenses, 30% on non-essential spends and 20% towards your savings goals. The best thing about this budgeting strategy is that the percentages can be adjusted to meet your goals sooner. So, if you don’t have many expenses and have cut back on your non-essential spending, you can increase the amount that you contribute to your savings fund and get your horse sooner.
• Zero-based budgeting – If you earn $800 a month, everything you spend or save should add up to $800. Write down your monthly income and expenses. Start with the most important things such as bills, and subtract your expenses from your income until you reach zero. Don’t forget to include your monthly savings contribution towards horse ownership.
Apps such as Mint or YNAB (You Need A Budget) are great ways for teens to organize their funds.
Kick bad habits
If you find yourself grabbing some fast food on your lunch break, it’s time to start taking a sandwich and snacks from home instead. Buying take out food can cost you several hundred dollars over a year, which is money that could be used towards your horse fund.
Subscriptions are one of the biggest causes of unnecessary spending. Piles of unread magazines in your living room and beauty boxes are a waste of money. It’s time to cancel the subscription and use the money to save towards your horse ownership dream. There are cheaper, and sometimes free, alternatives to your favorite Netflix, Audible or gym memberships that you can take advantage of. Rent seasons of TV shows or movies from your local library or listen to podcasts instead of paying monthly for your audio. Instead of going to the gym, walk, run or take free online classes.
The TrueBill app will review your purchase history and find forgotten subscriptions to help you cancel them or renegotiate for a cheaper rate.
Alternative ways to get your horse fix
If you don’t have enough money to own a horse, there are other ways that horse lovers can spend regular time with them without the monthly expenses.
Volunteer – there are tons of opportunities related to equine volunteering. You can become a volunteer for horse shows, horse rescues, boarding houses or even offer to help a horse trainer or somebody you may know who has a horse. Volunteering also looks great on your resume and will give you hands on experience that could lead to a future career with horses.
Get a horse related job – why not earn a bit of extra cash to put towards your own horse by getting involved in the horse industry? Working in a tack or feed store, becoming a stall cleaner, groomer, exercise rider or foaling attendant are great ways to get valuable experience with the animal you love.
Consider a horse lease or share – leasing a horse is a good first step to owning your horse without the expense or commitment. How does it work? You pay a weekly fee towards the feed, bedding, vets and general upkeep of a horse. You can then book a certain amount of time to spend with your horse each week. Whilst you won’t have access to the horse 24/7 and you will have to share it with other people, it’s a cost-effective way to become a semi-horse owner before committing fully.
Take lessons – taking horse riding lessons is the most popular way for people to spend time with horses that can’t afford to own one. Some riding instructors will teach you everything you need to know about owning your own horse, giving you valuable advice before reaching your goal.
The benefits of owning a horse
Do your parents still need persuading about the benefits of owning a horse compared to the costs? Let’s take a more detailed look at how owning a horse can improve your life.
1. Encourages you to be physically active
There’s no denying that fresh air and exercise are good for you, and you will get plenty of it from owning a horse. Improving your balance, coordination, flexibility, muscle strength and core strength are the main benefits of horse riding. Cleaning stalls, grooming, feeding and lifting heavy horse equipment will also keep you physically fit.
2. Promotes self-esteem and confidence
As an independent sport, riding horses requires a leadership approach and a strong relationship with your horse. Gaining a sense of accomplishment from giving your horse instructions is a great self-esteem booster.
3. Meet new people
When you own a horse you will meet loads of new people with similar interests to you. From horseback riding lessons to events and other horse related activities, you will make strong bonds with other people who share your passion for horses.
4. Learn responsibility and commitment
Horses require a lot of care and attention on a daily basis. Expect to learn the value of routine, good habits, time management and prioritization from owning and caring for a horse.
5. Discover the value of money
Owning a horse is undoubtedly expensive. Once you’ve factored in all the monthly costs, you will gain a better understanding of the value of money and budgeting which is a valuable life skill for teenagers as well as adults.
The dream of owning a horse
If you can’t afford to own your own horse right now, don’t give up on your dream. There’s no doubt that owning a horse is an expensive hobby, but with hard work, careful budgeting and money saving tips, it can be done.
For more advice on how to manage your money during your teen years, visit our personal finance blog.