A pet pony is every child’s dream, and though it might be tempting to give your child their dream request, there are a number of costs to consider before making this purchase.
Besides the initial cost of the pony, a live animal will incur many additional costs throughout its life span.
Though it’s always fun to imagine surprising your child with a pony, it’s best to consider the total cost as well as the large amount of time, energy, and patience it requires to keep your pony happy and healthy.
How Much Does A Pony Cost?
Ponies can cost anywhere from $600 to over $25,000.
Most ponies start at around $1,200 or so, depending on the breed, location, age, and other factors.
This cost is just for the adoption or purchase fee and doesn’t factor in any additional costs.
Besides the initial fee, ponies require a lot of upkeep and maintenance fees, such as food, stall and land rental space, water, grooming, and vet bills.
Despite their small stature, ponies can cost multiple thousands of dollars a year.
Before making your purchase, here are some other cost considerations.
1. Know What You’re Getting
First off, it should be noted that ponies and horses are different, though it may seem like the terms are interchangeable.
Many people assume a pony is a baby horse, but this is incorrect—a baby horse is called a foal.
Ponies are also different than miniature horses, which measure 34 inches or below.
Though ponies and horses are both equines and are the same species, the biggest differing feature is their height.
Horses and ponies are measured using hands, and one hand is equal to four inches.
In order for an equine to be considered a pony, it must be 14 hands and two inches at the withers (the ridge between their shoulder blades) or below.
This equates to four feet and 10 inches tall or less.
However, using exact height as the only determining factor can get confusing, as some horse breeds are shorter than this height and some pony breeds are a bit taller than the height indicator.
The important thing is to research exactly what you’re getting to ensure it’s a pony and not a horse if a pony is the goal.
2. Breed Of The Pony
The breed of the pony you’re looking to buy will determine its cost.
There are a number of different pony breeds, each with its own size, temperament, and cost.
The temperament of the pony breed will also determine how much they cost, as those with more gentle and friendly temperaments will cost more than those that are harder to break.
For example, Shetland ponies are known for being more independent and stubborn and can cost anywhere from $300 to $3,000, while Connemara ponies, which are calmer and gentler, can cost between $3,000 to $28,000.
However, if you’re looking to train and show your pony, Shetland ponies are one of the smartest breeds and are optimal for showing.
A more docile, lazier breed will be harder to train.
Another popular breed of pet pony is the Welsh pony, which can cost, on average, $5,000 but go as high as $50,000.
Welsh ponies are so expensive because of their general overall health and hardiness.
They are also great breeds for riders of all ages and experience levels and make good show ponies as well.
Other popular pony breeds include Dales, Highland, Gotland, Koniks, and Ponies of the Americas.
In addition to breed, you should also keep pedigree in mind because it will also affect the cost.
Ponies with strong linear pedigrees, meaning those that come from the same bloodline, will be more expensive and sought after, while ponies with mixed bloodlines will be cheaper, as they’re less desirable.
3. Pony Room And Board
Where you decide to house your pony will affect the overall yearly upkeep cost of your pony greatly.
If you are able to keep your pony on your own land, you’ll save a lot of money in stable fees.
However, unless you have fields on your land for your pony to graze on (a recommended three acres per pony), you’ll end up spending a lot on hay and feeding costs.
Boarding a pony can cost anywhere from $200 to $350 per month for pasture boarding, which is essentially land for your pony to graze on with no inside stabling.
However, you’ll need to ensure your pony has access to plenty of water and some kind of shelter.
Ponies that are kept in stables can run up your costs by hundreds of dollars each year.
Each stable charges different amounts depending on the additional services they offer.
Lodging facilities for your pony can cost between $250 to $600 per month for partial board, which usually includes a stall only and no other services or amenities.
Partial board means that you provide food, feed your pony, turn it out daily, and clean the stall.
The barn’s staff may be able to help you with these services though.
Full board shelters may charge between $450 to $1,100 per month to board, but can also provide luxury accommodations for your pony, including ample grazing areas, shelter, and daily care, such as stable cleaning, brushings, and feeding.
Full board options may also include a regular farrier (hoof cleaning service), vet, and dentist visits with shared farm call fees.
You might also have the option to hire trainers and instructors.
There are also self-care facilities that offer a less expensive monthly boarding rate, costing about $250 to $400 a month, but they require you to supply your own feed, water, bedding, and care for your pony daily.
You’ll also be completely in charge of turning your pony out, cleaning its stall, and arranging vet and farrier visits when necessary.
The location of the stable will also affect its prices, as stables closer to urban centers will be more expensive than those in more rural communities.
