How much does it cost to board a horse?

Written by Lisha Pace
Updated: September 29, 2022
Image Credit Kwadrat/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:

  • Even if you own enough property to house a horse you must comply with zoning laws and rules that govern horse ownership and humane care.
  • Boarding a horse provides the animal with security and care and the owner with a community of like minded horse lovers.
  • Boarding costs can be as little as $100 a month if you take care of your horse yourself or higher than $700 a month for full care.
  • Pasture boarding is a budget friendly option that doesn’t include stalls but offers shelter from bad weather.

Some people are lucky enough to have staff and stables on their property. But the fact is the vast majority of horse owners do not. One of the average horse owner’s biggest obstacles is finding a place to keep their beloved horse.

The animal would be pretty darn miserable living in an apartment or being reined in your small backyard. Horses need space. They eat a whole lotta food. Many localities have strict laws for how and where you can house a horse, even if you have a reasonable outdoor space.

The cost to board a horse isn’t an expense many want to carry. Fees per month can be high. You might be able to get a lower per year deal. Whichever way you go, you want a comprehensive understanding of average costs and what those funds bring to the table. You want to be confident about the decision. You want your horse safe and healthy and happy.

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Think You Can?

Even if you have the property for keeping a horse in a stable, there are still significant expenses (grooming and a farrier, stall cleaning, etc.) and other equally critical factors to keep in mind (access to pastures, training, riding lessons, etc.).

This post is all about knowing what needs knowing about the cost to board a horse. We cover the pros and cons, average per month and per year costs, what you should look for, and why.

Let’s ride!

board a horse - horses in stable
Nice thoroughbred foals in a stable in a boarding facility.

iStock.com/acceptfoto

Why You Would Board Your Horse

The ideal place for your horse is on your property. But that’s not always workable. Not everyone can have horse stalls, solid farrier grooming, or room for food storage. The space for a paddock is not right there for all owners.

You board the horse to see it gets all the facilities and amenities you want the horse to have and maybe you can’t give. You may want the horse to be close to trails and arenas. It’s not uncommon to board the animal for access to instructors, trainers, and riding lessons, to want them to have an ecosystem that promotes well-being and good horse health.

It’s not easy to attend to a horse’s daily needs. Personally caring for a horse means less flexibility with vacations, a day job, your personal time, and more. Turning these responsibilities over to handlers, professionals, that manage barn chores like grooming and stall cleaning, alleviates your stress.

Keeping Your Horse at Home

Having the space and facilities to take care of a horse on your property is fortunate for all parties. But you still have to take into account acreage requirements and if your region maintains a zoning requirement.

Many regions have laws that govern what you need to properly care for a horse. For instance, a requirement may be having horse stalls to protect the animal from inclement weather.

The great advantage of home care for a horse is you ensure all aspects of their daily care get attended to and you get to spend the time you want with your pet, whether it’s riding or taking them out to pasture.

The great disadvantage of home care for a horse is you have to attend to all aspects of the horse’s daily care, working your professional and personal life around the chore. From food to blanketing and stall cleaning, the care for a horse is a consuming task.

Still, many will love the challenge, despite the obstacles.

Boarding a Horse: Pros and Cons

When it comes to horses, the grass will always be greener on the other side. This is definitely true about caring for horses. Too many of us think about the wonders of Black Beauty or the easy care of Mr. Ed, but rarely consider the real trials associated with the endeavor.

Here are the pros and cons for both boarding or keeping a horse at home.

Boarding

Pros

  • No need to perform regular and daily horse care
  • No need to have expansive, high-priced real estate to house a horse
  • You’re not responsible for maintenance and repair in the cost to board a horse
  • The boarding facility manages the day-to-day expenses for electricity, water, manure disposal, stall cleaning, food, and more
  • You become part of a community with other boarders for shared training and riding

Cons

  • Others are responsible for your horse’s care
  • You must abide by facility rules and won’t have much say in how things get done
  • May have to deal with waitlists, overcrowding and insufficient resources
  • You may share resources like paddocks and stalls with other boarders
  • Depending on the region, average costs for boarding are very expensive

Home Boarding Your Horse

Pros

  • You manage complete control of horse care
  • You save money compared to facility boarding
  • Barn rules are yours to make
  • Spend all the time you want with your horse
  • Maintain your own schedules for feeding, cleaning, etc.

