Do you have pets? If you're like many children around the world, you might have a pet dog or a cat. Maybe you even have something more exotic, like a turtle, lizard, or snake. If you live out in the country, though, you might have a pet you can ride! What are we talking about? A horse…of course!

Many children fall in love with ponies when they're young. It looks like so much fun to have a pet that you can saddle up and ride. Horses are definitely beautiful animals, but are they practical pets? Should you get one?

The answer to that question probably depends upon many factors. One objection adults might have is the cost of owning a horse. They're obviously large animals that eat a lot, so exactly how much does it cost to own a horse?

The cost of owning a horse can vary greatly, depending upon where you live, where the horse will live, what kind of horse it is, and more. The purchase price of the horse itself is only part of the equation. You'll have to take into account many other factors, including housing, food, and health care, to name just a few. Let's take a look!

The purchase price of the horse itself can vary greatly. You might be able to find a horse in need of a home that you could get for free. On the other hand, you might be interested in a particular breed or type of horse, which could cost you from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Once you have a horse, you have to figure out where you will keep it. If you keep it on your land, you'll need a couple of acres of fenced-in land with adequate barn space. Not everyone has that, and acquiring it can be costly. If you live in an urban area, you probably need to board your horse at a local stable. Depending upon the services provided, boarding can cost several hundred dollars per month.

Since horses tend to eat a lot and require various types of vitamins and supplements, you can probably count on spending over $100 each month on food. If you feed your horse grains, that amount can be even higher.

Horses also have hooves that need to be checked and trimmed by a specialist called a farrier. This needs to be done every couple of months. A simple hoof trim can be as little as $25, whereas a complete shoeing can approach $100.

Like any pet, horses require regular veterinary care. From vaccinations to annual teeth cleanings, horses need a variety of services that can add $300 or more to your annual horse care budget. If your horse encounters health problems at any time, that amount can increase greatly. To protect themselves from catastrophic veterinary costs, many horse owners purchase health insurance for their horses at a cost of $350 or more per year.

If you plan to ride your horse, you'll also have to purchase special riding supplies, known as tack. These items can include saddles, equestrian clothing, bridles, bits, and brushes. The American Quarter Horse Association estimates these expenses can approach as much as $2,000.

As you can see, owning a horse can be a costly endeavor. The American Association of Equine Practitioners estimates the minimum annual cost of owning a healthy horse — not including stabling costs — to be at least $2,500. Other horse-related organizations estimate that figure to be at least $3,600.

While owning a horse is not an inexpensive proposition, horse lovers will tell you they are worth every cent. Horses are unique and special animals that can enrich the lives of their owners like no other pet can. Whether they're affordable and worth the money is ultimately a question only you can answer!

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