Updated: Apr 4, 2020
Owning a horse is an incredibly rewarding experience. You have a best friend, confidant, and working partner all rolled into one. Regardless of what you’re planning to use your new horse for or how you purchase them, owning a horse is a big investment. Remember especially that the initial purchase price isn’t the biggest expense—not by a long-shot. Here are just a few examples of the expenses that could come along with ownership:
-Veterinary care (vaccinations, deworming, teeth floating, etc.)
Before we move on to the low-cost options for buying a horse, be aware that it may take some time to find what you’re looking for these ways. It can feel limiting to look through these options, but be patient and usually something pops up that would be a good fit. Without further ado, here are some ways you can buy a horse without a large initial purchase cost:
-Auctions. There are many different kinds of auctions, but a good place to start is the kill pens. These are horses that are bound for slaughter if they aren’t purchased at these auctions. Horses in kill pens usually go for very low purchase prices, although they also tend to need some TLC. Some really good horses can end up there through no fault of their own; I’ve known some great lesson horses that have come out of kill pens. Training levels vary and it can be difficult or nearly impossible to get a good idea of how the horse really is in these situations, but it’s still worth some consideration.
-School sales. Many horse training schools often have sales of their training horses once a year. The horses are generally lower-cost because they’ve been trained by students throughout a certain period of time, depending on the program. This is a great way to buy a horse that already has some miles on it (and usually good groundwork training) without breaking the bank.
-Facebook and social media. A lot of people advertise horses for sale on social media, it’s just a matter of looking until you find a good fit. There are tons of groups on Facebook alone dedicated to this so the options are vast but there is no way to filter them.
-Horse sale sites. There are usually good options on these sites and you’re able to filter them by things like price and location. Keep in mind that the horse might look good in the ad, but you should never buy a horse sight-unseen. Meet it, ride it, make sure it’s a good fit before you actually buy it.
-Rescue. Although this is considered adopting a horse and not buying one, the concept is pretty much the same. Depending on the adoption contract, the rescue may limit your use of the horse or your opportunities with it, such as showing. Another thing to consider is that not all rescues are able to have training programs, so horses may vary widely in training. Make sure that the horse you adopt is suitable for your experience level.
-Re-homing. Some people are looking to give their horses to someone because of unforeseen circumstances. Although these situations tend to be rare, they are still an opportunity to own a horse without a big price tag. This is a good option to look into if you want to be able to negotiate the price down, as most of these people just want their horses to go to a good home. In this situation, make sure you understand why they are unable to keep the horse. If it’s behavioral, make sure that it’s something you can handle before you agree to take it.
-Mustang adoptions. There are a few different mustang adoptions that happen during the year, but they are usually untouched, meaning that they will need even the most basic of training. This is a good option for someone looking for a project horse. It’s low-cost and you can feel good about helping to preserve the Mustang heritage, as the amount of them in the wild is dwindling. Also be sure to do some research on the breed first—they’re hardy horses but sometimes they can be hard-headed, especially if you’re adopting an older horse that hasn’t had a lot of interaction with people.
No matter how you swing it, owning a horse is expensive. It’s a big commitment in a lot of ways but I can’t recommend it enough. The pros far outweigh the cons, but it’s important to make sure that you’re financially aware, willing, and able to handle the expenses that come along with ownership. Looking into these options may save you money on the purchase price, which is awesome, but be prepared for everything else that comes along with it. Do your research, set a budget, and stick to it. Besides that, relax and enjoy the search for your new horse.