The Truth About How Much A Trail Horse Costs?

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 08/23/22 •  11 min read

Are you a horse lover? Do you like to spend time with your horse in nature? If yes, trail riding is probably the happiest time for both you and your horse. However, if you are new and have recently taken an interest in horses, you should know how much a trail horse costs before buying one. 

The actual cost of a horse is not only limited to initial buying. You need to keep a monthly budget for the maintenance of your horse. So, how much is that exactly? Join us on the journey to find the answer you are looking for.

What is a trail horse called?

Before we start defining a trail horse, do you know what trail riding is? Trail riding refers to taking a walk alongside trails, bushes, rivers, bridges, etc. Generally, horses are used for such strolls. So, the horses taken for trail riding are trail horses. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Actually, it is not. For being an ideal trail horse, it must fulfill some specific criteria. Only then can it serve its master to the fullest. 

First, a trail horse should have the habit of walking alone, without groups. If your trail horse only moves in a group, you can’t trail alone if you want. Next, it should know to listen to the command. It should be able to turn on the forehand and side passes. 

Another important thing for a trail horse is willingly moving forward to anything on the rider’s demand without making a fuss. Of course, you cannot expect it to jump into fire or a full stream wild sea. But it should be at least able to cross a small river, a bride, hilly areas, etc. 

If you decide to trail alone for a few days, you should confirm that your horse won’t run away no matter what. The last thing you would want to be left alone in the wilderness after your horse decided to leave at night. A standard trail horse should wait for his rider in the same place where he has left him. 

Last but not least, a trail should be able to take load and trail for a more extended period. That’s all you need in a standard trail horse. But yes, with more budget, you may get an intelligent horse that can make decisions when required. 

What is a trail horse called?

How much money is a trail horse?

The cost of a horse depends on many factors. If it’s an Arabian breed, it will cost you at least $50,000. But then again, you may get a young, green, unregistered horse within $1000-$1500. That’s a huge difference, I know. 

Now, how much does a trail horse cost? If you are talking about the initial buying cost, it is not much. A decently trained trail horse will cost you somewhere between $2000 to $4000. It depends on what breed you choose, the horse’s age, the amount of training your horse has, the continent you live in, etc. 

You may even get lucky when there are quality trail horses for sale. People sometimes are in a hurry and decide to sell their horses at a lower rate. However, in such cases, you should always have the horse examined by a veterinarian first. You wouldn’t want an ill, aged horse to take care of life, would you?

How to determine trail horse cost?

If you are new in this whole ‘horse ownership’ world, you should probably go through this before you end up buying a horse. To the newbies, the initial buying cost may seem like the only large amount. They often forget about the maintenance cost. 

Let me remind you again, maintaining a horse is not cheap at all. You need to take care of its shelter, food, medical expenses, etc. So, it is not easy to determine the actual cost of a trail horse within a few seconds. 

Let’s take a look at the facts that need your attention to estimate the actual cost of a trail horse:

1. Shelter

There are two options you can settle for to keep a horse. You can either make a shelter for it at home or keep it at a boarding. The in-house shelter is definitely less expensive; however, you must take care of the horse. And if you are a new owner and lack experience, this may not be so easy. 

On the other hand, boarding is quite expensive depending on your area. However, there will be professional persons who will take care of your horse.

Related: How To Clean Leather Horse Riding Gloves?

2. Hay, Grain, And Grass

While you may get free grass by growing them on your property, hay, and grains won’t come for free. Hay price varies a lot depending on the geographical area. So it is better to ask other horse owners to know the current price. 

If you are choosing to board for your horse, it may include food and bedding for the horse in their service package. And some may ask you to buy separately for your horse. So, check first whether you need to buy them individually and send them at boarding. 

3. Vaccination 

Like a human, every pet needs some shots to stay healthy. Contact your veterinarian and collect the list of vaccines your horse needs to take annually. It will help you to determine the annual cost better. 

4. Coggins test 

Coggins test is a particular blood test for horses to detect Equine Infectious Anemia in horses. It is a must when you are traveling with your horse. Your horse won’t get permission to cross the state without a negative Coggins test result. 

So, if you intend to travel frequently with your horse, you will probably need to get this test done. And let me remind you, it does not come free. 

5. Additional expenses

Here is the list of things that may add to the total maintenance cost of your horse. For example, it will surely be expensive if you want to train your horse with a professional trainer. For your new trail horse, if you’re going to give it riding lessons, that may also add more to the cost. 

What type of trail horse is expensive?

A good thing about trail riding is that you can do it with almost all types of horses. No matter the breed, if it is trained for trail riding, you will face no problem. 

