Synchrony study: Lifetime cost of horse ownership drastically underestimated

Actual expenses are likely to run at least three times higher than expected, with one or two costly emergencies per year

According to the Synchrony Equine Lifetime of Care study released earlier this year (which was conducted on behalf of CareCredit, a Synchrony financing option for veterinary care), horse owners nationwide vastly underestimate the lifetime cost of horse care, which ranges from nearly $300,000 to $924,000.

While 83 percent of horse owners say they are prepared for expenses, the actual costs might reach three or even four times higher than they expect.

Costs vary by role

According to Synchrony’s report, the lifetime cost of horse ownership varies depending on the horse’s role:  

  • $575,000-$1,000,000 for competitive horses
  • $295,000-$400,000 for recreational horses
  • $215,000-$290,000 for backyard horses

On an annual basis, the all-in costs for owning a horse range from around $8,600 to $26,000 per year, not including events or operating expenses.  

The study investigated an exhaustive list of horse expenditures–including food and nutrition, boarding and grooming, farrier services, tack and gear, breeding, routine and emergency veterinary care, end-of-life care and more–over a horse’s lifetime, which is averaged at 25 years.1 

The study of 1,231 U.S. horse owners and nearly 30 equine veterinarians found that while horse owners often financially prepared for food, boarding and gear, they tend to overlook critical components of veterinary care such as colic treatment, broken bones and eye issues, which could cost as much as $10,000.  

Stress point and need for awareness

The Equine Lifetime of Care report also indicates that horse owners typically start experiencing stress when an unexpected invoice reaches $1,500. To that end, more than eight out of 10 horse owners surveyed would apply for a credit card that specifically helps finance veterinary care. 

With most horses facing one or two emergency medical events per year, Synchrony has sought to build further awareness for options like the CareCredit credit card that can help horse owners become financially prepared, while providing equine veterinarians with digital point-of-care innovations that enable them to collect payment for service virtually from any location. 

Lifetime commitment

“Nearly all horse owners keep their horses for life–which can be as long as 25 years. Yet, the true cost of care is consistently underestimated, and many horse owners aren’t financially prepared for care-related expenses,” said Jonathan Wainberg, senior vice president and general manager, Pet, Synchrony. “With the Synchrony Equine Lifetime of Care research, we aim to better educate, inform and prepare horse owners for what to expect financially, so they have the tools they need to make that lifetime commitment and better provide their horses with the care they need.”  

“Many might expect experienced horse owners to be the most financially prepared for the lifetime commitment of raising a horse–whether it’s a competitive, recreational, retired or backyard horse–but often that’s not the case,” said Mike Pownall, equine veterinarian, DVM, MBA. “Helping horse owners clearly understand the full financial commitment and the financing options they can rely on from the very beginning can give them peace of mind that they are ready to manage the cost of the lifelong care their horse needs, easing the financial stress for both the veterinarian and the owner.” 

About Synchrony research

Equine is the third subject of Synchrony’s Lifetime of Care research series, following Pet Lifetime of Care and Lifetime of Healthcare Costs. In particular, the Pet Lifetime of Care survey revealed pet owners can spend as much as $55,000 during a dog’s lifetime.  

Synchrony, through CareCredit, has been a supporter of veterinary practices nationwide for more than 29 years, and is currently offered in more than 25,000 veterinary practice locations and 1,000 equine practice locations across the U.S. The company is also an educational partner of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), an effort designed to strengthen the business side of equine practices and increase the financial health of the equine profession by bringing the benefits of CareCredit’s financial options to horse owners.  

To learn more about CareCredit’s flexible financing resources for horse owners and veterinarians, visit  

1 PetMD, “How Long Do Horses Live?” Kaela Schraer, DVM Published July 18, 2022




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