Owning a Horse

July 2021

Owning a Horse – Key Considerations

The prospect of owning a horse is exciting but there are a number of important considerations that will need to be taken into account. Making the decision to buy a horse or pony shouldn’t be taken lightly or rushed into. Buying a horse that turns out to be unsuitable or unsafe can be extremely upsetting and potentially leave the new owner in a difficult situation. Taking the time to fully research and assess the impact owning a horse will have on your daily routine is imperative.


Do you have the time?

Horses require daily care, meaning taking on the responsibility of owning a horse is very time consuming. Whether your horse is field kept or stabled they will need to be checked a minimum of twice a day to ensure their health and welfare is maintained. Daily jobs will vary depending upon the time of year, but these can include the following:

Daily Care

It is important to remember that most horses prefer a routine and some may become anxious, stressed or suffer consequences to their health for instance colic, if their daily routine is altered without gradual changes being introduced. It is therefore important to consistently maintain their routine and if you are unable to attend to your horse for any reason, you must ensure a capable and reliable person attends on your behalf. If at any time you wish to change your horse’s routine see our advice on how to safely change your horse’s routine.


Routine Appointments

You should also consider how regular farrier appointments, and as necessary, veterinary, saddler and equine dental technician visits will all require extra amounts of your time.



Buying and keeping a horse is a huge financial commitment and the initial purchase cost can be relatively small when compared to the cost of keeping a horse. The average annual cost of keeping a horse is calculated at £9,0001, it is therefore vital that you consider the long-term financial commitments which will include:

Be prepared for sudden price increases if, for example, there is a shortage of hay and consider how unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment or illness would impact on your ability to care for and keep the horse.


Keeping the horse

Consider where and how you will keep the horse, for instance, at a livery yard or owning/renting your own land. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages:

Own Land*

Livery Yard

Riding School - Working Livery

  • No livery fees.
  • No restrictions on your management.
  • 24/7 access.
  • Likely to have little or no travel time.
  • Less of a time commitment - can seek support if the yard has staff or from other liveries.
  • On a well-managed yard other liveries become a supportive network.
  • May have access to more facilities.
  • Your horse will have the company of multiple other horses.
  • Support with the day-to-day care of your horse– whether you are a first-time owner or have a busy schedule.
  • Support in maintaining your horse’s daily exercise regime, to help keep your horse healthy.
  • Access to more facilities.
  • Your horse will have the company of multiple other horses.
  • Cheaper livery option for your horse being used by the riding school, with some Approved Centres cutting livery bills by 50%.
  • Greater time commitment.
  • Need to ensure you have more than one horse. Horses are herd animals and need to be kept with other equines in a suitable environment.
  • More responsibilities- whole yard and grassland management.
  • May be harder to find support to help provide the horses’ care in your absence.
  • Cost of livery fees and possible additional charges.
  • Possible restrictions on your management - e.g., unable to soak hay.
  • Possible restrictions on access to the yard- e.g., closes at 8pm.
  • Possible increased travel time to yard.
  • Possible restrictions on your management - e.g., unable to soak hay.
  • Possible restrictions on access to the yard- e.g., closes at 8pm.
  • Restrictions on access to your horse, when being used by the riding school.
  • Possible increased travel time to yard.
  • Horse being handled and ridden by multiple individuals.

*It is not acceptable to keep horses in small, residential gardens/areas.


Horse in Stable

Photo credit: Jon Stroud

Unlike riding schools, livery yards are non-regulated in terms of meeting horse welfare standards or the differing levels of service they can provide to horse owners. The BHS operates an approval scheme for riding centres and livery yards. The scheme has horse care, along with professional staff, safeguarding measures, client safety and satisfaction, as priorities. All BHS approved centres are insured for public liability and comply with health and safety legislation.


Downloadable Resources

Loaning Leaflet


1) Clough, H. et al. (2021). Qualitative study of the influence of horse‚Äźowner relationship during some key events within a horse's lifetime. VetRecord. 188(6).


Buying a Horse

Responsible Rehoming

Pre Purchase Veterinary Examination

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