Trade in Your Car for a Horse, Would It Be Cheaper?

With all this money saving going on and people referring back to “The Old Ways” I thought it would be fun to look back at our past and consider the option of replacing your car with a horse…. Who wouldn’t want to ride into town for a few beers and a pizza on the back of a giant stallion?

Traveling by horse was the old Wild West way, and also the way still employed in many countries and areas with large poor populations. Here in Cairo it’s not uncommon to see people traveling by a horse / donkey pulled cart and usually these people are from the poorer demographic…. They would suggest running a horse is cheaper than running a car, right? But I have always been led to believe that horse ownership was something for the rich, at least in USA and UK, so let’s take a brief look over the financial s and see how it pans out.

Disclaimer: I really don’t know a whole lot about horses, I just thought it would be fun to see how this would work out and this is by no means a comprehensive guide.

The Cost Of Buying A Horse – $3500
The initial cost involved in making the switch will be actually purchasing a horse. According to Horse Trader Classified you can pick up a working horse in the United states for anywhere between $1500-$8000. A mid range of around $3500 seems to be normal.

Housing The Horse – $ 4349
To even think about making this idea viable you will have to keep your trusted stead at home. This requires a fair space of land in the Garden and ideally some land nearby to house the horse. If you go the kit route then Barn Pro’s offer a simple Pasture Barn for $4349.00. However you could possibly build from scratch using some barn plans or your own ingenuity!

Kitting Up – $ 1764.95
Your horse needs equipment for carrying your daily items and comfort-ability for you and the animal when riding. Outfitters Supply have some Saddle’s available at $1,675 and reasonable sized sadle bags for available at $89.95.

Basic Start Up Costs – Approx $9613.75

Ok, already getting a horse is looking like a bad option as you can pick up a reasonable used car for a few thousand less! But there is the running costs to consider, if a horse is much less to run than a car, then maybe, just maybe it’s still a viable option :)

One Years Running Costs – Approx $2899 – $6086

I found an excellent article on Equine World (UK Site) that listed the rough costs for livery, food, Vet’s Fees, Insurance, Farrier, Dentist, Working and some cash for unexpected Extras. As we talked about stabling the horse in your back yard they estimate owning a horse will cost approx £1935-£4061 per years. A straight convert to dollars gives you the figure you see above…. Actually looking at this it seems to be comparable and possibly cheaper than running a car.


I don’t have to go on about this too much but owning a horse is probably like adding another family member. You will have to become friends and treat each other well. Some days the horse may just not want to go and stand in your work car park all day! It may want to join you in the bar and if you drink more than a bottle of beer you can’t leave your horse at the bar and take a cab home!

Also from a family perspective, at most the horse will take two people so you would need more than one horse for the family. Your local town may not welcome a horse being parked just anywhere and I don’t think they meet the minimum requirements for riding on the highway!

How to further save money…

The start up costs could be dramatically reduced by building your own stable and buying items used rather than new. You could probably knock a few thousand off the estimates with no real problem.

On the running costs you just have to look after your new friend as best as you can and you could save on medical costs. If your friends and family need their grass cutting you could kill two birds with one stone and save a bunch on feed. Also the manure could possible be sold on to a local garden store for a small bit of helping cash.

My Conclusion, What Do You Think?

Playing with the idea of replacing your trusty Ford with a stead and playing out your Clint Eastward fantasies sounds fun but for the majority of us it’s a little too impractical. Cross country travel would take weeks and your general pace of life would have to slow down. However for the Green minded folks in us it’s not going to necessarily cost more than owning a car and is probably far better for the local environment. Grass instead of gas and useful emissions!

What do you think about this whole idea?

I would more than love to know your thoughts in the comments and if you can help me improve this article then I would be entirely grateful.

Thanks a million for reading.

PS: I was inspired to write this quirky article by fellow Yakezie Member TJ’s awesome recent article on How Green Is Your Sex Life… It’s a fun read so I suggest you go check it out.

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Hey, I'm Forest, owner and writer at I used to be a graphic designer but now I travel a fair bit and blog for a living. I love all the standard other stuff such as movies, music and socialising :).

34 thoughts on “Trade in Your Car for a Horse, Would It Be Cheaper?”

  1. I’m sure my neighbors do not pay as much as you reference to raise horses it is mostly labor for them. They still seldom use their horses for travel. A lot of the traffic past my house is horse traffic but that much of that traffic is not from the stable owners. Most of it is from people who drive their SUV out to the stable and go for a ride. Many of the men riders have their handy six pack at their side. Those that do not drive cars for religious reasons only bring their horse and buggy out on Sunday or date night, the rest of the time they get rides, walk, take a tractor or take a bike.
    I will take my bike or walk if I can it is much cheaper.
    I don’t own a horse but I can get all the manure I want for free!

