Horse Cost Case Study: April 2020

I had hoped to write April’s update with COVID-19 already in our rearview mirror. Here in the US, and in most countries around the world, we’re still in the thick of it. While things are improving, our communities are still a long way from “normal.”

On any given day, I find myself alternating between feeling grateful to have my horse for mental health and exercise and foolish for choosing such an expensive hobby. I’m doing my best to remember that during these times of heightened stress, it’s okay not to feel like myself sometimes. 

OK, a lot of the time. 

Montana, where I live, has one of the least dense populations in the US. We started our phased reopening a few weeks ago, and other states are now following suit. Even though these are still early days in the recovery process, I recognize this is the beginning of better

That realization has made me slightly more comfortable making small non-essential horse purchases (e.g. some lessons, horse treats). Even though April is also over-budget, it was solely due to health-related expenses like Spring vaccines and hock injections. 

The quick summary below for Savvy Horseman readers who want to continue following my budgeting journey.

You can read my full April 2020 horse expense report here

(If you haven’t seen my earlier Savvy Horsewoman article about this process, hop over there for additional context.)

How I Did This Month

My goal is to always keep monthly horse expenses under $1,000 after adjustments (e.g. trades). This month, I was over again — all due to horse health-related costs.

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Unfortunately for my wallet, Spring vaccines and hock injections ended up in the same month. Plus, it was time for the farrier, so we had shoeing expenses. The result? Nearly $1,000 in healthcare costs alone. Ouch.

In April, my horse expenses were $1,225.07 BEFORE adjustments.

The chart below represents the total dollar VALUE of my equestrian expenses for 2020. 

It does not factor in any trades for products or services. In other words, if I didn’t trade for anything, this is how much money I’d be paying each month.

The next chart adjusts monthly expenses to account for the situations when I’m able to trade for products and services. 

These adjusted numbers are what I actually PAID OUT to support my horse habit per month. 

In February, my horse expense was $1,135.07 AFTER adjustments.

The chart below shows my monthly expenses (value) by spending category. 

As you can see, the health category made up the majority of expenses this month. I had hoped to quickly resell my old jump saddle in March, but COVID threw a wrench in that plan. Now, I’ve posted it to eBay to see if I get any nibbles.

See the average horse cost by state to get a sense of typical expenses in your area. 

See all the details in my April 2020 horse expense report.


Though these times are very stressful, I’m grateful that I have savings put aside for emergencies. It makes me feel better about continuing my scaled-down horse hobby — especially because I know how important it is for my mental health. 

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I’m also grateful for my barn family. Though I’m not able to see most of them right now, my lesson partner is graciously caring for my horse at her place so I can ride without people around. Plus, my coaches are coming to us for remote lessons until we return home.

“Pandemics end,” is my mantra these days. While this isn’t the riding season any of us expected or wanted, there are brighter days ahead. Stay safe, wash your hands, and hug your horse!

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See all of my monthly horse expense reports.

Horse Rookie

After 25+ years in the saddle, I bought my first horse at 33. I love practicing dressage, eventing, stadium jumping, reining, trail riding, and cow work with my Quarter Horse in Montana, USA.

I started, an educational website, to help equestrians of all levels (especially rookies) answer common questions, make informed decisions, and have more fun with their horses.

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