Saving money on horse costs
As the cost of living goes up, our experts give their advice on cutting costs without cutting welfare when it comes to your horse or pony.
We've already started to hear from people who can no longer afford the costs of keeping their horse. As the cost of living goes up, here's our advice on cutting costs without cutting welfare.
How to save money if you own a horse
There are lots of ways in which you might be able to save money on the upkeep costs of owning a horse. But make sure to read our advice on the essential costs of horse care too!
What does your horse actually need?
The first thing you can do is write down what your horse actually needs to be healthy and happy. What is essential? How often is it needed? As horse lovers, we tend to want to give them everything, but they don't necessarily need it.
Every horse is different. Your horse's needs might be different to another horse, so always speak to a equine professional.
Keep a budget
Record what you are spending. Although this might be daunting, it will help you understand where the majority of your horse's expenses are. You can then focus on cutting costs with some of the tips below.
Share ideas and get advice
You've probably already sought advice and looked at how to save money this year (we might even be telling you things you already know), but it never hurts to get advice. Speak to charities, your vet, friends and family so that you're informed on money-saving tips which will not compromise your much-loved horse's health and happiness.
If you do need to buy in hay, feed, bedding or other supplies, this can be expensive. Ask any friends for advice, shop around, buy in bulk, shop off-peak (ie in the summer for feed and bedding) and see if local suppliers are more competitive. You may be able to save on transport costs.
Save on horse feed
It's easy to give our horses more feed than they need. The majority of horses in light or no work manage well on a forage-based diet (good pasture or hay) and a vitamin and mineral supplement (such as balancer pellets) if necessary. Always speak to your vet about whether your horse needs additional feed or supplements.
If you decide to cut down on your horses feed, carry out fortnightly weigh taping and body condition scoring to monitor their weight. You can also use our enrichment ideas to help cut down on waste and keep them grazing longer.
Save on horse bedding
There are many bedding products on the market. Look into alternatives and decide what will work best for you and your horse.
A deep litter system can save time and money, but you'll still need to ensure you manage it properly to ensure it remains clean and does not become wet. If you use rubber matting, remember not to scrimp on bedding. Your horse or pony will still need to be able to lie down, be warm, dry and comfortable, and feel happy to go to the toilet – which they may not on just matting or matting with limited bedding.
If possible, consider if your horse can live out all year. Horses are often happier and healthier turned out, which will also save on bedding.
Horses need a shelter all year round if turned out to help protect them from the elements.
Save on livery costs or stabling
One of the biggest costs of keeping a horse may be your livery yard fee. Review the facilities you are paying for to check that you need and use everything you're paying for. If you are paying for someone else to provide all or part of your horse’s day-to-day care, it may reduce costs if you were able to do more yourself, even on a temporary basis.
Many horses can do very well on permanent turnout. It could be worth looking around for a suitable grass livery or renting a field, which can be even cheaper if it's shared with friends.
Sharing your horse with someone else or keeping them on working livery can reduce costs and workload in all areas. For example, equine colleges often offer packages that may be a great option for you and your horse.
For more information about loaning your horse, visit The British Horse Society's website.
Make sure you always read any contracts or loan agreements in full so that you're happy with them and it's right for your horse.
If you share a yard with other people, club together to save money and time:
- Many feed, forage and bedding suppliers may offer reduced rates if they deliver in bulk.
- Ask vets, farriers and other professionals if they can reduce rates for group bookings.
- Save fuel by sharing transport whenever you can.
- Work as a team with other owners to share daily duties, this will save time and fuel.
Routine veterinary care
In our 2022 Big Pet Census, 55% of horse owners we spoke to were worried about the cost of vet bills. As a charity that cares for horses and ponies, we also know how expensive these can be.
It's important to have a good relationship with your vet, ask them questions and speak to them if you have any concerns about vet fees. It can also be useful to understand signs and symptoms of pain in horses so you can rest them or investigate these early before vet costs spiral.
Keep up with essential preventative care, like hoof care, vaccinations and dentals, so that you can avoid more costs later down the line. Worm egg counts can also be more targeted and economical way to manage your horse's worming programme.
Hoof care is essential for horses, but you can still discuss shoeing options for your horse with your farrier. You may find your horse does not need to have a full set of shoes. If there is not much wear on your horse’s shoes your farrier may be able to refit them.
Also look a sharing farrier callouts with other horse owners so there's more incentive for your farrier to come out and travel costs are reduced.
When budgeting for your horse, think about whether your horse actually needs something. Make sure you're not buying expensive, unnecessary supplements, rugs or equipment. Looking after existing equipment also helps it last longer, even if it starts to show its age.
Ill-fitting or damaged tack can lead to an expensive visit from the vet. Reach out to a master saddle fitter if you're unsure.
Buy second hand
If you do have equipment that you need to buy, try looking for it second hand. We have second hand tack shops at our rehoming centres in Burford, Oxfordshire and Rolleston, Burton on Trent. And your horse won't know it's preloved.
Sell anything you no longer need
Selling equipment you no longer use or need can help bring in some extra money when times are tight. You can also look at sharing equipment if appropriate.
Essential costs of horse and pony care
There are some essential areas of horse care where corners should never be cut without speaking to a professional. These are the fundamentals of responsible horse ownership and skimping on these in the short-term could end up costing you a lot more in the long run and could compromise your horse's welfare.
- Veterinary care
- Regular hoof care
- Worm egg counts and worming programme
- Dental checks
- Pet insurance
- Repairs to property and equipment
Read more about why these are essential costs.
What if I'm struggling to pay for the upkeep of my horse?
Sadly, we're seeing more people approaching us about the impact of rising costs. Don't feel you are alone. Charities like ours are here to support you with advice, as well as if there's no other choice but to give up your much-loved horse.
Get in touch with us right away so we can offer you and your horse support as soon as you have concerns. This way, we may be able to signpost you to additional help, or can help rehome your horse from your home, directly to another home rather than coming to one of our sites.
The quicker you get in touch, the quicker we can offer support. Unfortunately, we’re seeing people delaying getting in touch with us leading to health conditions and poor hoof care.
Other charity support
Like us, there are other charities working across the UK to support pets and people who are struggling. If we're not able to help straight away, we can also tell you about other charities local to you.
If you're in touch with a local charity about rehoming, ensure they are a National Equine Welfare Council member.
Not all this information is suitable or relevant for donkeys.
• 20 January 2023
• 19 January 2026