    1. Hey Daddy Paul, Thanks for some insight from someone who knows a little more than me, this article was mostly a fun look at an alternative that most people would never consider!!

      As for the real cost, I am sure if you was experienced you could bring down costs significantly and like many people here in Egypt the horse could be used with a cart for very successful travel.

      Sounds like you are in Pennsylvania or around about there with the Amish? I was fascinated when I visited to see a horse and buggy park at Costco…. I would never want to live that old stylee life completely but we could all learn a hell of a lot from their ways.

  2. Yikes! I thought the horse would be cheaper than a car! My car costs about $720 in fuel each year. I have the oil changed every 3,000 miles, but Dad does that for free. Even so, three oil changes each year would cost about $100. $820 for the car versus $2,899 for the horse (on the low end). Oh well. Guess my cowgirl dreams will go unfulfilled for now… :-p
    .-= Red´s last blog ..Attack of the cuteness =-.

    1. Like I mentioned in the above comment reply… These results are probably no where near the cheapest. I am sure you could run a horse on a much smaller budget, especially if you set up a deal with a local park to let the horse graze while you go read or write blog posts and other things :)

      1. Erm… In SC prices, bought my horse for $300 at an auction. He’s a bit nutty and it took a while to ride the bad behaviors out of him and desensitize him to cars, dogs and cows. But being so high strung, generally means he won’t quit on you, even if he is tired. He’s a cart-pony sized cross between a saddlebred and an arab called a national show horse. Saddlebreds are popular with the amish because a good one can go 60 miles pulling a cart on the road in a day. Arabs have a competition called the tevis cup which is 100 miles in a day, mostly through desert. It costs me $100 a month to feed/keep him, minus shoes which are $25 for all four feet. Add in another $100 for shots (rabies) and probably $30 in worm medicine annually. My western saddle came from an old man for $100. My english one came from goodwill for $25 (it’s worth much more but some idiot threw it out.) I was debating if our standard of living goes down, which was a better bet, him or my car payments. And there are an enormous number of cart horses ferrying tourists around in Charleston, so how many changes are really necessary to make it practical?

        1. Hey Lissa, that is really interesting. Maybe even before you are forced to ditch the car you should see what it is like riding him around town for general duties.

  3. What about the impracticality of having to pick up horse droppings? =) I guess you could save money on fertilizer but using them on your lawn.

    LOVE your post. How do you come up with such creative ideas?

    1. It would be pretty nasty if every car was replaced with a horse!!! However even though Horse emissions look nastier than car emissions I am sure they are not as dangerous for us :).

    1. Ha ha, yes using these typical numbers it is a tad pricey… I think the cost could significantly be brought down if you worked at some of those areas.

  4. I traveled across Mongolia by horse, about 550 km, in 1993. At that time (and maybe still now) travel by horse was still very much the norm in the country side. Costs were minimal as well, though travel was a bit slower than it would have been in a truck :) And when it rained, I got wet.

    The problem with the idea of using a horse for regular commutes or long-distance travel in most countries is that our infrastructure has changed. You can’t safely ride a horse down most highways, or any freeways. For that matter, you can’t use a horse to travel around the city or even most towns without running into a lot of practical difficulties.

    In the past we had stales where people could rest their horses or put them up for the night. Now we have gas stations and motels.

    Additionally, a lot more time and money goes into keeping and caring for a horse than many people realize. Again, it depends largely on what country you are in. Where I live now, if I wanted an alternative to a car I would probably go with a bicycle (and only on some roads). In Mongolia, it would have been almost a joke to try to get around only by bicycle, you’d be sinking into mud or carrying your bike across rivers plenty of times.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Why I No Longer Work from Home =-.

    1. Hey Anna, that sounds like an amazing trip!!

      It’s sad that the infrastructure would not be able to fully handle a horse these days but I do understand we need to move on… The article was more just a hypothetical situation rather than a possible choice…. In reality I don’t think many people could pull it off, or save much money.

      Thanks for popping by :)

  5. I have a few head of horses. Live appx. 10 miles from the closest town. On these lovely summer days I have thought very seriously about a wagon and harness set up. 1 trip to town to grab groceries and supplies, say once every 2 weeks. If for no other reason than to prepare my children for a grim future, or honestly try a move in the green direction.
    What concerns me is the fast traffic on the highway, and the additional milage needed to avoid it. How would the town take it? Do i need permits?

    Cost effectiveness-you bet!