But still, the breed, bloodline, capability, and training of the horse can make it pretty expensive than the others. Let’s check out the costly trail horses: 

1. Arabian horse 

Arabians are one of the oldest among the existing breeds of horses. They are classic and known for their endurance. If proper training is given, they can pull off any activity. That’s why the price range also varies a lot for this breed. 

A well-trained Arabian will sell higher than $50,000. But at the same time, an untrained, young, trail Arabian horse may cost $1000-$2000. 

2. American quarter horse

If you ask anyone, what is the best trail-riding horse? Most of them will answer with a quarter horse. After all, they are wildly versatile. They can adapt to situations pretty quickly, which makes them one of the intelligent breeds. 

On average, a quarter should cost you $3000 to $6000. However, it varies according to the continent you live in. You may also find one at a lower price at the trail riding horses for sale. 

3. Appaloosa

Appaloosa is widely known for the spots they have. But do you know, these creatures are too gentle, friendly, and loyal? They are the ideal choice for young or new riders learning trail riding. 

Depending on their age, structure, and training, Appaloosa may cost you around $1000 to $10,000. 

4. Mustangs

Mustangs are not very pricey in general. You may get yours at $1,000 to $1,500 from a regular market. However, they are extremely intelligent and known for their strength and ability. They can perform even better than some expensive breeds if they receive proper training. 

5. Tennessee walking horse 

Tennessee walkers are calm creatures, and they are famous for their obedience. Even though they are firmly known as show horses, they can offer a very pleasant slow riding. They are a perfect choice if you like to take a slow, steady walk on the trails. And they cost only within a range of $800 to $5,000.

What do you keep in mind when buying a trail horse?

Unless you are gifted with a magic touch and can instantly tell which horse is best for you, you should not hurry while buying a horse. It is better to set your mind and focus on a few things before you end up purchasing the animal. 

Here are some things you should remember when buying a trail horse. Let’s check them out

1. Decide what you want 

Decide first what characteristics you want in your trail horse. Do you want it to be young? Or are you looking for a mid-aged, a little experienced trail horse? What breed do you prefer? Do you want the horse to be a registered one or an unbranded one?

You should ask yourself these questions so that you can set your mind on what you want. It will also help you understand how much you might need to spend on the horse.

Related: Soak Hay! Can Horses Eat Hay that has been Rained On?

2. Look for the horse

Now that you know what exactly you want in a horse, start searching for it. First, if you know any other horse owners or trainers, ask them if they know any gentle riding horses for sale. If that doesn’t help, look for online websites and ads. You will often see ads or posts like ‘trail horse for sale near me. Click on that and keep searching. Who knows, you may find your dream horse there.

3. Know about the horse 

When you finally find a horse you like, talk to the seller. Ask him about the horse’s habits, specialty, temperament, lack, etc. Go to see the horse for real and observe it from a distance. See how it behaves and whether it is up to your liking. 

4. Ride the horse

If you like the horse’s characteristics, now it is time for you to do a test ride. Never skip this part. Just because the horse acts well with its current owner doesn’t mean it will do the same with you. So, riding a horse is a must before you buy it. 

5. Do veterinary check-ups

Send the horse for a complete veterinary checkup if everything else is okay. Trust a vet you know for this job. You wouldn’t want to buy a horse with health issues, would you? (Read how much will have a horse vet will cost.)

6. Confirm the purchase

Now negotiate the price with the seller if your vet gives the horse a clearance. And that’s it. That’s all you need to pay attention to while buying a trail horse.


1. What is the best horse for trail riding?

Almost all horses can be used for trail riding. However, American Quarter Horses are currently dominating the market as standard trail horses.

2. How much does an average horse cost?

An average horse may cost you approximately $2,000 to $6,000. However, many factors like the horse’s age, bloodline, breed, and training may affect the price on a grand scale. 

3. How much does a recreation horse cost?

According to the University Of Maine, an average standard reaction horse nowadays costs around $3,000. But it may vary depending on the horse’s age, structure, breed, and continent. 

4. Can any horse be a trail horse?

Yes, any horse can be a trail horse. But you need to give it proper training. Some breeds need mandatory training before they can start trail riding. 

Final words

How much does a trail horse cost? It is easy to tell if you are asking about the initial buying price. However, if you are asking about the buying plus monthly or annual maintenance cost, it is not something we can say without calculation. 

A horse needs proper care to live a healthy life. And their maintenance cost is not cheap at all. So, it would help if you had a good idea about the actual expenses before you buy a horse.

Hopefully, this article has helped you estimate an approximate budget for your horse. 

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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