Ownership 101

In almost every case, when a Thoroughbred owner hires a trainer, the trainer selects which veterinarian will perform work on the owner’s horses. However, the owner is wholly responsible for all veterinarian bills and should not be afraid to ask either his/her trainer and/or his/her veterinarian questions about veterinarian procedures, dispensations and costs. An owner may also request that his/her trainer inspect and initial all vet bills before passing them on to the owner.

Be sure to discuss with your trainer whether or not you require PRIOR APPROVAL of medical expenditures as well as ways in which you can manage or lower your vet bills.

The “average” vet bill, per horse in training, per month in a top end racing jurisdiction such as Southern California runs $300 on up. This amount however, is strongly affected by:

  • How heavily your trainer relies on medications or veterinary consultations. In many barns the trainers may direct the veterinarians as to what procedures to perform or medications to give (because it worked on another horse they had). Read the very relevant comments on this subject by leading veterinarian Rick Arthur by clicking here.
  • If your horse is ailing or has suffered a serious injury that will require surgery or illness that requires hospitalization. Your vet bill can soar to well over $1,000 in a month.

To help mitigate the “pain” of monthly vet bills:

  • Understand as much as possible the purpose of each treatment.
  • Have some realistic sense of the cost of each.
  • Keep in contact with your trainer so you are prepared for any abnormal medical outlays.

The individual charges for every veterinarian procedure can and will vary by locale and vet, apparently according to what the market will bear.



Broodmares usually have very little veterinary expenses, other than de-worming and vaccinations, except during the breeding season. Foaling fees are $200-$300. Getting the mares pregnant again there will be numerous palpations ($20-30 ea), and ultrasounds ($50-75) to check for pregnancy and or twins. If your mare does not easily become pregnant, there could also be expenses for drugs to get her to cycle, or treat infections. Additionally if there are any complications post foaling, your mare could require surgery.



Foals, if they are born healthy, and stay that way, and have correct legs, should only have de-worming and vaccination expenses, however, that is rarely the case. An early foal that requires neo-natal hospitalization can rack up enormous expenses. Foals in the first 8 months of their lives are very susceptible to infectious diseases. Pneumonia and other respiratory diseases are common. Antibiotic treatments can run in the hundreds of dollars and hospitalization is not uncommon.

If your foal is born incorrect, surgery, casting and other measures may be necessary to force its legs to correctly align. This expense can be small or run into hundreds of dollars depending on the degree of the angular deformity. If your foal’s legs remain incorrect despite your efforts to correct them, its future as a racehorse/sale prospect can be severely compromised.