    Local sale barn prices for horses- broke to ride-250-1200. Feed in the winter will get ya though-$92.00/month for feed per horse-8 months worth.
    $2000- for a decent wagon, with a cover for protection- and that price could flux to any degree.
    $200 per harness-so $400 for a single team would be fair.
    The farrier-$50/head=$100 every 4-6 weeks.
    We have built a shelter already from lodge poles into a loafing shed- Free with our labor.
    So for me an honest running price for heading to town via horses and wagon looks to be $1,256.00.
    After start up costs of $2400- and $500-2400 for the horses themselves.

    Thanks for your idea!
    I just maybe wavin at you from the side of the road! :)

    1. Hey Elizabeth, thanks so much for the actual numbers, nothing better than real experience!

      I don’t think it matters what the other locals think, it’s important for a few people to think out of the box and go for it… If you have the horses and you can get a little buggy then why not give it a try!

  6. A Fountain Inn, South Carolina, law once required horses to wear pants at all times. But carriage horses in Charleston, South Carolina, were required to wear diapers.
    In Calgary, Canada, a by-law requires businesses within the city to provide rails for tying up horses.
    In Texas, it’s illegal to put graffiti on someone else’s cow.
    It is illegal to ride a mule down Lang, Kansas’ Main Street in August, unless the animal is wearing a straw hat. Over in Berea, Kentucky and also in Willamantic, Connecticut, horses are not allowed out on the streets and highways at night unless the animal has a “bright” red taillight securely attached to its rump.
    Horses may not wear cowbells inside the city limits of Tahoe City, California. In Washington, though, every cow wandering the streets of Seattle must be wearing a cowbell.
    In Burns, Oregon, horses are allowed in the town’s taverns, if an admission fee is paid before they enter.
    You can’t blow your nose in public places in Leahy, Washington, because it might scare a horse and cause it to panic.
    Speaking of panicked horses: If you are in Pennyslvania and a team of horses is approaching, you are required by law to pull to the side of the road and cover your car with a blanket or dust cover that has been painted or sewn to blend into the scenery. But, if the horses react skittish to your efforts, you are then required to disassemble your car and hide the parts in the nearby underbrush.

    In Winona, MS, it is illegal to drive a car on Main Street because it frightens horses.
    In Wilbur, Washington, it is against the law for a person to “ride an ugly horse” – the fine is $300!
    Washington, DC, has a strict ordinance that prohibits the cutting of a horse’s tail.
    In Vermont, the selling of horse urine requires a license.
    You will be arrested if you paint your horse in Vermont.
    You cannot ride your horse in the waters of Chesapeake Bay, Virginia.
    You can be sent to jail if you open your umbrella in the presence of a horse in New York City.
    Donkeys are not allowed to sleep in bathtubs in Brooklyn, New York.
    In Baltimore, Maryland, it is necessary to document any services performed by a jackass.
    In Ohio, it is against the law to set a fire under your mule if it balks.
    In Arkansas, if your 2-year-old mule runs wild and is unclaimed within 2 days, anyone may castrate the animal.
    In Marshalltown, Iowa, a horse will be breaking the law if it eats a fire hydrant.
    Horses in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, are required to wear pants when they appear in public.
    If you live in Omaha, Nebraska, you are still required to place a hitching post at the front of your house.
    In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, horses must be equipped with headlights and a horn.
    You may not keep farm animals in your Minneapolis, Minnesota apartment unless it doubles as a barn.

    I may have to rethink this idea! LOL


    1. Ha ha ha, some of these are hilarious… I love these left over laws!

      My mum’s friend had a video rental store and the deeds said local people’s animals could freely pass over the land whenever they wanted… If her neighbour had walked in with a sheep there was not much she could actually do about it :).

  7. ‘replacing car with horse’… i just think about this before and google for it.and i found your blog :)
    good idea to sustain the environment.but too much development nowadays will make people think twice to pick a horse :)
    but somehow,we still need to think about the alternative ways to save the earth.maybe in future, people will look and turn back to choose horse as a transport medium rather than a car..

    1. Hey Zeth, maybe we will be using animals again in the future for transport. The biggest problem is their well being really!

  8. Glad I found your article! I’ve considered this before, as I live on a farm. Plenty of land, hay, and lodging. I think my main cost would be the horse and saddle, and training for me. No more than I go to town, I’ve often thought of riding a horse instead–it’s’ only 5 miles to town. Where I live people already have the hitching posts, because the Amish live around here. They all use a special bag that hangs under the horse’s tail to catch the emissions. I’m not a tree-huggy kinda person in general, but the gas prices have had me thinking for a year or more.

    1. Hey Lissy, if you could borrow or hire a saddle I would definitely just try it for a while and see how it went. Would love to hear more if you do.

    1. Hey Nath, it’s more hypothetical than anything but of course some people really do use horses as their mode of transport.

    1. Hey Used Car Dealer, sure a motorbike is a viable option. This article wasn’t 100% serious, just going at things from an alternate angle.

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