Cons

  • Personal time for things like vacation can be dicey unless you can find and afford a reliable person to take care of your horse
  • You’re responsible for manure disposal
  • You foot the bill for all barn water and electricity usage
  • You’re responsible for wear and tear and any damage caused by your horse
  • No community for company riding and sharing

Pros and cons are personal. Some prefer at-home care compared to the distant care a facility might provide. Owners can be giddy about bailing their own hay, doing the blanketing, and making all the decisions. Others may not have the desire or time. Travelers may find boarding the more efficient path.

The only wrong way when making choices here is not to investigate and determine what’s best for your horse and your intentions.

Different Equine Facilities

We hear “boarding” and picture large barns, arenas, paddocks, probably parking and an office, pastures, trees, and all that good stuff. Facilities will have stable hands, stall cleaning, and groundskeepers. Professionals will handle grooming.

There may be onsite instructors and riding lessons, farriers, and even veterinarians. Other facilities may offer 24/7 pasture, meaning your horse spends limited time in a stable, or live in a large paddock with shelter.

Specialized facilities cater to senior horses in retirement. This is where owners put their animals to leave out their last days in peace. You can find a boarding house solely for training, which is where a lot of foals and potential racers may end up.

board a horse - horse in paddock
A horse running in a paddock. Pasture boarding is another popular choice for boarding. Here the horse is kept in paddocks.

Bianca Grueneberg/Shutterstock.com

Average Cost to Board a Horse in a Stable

The average cost of pretty much anything is a misnomer. Costs fluctuate based on region, facility, amenities, breed, special needs, and, of course, your budget.

You can expect to spend at least $350 or $400 per month. This is for standard care. The per month rate jumps up if your animal to have full care boarding. That can reach almost $700.

Other boarding options include Pasture boarding ($150–$400 per month). There’s self-care boarding ($100–$200 per month) where you pretty much only house the animal and manage its care yourself.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Full Care

Full care boarding is the popular choice for most horse owners. Staff will see to all your animal’s daily needs, from blanketing to turning out, from food to stall cleaning. The horse will be kept in stalls and turned out for pasture.

With full care, you get:

  • Access to pasture and stall
  • Use of facilities (options like training and riding lessons might up the price)
  • Two times a day generic feed
  • Hay in the stall or pasture
  • Horse will have access to stall water buckets
  • Filled and checked pastures
  • Blanketing in cold months
  • Farrier and vet scheduling
  • Area for tack and supplies

Pasture Board

Pasture boarding tends to have a lower per month rate. In this facility, the horse will never be in horse stalls. They stay outdoors, a state closer to its natural environment. They’re free to run, forage and engage with other animals.

Pasture boarding typically includes:

  • Horse pasturing
  • Shelter from poor weather
  • Hay if there isn’t adequate forage
  • Water tubs (filled and checked)
  • Necessary blanketing
  • Vet and farrier scheduling
  • Area for tack and supplies

Self-care Boarding

A budget-friendly way to go, self-care boarding entails nothing else but letting the facility house the animal. Daily care and maintenance are all on the owner. This might be a difficult option to take advantage of as the facilities are rare. But there are stables offering self-care.

Most facilities offer per month fees but you can certainly find out if there are per year agreements. It’s likely. Per-year options might save you a little cash, so ask if there’s any kind of discount for a long-term agreement, per year versus per month.

If Money is no Object…

Then consider the Heilan Horse Culture Museum in China – considered the most luxurious horse stable in the world. The barn is furnished with marble floors, magnificent sculptures, chandeliers, grand staircases with red carpets, and gold ceilings. Fancy, yes, but it’s hard to beat a wooden barn and green pasture for charm.

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About the Author

After a career of working to provide opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I am enjoying having time to write about two of my favorite things - nature and animals. Half of my life is spent outdoors, usually with my husband and sweet little fourteen year old dog. We love to take walks by the lake and take photos of the animals we meet including: otters, ospreys, Canadian geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl, and listening to my son's music.

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