Comprehensive Guide to Horse Care on a Budget


We all love our horses, horseback riding, and the equestrian lifestyle, but this lifestyle can be very expensive. Between buying your horse and paying for board, lessons, training, tack, and supplies, owning horses may seem like an insurmountable expense. As horse owners, we are always looking for ways to save money without reducing the care of our horses. In an effort to help with this goal, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to horse care on a budget.

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Do-it-Yourself Projects

One big way horse owners save money is to make the items they need. We know commercial horse items can be expensive, and often there is an inexpensive DIY alternative. These alternatives can range from grooming essentials to remedies and can save you a huge amount of money. Plus, they can be a fun weekend project. Check out our 10 DIY Horse Care Tips for other ways to save on DIY projects.

One item you might consider making is bit wipes. Bits can be a struggle with some horses, and bit wipes can make a world of difference. Bit wipes can be very handy for a horse that doesn’t like the bit or even for a quick bit cleaning after a ride. While bit wipes can get expensive if you use them on a regular basis, the DIY option is a much cheaper alternative. Check out our DIY Bit Wipe recipe to save on this handy item. 

Grooming wipes are another go-to item for many horse owners, as they are perfect for cleaning up small messes or for quick wipe-downs when you don’t have access to water. Our DIY Grooming wipe recipe is worth a try if you like having these in your grooming box.

After you complete your grooming routine, and before giving some homemade treats, many horse owners grab the coat conditioner. Coat conditioner has many benefits for your horse and can be used daily. Coat conditioners like ShowSheen and Cowboy Magic, while they are amazing, can add up quickly. We wanted a coat conditioner with natural quality ingredients, which, of course, is even more expensive. The solution? We created a coconut oil DIY coat conditioner that is cheaper and had all of the ingredients we wanted!

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Pest control in and around the barn is important for the health and comfort of your horse. Commercial fly control options can have mixed results. DIY natural pest control might be a better option for your horse and your wallet. This has the added benefit of being safer for horses that are sensitive to the chemicals in commercial fly spray.

Homemade or DIY remedies are another way to save money on your horse. There are lots of slightly questionable “remedies” online for horse owners, so make sure to get your information from a trusted source, read the instructions thoroughly, and make smart decisions. Natural anti-inflammatories, hoof remedies, and thrush remedies are the ones we see being used most often.  

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Property/Barn Management

A big expense for horse owners who keep their horses at home is property and barn management. Luckily, there are some easy DIY barn hacks and backyard horse owner tricks to help with these expenses. Property management can also take up a lot of your free time. Making time for your horse can be challenging, but if you set up your property and barn to be efficient and let a few things go once in a while, you can do it.  

Preventative Care

Preventative care for horses plays a huge part in avoiding major veterinary bills. Performing routine health checks can give you a good gauge on your horse and allow you to notice warning signs earlier. Check out our article on the top tips to keep your horse happy and healthy for more ways to integrate preventative care into your daily routine. 

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Horse care, as we all know, looks very different during different parts of the year. During the summer, keeping your horse hydrated and preventing founder are top concerns for horse owners. Winter horse care looks very different as we look to prevent colic and strained muscles, along with keeping them warm. Knowing the best practices for horse care during each season can help you notice and prevent issues with your horse. 

Budgeting for Horse Riding and Care

Budgeting! Most of us hate the word, but it really does help you know where your money is going and how to prioritize your spending for horse essentials versus horse wants. 

Horse care is one of the biggest budget items, other than our horse, for horse ownership. Making choices on feed with all of the new options can be overwhelming. You want to make the right choice for your horse and your budget. Many feeds are pitched as the ultimate feed/supplement. Do your research to determine how effective things like Himalayan salt and coconut oil are before making a purchase. 

Boarding is another big budget item. There are lots of options when it comes to boarding and the potential to save some money if you chose self-care. If you are able, this is a great way to help offset boarding costs, but be sure to know all of your options before making a decision.

Purchasing tack is a big expense, but if you care for your tack properly, you won’t have to incur this expense often. You can also shop for used tack at local tack shops or even purchase it from other barn members. Used tack is sold at a reduced price and is often in good shape. Make sure to check the saddle fit on your horse before purchasing a saddle. It is hard to return used tack!

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Riding lessons and trainers are a fun and exciting addition to your budget, but not all trainers are created equal. Make sure your trainer is worth the money or choose to train yourself with online resources.

Horse shows are another expense you’ll want to budget for. Depending on the level of the show and its location, these costs can be very high. Learning how to budget appropriately for these events can help save money so you can do more! Online horse shows recently started in response to the pandemic and are a great inexpensive alternative because you don’t have to travel.

Lastly, choosing to get horse insurance is a personal decision. Not everyone wants to insure their horse, but this can lead to big cost savings if the need for major surgery arises. There are many companies that specialize in horse insurance and you may be surprised how affordable they can be.

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I hope this guide has given you some ideas of where you can save money and what to budget for as a horse owner. Learning is a huge element of horse-owning and is often underrated, but it can save you thousands of dollars over the years. If you would like to learn more about horse care and budgeting, check out the Savvy Horsewoman Headquarters.

Interested in participating in a budgeting challenge? Join our 7 Day Horse Care on a Budget Challenge.


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