This is because of the higher cost of living near cities and the closer proximity to arenas, training facilities, and show areas.
4. Cost Of Food
Ponies are grazing animals, meaning they eat little bits throughout the course of the day.
Ponies eat mostly hay, consuming on average one half bale of hay a day.
Depending on where you live and get your hay, this can cost $3 to $5 per day, as some places charge over $10 a bale.
The cost of hay, alone, will be around $1,200 annually.
Weather will affect the current price of hay, so this price is prone to fluctuate over time.
If you’ve experienced a recent drought, the cost of hay will rise, whereas farmers who live in climates that receive adequate rainfall will be able to charge less for their bales.
Also, the age, temperament, and exercise level of your pony will affect how much it eats.
Younger ponies will eat more, as they need extra nutrition and calories to grow, while older ponies won’t need as much.
Older ponies may also need different food that is more easily digestible.
Temperament plays a big part in diet, with excitable ponies typically thriving better on all-forage feeds, while more docile ponies may benefit from some additional supplements.
Similarly, ponies that get a lot of exercise and training or are ridden a lot will need more than those that don’t exercise as frequently.
It’s also best to supplement your pony’s hay with grain, which can cost about $140 a year.
A six-month supply of loose mineral supplements can cost around $30.00.
Additionally, your pony may need a concentrate supplement added to their diet, which costs roughly $1.00 per day.
Other supplements may also be needed, costing about $20 a year.
Ponies also need salt blocks which average around $14.00.
You will also need to account for the amount of fresh water your pony needs—something that can greatly drive up your water bill.
5. Vet Bills
Vet visits are one of the most costly aspects of pony ownership.
Young, healthy ponies may not need as much vet care as aging, sickly ponies require, but there is always the possibility of emergency vet visits and other medical necessities.
Emergency, off-hour vet visits are extremely costly, as they require your vet to travel to your pony when they are off the clock, sometimes in the middle of the night.
Basic vet needs include regular check-ups that cost about $250 a visit, as well as annual core vaccinations like rabies, tetanus, equine influenza, and other routine vaccines, which cost about $95.00 for the year.
Other health maintenance includes dewormer, which costs around $15 for a three-month supply, and dentistry care, costing roughly $125 a year.
Hoof care can cost anywhere between $35 to $50 each month.
Additional immunization for diseases such as West Nile Virus or Potomac Horse Fever will cost you more money, along with any unexpected health issues or injuries that arise.
Common things like colic surgery can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the exact procedures you opt for.
If you’re wanting to breed your pony, you will end up spending much more on vet check-ups and other medical and health bills related to breeding.
This cost factor is, of course, contingent on whether you plan on training or riding your pony.
Depending on what kind of training you want and how long it’ll take, the average cost for a lesson is about $40, or between $35 to $75 an hour for regular riding lessons.
Private lessons may cost around $50 per hour.
This means riding training can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 yearly.
If you plan on transporting your pony, which you’ll most likely need to do several times throughout its life, you’ll also need to factor in transportation costs.
Horse trailers can cost $2,000 to $30,000 depending on their size, hauling capacity, weight, and materials.
Fortunately, because ponies are much smaller than horses, chances are you’ll pay on the lower end of this scale, as you won’t need a trailer big enough to fit a large horse.
You also need a vehicle large and strong enough to haul your pony trailer.
If you do not have or want to purchase a trailer for your pony, then you can hire services that will transport your pony for you.
However, these costs are typically expensive and depend on things such as distance traveled, gas prices, and geographical location.
Each state has different laws when it comes to pony and horse transport, so you’ll need to research what kind of paperwork and border pass you’ll need before crossing state lines.
For most states, you’ll need to show your pony’s health certificate and provide a Coggins test.
If you cross over multiple borders, you will need to fulfill the requirements for each state line.
Just for transporting a horse one way across one state border for a distance of 80 miles, you’ll end up paying at least $850 in transport fees.
8. Additional Costs
Again, depending on how you intend to use your pony, you’ll need to purchase additional items.
If you’re planning on riding your pony, you should factor in roughly $500 for a basic saddle, $20 for a saddle pad, $60 for a bridle with reins, $25 for stirrups, $30 for halter and lead rope, $40 for stirrup leathers, $30 for girth, and $35 for a bit.
Although you likely won’t have to replace these items often, you might want to upgrade them as they get worn down throughout the years from normal wear and tear.
For transporting your pony, factor in roughly $95 for a medium turnout blanket, $70 for a turnout sheet, $20 for fly spray, and $29 for a fly mask.